Dear friends, we are in week #2 in Rome. The kids are thriving on all the sunshine and good Italian food (there’s my happy boy enjoying Nutella pizza outside St. Peter’s Basilica), we are filled with grace from our daily visits to holy pilgrimage sites, and we are reveling in all the unique aspects of family life in Italy.
There are fewer comforts and conveniences, but people take life more slowly and seem to embrace it more here. Things like line-drying our wet clothes in the sun, eating the fresh fruit as we shop at the open air produce markets, and letting the kids cover public plazas with sidewalk chalk designs are welcomed. Things like rudeness and rushing, on the other hand, are not culturally acceptable.
The kids and I walk several miles a day to churches and playgrounds along the cobblestone streets with our double stroller and Ergo carrier. We meet my husband along the Tiber River in the early evening on his way home from researching at the Jesuit archives in the shadow of St. Peter’s Basilica. The archives are only open 6 hours each weekday, so we are relishing the family time.
Learning to cook seasonal Italian cuisine (from signs and labels I can’t translate) has been a challenging and wonderful way to break out of my cooking rut. Hazelnuts, sundried tomatoes, pesto, prosciutto, romano cheese and all those delicacies are abundant, commonplace and cheap.
Our hundreds-of-years-old charming fourth-floor walkup has wide open windows and a courtyard in the center, so we can hear cheerful noises of neighbors and passers by in the morning, noon, and night. There is a warmth and neighborliness and love of strangers, in a real Catholic spirit, that runs deeper than what I’m accustomed to in suburban America.
There’s still no place like home sweet USA, but Italians have a beautiful way, Christ is present here, and in a sense Rome is always home after all.