Perfect Alfredo Sauce
on Being the Mom of Boys

Italy is Calling

I wanted to go running in Rome.

_MG_0465 obelisk in Rome

For me, running on a vacation is part of what makes the vacation awesome. It isn’t even really about the exercise itself, but about presence. About moving through an entirely different landscape than my usual one. Running in a place makes the place feel more a part of me, and I wanted that in Rome. I wanted to have that in my life’s oeuvre, even if it wasn’t a very long run, wanted the experience of running past all of those old buildings and along the cobbled streets.

Our hotel was close to the Termini train station and the Piazza della Reupubblica; the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore was just down the street, so that was the route I wanted to take.

IMG_9779 maria magiori back side

It was our first full day there, and I woke up refreshed, early enough to get a few miles in, so I talked Becky into putting on her running shoes and coming with me. We hustled down the stairs and walked out of our hotel to find a very cloudy Rome. A very cloudy and then very wet Rome, as the rain that had fallen in the night started falling again. We didn’t make it very far—just to the corner behind the basilica, and then we talked ourselves out of running in the rain.

I wish we hadn’t.

I wish we’d just kept running, made our loop, and rushed through breakfast. I wish I had those thirty minutes so I could always think I went running in Rome.

I think we thought we’d have another chance. But our days were so full of walking that the rest of the mornings, it felt impossible to get up early enough for a run. Really, the only running I did in Italy was when I sprinted from the Tower of Pisa to our meeting place. (I was two minutes early.)

Running in Rome is one of the reasons I want to go back to Italy.

IMG_0522 cobblestones in orvietto 4x6

When my mom first started talking about taking a trip to Rome, about two years ago, it seemed so far-fetched as to be impossible. Normal people like us didn’t just go to Italy. Plus…Italy? My fantasy trip to Europe was all about England and Ireland. I don’t know that I’d ever really even thought about going to Italy.

But, a year ago, I went to Italy.

IMG_0518 orvietto duomo 4x6

And now I understand why people want to go there. It is a magical place, really, a magic I didn’t know existed. The air feels different there, the light, the smells. Maybe that can be said about all foreign places and I’m just illustrating how few times I have really traveled. Probably when I make it to the British Isles I’ll fall in love with its air and light and smells, too, but in a different way. Italy’s magic, I think, is only found in Italy. It’s all the history, of course, time tingling just underneath your feet. It’s the very real possibility of great food around every corner. It is nuns walking down the street in their habits and athletic shoes, the whizz of all those little cars, and a magnificent church where ever you find yourself.

It is the way art imbibes everything.

IMG_9776 sculpture in rome 4x6

In Rome, I ate a pizza intended to feed three people all by myself. Tomatoes, rocket salad (what the Italians call arugula), cheese and spices. Simple, but so delicious I don’t regret it for a second. 

Rocket salad pizza 2x3

In Rome I ate a grapefruit gelato, walked to the Pantheon, and then ate a rose gelato (it tasted very delicate, sweet, and pink): two gelatos in less than an hour.

_MG_9942 gelato by the trevi fountain

In Orvietto, I ate the best salami and cheese I had ever had, until I had some in  San Gimignano, and now I can’t decide which one was more delicious.

_MG_0724 san gimignano lunch 4x6 crop


At a Tuscan vineyard, I tasted the strongest, most startling olive oil I have ever experienced and that moment—the bite of flavor on my tongue and my utter surprise that such a culinary pleasure existed in the world—is etched onto my food memories.

IMG_0982 olive tree 4x6

I will forever be trying to replicate it with inferior olive oils.

But it isn’t just the food. It’s the beauty of the landscape, too. All those mountains and fields and then the cities springing out. It’s all the ties to books and stories and myths. It is everything I found in a country I didn’t know I wanted to visit.

Now I’ve been once, I desperately want to go again. To go running in Rome—more than once (past the colosseum, and along the Tiber under the sycamores, and on the streets of Vatican City), and also in Sienna and maybe a very-early route through Venice. To do the things I couldn’t the first time, to do some of the same things again. To have entirely different reactions and unplanned experiences. I threw one coin with my right hand over my left shoulder into the Trevi fountain, which should ensure my return. I might never make it back…but I hope I do.

_MG_0011 piazza navona 4x6

(click HERE to read more about my trip to Italy.)


Becky K

Sigh. These pictures make me feel so...nostalgic. I want to go back there so much, but I'm sad it will never be the way it was the first time we saw those places.

Which makes me (for the 11,008,786,223rd time) so grateful we went together. It may never be the same, but we will always have those memories. Sigh. It was perfect. Except for the stupid rain that kept us from running.

Jill B

I just don't understand why you haven't written that novel yet. You have a beautiful knack for telling a great story and pulling the reader in. Thanks, Jill

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