Monday, April 5, 2010

My Favorite City

I arrived in Rome Thursday morning, before any of my friends, so I spent the day with Jack, my high school friend. (There is a slight height difference between us. Can you tell?) We visited a beautiful church. One of the 4 billion in Rome. Then we went to Old Bridge and ordered huge cones of gelato.
And the girl was happy.

By the way, I am not going to tell you how many times I got gelato while I was in Rome. It's embarrassing. Let's just say the number is higher than twice a day.

I told Jack about what Scott Hahn said. "Is it true?" He asked. "Do you feel like you are coming home?"

"Yes," I realized with wonder. "When I visited Westminster Abbey and the Reichstag, I thought, 'It's nice they have these beautiful buildings.' But when I visit St. Peter's, it is mine. My city. My birthright."

That evening, my sister Lillian and I had a glorious reunion after far too many weeks apart. We spent all day Friday wandering around Rome, just us.

The Piazza Navona, Campo di Fiori, the Pantheon, and the Spanish Steps were all gifted with our presence. Next to the Spanish Steps is a little museum commemorating the poet Keats, one of Lillian's favorites.
So we did what any good PLS majors would do. We paid the 3 euro charge to stand in the room where Keats breathed his last (at only 27 years old!). Then we read this poem aloud together. I think he would have appreciated it.

After that we walked to the Trevi fountain to toss our coins.
One coin means you will come back to Rome. Two coins means you will fall in love while you are there. I threw two, just to see.

Friday evening we went to Stations of the Cross with the Pope at the Coliseum. It was a massive Notre Dame reunion. Hundreds of ND students waited for hours to be there. We packed together in the crowd, praying in reverent Latin: "Pater noster, qui est in caeli..." We cheered "Viva Il Papa!" with love for our dear Pope Benedict.
Whoever says Notre Dame is not really Catholic... should have been there.

Saturday night, all of the PLS majors in Rome went to dinner together at Dar Poeta, famous for its pizza and, I guess, it's poetic nature. Fitting.
We sat in the plaza of charming Trastevere to sip wine. A mean, angry drunk tried to attack us, and Joey (that guy in the middle) bravely fought the man off and saved the day, like a true epic hero.
Over dinner, we talked and talked. Our senior theses, travel adventures, and life plans were the main topics. Both my trips to Rome have centered on female friendship and camaraderie, and this night was no exception.

Sunday morning we went to Mass in St. Peter's Square. Nothing could beat seeing our beloved Pope. But a vicious rainstorm and hordes of Spaniards fighting to get Communion made this one of the more miserable papal Masses I've attended.
Not really up for singin' in the rain. At least we had an umbrella!

I flew home Monday evening, after a terrifying cab ride to the airport (the taxi driver tried to convince me to go to a hotel with him, ugh!). My trip to Rome was far too short; I am already planning how I can go back.

I totted up the pros (my friends, Keats, the Pope, gelato) and cons (rainy Sunday) of the trip. And I realized that, in spite of the Trevi Fountain, there was no dashing new man in my life (the taxi driver does NOT count).

But I wished to fall in love, and fall in love I did. Not with a handsome Italian man, but with my friends, who I love more and more each day. With my sister, who will always drive me crazy and will always be my favorite person in the world. Most of all with Rome.

I love Rome patriotically, unfairly, absurdly. Don't tell London; it might get jealous. But I do believe I have found my all-time favorite city.
Ciao bella, The Book Girl


  1. Your coin tossing skills certainly seem to work - back a year later!

    I'm glad you went to Stations. I kind of regretted not going last year. We really did luck out with our weather last year. I know it rained on Easter Sunday the year before too.

  2. but how blessed are we to be able to compare multiple papal mass experiences! I've been to five and I managed to get communion at them all! I need another one soon though!

  3. What Shakespeare were you reciting? :) You *are* lucky-- I'm living vicariously through these last two posts!

  4. I did Sonnets 18 and 116, plus a healthy dose of Yeats and Gerard Manley Hopkins for good measure. Am I a nerd? Yes. Am I having the time of my life? Absolutely. It is true, I am blessed beyond measure. Thank you for your comments, Ruth and Jo! I'll try to keep the adventures exciting!