It’s hard to grasp what it means for a city to be nearly 3000 years old until you go there and walk around. And walk around we did: Amber and I ended every night of the first stop on our three-week Italian honeymoon with sore feet.
In the Roman forum, we walked along a stone road that the ancient emperors walked on. We saw the mound where they burned Julius Caesar. Piles of ancient rubble and remnants of buildings thousands of years old stood around us, all around the city. And all around them, modern Romans lived out their normal lives, the monuments to history not just tourist attractions, but an integral part of the living city. A Roman might say, “To get to my apartment, turn left at the light after to Colosseum … ”
In the U.S., an “historical attraction” might be only 100, 150 years old. If you want to see something really old here, you go to Philadelphia and see things about 250 years old. In Italy, that’s nothing.
In addition to all the history, Amber and I were struck by something else we saw during all our walking: People. People outside, enjoying public spaces, being social. Sitting on the steps and sharing a bottle of wine or strolling along a street, the amount of outdoor social activity we saw in Rome made us feel like we’re really missing out on something in American culture, where we so often stay inside, and where gatherings of large crowds are often viewed by authorities with suspicion.
So I left Rome with a changed worldview. And it was a great place to start a honeymoon.
(Click the thumbnails to enlarge … )