Start: Trevi, Daytime
The light is bright, and the sun is in the sky. It’s cold, with a breeze running between the old buildings. But that doesn’t stop us. We turn a corner, and follow a McDonalds sign. 100m. 50m. We never see the McDonalds. But we do we tourists. Many. You can’t hear the fountain over the sea of languages, headsets and selfies. We stand back and watch. Tour guides with their groups flow in and out in waves. We stand back and watch at first. Take a few photos. Form a plan. There is no getting to the front today. The fountain is beautiful. It would be even more beautiful if I could be alone with it. I could try asking the nicely, but I don’t know how to say “go away” in any language other than English. Back up plan? Gelato.
Seek: Gloves, Leather.
Mmmm….the smell of leather. Gloves made to fit. More colours than I can count. I put my elbow down on the table as she helps place the snug silk and leather masterpiece on my hand. I want to buy every colour. I pick purple and teal. Then Ray’s turn. Black. Classic. We head back to the cold, with warm fingers. Now we are one step closer to being locals.
Find: Pantheon, Daytime.
When you turn the corner it surprises you. I gasp. It’s beautiful. The grandiose columns, and the ancient letters carved over the entrance. M.AGRIPPA.L.F.COS.TERTIVM.FECIT. We enter. The dome reaches high above. It’s an unusual space. Round. ish. Raphael’s tomb on one side. Kings, Architects and Artists on the other. There are some benches. A few drops of rain enter through the oculus. Just a few. I stand on the equator of the sphere, and look up. It is dizzying. The smell of incense and low murmur of tourists, respecting those praying at the benches straight ahead. A tomb. A church. Seems in Rome these often go hand in hand. I try to read the signs, but my Italian is terrible. And by terrible I mean non-existent. My wide-angle can not adequately capture the room. I put the camera away. We exit to the sound of a guitar playing Led Zeppelin through the square.
Embrace: Being Lost.
We walk in circles. Past a building labelled archives. Three times. Then a narrow alley. Paint peels off facades and flower continue to bloom in December. Restaurants ready for tourists dancing an early dinner. Graffiti everywhere. Street artists sell their wares, and the run begins to dim, bringing the perfect golden hue to the streets before the light is lost. My feet start to hurt from the cobblestone, but not enough to stop me. We wander, left, right. Alley. Main street. Crosswalks that are present but mean very little. We enter a tourist zone “selfie? selfie?” A firm no is required. Another tourist, another possible euro. But not this tourist. We take a quick right until we have a street all to ourselves.
Return: Trevi, Nighttime.
The sun has set, and now the green water glows and the marble reflects warmth it lacked during the day. It’s prettier. More inviting. The crowd is still thick, but still present. The tour groups are gone, just tourists jockeying for position. There are small gaps and I am able to make it down to the front. I throw in a coin. It means I will return to Rome. As if it was ever a doubt. Tradition trumps superstition. I smile. I close my eyes and listen to the fountain. I can hear it echo now off the surrounding buildings. It’s actually quite loud. I focus on it until the crowds disappear and the rushing water is all I hear. It’s soothing. Then I return to the present. Keep my eyes peeled for pickpockets. Then drink in the site once more before beginning the journey back towards our bed.
Enjoy: Pantheon, Nighttime.
It’s dark now. No starts to be seen. The yellow lights of the nearby cafes light out way as we round the bend yet again. The church is closed, and the square is empty, by tourist standards. A few stragglers standing in front of the Pantheon, savouring it’s elegance. A few hands held in the cold night on the steps across the way. Late diners are enjoying their meals in peace at the last remaining restaurants. It’s almost Christmas. The tourists are hiding now. The building glows and the warm lights reflect off the left over rain on the black cobblestones.
Required sleep and rejuvenation. The room is cold, but the blankets warm. I curl up, but don’t remember turning off the lights. The sign of a day well lived.