03 May 2013

Historical Excursions in Modern Rome

A monument all the more affecting due to the effects of time
Rome is a city full of history. In some ways, it practically invented history. It is full of ancient monuments and powerfully traditional ways of life; it is, as they would say here, molto impressionante.

Certainly for me as a former tour guide, resident and casual scholar of Roman history, it's had a lasting impact on me. I suppose also marrying a Roman means I couldn't escape the effects of the city, even if I wanted to. Which of course I don't.

Chiara I arrived last night at Fiumicino airport to attend a wedding here this weekend. So we're busy with preparation and social obligations. But in these fifteen hours I've been struck once more by the city's history - but not the ancient one. Rome's recent and more personal history is the one that's hit me hardest this trip.

Life in Rome for us, even if we're only here for a couple of days, immediately falls into a familiar rhythm. The one we used to live. We take care of business, visit with friends and family, have aperitivi in the evening and eat as much pizza as we can possibly manage, as often as we can.

Each morning I get up and walk to the nearest cafe for a cappucino and cornetto, then head up the street to the edicola, where I buy Corriere dello Sport - the AS Roma-centric sports paper. Then I walk back home and we formally begin our day.
A bridge in Rome connected, as they all are, to a Road to Rome
And the days here, which more often than not consist of running errands and juggling social arrangements, also have a familiar - and pleasant - feel to them.

And if there's some free time and I'm on my own, I'll head down to the centre to wander through the Pantheon, or meander in the neighbourhood of St. Peter's Square. Historically significant edifices and popular tourist attractions.

But I go because that's what I used to do every day when I lived and worked here; giving tours and basking in 2,000 plus years of history. Now I visit those same places to revel in the nostalgia and history contained in the two years when I was a Roman. Well, I wasn't Roman. But I lived here, I was part of the city.

And my own history is commingled with Rome's, and the drama of gladiators and popes and poets.

But also with more personal tales, and memories of a younger more innocent and confused me. I turned some of those tales into a one-man show called Roman Around, but even that is now a part of my history.

And as I wander the city, taking care of present-day business - like buying sunscreen and wedding-appropriate socks - I can't help but adopt the patterns and ways of life from years ago.

As time moves forward, it pulls the past along with it. And there's nowhere I enjoy that process more than in Rome.

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