Invasion of the parents!
The whole semester as I found my favorite things in Rome and elsewhere, I couldn’t help but think how much so-and-so, friend or family member, would love them.
The best thing about finding things you like or love, your places and your people, is sharing them with others. Maybe this is the whole motivator for social media. Maybe that’s a rosy-colored interpretation of it. Either way, I was so eager to show my parents my parts of Rome, the things that I have often shown here on this blog. Even though I had written about these places or people, I wanted my parents to go there, to meet them, to taste the wine, the pasta. To feel it in person.
So, I was overjoyed to have my parents come to Rome, even during exam week. In honor of the occasion I decided to not really focus on exams – You’re welcome Mom and Dad! – and instead focus on showing them what Rome had become to me.
Since we had been to Rome before as a family, we had the luxury of doing some more obscure Roman things. Rome deserves multiple visits. On the first you must do the major things, the huge: guidebook things, or else you leave feeling guilty. On your next trip you can do things slower, or longer, lingering, more in depth, more randomly, more lost. This is the luxury of the return trip: turning tourist into traveler. That’s what it’s all about, folks.
So we took the lift up the Vittorio Emanuelle monument. We went to St. John Lateran (actually part of the Vatican, even though miles away). We walked up Pontius Pilate’s stairs on our knees. We ate the carbonara, we drank the wine. We lingered. We walked Trastevere. We listened to the most enthralling guide at the San Calisto catacombs. We told stories. We ate La Renella pizza. Ps – the whole staff came our to shake their hands and introduce themselves. I was beaming.
Aaaaaaand, we went on day trips Because, really, who would study for finals in Italy? Who needs that?
The first was Assisi.
Assisi, the place of St. Francis and St. Clare. As a Claire, I was excited, naturally. Rick Steves kindly starts you atop the town and guides you down the hilltown on your tour, ending at the Cathedral of St. Francis. We, again, naturally, stopped midway to have lunch in a cave. Do I even need to say why a cave at this point? I had bucatini with truffles and sausage – specialties of the region. Yum. We then continued with the tour.
And boy, was it a day for relics. St. Clare’s hair (blondie), St. Clare and Francis’ baptismal font, both of their tunics, his socks, her bones, his tomb. Here I pause to say something about St. Francis’ tomb. Mom, Dad, and I all agree that it was one of the most moving spaces that we’ve ever been in. The tomb is a round, stone pillar-like construction with sepulcher in the middle and iron grid around it. It’s simple and modest, like the surrounding chapel. It’s stone and warmly candle lit. Incredibly, incredibly moving.
Assisi the town is like a pilgrimage in itself. It’s impossible to walk through it without some spiritual imprint. One hilltown, many many churches. Imagine the number of kids named Clare and Francis there. Imagine that they can still be baptized in that baptismal font. Imagine that. Living amidst the reminders of such humble people in the humbly beautiful town must have an impression. Although low in altitude, Assisi is a religious Everest.
I am no Poor Clare (her religious order). I am nowhere close to her humble sanctity. Poor Clare, rather, made me a richer Claire. I am a rich Claire in experience. In places and peoples. I am a rich Claire in family that takes me to the place of Poor Clare.
And I am lucky to be so rich in experiences and, as always, in accidents.