A special Roman holiday — with mom
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.
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The author, left, and her mother pause for a moment outside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.