A spe­cial Ro­man hol­i­day — with mom

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - Travel@wash­post.com

Our read­ers share tales of their ram­blings around the world.

Who: Judith Scott (the au­thor), of El­li­cott City, Md., and her mother, Katharine Ward­law, of Columbia, Md.

Where, when, why: My mother and I trav­eled to Rome in early April to cel­e­brate my up­com­ing 50th birth­day with sight­see­ing, great food and a marathon. Yes, I de­cided to run my 10th marathon, the Mara­tona di Roma, dur­ing our trip. We stayed for eight days at the charm­ing Casa per ferie Santa Sofia con­vent in the heart of the Monti district.

High­lights and high points: Ev­ery day, at break­fast, we con­sulted our map, planned our route and set out to see the city’s fa­mous ru­ins, churches and breath­tak­ing his­tor­i­cal sites. We cov­ered all the usual tourist hot spots, in­clud­ing the Colos­seum, Pala­tine Hill, the Ro­man Fo­rum, the Vat­i­can, the Pan­theon and the Span­ish Steps. We also in­ves­ti­gated the Baths of Dio­cle­tian and poked around in nu­mer­ous shops. Of course, we sam­pled gelato at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity.

We were es­pe­cially taken by Trevi Foun­tain, which we could hear well be­fore we could see it. Tourists from ev­ery coun­try imag­in­able sur­rounded the foun­tain, throw­ing in the req­ui­site coins and snap­ping self­ies. The clear wa­ter and spec­tac­u­lar stat­ues cap­ti­vated the throngs. We also en­joyed the charm­ing neigh­bor­hoods of Traste­vere, where we tested our ele­men­tary Ital­ian at the lo­cal eater­ies. We were thrilled to see Pi­azza Navona one day at mid­morn­ing, be­fore it was packed with other tourists. And the mar­kets at Campo de Fiori were not to be missed.

But I think the Rome Marathon was the high­light to the trip. My mom watched the race and vis­ited mu­se­ums while I ran through the city for more than four hours. De­spite the tor­ren­tial rain, it was a spec­tac­u­lar way to ex­plore the heart of Rome. Fin­ish­ing the race with the Colos­seum as a back­drop is a mem­ory I cher­ish.

Cul­tural con­nec­tion or dis­con­nect: De­spite be­ing from the Washington sub­urbs and ac­cus­tomed to traf­fic and crowds, we were stunned by the whizzing cars and Ves­pas on ev­ery street. We grasped hands and darted quickly at each in­ter­sec­tion to avoid a col­li­sion. The Rome Metro was also more packed than any pub­lic trans­porta­tion we had ever ex­pe­ri­enced. De­spite warn­ings about ram­pant pick­pock­et­ing, only once did we sus­pect any Metro malfea­sance. With a close grip on our cross-body bags, we made it through our trip with all be­long­ings in­tact.

Big­gest laugh or cry: While we looked de­cid­edly like Amer­i­can tourists, by the end of our visit, we were throw­ing around Ital­ian phrases like pros. A high­light was when my mom was asked for di­rec­tions on the street by an Ital­ian cit­i­zen. How ironic, con­sid­er­ing that we were never for long with­out our Rick Steves travel guide­books.

How un­ex­pected: We were sur­prised by the metic­u­lous clean­li­ness of the city. For a place more than 2,500 years old, the com­mit­ment to main­te­nance and restora­tion was in­cred­i­ble. After a night of rev­elry, es­pe­cially in the Monti area right around our con­vent, the trash trucks were out early each morn­ing, clean­ing up and wash­ing down the streets. Ev­ery an­cient site was pre­served and pro­tected as much as pos­si­ble from the spoils of mod­ern life.

Fa­vorite me­mento or mem­ory: On one of our ex­cur­sions, Mom and I stum­bled upon a tiny jew­elry re­pair shop hid­den in an al­ley. On one shelf sat a large tray of estate rings. We tried on many and set­tled on two each. We fondly re­fer to th­ese as our Rome rings and wear them with spe­cial sen­ti­ment. But what we both trea­sure more than any­thing was the rare op­por­tu­nity to spend an en­tire trip to­gether, mak­ing mem­o­ries.

To tell us about your own trip, go to wash­ing­ton­post.com/travel and fill out the What a Trip form with your fond­est mem­o­ries, finest mo­ments and fa­vorite photos.


The au­thor, left, and her mother pause for a mo­ment out­side St. Peter’s Basil­ica in Rome.

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