November 10, 2012 – When in Rome
My days in Umbria pass too quickly and soon enough I find myself (with much less misdirection) on a train to Rome. I’ve made a page long list of things I want to see and had the sense to prebook my tickets for the Colosseum and the Vatican a month or so ago. I’ve got seven days before I’m supposed to fly back home to the States. I’m not sure it’s going to be enough time. I’m not sure I’m ready to go.
I’m thinking about this, and about how to extend my adventures as the train slows its way into the Roma Termini Station.
I once wrote a scene in a book where four brothers do a juggling act in front of the Trevi Fountain. It’s the first thing I go in search of. From the train station I buy a ticket for the metro and take the subway to the Barberini stop where I climb up the from the underground, pay brief tribute to the statue of Triton, and wander down the old streets to the bigger draw (sorry Triton). The idea for the Trevi Fountain was hatched up by Pope Urban VIII in 1629 when he thought the current fountain lacked pizazz. He asked the famed sculptor Bernini to sketch out some ideas, but the project fizzled out when the Pope died. Eventually, in 1732, under a different Pope the statue was put up to a contest and the artist Salvi won the commission. He died before it was completed (apparently death was an epidemic of time) and Pannini took it in hand and finally finished the thing up in 1762 (and we complain about construction projects these days).
Due to its scale and impressive detail it’s still considered one of Rome’s most famed landmarks.
I believe that as the sound of voices and the splash of water hits my ears even before I come around the corner to the plaza. It’s a madhouse. There must be five hundred people here. At least. Everyone is scrambling to get their picture taken or to throw a coin into the fountain. Local legend asserts that throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain will assure the thrower’s eventual return to Rome. I look around. There’s no way my jugglers would be able to perform here (not easily) on this day. I can barely make it to the ledge that overlooks the fountain from the right hand side, much less to a space where I could perform a complicated juggling act. I don’t even try to get down to the steps. I think about throwing in a coin, but I’m not sure I want to come back.
I admire the stonework the best I can what with the shuffling and edging- in distraction of humanity (and a horse) all around. I try to feel something significant. But I just feel like me. Content, I make my way through the throng, give a glance over my shoulder at the Fountain, and go to catch the subway to my next stop.
So this is Rome.
If I ever get back to that book, I just might have to rewrite that scene.