The Ballad of a Roman Night
As the sun begins to set, lighting up the city with the deep amber burn of Autumn, we lock the porta del nostro appartamento and slip into the fading light to chase the shadows the late evening throws across the cobblestones.
With the dome of the Basilica di San Pietro resting powerfully on the horizon, viale dei fornaci buzzes with the energy of aggressive drivers and animated hand gestures.
Enveloping us in an embrace of vibrant noise, the streets beckon us, pulling us deeper into the belly of the city. Soon the shiny walls of Vatican City have been left far behind, replaced by mangled graffiti and abandoned cigarette butts.
Our minds set on an early aperitivo, we direct our heeled steps toward our piazza of choice with the fullest intention of finding a good meal after we have had our fill of peanuts and prosecco.
Vespas graze our elbows and the cracks of cobblestones lay claim to the heels of our boots, but we manage to fight our way through the chaos until we find our alleyway opening up into our favorite piazza.
We emerge from the cool dark shadows cast by the weatherworn buildings to be met with a burst of energy pulsing and pulling us further in.
At the center rises the faithful fountain, surrounded by conversation flowing just as effortlessly as the water with locals piling unto the steps to drink their beers and spin their tales. We meander through the various huddles of Romans and Europeans alike, as the diversity of languages and slangs tickle our ears, to settle ourselves into the rickety chairs resting outside the flanking bars of the social extravaganza.
And so begins our nightly ritual of peanuts and prosecco.
These are the nights filled with laughter and stories and dissolving language barriers as the alcohol seeps in. The nights that turn into early mornings, as the secrets are shared and the wild adventures are planned and the great idea to drag our tired feet up hills to see the city from higher heights is born. These are the nights that will reside in our hearts long after they have faded from our minds, just as the plan to find dinner dopo l’aperitivo faded after the second bowl of peanuts and third glass of prosecco.
Although we may not remember them in individual detail, it is in these Roman nights that we join with the footsteps of those who came before us, feeding the pulse of this eternal city.
Yes, living in this city is a dream come true.
But I must warn you, this dream is not for the faint of heart.
Despite the enchanting stories we romantics spin of this city, Rome is not easy to survive.
Life here is rough and unruly and will drive you mad if you try to make any sense of it. Everyday is a new battle in which chaos rules, and if you try to control it you are guaranteed to loose. This city belongs to no man, and it takes every possible chance to remind you that it has outlived decades upon decades of generations before you.
But my goodness do the wild nights of peanuts and prosecco make every disorganized struggle and confusing obstacle worth it.
Because it is in surrendering to this fate of uncertainty that we wanderers of Rome find our spark of life.
And if you listen closely in the night you can hear our cry: