A little game I like to play when traveling to new places is trying to sum up my impressions of the destination in one word. A word that captures the essence of my experience there and distills an overall sense of place. Not as easy as it may sound. While sipping a Bellini in Piazza De Popolo on my last evening in Rome, I did just that. Reflecting on my wonderful first visit to the eternal city, the word that resonated most was: passion.
You see and feel it everywhere, people here live with gusto! They seem to devour every day with the singular goal of deriving pleasure from almost every aspect of life. Even relaxing has been elevated to an art form, “la dolce far niente”…the sweetness of doing nothing. It was around my third Bellini in the warm evening sun, languidly admiring the beautiful buildings surrounding the Piazza while delicious food arrived at my table that I sighed and realized, I think I could get use to “la dolce far niente”! Even in this utterly relaxing moment, I was savoring every mouthful of food and the beautiful surroundings with passion and peace in equal measure.
Beauty surrounds you at every turn. With every vista, shop window, quaint side street, piece of art, bite of linguine, sip of wine, or ancient monument. I know this sounds a bit cliche, and you are probably imagining “O Sole Mio” in the background, but it is true. The profound amount of history, art and culture is almost an overload for the senses. You also realize very quickly that Romans are passionate about making everyday things beautiful as well. It doesn’t matter if it is a piece of ravioli, marble sculpture or bouquet of flowers…they are all crafted with pride and passion.
Even the way people in Rome communicate is passionate, often with animated, gesticulating gestures and expressions. There seems to be very little room in Rome for “beige” living. Every aspect of life is rich, layered and full of finesse. I won’t even get into how passionate Italians are about food in this post, but let’s just say that I have rarely eaten so well in my life.
It is very hard to sum up the history, culture, people, food, and robust energy that is found in Rome with one post, much less one word, but I stand by “passion” as mine. I hope that some of this amazing passion rubbed off on me during my short stay, I think we could all stand to take a bigger bite out of life sometimes. On my last day I tossed a coin into the Trevi Fountain and said a silent prayer, that I may return to Roma again and again. There is really no place like Rome!