Saturday, August 7, 2010

Arrivederci, Roma

Note: You might want to listen to this song in another window while you read this post. It's my favorite wistful travel song, and I had it in my head all day yesterday while I was writing this post all over Rome.

Yesterday was my last full day in Rome, and I decided to spend it traveling all over the city, visiting my favorite places and writing parts of this post in my notebook while sitting in front of them. It was a full day, and in some ways a sad one, but I know this isn't it for me and Rome - I'll be back someday.

Goodbye, Ciak Hostel:

I stayed here during the first week of my stay, and I came back the last few nights to finish off my visit. I celebrated my 26th birthday here with a fun group, consisting mostly of Americans, and I feel like I'm leaving a part of me here. Also, goodbye Hostel Happy Days, which was also a lovely visit, and quite lively.

Goodbye, S. Maria del Popolo:

You were the first place where I was able to see works by Caravaggio that were perfectly lit, allowing me to appreciate them fully. When I left after that first visit, I felt very solemn. I feel so blessed that I was able to view your beautiful works.

Goodbye, St. Peter's:

You were the first major site to welcome me, and I'll never forget that first morning when I could have skipped and sung for joy through Bernini's colonnade. Goodbye, Michelangelo's Pieta and extraordinary red drapery of the tomb of Alexander VII. And while I'm here, goodbye Vatican Museums, Apollo Belvedere, Laocoon, Sistine Chapel, column base of Antoninus Pius, and Belvedere Torso. I hope to see you all again someday.

(Incidentally, I contributed to the erosion of the feet of St. Peter today.)

Goodbye, Castel Sant'Angelo:

I think one of the reasons I feel so close to Rome is that Charlie and I had so many wonderful times together here, and you have become one of the key symbols of that in my mind. Charlie was the one who suggested visiting you, and I'm so glad he did, because we both enjoyed every moment. We had a picnic in your shadow, and later on when I was sad that Charlie had left, I read The Marble Faun while sitting beside you. You've become a beacon for many of my best feelings about Rome.

Goodbye, Piazza Navona:

While I sit here, I can see a young woman in a stylish hat playing tango tunes on an accordion, and at the other end of the piazza is the jazz combo that has been here every day. The living statues are taking a break for today - King Tut's pedestal is empty for now and the invisible man is nowhere to be found. I'll always remember the lively scene here, like the night when I met the Polish beer bottle players, and Charlie and I will have memories to revisit with our terrible portrait and awesome street art. For fun street performances and great people-watching, I will always think of the Piazza Navona.

Goodbye, Torre Argentina:

Today was my first time visiting your cat sanctuary, but I'm not going to forget it! Charlie, I'm so sorry that we didn't learn about this in time to go together - while I was playing with the cats today, I was thinking about how much you would have enjoyed it. Here I am with Beethoven, who is deaf, but wonderful. I wish I could have taken him home.

Goodbye, Pantheon:

I've visited you several times since I've been here, always to find the spotlight from your oculus shining in a different place. The passage of time that is evident within your walls has helped me to measure time during my weeks in Rome.

Goodbye, Colosseum:

What can I say? You are one of the enduring symbols of Rome. I sat in front of you on the night of my 26th birthday, and I think you know where my pop-up map of Rome is, because I lost it that night. I got a lot of mileage out of telling the infamous donkey story at hostels, and I'll miss picking you out in the skyline.

Goodbye, Column of Trajan:

I never got the chance to circumambulate you because the Fori Imperiali were not open to visitors, but maybe I can do this on my next trip to Rome! Your survival through the centuries has inspired the construction of many of the monuments I'll be studying for my dissertation, so in a way, you gave me a job. I'm so glad I had the chance to visit you.

Goodybe, Isola Tiburina:

What is it about islands that seems so magical? Something about your atmosphere will stay with me. I'll remember my walk around your banks with Vicky after our dinner in the Ghetto, and the following week, my fun night with Charlie all along the banks of the Tiber. Lots of tourists pass you by, but whenever I'm in Rome, I'll make sure to visit you.

Goodbye, Trastevere:

I've loved lots of neighborhoods in Rome, but Trastevere is the only one where I feel like I could actually live. The narrow, winding streets, the tiny local restaurants, the lively night scene - I could easily get used to it all. Also, I'll remember my last fun night in Trastevere with Kim and Dawn, two sisters from London who invited me over for dinner. It was lovely!

And finally, one that I was not able to say in person:

Goodbye, Apollo and Daphne. When I saw you last, I whispered that I would be back, but I haven't made it back on this trip. Consider this a promise for the future. Thank you for opening my eyes to just how far the marmorean arts can go.

I have many, many more wonderful memories of Rome, and I'll look back on them with great fondness. But the open road awaits - the next time I post, it will be from Giovanni's Home in Napoli, a hostel which is rated 96% positive on HostelWorld (unheard of!). I'm a little nervous after all the stories I've heard about Naples, but I'm hoping I'll be able to report that it's nowhere near as scary as everyone says it is!


  1. A beautiful post, Sarah! It left me teary eyed and with a strong desire to visit Rome. What an ambassador you are for the Eternal City! The Charlie references didn't hurt either! Glad about the feet and how did you ever part Beethoven? We'll hope for the best in Naples.

  2. I am glad to see you after a long time. Sarah, you are looking amazing in all photos. Always love your post.
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