Last year when we left Barcelona it seemed like the end of a trip of a lifetime, but another ATG route, this time in Italy, made me eager to try again. Our younger son and his sweet friend signed on, then our older son and his wife (being sturdy Alaska travelers) cleared time, and planned to fly over the pole to join us.
We would have a couple of days in Rome and then a walk in Umbria from Montefalco to Assisi – crossing a hot valley through sunflowers, wheat fields, and vineyards, up and over Mount Subasio (“descending in the footsteps of St. Francis”), and a stay at an Umbrian villa.
We arrived at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, took the Leonardo Express to Termini station, and a taxi to our hotel. In spite of travel fatigue haze, with map in hand, we joined the river of tourists.
Suddenly everything is outdoors – we walked narrow cobblestoned streets cluttered with tables and waiters and diners. An extra table by each café was piled with the fresh produce on offer that night – eggplants, mushrooms, zucchini – the vegetables are part of the street scene like postcard racks and tourist trinkets. Then suddenly – lit by floodlights and almost obscured by tourists – the Trevi Fountain.
We ate our first gelato and sorbetto and our first after-nine p.m. dinner (not that time mattered in our jetlagged state), and fell into bed at midnight.
Early mornings are my favorite – anyplace. They aren’t always possible but always delicious. In Rome I would open our tall wooden shutters (fling them open as they do in novels) and nearly touch the building opposite. Workers tossed bags of rubbish into miniature trucks and street sweepers, both human and machine, prepared for the day. Footsteps of the few sleepy tourists up and about echoed off nearby, still-shuttered buildings.
I could easily have spent the day on our hotel’s rooftop terrace where we ate breakfast and planned our assault on Rome (much gladiator imagery comes to the fore when the day’s plans include the Colosseum). We compiled an impossible list including the Vatican and the Pantheon with its magical opening to the heavens. We ate hearty breakfasts to fortify the troops.
I know I’ll talk about the food on this trip a lot here, and I think I might spend the rest of my life thinking about it. Also about how to go back to Italy. At the end of our trip I made sure to throw a coin over my shoulder into Trevi Fountain – we all did.