Why you should go to Rome

My last (and first!) post, I asked the collective you: If you could move anywhere in the world, where would you go? I’m pretty sure our answer to this question — Hawaii obv — is closely related to another question we asked ourselves just last year, which right now seems like days of yore.

We had a little windfall. We asked ourselves (OK, I asked myself — I was driving that train): We can go anywhere in the world. Where will we go?

And after about three seconds, I answered myself: Italy.

None of us had been off this continent, and none of us even had a passport. Well, Josh had one for a trip to China he never took, and he needed a new one anyway. We remedied the passport situation:

Image may contain: 4 people

These aren’t bad passport pics. We’d gone to RiteAid first. They gave us photos that were not the required head shots. They could have been fashion “DON’TS.” It appeared the photog took the pics all the way from the pharmacy area because our entire outfits were in the frame. We were, unsurprisingly, turned away in the probate office and prodded toward a real photo outfit. Thank you, In and Out Photography.

But here are some bigger lessons we learned that I mean to keep in mind not just with this move, but in our future travels:

Go to Rome

Or, the “Rome” wherever you’re going. The scary place. The sacred place. The overwhelming place you feel seriously cowed about, feeling you’d be safer skipping it and just reading about it instead.

At first I was terrified of going to the real Rome. Why, I’m not sure — I live in Atlanta, for heaven’s sake. I was afraid of everything I read: Rome is brutal; Rome is full of pickpockets; Rome is hard to get around; Rome is rude. “If you get on a bus there, be prepared for someone to cause a scene and divert your attention so they can slash your bag straight off your shoulder.”

Such was my fear of Rome that at first we planned to huddle in our hotel room until we could make Rome go away, i.e. flee to our Tuscan agriturismo, the bucolic centerpiece of our trip. The “real” Italy we’d come to see.

How glad I am we ventured out into Rome. We discovered so many important things:

Your children might dance on ancient ruins.
Your children might dance on ancient ruins on a glorious spring day.

 

dsc00097
The history of a great civilization is shocking, and everyone should know about it.

 

dsc00128
Rome is walkable. From one end to the other. You’ll want to see everything in between, so you might as well hoof it.

 

Getting lost really is no big deal.
Getting lost really is no big deal. I think we’re just looking for the gelato place Federica, our Colosseum guide, told us about.

 

Your children can have their own private history lesson gazing into the . Does it get better than this? Correct answer: no.
Your children can have their own private history lesson gazing into the grand pit of the Colosseum itself. Does it get better than this? Answer: No.

 

The majesty of this place -- this is on Palatine Hill -- is unparalleled.
The majesty of this place — here’s Palatine Hill — takes your breath away.

 

I’m not suggesting people not heed safety precautions. I mean, do prepare. Maybe that’s what allowed us to be so carefree. We’re glad we bought the money belts and the anti-theft day bag, though we really didn’t need it.

BUT:

  • Rome isn’t brutal. Not in my opinion. Rome is beautiful, and friendly, and it changed my life. I have a growing library about Rome. I have a gmail address called RomeGirl.
  • You can avoid crowds — and avoid completely missing the point of your destination — by booking good Through Eternity tours. And now I’m a tour aficionado. Tours sound boring. But they can make the difference between wandering around in futility, and having an engaging time that’ll stay with you and your crowd.
  • Walk. You don’t need too many buses, cabs and private cars.
  • If you’re polite, and try to learn a little of the language — even just a few words — the locals will appreciate it and respond in helpful ways.

So. When we go to Hawaii, we’ll get ready. We’ll follow these very same rules, perhaps especially the last — respect the culture because the success and the quality of our stay will depend on it. And,, first off, we’ll take all the locals-led tours. Locals love to show you their treasures, and they know a hell a lot more about it than we do.

Meanwhile, we’ll banish fear:

  • Fear of haole-haters
  • Fear of electric bills that will drive us off the grid (maybe off the grid using solar power isn’t a bad thing?)
  • Fear we can’t find jobs because corporate people report having a rough time doing so. I feel for them, but we’re just not corporate people.
  • We’ll get island fever. I grew up on an island. Why should I get island fever?

So — just like with Rome. I’ve been fearing other people’s fears.

One more: Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and not close to anything else. I know we covered that. But OK, this remains really scary. Deep breaths.

I could go on and on. Instead I’ll stop and ask: Do you want to see our Italy vacation slides?

Where have you gone or what have you done that changed your whole outlook?