Posted by: jeannineatkins | January 13, 2009

Five Days in Rome.. and Back Again!

My daughter, her friend, Steph, and I had a good time in rainy Rome, surviving wild umbrellas in streets that smelled of exhaust and cigarettes, with astonishing stone statues and fountains and vistas around corners. Five days without wireless flew by, and the nineteen year olds were too busy for phone withdrawal. We toured the Coliseum, where if I didn’t quite get our guide’s allusions to Rambo, I liked his pride in the ancient city, his explanation of how the thing was built like Legos, and the way he implored us to imagine as he narrated facts.

We marveled at the Pantheon. Here’s a view of its exterior from a fountain where we ate gelato.

In the Vatican museum, Em drew from her art history to tell some stories behind the stories about the models for angels and apostles. We saw what Steph had called “that ceiling.” We all loved the Sistine Chapel and the enormous and glittery St. Peter’s cathedral though there were no candles to light as my friend Pat had asked me to do. Instead I touched the very worn foot of a huge statue of St. Peter, which has been kissed or stroked smooth by millions hoping for various mercies.

Later I found Sant’Andrea delle Fratte which had candles, two wild Bernini angels, and severe looking priests who looked as if they’d been staring from the dark confessionals for centuries. I scooted by them toward the painting of Mary in pale blue robe, looking peaceful and swoony, much more my type, and lit candles near her feet. One, as Pat instructed, in thanks for all she’s been given, and the other for, hey, if you wouldn’t mind, a cure or at least remission would be nice.

The girls enjoyed meeting some Italian boys, and some ex-pats, and I suppose I enjoy not knowing too much about those adventures. In the Rome airport, standing behind some garrulous young men, Steph leaned in toward Em and said, “I can’t stand American boys.” They agreed though the Italians might say things as goofy as those said by Americans, they’d liked missing most of their words, and they liked whispering commentary to each other and not being understood. Next to us, a little girl in a sparkly sweatshirt lumbered about with a plastic cell phone jammed to her ear.

No more glistening rain-slicked cobblestones, lemon trees, and umbrella pines. Hello snow and ice. But I’m glad for less drama on the roads, crunching cereal for breakfast; you really can have too many croissants, I think. Our most boring meal was in the most expensive restaurant. We had more fun our first night a small trattoria, where when Steph asked our waiter to take our picture, Mastromelli, was it, ran his hand over his bald pate then aimed the camera at himself; seeing we were amused, he folded napkins into creatures for more entertainment. I had good luck on side streets, drawn in my smells of fresh oregano and a curly headed little girl under her mama’s foot as she commandeered a wood stove, and another place where a grandpa watched over a boy’s shoulder as he did homework. He looked as if he’d been there for centuries, in a pleasant way.

Yesterday I picked up interlibrary loan books – a marvel worthy of Michelangelo, if different – restocked the bird feeders, cross-country skied on some of the best snow in a long time, bought fruit and vegetables, and revised the introduction to my poems. And opened an email from my daughter, back in L.A.: She wanted me to send the novel I was reading on the plane, along with some forgotten shoes and a sweatshirt. Fine. And, Mom, what do you think about London?



  1. Sounds like a lovely trip!

  2. WOW! What a great post – I felt like I was there. You are pure poetry. 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
    And I had to giggle about you being probably glad for not knowing too much about their adventures with the Italian boys. 😉

  3. It was fun!

  4. Thanks, Debbi.
    You can laugh now. Wait till your darling turns nineteen!

  5. “The girls enjoyed meeting some Italian boys, and some ex-pats, and I suppose I enjoy not knowing too much about those adventures.” Indeed.
    I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip, not that I had any doubts. I hope you said London sounds swell!

  6. Bellisimo! What lovely impressions and images. Thanks so much for sharing. Especially appreciated the local color in the small eateries. :9.
    Next stop: London!!

  7. About 4 years ago, I sat at that very same fountain eating gelato. Lisa and Simone had decided a few weeks ago they needed to go to Italy, and I decided I need to return. Hopefully next winter I will be eating gelato on that fountain again.
    I have a week off in August that Mom wanted to use to go somewhere exciting. You and Em should come too! If mom can take some time away from being the queen of art, that is.

  8. What beautiful photos, especially the happy girls! Some day all this is going to show up in a book, without you even expecting it.
    London–I love that city, and I’m NOT a city person. 🙂
    Welcome back–going away makes coming home even better.

