When (not) in Rome …


Esteban and I were supposed to arrive in Rome today.

I say “supposed to” because when our flight took off yesterday we were still at home in our pajamas, eating French silk pie and watching reruns of Big Bang Theory.

There were some omens our trip might be doomed, like the public buses that caught fire just days after we bought our plane tickets. “We’ll just stick to the subway,” Esteban said. But then an escalator malfunctioned, piling a couple of dozen people at the bottom. “No problem,” I replied. “We’ll walk!” Or sprint, maybe, to outpace the wild boars.

But in the end, it wasn’t the flaming buses or killer escalators or rampaging boars that finally did us in; it was an infection that needed surgery.

Esteban and I weighed the risks of going anyway — because maybe the antibiotics would at least keep the infection in check. But maybe wasn’t good enough for me. “The only thing worse than sepsis is sepsis in Italian,” I reminded him. So last Sunday we reluctantly cancelled everything, just four days before our scheduled departure.

Last night we consoled ourselves by sharing memories of the few days we spent in Rome in 2007. There were the usual touristy shots of the pseudo-gladiators and the spot where Rome was founded …

Rome psedogladiator BLOG

Rome first settlement CC BLOG

And there was the ancient Forum, of course. It took little effort for us to imagine tens of thousands of Romans milling about in this former center of commerce, government and worship.

Rome forum columns and temple CC BLOG

Rome Forum 1 BLOG

Rome forum dig 2 CC BLOG

Rome Palatine tunnel BLOG

Rome Palatine arch CC BLOG

One of our most vivid impressions of Rome was the coexistence of old and new.

Rome basilica with Jesus CL BLOG

Absolutely everything was steeped in centuries of history, from the fountain the courtyard of a police station to the hand-carved street signs.

Rome Palatine Hill 2 CC BLOG

Rome ancient street sign CR CL BLOG

Esteban also pointed out that some of the pavers in the Forum still bore grooves from the centuries of chariot traffic.

Rome chariot grooves and cigs CL BLOG

We also remembered the excavation of Largo Argentina, which jutted like old bones out of the city’s belly.

Rome Largo Argentina 2 CC BLOG

And Trajan’s column — which celebrated his many exploits in battle — next to an 18th-century basilica. (Yes, an 18th-century basilica is considered modern in Rome.)

Rome Trajan Column 2 BLOG

… or a different but oddly similar basilica, flanked by Constantine’s Arch.

Rome basilica and arch BLOG

I wish I had taken more photos of the sculpture that adorns many of the ancient monuments, like these beautiful statues on Constantine’s Arch.

Rome Constantine column detail BLOG

In fact, there was sculpture everywhere in Rome.

Rome Castel sculpt at dusk BLOG

Rome Castel St. Angelo 1 CL BLOG

But some of the most beautiful was arguably in the Vatican.

Rome St. Peter Pieta BLOG

Rome Vatican window CC BLOG

Esteban and I were overwhelmed by the scale of the Vatican, in fact — like the chairs set up in the piazza, ready to welcome the faithful to a not-quite-personal audience with the Pope.

Rome Vatican audience CC BLOG

And here is one tiny bit of St. Peter’s Basilica to give you a sense of scale.

Rome Vatican inside 1 CC CR BLOG

In fact, 11 years later my most lasting impression of Rome is one of scale — because this city wasn’t built for humans, but rather for posterity.

Rome Vatican columns 2 CC CR BLOG

Maybe it’s because the individual Roman was an afterthought that the Eternal City overpowers visitors to this day with an almost crushing sense of history,
reducing us to mere ants among the glory of her ruins.

Rome Palatine from Colo CC BLOG

Rome city view copy BLOG

Rome Colosseum tunnels CC CL BLOG
To give you a sense of scale: That’s a group of some 20 people inside the red box.

Although Esteban and I are disappointed not to be in Rome today, what we had most looked forward to was time together. So we’ve decided to take a week off work anyway and be tourists in our own town. (Yes, we will wear fanny packs.)

