Thursday, July 20, 2017

A midsummer night's thoughts

Back from travel and more travel, lovely but draining. It was a conference, but a conference in Europe, so I got work credit and the benefits of seeing life from another perspective.
  • The perspective of "oh, yeah, Roman ruins, no big deal" to those who live there, but a wondrous thing to me. Walking on roads that I now see are laid in the Roman pattern while not being in Rome gives me a whole sense of the empire's reach that we never got in Latin class and a new appreciation for those stylish nail-soled boots. 
  • And to see foundations laid by the Romans, built up by the Normans, abandoned, reclaimed, repurposed into air-raid shelters or what have you--again, magical. Knowing that there's not a square inch that hundreds of people in previous millennia haven't already walked on--which is not the case where I live--still amazing.
  • Here as there, people take their dogs everywhere, especially the elderly ladies with their tiny dogs, as a matter of course.
  • How I know I'm a hopeless rube: dinner at 9:30 p.m., however delicious, takes some adjustment when you're used to getting up at 5 a.m.
  • The blue of the evening sky. The moon. The moon in the blue sky even close to midnight.
  • Architecture and public sculpture--aspirational, representational, and worth seeing--everywhere I looked. Things happened in these spaces, some terrible, and they were commemorated lest we forget. 
  • Walking to see everything, about 10 miles a day. When you walk, you own the space in a different way than when you ride or drive. We took trams or buses some places, of course, but walked much more than we had before. In my usual walks, I feel as though I own the terrain, as Thoreau did, because I can visualize it all and see the minute changes.  Walking in a strange place gave me a temporary possession or perhaps a different understanding of it, one reinforced by all those cobblestones, narrow streets, and buildings.


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Yes, ten miles a day was the norm when I was in Rome last year, despite using public transit whenever we could. I find the city and its history utterly mind blowing. Everywhere you look something important happened. After four days or so there, I felt like I'd collapse. I can't decide if that was because I'm SO out of shape or because I thought my head my explode from historical-significance overload. It was amazing, and overwhelming. It was wonderful to retreat to Florence for a few days after Rome, though. It was smaller, more walkable, and had my boyfriend David there (Michelangelo's David, that is).

But I could live in Italy. The food is worth it alone. ;)

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I so enjoy walking everywhere this summer. It's not only the smaller scale, but also the generally temperate climate. 90 degrees and 90% humidity is no fun to walk in, even for a block.

Unknown said...

I've been to many European cities as a tourist, but I haven't found any city to be quite fascinating as Rome! The culture and history apart, the architecture of places like the Coloseum, Pantheum are truly breath-taking.

PS: Love your blog! xx