“Where can I take someone who has been everywhere?” Having a girlfriend who has literally been all over the World, it’s a question I often find myself simmering over. When my dad mentioned meeting us in Rome it clicked. How could I have overlooked this eternal capital? Roma… A place I knew so little about, yet fell in love with the first time I visited and desperately wanted to return to.
My face is pressed up against the taxi window. As the taxi screams around every corner, i’m spellbound as I fell the city slowly envelope me. I’m not sure why Italian drivers are in such a rush but they are, all of them. “Beck’s look, look, look!” I urgently point at our first glimpse of a ruin. With her eyes wide and child-like, I share Beck’s excitement as she gazes up at a towering ancient monument. Tearing herself away she clammers over my side of the taxi and looks out in awe. I’m pulled to her side, she has seen a crumbling wall. For the remainder of the taxi ride we are like two little scallywags jumping from one side of the car to the other pointing and ogling at what lies beyond. Welcome to Rome.
There’s the Vatican, the Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps and Palentine hill but you know all that. You don’t need me telling you how amazing the iconic Roman attractions are because when you go, you’ll go and if you’ve been, you already know. Instead I want to share an evening walk with you.
My dad and his partner are fast asleep, a 10 hour time difference is now seeming like a 10 hour slap in the face to them i’m sure but Becks and I are restless and in need of a midnight snack. Hand in hand we stroll slowly beneath the christmas lights, in no particular direction, with no particular desire. The lights are splendidly overzealous, strung in every which way as though the stars are peering over our shoulders. It’s freezing outside, soft humid clouds slip freely from our mouths as we chat. Grandiose buildings, lit up by golden spotlight lead us further away from our beds. Canvas-roofed night markets, littered with tack pollute the cobbled alleyways and our guidance is merely a left or right depending on the busker. A squeaking recorder player who presumably believes the more untalented you are the more coin you make, steers us immediately right; A turn that would later lead us to the colosseum (thank you kind tone deaf sir).
The alleyways begin to peel away and the wide road opens up letting nature in. A tall tree stands side by stand to a desolate column; natures greatest standoff. Judging by the column, steadfast for hundreds of years, i’d say this healthy young tree doesn’t stand a chance. As Becks stops and takes a few pictures I listen to the terrible singer who has altered his mic to produce a cheap karaoke sound; I’m helplessly enjoying the ambience.
Up ahead Becks sees the colosseum for the first time.
“Oh my god, oh my god, ohmygod!”
Her usual, cool, sleek exterior turns to a frenzied panic. Her pace quickens and it doesn’t let up until she’s standing directly in front on it and even then she’s a tangled mess of photographs and awe-inspired splutters. I can’t help but giggle. That was probably how it was for me 6 years ago when I stood at this very spot, except this time there’s a Christmas tree. Much more romantic. It’s here I notice a young man slowly kneel down and produce a ring to his partner. I watch them kiss and hug in celebration, their friends cheering and all the other witness join in too. It seems i’m not the only one who thinks this city is romantic.
As midnight fades to a distant memory, so too does the busy streets. The few people left must be avoiding the footpaths, there is no one around. The marketeers have long gone and the buskers have left their back lane dreams be. Scuttling into a little cafe just before closing time, we wander the remainder of the way with a hot chocolate, hand in hand, ever-conscious of those stars peering over our shoulders. Let Rome be your guide.