I remember Rome from a hen do about 10 years ago. One of my best Uni friends, Basia, was getting married and the 8 of us (gorgeous youngtimers back then) had a blast of time. It was scorching hot when we went sight-seeing, first time in Rome for most of us, so we literally wanted to see everything in the space of a day. I didn’t have comfortable shoes for this marathon and got the worst blisters ever. But despite my painfully damaged feet, Rome made a magnificent impact on me. The atmosphere, it’s history, the people. I’ve never seen this amount of stone and marble in one place, and fantastically colourful sense of fashion. I have a soft spot for Italian men and speak the language, so it felt good. Throughout the years, I’ve sustained this positive, sunny and summery image of Italy. I love the food, the simple but sumptuous pastas, with a touch of red wine.
But this time I felt a weird vibe in the air. The ancient Roman sights still make an impact..unlike policemen with guns scattered around the city and tank-like vehicles in the streets. They troubled me. In parts it felt like a war-zone. Probably the intention is to keep us safe (?), but it gave me quite the opposite feeling. A feeling of omnipresent aggression. Not good.
The weather on the whole didn’t help, it was FREEZING in May. I was wearing a winter coat most of the time and didn’t see the sun until I was heading back to the airport. And the ballet I booked tickets for, Snow White, was utterly dark and depressing. We left with my friend mid-way through the performance as we couldn’t take any more (but I’ll write a separate post on that).
Weather and ballets aside, that eerie vibe worried me. I tried to make the most of my get-away weekend, enjoying the carbonara, the picturesque cobbled streets, the cute, old man in the shop who sold me (yet another) pair of shoes I don’t need. But I saw people with fear in their eyes, looking at me in a resentful way. You’re probably thinking…ah you’re just another annoying tourist or having a bad day or on a period ! Trust me, it’s nothing to do with that. My gut feeling was that most people seemed lost and unhappy.
We are living in a time of great moral crises and uncertainty. Mind you, it's us, the people, inflicting the terror on one another. After all we are a mix of chaos and order, imperfect, treading the thin line between good and bad every single day. I feel people - not only in Rome - have lost meaning in life (too comfortable in a world where everything is allowed) , their values, roots, all these basic things while striving to be happy. Whatever they think 'happy' actually is. I prefer to have a meaning, a goal to achieve rather than striving to be happy.
Anyway, I don’t want to sound like some boring, miserable preacher (I’m not) and I love going to Italy (apart from the full blown holiday season ). There’s a lot I want to explore, always staying hungry, including a roadtrip around the south would be a dream come true. But after this experience, I need to take a break (…still loving all my Italian friends just to say!)