Maybe I’ll bring your a few stories next week about what we did when we were not in Rome.


80 Responses to “When (not) in Rome …”

  1. I’m really sorry health issues scuttled your plans. 😦 I hope you can make a truly great week off together nearer to home!

    • 2 Heide

      Thank you, Jim! We got off to a great start already yesterday by taking two — count ’em, TWO — naps. Even if we don’t make it to a single museum it’ll be nice to have time with my honey. 🙂

  2. I am so sorry to hear you guys are dealing with illness and had to miss your trip! Sending healing vibes your way! And I hope you can go back at a later date!
    But oh my word, your pictures are stunning! And make me want to go to Rome (which is on my list) yesterday! So beautiful! And such unique pictures. I caught glimpses of the “real” Rome. You away see the same four pictures, but these really capture its essence. Thanks for sharing beauty! I also hope you hd an amazing Thanksgiving! ❤

    • 4 Heide

      Thank you so much, dear Kate — for everything! You are always like a ray of sunshine when you stop by. And oh my yes, I do recommend Rome … you would LOVE it, if for the coffee alone! 😉 It’s not really a relaxing vacation because the historical center especially has a frenetic vibe, and you always have to be on guard against pickpockets and scams. But it’s more than worth it for the mind-boggling sense of history and beautiful art. If you do decide to go, I highly recommend shopping it around on Expedia. That’s where we found a downright inexpensive package for the Borgo Papareschi hotel and airfare. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving too, and thank you so much for stopping by! xoxo

  3. Lovely photos (as usual)! You made the right choice – sepsis most definitely is not something to take a chance on. Rome will be there when you’re feeling better! Wishes for quick healing and glorious adventures during your time off together. Enjoy! 🙂

    • 6 Heide

      Thank you so much for your kind note! You’re right on all counts … and I’m grateful for your encouraging words. xx

  4. Don’t worry. Rome still looks the same as in your pictures. It us only mere expensive and crowded.
    How is the infecction?

    • 8 Heide

      Thank you for the reassurance, Paloma! We’ve been consoling ourselves with the same idea: Rome has been there for at least 2,600 years so chances are it’ll last a few more months. 🙂 As for the infection … it isn’t getting worse but it’s not getting better either, so we’ll keep a close eye on it. At least my husband already has an appointment with his doctor next Monday for follow-up … so we’ll see. Anyway. Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your concern!

  5. Get well soon.
    I really look upto you when it comes to blogging. I hope all your health issues get away from you very soon.
    Loads of best wishes and loads of love all the way from Kashmir, India

  6. Heide,
    this is very spectacular! I really can’t believe how you take such beautiful pics! How are you able to travel all over the world? You keep up the great work, and please enjoy yourself! Did you see my post about all my pictures i posted? Will ya look at em? Thanks, and stay Awesome!

    • 14 Heide

      I’m so glad you enjoyed my photos … thank you! My husband and I don’t travel around the world as much as it might seem from my blog (because I get lots of posts out of every trip). But the way we do it is by living small in our daily lives — like buying used clothes — and saving frequent-flier miles for our flights.

      And thank you for letting me know about your photo post. I didn’t see it, so I’ll go check it out. Cheers!

      • your a very blessed family. I’ll look around and look at your pictures when I can. Have a great day, and I hope your Thanksgiving was a blast. Cheers! R.

  7. Sepsis!!!? You would have been mad to travel. I hope whichever of you was infected is now feeling much better. Great pictures, Heide, really shows the scale of the place. I have only been to Rome for work (twice) and was whizzed around some of the sights in the scruffy cars of various male telecommunications workers – so just the outsides… No one plainly wore the seat belt as it left my clothes filthy! I did walk out on the beach at Ostia with one of them – shoes in hand but wearing tights in the warm weather duh. After experiencing the frenzied lifestyle I have never been to keen on going back and doing it properly but the prof hankers after it so… One day.
    Take care, nap as much as you like and get well soon! Have a lovely week, enjoying just being.

