I had been here many times before. I even worked in Rome many years ago, but when our friend Ugo collected us from the airport, Rome felt different to me.
You see, the thing is that beautiful though it is, Rome doesn’t do it for me.
Rome’s energy is too chaotic for me, the Roman accent does not please my ears. I was born in Milan and I have always related to that kind of energy – I’ll tell you how I see Milan another time.
Anyway, as Ugo drove away from Ciampino on the Via Appia toward Rome, I sensed something different, the city itself seemed to vibrate at a gentler rate. The ancient buildings seemed “calm.”
Past the Terme di Caracalla, il Foro Romano, the Campidoglio, the Cathedral of Rome with its original Battistero, where Baptism was administered at an older age, and instead of a few drops on the forehead, the person had to actually be submerged in water.
Soon we saw FAO headquarters, where Florentina will be working as an intern.
I still marvel at it, twenty-three years-old less than a month ago, and here she is, with a bachelor and a master, Florentina has given up a well-paying job to pursue her dream of working at the UN, where she wants to do what she can to end world hunger.
I am SO proud of her. And I hope and pray that her many brilliant qualities and humanitarian nature are quickly recognized and a paying job offered to her asap (in New York preferably).
Crossing the Tevere (the Tiber) at the Castel Sant’ Angelo Bridge, I realized that Rome felt different because of my friend’s calm and soothing presence. Years of meditation and Yoga practices have grounded him to a level that not even Rome can ruffle him, or me in his presence.
Our friends’ apartment is stunning! Situated near the Vatican, one can see the Cupola di San Pietro from the windows.
The apartment itself is… when I stepped through the threshold, I felt a breath of peace, I caught a whiff of incense, my favorite Indian colors here and there…
Our friends and I met in India over a wretched-looking dog try to ease its hunger with a plastic bag.
We have been friends since, actually we are more like brothers and sisters.
On the way home after dinner last night, we stopped by San Pietro. Though late already, there was still a sprinkling of tourist in the Square. While Florentina took pictures, I stared at the obelisk in the middle of the square where, five years ago, Florentina, Andrew, Robert and I waited, while Hugh whizzed through the Vatican’s shop.
My Andrew… I looked and looked but the only place I found him, was in my memories. Oh darling, my arms ache with all the un-given hugs!
But today we are here for Florentina and we have a couple of apartments to look at, so my friends, wish us luck.
Ciao da Roma,