Something Awesome, Something Awful in Rome

It’s always not easy to transit from being accompanied to being alone, especially in this ancient city, Rome.

Nalia still didn’t get her passport back, and Levin was not part of this journey, so I had to explore this historic city on my own.

Walking out of the Termini, my first impression of Rome was “Where is the ancient city? Where are the magnificent churches and buildings?" The surroundings of Roma Termini had no difference from other tourist cities. Furthermore…the map was still useless; I could never find the name of the street I was standing at on the map.

I was a bit low, alone, and frustrated dragging my luggage up and down the hills on the cobblestone roads in Rome searching for my hotel. But my mood was lightened up immediately after I found out the almighty Roman Forum and the immense Colosseum were just few hundred meters away.

I couldn’t believe what I had seen when standing in front of the Colosseum. It was one of the most important and greatest architecture in the world’s history, and even though I had seen it on TV for many times, I still couldn’t believe that I was actually “seeing" it.

It was a very complicated feeling and sentiment to me. On one hand, it was just an old building made of stones and marbles, which I had seen many since I came to Europe. However, on the other hand, I recalled that it was not just a building; it was THE building. Observing its size, structure, and façade, and thinking of its history and stories that once happened in it, suddenly I admired the Colosseum with awe. As the witness of the great Roman Empire, the Colosseum was still standing there after a thousand year had passed, and now I was finally there witnessing this miracle.

With that astonishing start, I regained my strength and confidence in exploring Rome even with no plans and knowledge to Rome (I didn’t do any research about Rome because I thought I could follow Nalia’s footsteps….the consequence of being lazy T_T).

Holding the map on my hand, I wandered in the streets of web, and circled all the attractions I had unexpectedly encountered. To me, the map of Rome was like a treasure map marked with locations of ancient treasures everywhere. Within 3 and a half days, I had circled almost 80% of marked attractions on the map, including the Vatican city area.

It was an entirely different trip from the one I had in Venice. I had company in Venice, but then I was all alone in Rome. Moments in Venice were casual and carefree since no specific tasks to complete, while which in Rome were about beating the clock since there were too many to see.

Of course, the two trips still had many similarities. I got lost a lot in both cities; one in the zigzagged alleys, and the other at the crossroads that were never at right angle. I was always surrounded by another man; the same one for all time in Venice, and different one every two hours in Rome. Plus, I had decent Italian food in both cities; for me it was a dream-come-true tasting the genuine traditional Italian pastas and pizzas…yummy~

I had many good moments in Rome, but bad moments as well. No matter how long I had lived or how much I had experienced, I was always too naïve; believing that there are good people willing to offer with no strings attached. The Roman soldier who “robbed" me for 10 Euros for taking photos for me, which is so sarcastic now since I had lost all my photos; the “kind" stranger who showed me the Spanish Steps and the Fountain of Trevi but ended up taking my hand and wanted to take me home and even marry me (he said ROMA is the city of AMOR, so when in Rome, I should do as Romans do); the young good-looking guy who asked me to take photos of him and in fact a drunk stalker, following me, kissing and touching me in a dark alley. They made me almost lose my faith in kind humanity.

Thank God! There were still real generous and kind people in Rome. The mayor-hating man who knew all about ancient Roman history, and took me to a viewpoint for the Roman Forum, and with whom I watched the performance of Chinese for the upcoming Chinese New Year; the young waiter in the restaurant I had my late lunch, who had a cute smile and turned out an amateur photography artist; the handsome hotel staff at the counter, who suggested me several nice local restaurants for traditional Italian cousine; the freelanced political journalist, who caught me reading the billboard of Roman Vacation, and hence talked to me, took me to the Island on the Tiber, and then said farewell to me politely in the end. I was very blessed after all 🙂

This Roman trip would have had a perfect ending had not my camera been missing. I found out my camera had been gone after buying the ticket to the airport at the Termini. It must have dropped off or been stolen on my way from the hotel to the train station, and there was no way I could find it back. Though I’m still in grief at my loss, both the camera and thousands of photos I had taken since I came to the UK last summer, the only thing I can do is send my blessing to my camera and whoever found/took it.

It’s a very strange feeling that I can still see those photos in my mind like a flash sometimes. Those must be visual memory fragments from my review after taking each picture.  I miss them, the memories and the photos. Me with the Colosseum under the blue sky, standing on the St. Peter’s Square with the splendid Basilica St. Pietro in the background, and me with my hand in the Mouth of the Truth. I had instilled  my emotion and thought at the moment into each picture taken, and that part of memory was sealed in the photo, until I see the frozen moment again. Too bad that I could never see those pictures again, and hence my memory of Rome is sealed in somewhere now and forever.

But who knows. I had made a wish by the Fountain of Trevi that I want to go back to Rome with my lover someday. So maybe that was how the fountain granted my wish, to take away my memory of Rome from me so I’ll be forced to go back there again. Well…that was a very extreme means, wasn’t it?

Anyway, my Italian dream has come to an end. Now it’s time to pursue new dreams…so…where will be my next stop?

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