The tarentella

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

The dance continues!

Hey! We pulled off our Bordeaux trip, which, by the way, we considered the coup of the century. I know, sounds dramatic, but to a pair of housewives whose daily highlight was wiping both ends of small bodies and enduring endless re-runs of telly tubbies, believe me, it was special!.

On arriving back home to our brood, It was tenuously announced that we plan to make the trips annual (greeted with nervous laughter from the two Boys).The following 12 months of coffee mornings went into planning, anticipation and wracking up brownie points with the family. There followed the usual frantic list making, meal prepping and assuring little ones that we would miss them all terribly as well and also secretly wished we were not going (mind games with kids…exhausting!

For our second year of travel, Amelia and I decided to dance a Tarantella and found ourselves in the architectural city of Rome. Our Hotel was The Hotel Royal Court on the Via Marghera, a 15 minute walk from the centre of Rome. This five story old townhouse with its ornate railings, marble floors, and lush velvet drapes, set the scene for 10 days absorbing the Italian way of life.The cherry on the top was a quiet and quaint private patio garden. At the end of our long days of walking, we could relax as the sun went down with a vino or two amongst the planted flower pots and sounds of the city.

Each morning would start with a guide book at breakfast and a route planned around the City stopping off at all the places we wanted to see that day. Truthfully, the day’s started much earlier than that. I, being a bit of a lark with too much energy, am up at the crack of dawn and creeping around our room in the dark trying not to wake Amelia. Amelia however, can sleep through Armageddon on steroids. The usual way our morning run is, that after about two hours of being awake…I am bored! And so the curtains are flung open and Amelia is chivied from her slumber into the bathroom, cup of tea placed in her hand and me dancing around like an excited puppy who has just spotted its tail. Long suffering and ever cordial, Amelia is dressed in her trade mark flair, fed and being herded off across the cobbled streets in no time at all!

The only way to really see and appreciate Rome is to walk…a lot! Neither of us are the “Comfy walking shoe type” but we have made it an art to spend 10 hours on our feet in wholly inappropriate footwear and still be smiling. Amelia at least has the sense to wear flats. We interspersed our walks with (hugely expensive) lunches in sidewalk cafe’s and Trattoria’s on Stunning Piazzas, while people watching and taking in the atmosphere (all the while dodging the wrath of the snake hipped waiters who no sooner have charmed you to your table and taken your order, are just as dedicatedly trying to speed you up and get you out again…don’t take it personally!)

There is so much to see in Rome that if I tell you all of it, (and we did all usual places the, Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain etc) you would get that same feeling of dread as you do when your neighbouring passenger on a long haul flight brings out the photos of her holiday and darling grandchildren for you to see. I will be kind and just give you our favourite bits.

One reason for our choice of Rome as a destination, was to find and visit the Academy of Fine Arts, located near the centre. This was the school that Amelia’s late Mother had left Zimbabwe to study at in 1960. As we walked through the imposing double doors and up the grand staircase, viewing the art on display, we wondered at the courage needed and excitement felt by a young 17 year old girl fresh out of Africa and on her own. It was a special day for Amelia and lovely for me to have shared it with her.

Many Hours were whiled away in the Borghese Gallery containing the most beautiful statues, including the well known “Apollo and Daphne” and one of my favourites “The Ratto Di Proserpina” (pictured) both By Bernini. We sought out the Church of San Francesco De Ripa to see another Bernini favourite, The Death of Ludovica Albertoni. There were artists sketching portraits of tourists at the top of the Splendid Spanish Steps on the Piazza De Spagna. The neighbouring house, 26 Piazza Di Spagna was the home to the British poet’s Keats and Shelly and the place where John Keats died aged 25 of tuberculosis in 1821. We found it impossible not to walk from one highly decorated Church to another, or one stunning, and fountain adorned Piazza to another without being open mouthed in wonder and looking like a pair of guppy fish at feeding time.

As Each morning meandered into the afternoon and Amelia’s need for an afternoon “Sonno” kicked in, I would dangle the promise of a coffee and cannoli in front of her like the proverbial carrot (she is easily bought…a coffee and she is anybody’s…throw in a cannoli and she is everybody’s! ). We would sit a while at a cafe, in the sun, outside the imposing Corinthian columns of the Pantheon. After watching visitors from all over the world bustling by, we would emerge refreshed and continue.

The Pantheon is a must by the way. Truly spectacular on the inside on a sunny day with the light streaming in from the central opening in the dome. A breathtaking open space of geometric marble floor and church services taking place amongst the bustle. It is one of the few tourists sights in Rome where you can enjoy a feeling of space. It is also the burial place of the Renaissance painter Raffaello Sanzio.

I think at this point I have to mention the ’S” word. Shopping! One of our favourite pastimes while tramping the streets of any place we visit. It is the delight of finding lovely things to bring home. Rome captivated us with Its choice of the softest of leather bags and purses in pretty much any colour and style you could imagine. Silk clothing, sheer, feminine and dreamy. Fragrances in exquisite packaging. Heaven to the two of us, and we would recognise the little exclamation of a high pitched “ooooo” when the other had spotted somewhere which promised colourful, floral or fragrant offerings. Subsequently we would descend on it with all the finesse of a swat team. Unfortunately for us ( I can see my husband grinning as I type) most of it was far too bloody expensive so there was a lot of “ooooing” appreciation but not so much “ching ching”!

Time to head home. A second year done and even more enthusiasm gained than ever. The plane journey was spent deciding where next year will take us but also looking forward to being back home. Another highlight is seeing the delight when we hand out the goodies we have bought back with us ( I did, at least, resist bringing back the Nutella jar as big as my head but the size of the Salami Amelia chose brought tears to my eyes!).

Ciao Bella x

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