May 3, 2012
It is the last day in Rome, and I am sitting at my kitchen table in my Italian apartment, writing. It’s such a bittersweet departure. For weeks I have been saying I will never leave this city. But the change in weather in the past week made me want to go back to the States. I think the week-long rainy streak during finals week impacted my opinion. I was cooped up in my tiny apartment, nose buried in Ancient Roman History. Once finals were out of the way, I was determined to embrace the city one last time. The clouds parted, and the Mediterranean sun reappeared to bless my last couple of days in Rome.
One last time in a quick two-day whirlwind, my roommate Tina and I toured the city, hitting all our favorite attractions: St. Peters, Castle San Angelo, Piazza Navona, Colosseum, Campidoglio, the Wedding Cake, Piazza del Popolo and the Circus Maximus. Some tour guides would call our adventures the “Post Card Tour.” Basically we needed to say goodbye to Rome’s great monuments. The end of the program mirrors the beginning. Two bookends: one where I was introduced to the wonders of Rome, the other where I visited the same places now as old friends.
So, once again, I must remind myself that it’s the last day—but what a great last day. April 21 happens to be the anniversary of the founding of the city I have grown to love. I mean, symbolically, there is no better way to end this experience than celebrating the birth of the caput mondi (head of the world in Latin, referring to Rome, of course). I hugged the Colosseum, though I had to deal with some tourists staring. The Circus Maximus set the stage for a re-enactment of the foundation myth of Rome. Sitting on the grassy hill of the Circus Maximus, looking out over the Palatine Hill, I listened to the re-telling in Italian of how Romulus set the boundaries around Rome. A once in a lifetime experience I must say. Happy 2765th birthday, Rome!
Later, on the Terrace of the Wedding Cake overlooking ancient ruins of the Forum of Julius Caesar and the Colosseum, Tina and I listened to an orchestra play as part of the celebrations. While looking out over the city with a beautiful soundtrack, I was able to just look back on the semester and how perfect it has been. The rooftops of Renaissance residences in orange stucco dotted with the domes of Baroque churches sparked memories of class excursions and weekend escapades. While I was complaining about how bipolar Rome can be in terms of weather, my roommate said something profound, “Rome is like Love.” It’s true.
Sometimes you hate it, sometimes you love it. It grows boring yet there is always something new to learn. You argue and fight sometimes, but in the end you realize you were meant for each other. So Rome, mi amore, it’s been wonderful. Grazie per tutto.