When I Paint My Masterpiece

Oh,the streets of Rome are filled with rubble,

Ancient footprints are everywhere.

You can almost think that you’re seein’ double

On a cold dark night on the Spanish Stairs.

–Bob Dylan

It wasn’t enough that this song was stuck in my head for our 8 day “Taste of Italy” tour during Bobbie’s semester break.  It kept coming out of my mouth as well.

Probably cost me a few friends and made me a coupla enemies.  O, well…

Roma, Roman Holiday, Three Coins in a Fountain, Rossano Brazzi, Vatican City, the river Tiber, Ancient History I, a ghetto dating to the first century, it’s residents responsible for building the Colosseum and influencing the course of Roman cuisine.  I didn’t know that.  No building may be taller than St. Peter’s basilica.  One million Romans and 19 million tourists each year.  I didn’t know that either.

I do know that standing inside the Colosseum on that bright, cool Spring morning two weeks ago there was the unmistakable  smell of death.  Looking at the exposed underground chambers which held the slaves called gladiators before they emerged to fight either lions or each other, surrounded by digital point-and-shoot owners from all over the world, I could smell the unmistakable odor of fear mixed with mortality.  Rome taught me to let the dead bury the dead.  I didn’t have to know about it.

The rest of the city, even in the ruins and ancient remnants scattered everywhere else and filled with stray cats, teems with a warm and gentle life nourished by music and gelato.

And then there was Florence…

…Firenze as it is called by those in the know.  This city is a living museum with one helluva gift shop!  Everything is art, from the buildings to the people to the way they live.  Narrow main drags filled with extraordinary boutiques, strolling crowds spilling out into the street, quietly parting to let thru bicyclists and non-honking cars, taxis and busses.   And statues are everywhere…

Michelangelo made one statue of David.  We saw three.  The original was moved from the outdoors to the Uffizi, home of the  Medici collection.  It was here that I learned I have a very limited tolerance for medieval and renaissance art.

And Venice, a fantasy more than a city, a city without streets!

Everything moves on water, a maze of canals some with and some without sidewalks. And no one can afford to live there and some fantasies are bigger than others…

…and even in the rain the island of Burano just is…

Thanks to all of you who sent suggestions for what to see–and watch out for–in Italy.  Many warned us that there would be just too much to see in 8 days–especially with only 6 of them spent actually on land.  Of course you were right.  Fortunately, we understood this “taste of Italy” to be just that.  We took it all in at a leisurely pace and were not above sitting still through a relaxed, music-filled  meal in a Tuscan ristorante or on  a park bench people-watching or simplly gawking at the beauty which seemed to be everywhere.  In our 6 days we never heard horns honked in anger or babies crying or voices raised in real anger–not unlike what we experienced in Bhutan.

There is ample reason to return.

To see all the photos to:


Published in: on April 11, 2010 at 4:23 pm  Comments (9)