So far, the most important thing I brought to Rome: an umbrella.
The rain insists upon persisting here. The Romans don’t really do rain gear. They just lace up their black boots a little tighter and grab their wooden-handled oversized umbrellas. Or they just don’t do rain at all and stay inside, I’m convinced. It’s a lifestyle choice. A standard of living.
As students, we must trudge through the wetness, but I can’t complain. The rain on the sidewalks, on the cobblestones and the slate serves as a reflective surface, and soon I’m walking on the colored buildings that I’m also walking next to. So then, the rain adds another dimension, layering the city just a bit more.
Besides the value of dry socks, what has the rain taught me?….
Maybe it’s made me look out of windows.
Across an alley from JCU there is an elementary school. The windows of the John Cabot Tiber campus stairwell look directly across into the windows of the kids’ classrooms. Sometimes there is a teacher teaching a lesson in one room, but always, in the room next to it, there is a group of six or so kids running in a circle. Just running. Around and around and around. And the rain falls between me and my window and them and theirs. The kids have huge smiles pasted on their faces and exude pure joy, running in circles, just to run. The energy is infectious even across the panes and droplets. I find myself smiling and stopping to look at them every time.
You think I’m waxing poetic, but I swear it’s Rome.
For example, I was in my Survey of Italian Literature II class just up those stairs and my teacher was talking about Neoclassicism and Romanticism. She was pointing out the difference between the two – Romanticism celebrates nature, but also notes the contrasts and irresolution within it. It creates tension and dimension. And as she is saying this, she looks at the window and stops class, gasping, “Here it is! This is Romanticism.” The sky had parted, and the sun swept through Trastevere, shining on the rain still falling from the clouds. She said, “The sun and the rain and the buildings and the trees – this is contrast – this is Romantic.” It all made so much sense. We just sat and watched the rain lecture for a minute.
Rain teaches. Really, water is so alive in Rome. Think aqueducts, think the Tiber river, think the fountains and spigots that dot the city (like this one pictured, by the Guarini Campus of JCU). It’s all a life source, and it courses through this place. So, I tie my black boots a little tighter and head out.