I had not seen the film, Roman Holiday, in many years. In fact, I’d forgotten the entire middle part of the movie – the fun parts where Gregory Peck is taking Audrey Hepburn around Rome, to do all the things she’s always wanted to do…stereotypical things one does as a tourist in Rome; ride on a scooter, eat gelato on the Spanish Steps, have an apertivo in a cafe on a pretty piazza, dance along the river, and put your hand in the Bocca della Verita.
Watching the movie, I remembered doing all of those things too. Well, I’ve never put my hand in the Bocca della Verita, a very popular tourist attraction. It just seems like something more fun to do with a friend or two hovering over you.
The first time I went to Rome, this lovely Roman man I’d met, arranged for a friend of his to show me around on his scooter. Why didn’t the Roman take me around you ask? The Roman guy was married. Anyway, that’s another story.
So I did have my own Roman Holiday, minus the romance.
That was ok with me, I fell in love with Rome.
Enjoying a gelato or an apertivo, climbing the Spanish Steps, and wandering around the Colosseum, are some of the tourist experiences a holiday in Italy is made of, and good enough reasons to go to Rome. For if ever there was a city or place that is perfect for a temporary escape from reality, it is Rome.
I read an editorial recently about the way movies, such as Roman Holiday, trivialize Rome, and do not depict what’s real or even interesting about the city. In fact, my interpretation of the article is that the author thinks that all of those tourist things are quite boring, and only someone in a coma would find them interesting.
I’ve often wondered if I lived in Rome, (I think of living in Rome about a hundred times per day), would it lose its charm? Have I been hypnotized by a Hollywood vision of Rome? Do I return there, time after time, only to see with a tourist’s eyes? Would I move to Rome and discover, I’d made a huge mistake?
There is something about Rome. I don’t know if it’s in the air…something invisible that seeps into your mind and takes hold very subtly, until one day you realize that you love this place and you don’t know how it happened.
Certainly the raw beauty of the city is enough to make even the most worldly traveler take notice. I’m a sucker for beauty. If it’s different and visually arresting, I’m a goner. Probably Rome had me from minute one, just on looks alone.
But it’s more than that. Romans are so lively and passionate. They can seem intimidating at first, but I have found Romans to be some of the friendliest and most helpful people anywhere. It’s hard to imagine that they are the descendants of people who screamed for blood, as Gladiators and animals met for battle to the death, in the Colosseum.
No, I don’t think moving to Rome would be a mistake at all. Instead, I think I would find new things to love about Rome. I’d enjoy watching the tourists eating gelatos on their rented Vespas. And I’ll remember when I was once one of them.
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