There is the old saying: "Tutte le strade portano a Roma / All roads lead to Rome / 條條大路通羅馬." For me, the memory lane that links me to Rome is a very emotional and romantic one. I have been to Italy for about five times now and every trip has been a memorable one: the sienna colour of Siena, the rolling hills of the Tuscany/Toscana country side, the rich history and cultural art of Florence/Firenze, the tranquille Eolian Islands/Isole Eolie off the coast of Sicily/Sicilia, the touristic but none-the-less beautiful and nostalgic (for movie goers) Blue Grotto/Grotta Azzurra of Capri, scenic Sorrento and other cliff-side towns and cities along the Amalfi coast, the unforgettable canal city of Venice/Venezia and its mysterious masks, and more recently, the Italian gateway cities of Milano and Lucca to the majestic Alps.
But still, Rome is where my heart resides. Like many foreign visitors to the Eternal City, I was fascinated by and attracted to the many "must-see" tourist spots such the Colosseo and Piazza Spagna. But unlike many tourists, I did not stay in a hotel in the downtown core. I did a lot of running/jogging to visit the different quarters of Rome and even suburbs not frequented by tourists. When I travel, I always like to interact with people in the neighborhood rather than relying on what the tourist department is advertising. Mind you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing the latter, and in fact I have done it a lot of times myself, especially when there is not enough time to "go native".
Fortunately, the circumstances in Rome were different and I was able to spend time running all over the cobble-stoned streets of Rome. Some of my fondest memories include the little neighborhood coffee shop where I regularly had my cappuccino and cornetto (the owner always asked me, with a smile in Italian, whether I was out running again), the friendly corner store where I satisfied my materialistic desire for Italian fashion by paying 9 euros each for a dozen of form-fitting shirts (too bad Gucci didn't get my business), the white-hair watch-maker who proudly wrapped up the old style tick-tock watch that he had just sold me (while I was only too aware of the GPS-equipped Garmin digital that I was wearing), and the kind pedestrian in Ottavia who patiently tried to explain in Italian that I was 10 kilometres off-course from La Storta (now I know my left/sinistra from my right/destra). These memories, along with my romantic connection to Rome, will always stay with me for the rest of my life.
Thus, when I was taking these pictures on top of the Cupolone of the Basilica, my emotional self was actually running through the streets of Rome below, covering every cobble stone that might tell me more about the history of the Eternal City and the people that had been living there for thousand of years. And, as I am writing this, my heart is still there staying warmly with the one I love. Cuori in Roma. Acqua in bocca !!!
(from a Secret Admirer)