    • 17 Heide

      Your trips to Rome sound a bit harrowing, I must say — or at the very least unpleasant. And yet they echo my experience there in 2007: whizzing around at a frantic pace in dirty vehicles, catching only glimpses of the major sights. But the lover of history and art inside me hankers after it, so … one day, here too. Lest I alarm you unnecessarily, though, I should clarify that my dear husband does not yet have full-blown sepsis — only a serious infection. But one is exposed to so many exotic bugs (not to mention exhaustion) that the risk of a serious escalation seemed only too real. Well … we will indeed take your advice and nap every day. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by, and especially for your kind comment.

  8. What a disappointment! But yes health is so much more important. My mom had a terrible infection this summer in her leg due to the dog’s nails scratching it and puncturing her skin. It took three trips to the hospital and over a month to heal. I always thank god for good medical care albeit very expensive. Hope all heals quickly!

    • 19 Heide

      Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s ordeal. Isn’t it incredibly how something so minor as a scratch can become so serious? But I’m glad she healed up. And as you say, thank goodness for good medical care! Plus, Rome has been there for 2,600+ years, so hopefully it’ll still be around in a few months when we can try again. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  9. Sorry to hear of your scuppered plans Heide. I’m sure you’ll still make the most of your “staycation” at home.

    I like the photo of St Peter’s Basilica best, with the blurred motion of the people. Would be great to see a really long exposure shot of this, with the frenetic and fleeting motion of the tourists in contrast to the static majesty of the buildings…

    • 21 Heide

      I would have loved to see a really long exposure myself … but alas I seldom travel with a tripod, so I’m limited to whatever I can shoot handheld, I’m afraid. But if we do manage to try our trip again next year perhaps I’ll at least bring my Gorillapod and see what can be done. Thank you for stopping by, Dan!

  10. Hope your husband gets well soon and Rome will still be there for you when you can go back. Your 2007 pictures are great. I have been to Rome at least 4 times (the first time in 1980!) and loved it each time. It is a chaotic city but well worth it. (Suzanne)

    • 24 Heide

      Thank you very much for your kind wishes, Suzanne! How fortunate you are to have been to Rome at least four times … and how reassuring it is to read that even for a veteran such as yourself it still feels chaotic. The frenetic pace was actually a consideration in our decision, because my husband worried that even if his condition didn’t get worse he would be affected by all the noise and pollution. Perhaps next year we’ll try again, when we’re feeling more fortified. In the meantime, thank you so much for stopping by!

  11. Get well soon and enjoy your staycation!!

    • 26 Heide

      Thank you, Fiona! So far we’ve enjoyed every minute — and we’re already on our second pumpkin pie. 🙂 Hope all is well in your world. xx

  12. What a brave couple you are. Luckily you have your wondergul memories. And since Roma wasn’t built in one day, it will still be there next time, w/o illnesses….. get well quickly and thoroughly enjoy your home-holidays….

    • 28 Heide

      You are so right that Rome will still be there next year, Kiki. We’re discovering that we made the right decision because my poor husband has been a bit miserable the past 24 hours. But we both appreciate your wise advice and kind words — and as always, thank you so much for stopping by!

  13. Great photos, as usual. Sounds like you made the best decision. Being together is always the essential part of any adventure, near or far!

    • 30 Heide

      I love your philosophy on the key ingredient for any adventure, Patti — and I concur! Thank you for your kind words and support.

  14. Sorry to hear of your cancelled plans. The same happened to us with a month long trip we’d booked to Great Britain and Europe. I travelled last year with an infected mouth – not pleasant. Seems you made the right decision. Enjoy your week and each other.

    • 32 Heide

      I’m so sorry you had to travel ill last year, VJ — you poor thing! Given how my guy has been feeling, we have no doubt we made the right choice. We will make the best of it and try for Rome again next year.

  15. Yes! The truth proved sgain Rome was not built in a day. And modern day architecture owe a lot to Roman architects.

    • 34 Heide

      You are correct! So many of the things we take for granted — from modern plumbing to concrete construction — we owe to the Romans.

