Last evening in Roma as I philosophize about life in Piazza San Pietro

With less than 18 hours before I boarded my transatlantic flight back to my 9 to 5 daily routine of work, bills and laundry, I yearned to prolong my Italian adventure and soak in as much of “la dolce vita” as possible.  Even if that meant un-elegantly hanging out of the window of my speeding taxi, snapping pictures left, right and centre - of absolutely anything and everything worthy of digital documentation - as it wove its way along the roadway, racing me to the tarmac. Since it was now well past 6:00pm and the blush of dusk was soon to descend upon this golden hued metropolis, my pink-sneakered feet had to skedaddle and hop, skip and jump their way along the trodden cobblestoned paths en route to the Vatican and Piazza San Pietro.

Located within the grounds of Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica is an archeological gem, the site of the burial place of the apostle, Peter.  Originally commissioned by the first Christian Emperor Constantine, in 319, the Basilica is a symbolic representation of the beginning of Christendom.  It  somehow seemed fitting that my last evening in Roma would be spent traipsing along the sacred ground of St. Peter’s Square, musing and philosophizing about life (one of my absolutely favourite rainy day indulgences) - simultaneously in sync with the collective wisdom of long-gone generations. 

It’s not like I actually got to go inside the Basilica, or even view any of its hallowed magnificence, my pink-sneakered feet instead respectfully ambled around the sacred stonework that lined the perimeter of this famous edifice.  Meandering along the well-trodden stones, I couldn’t help but place myself into a different time zone, one that was not of this century - but one that I felt attuned and connected to – somehow inexplicably linking me to the past and especially to those whose footsteps had also traipsed upon these weather-worn passageways.

Possessing somewhat of an obsessive and reflective nature, I delight in spending hours upon hours in deep contemplative brooding, pensively ruminating on the unfinished goals, dreams and aspirations of those who lived and breathed in a different era than I. It is no wonder then that I so easily and gratefully lost myself to these meditative states, sinking deeper with each step upon a dusty pebbled path, setting off a flood of emotions and imagined memories.

My two days in Roma enlightened me to the fact that I didn’t have to mad dash around this spectacular city and see all of its “not to be missed” sights and that it was alright if I perhaps viewed only 1 or 2 of those “Top 10” venues, thus permitting myself to relax and indulge in the everyday ordinariness of life. Viewing the rituals and customs of everyday folk - from a hunched over grandmother protectively cradling her grandson’s hand as she helped guide him across a bustling street - to chain-smoking gringos speeding by on sputtering vespas – I was grateful to just meander and be witness to the organized “disorganized” Italian version of  the daily hurly-burly.

And so it was upon that golden twilight evening – en route to the square of St. Peter - that I stumbled upon my Julia Roberts moment, unintentionally re-creating that well-known scene in “Eat, Pray, Love”, where her character laps an ice-cream whilst resting on a concrete bench. Not a huge fan of the cold frozen treat, I nonetheless felt an urge to indulge, as I spotted a group of habit clad nuns grapple with the rapidly melting gelato, as they laughingly attempted to devour the now dripping concoction before it splattered all over their regal robes.

There was definitely something almost divinely extraordinary to it - the haphazard placement of sorbet loving black clad gals (aka – the nuns) deliciously savouring gelato that seemed to bring out the impish, fun-loving side of otherwise serious disciples.

Vanilla and chocolate laced sorbet firmly in hand, I spied an empty stone bench, upon which I could rest my weary pink-sneakered clad footsies, and just chill, and watch the world race on by.

It therefore both astonishes and delights me that the mischievous gremlins of travel felt it somehow necessary to delay my visit to this holy site until my last evening in Roma, spewing out a contrived melange of time constraints, haphazard delays and missed opportunities, all leading me to “being in the right place at the right time”, gifting me an almost spiritual and tranquil sojourn that took me quite by surprise.

Come traipse along ancient weather-worn stones and contemplate life with me…

Next week – Arrivederci Roma – Do my pink-sneakered feet get to the airport in time? Stay tuned!!

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