  9. Oh, swoon! What a wonderful trip! And what fabulous pictures!
    And how lovely that you lit those candles, and with those twin thoughts in mind. Beaming good thoughts your way.
    “Yesterday I picked up interlibrary loan books – a marvel worthy of Michelangelo, if different”
    Giggle. I feel exactly the same way. Oh, the modern library, that work of matchless genius!

  10. Ahhh, belissima!
    Thanks for taking us there, Jeannine!

  11. O la la!
    Well I suppose that’s French, but my Italian is eentsy.
    Sounds like you had a wonderful, wonderful trip! (Your daughter sounds a lot like mine–could you send me…. and that book….)
    Sounds like winter is a good time to visit Rome. Filing that thought away for future reference.

  12. Em told me, mom, we have to go to London while there’s still theater. (and she’s said get to Venice while it’s still above water.) I hate to think that there’s this hurry, but true. And I’d love to see some glaciers…

  13. Re: Thanks,
    Thanks, Tracie — wish you were a little closer — but glad you enjoyed the trip!

  14. Thanks, Jama. Pizza will never be the same…

  15. That’s cool we chose the same gelato place!
    We’ll have to check Em’s August schedule — she may actually be in classes. Somehow I can imagine the queen of art taking off a week to go somewhere gorgeous! I don’t think arm twisting will be involved!

  16. Okay, I’ll watch out for gladiators among the Inuit! Or something…
    Glad you like London, as I’m not a city person either. I liked Rome, but felt I’d like the countryside more, whereas the girls love cities. I did not see a single dog, even a tiny one, and I felt I’d see more little kids in the country, too; and less smoky air would have been nice.
    And yes, going away does make one appreciate dogs, libraries, husband, etc!

  17. Yes, modern libraries — though I do have a desire to see the library at Alexandria one day. A glimpse of Egypt.
    And I’m glad you have computer hope. Yay for genius (and nerdy, in the best sense), husbands.

  18. Thanks for coming, Stacy!

  19. Well the girls were relying on French to converse with some Italians, so whatever works! Yes, we found early Jan. a good time — if you’re from New England, weather in the fifites seems not at all bad, and it’s cheaper and much less crowded. Just maybe don’t bring a wool coat, as I did — the rain made it a little smelly. I’d have been better off with a sweater and raincoat (for your planning files!!!)

  20. Beautiful pictures and words. You brought me there again!

  21. Iceland is the place for glaciers – you can snowmobile out on them. And there are geysers, and hot springs, and it looks like the surface of the moon. (Hubby and I stopped there for a few days once when travelling to Europe on Iceland Air.)

    I would like to present the Premio Dardos Award to you. This award acknowledges blogs that have cultural, ethical, literary and personal values. Congratulations!
    Please accept this award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog. Pass the award along to other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award. Again, congratulations!
    All best,
    Kerry Madden
    PS I love your pictures and stories and your tremendous support of other bloggers too!

  23. Wow! A beautiful account, and great pics (despite the weather)! Welcome home.

  24. Welcome Home!
    Loved the Rome pics with…”the girls”!Glad to hear that all had a great time!
    Yes, Pete and I enjoyed most of a day hanging out…nice to have some time just the two of us to catch up…REALLY think that he should get more serious about his Photography!
    England! Yes! We LOVED it there! Ahh…Em….such great taste in life!
    All the best!

  25. Thanks, Crissa. Hey, I just saw that you were going to be at World’s Eye Bookshop on Valentines Day? It’s a great bookshop. I wish I were there, as I’m friends with Dina and Ellen, and I’d love to meet you, but I’m signed on for the Odyssey in nearby South Hadley. I’ll see if I can preorder your book for you to sign.

    Kerry, you are the sweetest, as always. Coming from you, these words mean a lot.

  27. HI, Jill — glad to see you peeking out of the January writing cave! The rain was okay — no downpours, and better than what was happening in New England — and I’d trade it for less crowded museums. I think Jan. turned out to be a good time to go.

  28. Re: Welcome Home!

  29. Really?!!! My grandmother lives nearby and I grew up going to World Eye (the original building before it burned down) so this is a big deal to me. I’ll keep an eye out for your book, too. Next time we should meet up!

    Thank you, Jeannine…your trip looked amazing. Wow. I’m going to have venture further than the Deep South one of these days…I mean to tell you that I was given the award on behalf of the (I was supposed to say that)…Anyway, Happy New Year!

  31. That’s so amazing — talking at your old high school and now back at the old bookstore. I, too, remember it before the fire, and it’s so cool it resurected itself and is still alive in these hard times. Enjoy your morning!

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