In fact that will be only my second ever visit to Italy, a country that has always fascinated me and whose ancient history was the focus of my higher and university education. Long before I got to exam-level education I was as a kid reading about what the ancient Greeks and Romans got up to while my younger brother got a more rounded education on his skateboard with friends in the street. I was more fascinated by the Greeks than the Romans and was a key influencer in persuading my Ancient History teacher at College to arrange a class trip to Greece, which they hadn’t done before and so we did. One of the best trips abroad I ever made and still lives that way in memory now.
Italy and the Romans never grabbed me like Greece and the Greeks and so I’m only now heading out to what has been dubbed (in error) by some as the ‘eternal city’. That will only always be Jerusalem for me.
This trip will be a follow on from my unplanned and impulsive explorations of places I’ve never visited last year. I booked it last year on the cheap and then more or less forgot about it until now and only now I’m wondering whether I’m giving myself enough time.
It will be a 3 night stay in a small city hotel in the heart of Rome a short walk from the Colosseum. I read that it will be noisy. I had initially in mind to see as many of the ancient sites I read so much about as a student. The realisation is only now dawning on me that as a Londoner I think I live in a city steeped in history. Rome was the ancient equivalent of a high-rise megacity while Londinium was, well, no more than a northern irrelevant minor city (a bit like Leeds today).
Then I remembered that I could nip across the border into another country again just a few miles from my hotel. Two-countries-in-ones were a theme last year and so it continues. The world’s smallest independent state, The Vatican, should also be a must on my trip. Not sure if I have to carry my passport as I step out of Italy and into the Holy See. I’m not a Roman Catholic and so the place will not be of any awe to me this side of my visit. I will be posting up my feelings t’other side though so let’s See.
Finally it just struck me that I’m going to the city one of my favourite films of all time was set and filmed in: Roman Holiday starring Hollywood legends Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. I know I will want to seek out some of the locations in that movie: the steps where she eats her ice cream after she cut her hair short. The cafe where she and Peck first had coffee, the fountain of hopes and, of course, the Mouth of Truth.
How much will I get to do without being disciplined at setting a pace that will enable me to capture and experience a Rome in that best of all cameras – my memory – will be up to me to manage wisely at the time.