When I was nineteen years old (thirty-four! years ago), I lived in Rome, Italy for six months. In less than two weeks, I'll be going back for a visit. Been looking forward to it for a l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ong time. Been learning italian in my car for the last month. Everthing's arranged. Can't wait. And yet, I'm feeling every so anxious about it. You see, at my house Rome has taken on a mythic quality. ROMA, site of youthful adventure. ROMA, where I chummed around with now-famous (and many more not-so-famous) actors. ROMA, city of fabled bread, pizza, coffee, wine, and gelato. Eva, my daughter, visited there two years ago. I told her she would love it. She did. I've been telling my husband he'd love it ever since I first met him. What if he doesn't? This is the source of my anxiety.
When I was there another lifetime ago, I lived on Via del Governo Vecchio, the street of the old government, two minutes walk from Piazza Navona. There was a pizzeria in our building. Pizzeria Baffeto. It's still there. In fact, it's listed in every guidebook I've looked at under "best pizza in Roma." Best pizza I've ever had. I loved, loved, loved living there. I was penniless. I was young & dumb. Didn't really know what a great opportunity it was to be there or what I should be doing and remembering until well after I left. What I do remember is that I loved being surrounded by antiquity. I walked everywhere. Best walking city I've ever been too. Just being there was such a treat. I'm looking forward to returning as a grown-up with money to do things I never got to do before, like take a taxi, or visit the Vatican, or go inside the Colosseo, or shop, shop, shop.
We scored a little apartment on Via del Governo Vecchio for the first part of our stay. Just room enough for the three of us (our son's flying down from Germany to join us). On the street where I used to live. I'm going to try to lose my feeling of anxiety before we go. I want to enjoy this trip. I don't want to overdo it and exhaust myself and my companions, since I am prone to want to do everything that comes into my mind and feel like I must squeeze every ounce of culture out of the experience of being abroad. I will try not to take Ron and Owen on the Roman Death March. I will try to remember that this may not be the only time I'll get to go back. I want them to enjoy themselves and love it there as much as I do. I want to love it as much as I think I do.
So that is the dilemma of the fabled Roman Holiday. I hope it will live up to its reputation.