  16. “The only thing worse than sepsis is sepsis in Italian”

    This made me laugh. Not the sepsis part, of course. But the idea of sepsis in Minnesota being better. Because at least there are hot dishes? In any case I hope things resolve both successfully and soon

    And a napping vacation is sounding really appealing.

    • 36 Heide

      Oh yes, JP … everyone agrees that sepsis is WAY better in Minnesota because we have the curative powers of tater-tot poultices. Ha ha! Thankfully he’s holding steady, so we’re mostly just chilling and eating half-price pumpkin pie until we can see the surgeon. And napping! So far we’re three-for-three and I’ve gotta say it’s pretty wonderful.

  17. Wonderful survey of your past trips, hopefully there will be many more. Hope you had travel insurance.

    • 38 Heide

      We did indeed have travel insurance, Michael, and we got everything back — except (ironically) what we paid for the travel insurance! So no complaints here … and hopefully we can apply the refund to a future trip. In the meantime, thank you for making the trip here!

  18. 39 rosewriter62

    So sorry you had to cancel your trip! I hope all health problems are resolved, and you get a chance to wander through European cities again soon! Thanks for posting your beautiful photos- they always awaken the nomad in me!

    • 40 Heide

      You made my day with your kind comment. I’m honored my photos awaken your inner nomad! And I promise you once the health issues are resolved, we’ll be back on the road — because after only three days at home my husband is getting restless already. 🙂

  19. Rome looks like a place you could visit again and again. I hope you get a do-over soon, HB. You’re right about the scale. Everything seems monumental. I’m glad you could reminiscence with these wonderful photos and memories, while at the same time staying home, close to medical care and ready to put this terrible infection to rest. My best to you both. xo

    • 42 Heide

      I think Rome is like Paris in the sense that you could spend a lifetime exploring and still not see it all, dear Alys. So hopefully we will get to reschedule … though at the same time I’m mindful and grateful of how lucky we were to see it at all. In the meantime, thank you for your kind words and healing thoughts. You always brighten my day. xoxo

  20. Tourists in your own town – ha ha! That should be a lot of fun.

    • 46 Heide

      So far so good! 🙂

      • If you want to, may you please do a post later about you two pretending to be tourists in your town, and what you two did and such? It would be a fun read.

        • 48 Heide

          Possibly, if what we do is interesting enough! For now we’ve mostly just been sitting around because my husband isn’t feeling very well. 😦

  21. Though sorry to hear of a desired trip postponed, very glad to hear of self-care first, of time shared together in wellness, and of time off redirected to exploring near this time and far another time =) Happy Thanksgiving week, Heide!

    • 51 Heide

      Thank you as always for your kind and encouraging wishes, Lara! We have enjoyed our week immensely so far and have once again been reminded that time together is precious, no matter where it happens. Hope you’re having a wonderful post-Thanksgiving week too! xo

  22. So sorry you had to cancel. The correct decision in my view. And I know you will have a great week exploring from home.

    • 54 Heide

      Given how The Big Guy has been faring the past few days, we absolutely made the right decision! And you’re right that we’ve had a great week anyway — thanks especially to the daily naps. We’re getting a little taste of retirement and we really, really like it. 🙂

  23. Sorry you had to cancel (postpone) your trip. I had no idea that Rome was so grand in size. Your photos really show the scale of the place. Extraordinary. Hope your hubby feels better soon. Cosying up watching re-runs is a pretty good use of time in my book 😉

    • 56 Heide

      I assure you that my photos don’t begin to do Rome justice! It’s impossible to describe either with words or images because there’s no way to capture both the enormity of it and also the enormous weight of history you feel there. But snuggling down and watching reruns has proven a pretty good alternative, I must say. Our main goal was to spend time together, and we’re accomplishing that in spades. 🙂

  24. My dear Heide, I’m very sorry to hear about Esteban’s infection. This just came to my attention. I’ll renew our correspondence soon but for now I just wanted to say I hope the medicine, funny reruns and R&R at home have worked to put the business down or at least he’s feeling a little livelier. Warm embraces for each of you.

