Two girls from Marion Street in Albany, Oregon, together in Rome. My best friend from childhood visited me with her family during my tenth week. It was, without doubt, my best week in Italy.
I have known this woman since I was three years old. When Sandy found out I was coming to Rome, she decided, on the spot, that she would come visit. The idea of two girls from a little town in Oregon meeting in Rome was simply irresistible.
It was an incredible week, and a great opportunity for me to see my newly adopted city through fresh eyes. On Sunday, we went to St. Peter’s Square, hoping to catch the Pope at the window. I looked at my watch, and just at the moment I was about to announce we had to wait 2 hours, we heard his voice. Turned out, it was a very special day in the Vatican, a Beatificazione — a ceremony to honor 8 martyrs, the step made right before sainthood. We were so excited, we broke into tears.
Later, we teased Sandy for calling it a beautification ceremony, bringing to mind pictures not of Saints, but of the Pope planting trees in St. Peter’s Square.
Other highlights: our discovery of a type of hot dog, called a topolino, at one of my favorite bakeries; a great dinner with my landlady at a Calabrese restaurant popular with Italian celebrities; and two jam-packed days of museums and shopping in Florence.
Their teenage daughter, Brittany, wanted to see the catacombs. They are underground tombs outside Rome where early Christians were buried. Our guide was an Italian woman who called it the toom-bah.
We walked through tight, narrow corridors with one-story-high earthen walls, scattered with hundreds of rectangular recesses that’d been cut for bodies over a thousand years ago. There was no exit in sight. It was at that moment that I had a serious anxiety attack. I didn’t want to say anything because when I looked at my friend’s daughter, she looked as freaked out as me (turned out she wasn’t) and I didn’t want to frighten her. Once I saw the exit, I recovered and was able to finish the rest of the tour.
Barring this surprisingly claustrophobic voyage, our week together was remarkable for its perfection! The weather was autumnal and warm, the crowds small, our meals close to perfection.
Two weeks after the attack in America, I felt I should return home. However, I knew that my childhood friend was coming to Rome especially to visit me. This kept me in Italy to continue my studies, and to complete this life-enhancing experience. For that, I shall always be grateful to my friend from Marion Street.
Un Po P.O.V.
Most people I know prefer Florence to Rome. I would agree it is a gem of a city, with art unrivalled in Rome. It is also a city full of tourists. If you want to shop, it’s great. If you want to learn about the residents, it’s not.
I, however, prefer the city of Rome. It is a mad, passionate, noisy, living city. There is plenty of beauty and art to experience. But, there is no way to miss the cittadini a Roma.