I was about twelve years old and in Rome with my parents, on holiday. We were there during the hottest (and worst) month – August. Roman houses and pensiones don’t have air conditioning. At night, the oppressive heat entered every corner of the little hotel room we were staying in. I remember lying in the sweltering heat, feeling the sheets stick to me with sweat, while my mother fanned us to sleep so that we could get some rest before we were dragged around the city sight-seeing. I remember my parents buying me a porcelain brooch in the shape of a carnival face mask and me being amazed at the sight of 1 million lire notes in my father’s hands. Yep, this was before the Euro came into being.
I remember my father being tempted by chess sets carved out of wood, stone and marble where the chess pieces were all unique characters like monks or fairy creatures and other oddities, to move around.
I remember walking into St. Paul’s cathedral and being in awe. It was the first time I’d ever walked into something that huge, grand and imposing. The cool red and white marble provided such relief from the heat outside. I remember staring at Michelangelo’s Pieta.
Then later, outside, laughing at the sight of the ridiculous Swiss guards costumes, originally designed by Michelangelo but apparently, now simplified. Slivers of blue alternating with yellow, red and white plus a conquistadors hat atop their heads. Busy, is a kind word for it.
The Last Judgement and the Birth of Man were both covered in scaffolding that year, so was the Trevi fountain. It was a disappointment, but I threw a coin into the fountain anyway, determined to return one day and enjoy Rome on my own terms. Still waiting to return…