18 June 2013

Rome is just a city

Half napping on the flight in from Prague, I thought about the Rome that I know and worried about the Rome that I would find. My expectations were too grand. What if Everest was just an ant hill? What if Tahiti was a neon floating Vegas? What if Rome was just a city?

The Rome I know isn't real. Its an amalgamation of history, myth, movies and my own overactive imagination. My Rome is Romulus and Remus suckling on the wolf mother's teats. My Rome is a city-state with visions of grandeur rampaging across the known world. It is Pompeii raining ash and fossilizing a resort. It is Caesar betrayed. It is Augustus and the golden age. It is incredible advancements in architecture and civil engineering. It is a bloated empire crumbling. It is Constantine and the formation of the Holy Roman Empire. It is the renaissance. It is the eternal city. It is Fellini in black and white. It is Russell Crowe removing his helmet, staring down Joaquin Phoenix and growling out, "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North...Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."

Trajan's Column
How could the real Rome possibly live up to my Rome?

I walked. And the more I walked the more relieved I felt. My Rome was there. In the buildings and on the streets and in the air. Somehow it all fit within the confines of a mapable space. I was relieved that Rome was just a city--a tangible place I could visit and visit again. And I was relieved that my Rome, intangible and sprawling lived within the observable details.

I don't have a story to tell you. I wish that I did. Normally when I travel the stories develop in my head and when I sit down at the computer blogging is easy. That didn't happen in Rome. I had lunch in front of the Pantheon and tried to take notes and nothing came to me. I tried to edit the details and descriptions on the bus ride to the airport and it didn't work. Rome was a wordless experience. I went on a three day scavenger hunt looking for my Rome inside of the real Rome. I was/am stunned that I found it. Maybe I don't have a story to tell. Maybe I'm not ready to tell it. In either case I leave you with pictures in place of my typical ramblings.  



Trevi Fountain

Pantheon

The Spanish Steps

Saint Peter's Basilica