Friday, April 30, 2010

Heartbeat of the Eternal City

A few nights ago I was walking home along Via della Conciliazione, the broad avenue leading from Castel Sant'Angelo on Rome's Tiber river to the Vatican. There's something ethereal about the Vatican at dusk. The shadows in the nearly 400-year-old duomo deepen as the shade of blue in the sky darkens. Streetlights echo the same orange glow the setting sun reflects on the clouds. The magnificent dome looms larger with each step down the nearly deserted avenue. 

The daily mob of tourists is something I gladly avoid, but there's something I love about living a stone's throw from the Vatican Wall.

There's something I love about just being in Rome. The torturous cobblestones that will catch your heel or turn an ankle in a moment reminisce of ages long past. Smoothly painted buildings with tiburtine accents, old beams and bricks strategically revealed to curious eyes. There's a lazy feel to the city. Motorinos weave around cars and pedestrians in a pattern somehow instinctive to all three.

I'm part of the pattern, too. Part of the fabric of the city. The city has claimed me, and I claim it in return. The construction sites always devoid of workers, the cafes with their espresso machines. Old women walking slowly home with their wheeled shopping bags while old men sit with cigarettes and coffee in the afternoon warmth. The ever-present group of tourists making its way through, oblivious to the pattern of the city but no less a part of it.

Strollers and bicycles, cigarette butts and beer bottles, graffiti and uneven cobblestones, ancient foundations and modern creations... all of it belongs to the city, owns the city, is the city.

Now that I as well am the city, I can leave - knowing the city will always be a part of me. Somehow, my heart will always beat with the pulse of this city. Because it does that, you know. The city works its way into your blood, into your veins, until it simply becomes part of your consciousness.

I know I can leave, because I will never truly be gone. Or something like that.

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