    I enjoyed the recounting of this Rome exploration. And by the way, we should compare fanny packs sometime 🙂 I take an awful lot of grief for mine, from various quarters……

    • 58 Heide

      Thank you for your kind and uplifting words, my dear T-Fir. We’ve visited a couple of museums but mostly we’re just enjoying the quiet time together — and feeling relieved we stayed home. I’ll reply in more detail elsewhere but for now will congratulate you for being a fellow fanny pack bearer. I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t wear them … they’re like a little shelf that follows you everywhere! I’ve wondered whether mine might get more respect if it were made out of leather, or coated in fur like one of those Scottish sporrans, lol …

  25. Wow, beautiful pictures, and so many columns, it all reminds me of Pollyanna’s viv. 😊 😊 😊
    I would love wandering around the ruins with my camera, but I’m no fan at all of busy people and the fast lane so I guess I would struggle with the pace of life in Rome.
    I’ll visit in your pocket via your blog instead. 😊 😊
    (get well wishes to Hubby. 😊 😊)

    • 60 Heide

      How wonderful (and hilarious) that all those Roman columns remind you of Pollyanna’s vivarium. 😀 But you are right in your assessment of Rome as being a bit overwhelming — which is why I too am glad to be visiting only through my memories. One needs to be in full force to really enjoy such a place! Thank you very much for your kind wishes, as always, Sallyann …

  26. You were right not to tempt fate by adding international travel – exhausting at the best of times – and Italy into the infection equation. Hope that your husband is on the mend and that you will have a chance to say ‘when in Rome’ again soon! x

    • 62 Heide

      Thank you for your kind and encouraging words, M. In hindsight it’s clear we made the right decision — so not a smidgen of regret! My only worry is that reentry to work next week may be even more difficult than if we’d returned from Rome, because now we’ve had a taste of the leisure life at home! 🙂

  27. Heidi did you see my pictures that i just put up? Ryan

  28. I enjoyed this reminiscence, but you have my sympathy that you had to cancel. I think you made the right decision not to go. Perhaps if it was a trip to Paris, you would have gone anyway? 🙂

    • 69 Heide

      Funny you should mention Paris, dear Mr. Draco: Our tickets actually had us stopping there for our connection to Rome, and we briefly discussed just staying in Paris (since we speak a bit of French and know our way around the medical system). But ultimately common sense prevailed, for which we’re grateful in hindsight. Maybe next year, though. 😉

      • An even better decision, given the protests.

        • 71 Heide

          Indeed. I have a friend who lives near the Arc de Triomphe and last weekend he could smell tear gas and burning tires INSIDE his apartment. It sounds like the government is capitulating for now, though, so hopefully the unrest will ebb.

  29. Well selected and photographed gorgeous photos. I do love them all. It is “hundred” years when I visited there.

    • 74 Heide

      The good thing about Rome is that little has changed in the historic center since you and I visited a “hundred” years ago. 😉

  30. I am so sorry that you had to cancel the trip to Rome. Hopefully the infection is under control by now. Thanks for sharing the memories from last time in Rome. Gorgeous photos.

    • 76 Heide

      Thank you so much, Otto … a compliment from you always makes me puff out my chest with pride for the rest of the day. 🙂 And thank you for your good wishes, too. My hubby’s doctors are coming up with a good treatment plan, so if all goes well we’ll try for Rome again next year. (Fingers crossed!)

  31. Sorry to hear! Hope it’s better now.
    Beautiful photos from Rome. I only have a handful of them, from 30 years ago 😉

    • 78 Heide

      Thank you, dear Trudi. We’re still waiting for his surgery, but do hope it will soon be better. In the meantime, at least we both have our memories from Rome a few decades ago, yes? 🙂

  32. Excellent post and photographs. Best wishes for your husbands health and recovery!

    • 80 Heide

      Thank you for your kind words and good wishes, Denise. They mean all the more to me after visiting your blog and discovering your EXTRAORDINARY photography! I am an instant fan — and your newest subscriber. 🙂

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