I could have reached across the desk to kiss the hotel receptionist who kindly checked me in at 8am, seven hours before official check-in time. Could it have been my fragrant “overnight-on-an-airplane” ensemble that included a bent ponytail that defied gravity? Absolutely.
I took a long, luxurious hot shower and tucked myself into the soft, white sheets for a catch up nap. I set the alarm for 1:30pm and when it chimed me awake, I bolted out of bed and headed out the door.
Nowhere to be and all day to get there.
Rome is the kind of city that creates indelible memories. And a sense memory from Rome is a beautiful thing. I conjured up memories of past visits to Rome and just started walking. As I passed the Villa Borghese, I remembered the incredible, lifelike Bernini marble sculptures. I walked past the hotel my daughter and I stayed in on my last visit here and smiled at the memory of watching Roman Holiday with her in our room yelling “We were there! And there! And there!” throughout the entire movie. When I set foot in the Piazza del Poppulo, I was transported back 15 years ago when I travelled here with my dear friend Paula and we stumbled upon a beautiful free opera on the plaza steps.
I walked. And I walked some more, with nothing but memories as my GPS. I remembered a lovely shop around the corner from another lovely shop and sure enough, there it was. When it was time to eat dinner, I recalled a trattoria my daughter and I went to for our final meal in Rome where the pasta was fresh and the waiters were flirty and incredibly charming. Google Maps had nothing on me as I strolled through Piazza Navolo and turned on to a shady side street and presto- there it was! And I am thrilled to report that the pasta is still al dente fresh and the waiters are still charming, although admittedly less flirty without my twenty-something cutie pie daughter en tow.
My biggest point of pride today was that every time I asked for directions and shyly handed over my tourist map to a stranger for guidance, every one said (imagine a wonderful heavy Italian accent here) “No, no, no! You-a cannot walk Bella. Is too far. You musta take taxi.” But I insisted on walking and walking some more.
Seven hours later, I strolled (okay- limped) in to my hotel, which lucky for me had a pool and a hot, bubbly Jacuzzi where I simultaneously soaked and smiled, thinking about this beautiful day.