Amo Roma

September 5, 2015

Dear Roma,

It has been over 20 years since I first visited you, and came to a slow appreciation of your wrinkled beauty.  Now I am a grown woman, with the fine lines of age tip-toeing across my own face, and I am completely enamored and charmed by your grace and class.  It seems that the beautiful Italian women who skillfully stroll your cobblestoned streets in designer heels always understood your secrets.

Our arrival was off to a rough start, but at no fault of Rome. The 12 hour flight had taken it’s toll and Stella ended up puking in the streets of Trastevere as we waited for our apartment manager to show up with keys.

By day 2 we had pushed our bodies to adjust to the time zone and spent the entire day exploring Rome west of the Tiber river.  We were awed by the Vatican museum, dripping with wealth and the ostentatious jewels of the art world. After a 3 hour shuffle through one grand room with sumptuous frescoes after another, the Sistine Chapel almost came too late for the kids to appreciate the significance of the “hand of god”.  Despite our sensory overload, St. Peter’s basilica still beckoned.  After an obligatory nap, our day was capped with a dinner reunion with a dear Canadian friend, Carolynn.  We had met 13 years ago in Brazil, and have since than had some planned and random meet-ups in New York, San Diego, Edmonton, and Portland.


Day 3 was all about the ancient ruins of the Colosseum and the Roman forum.  Although Gabriel was disappointed that gladiators no longer fight to their death in public expositions, he was delighted by the naked marble sculptures in the Capitoline Museum.  I had to explain that many of the penises had been chiseled off by the prude, long ago, and that “dick-less” men were not the original intent of the artists.  We continued our marathon by foot through the Centro Storico, marveling at the piazzas of obelisks and fountains (notably Navona), and joining the swarms in the Pantheon, straining our necks to stare at the masterful dome ceiling.


Our final day started at the Borghese Galleria, home to an amazing collection of paintings, portraits and a temporary show(?) of Azzedine Alaia couture fashion.  Stella went from room to room quickly scanning the art, as she was more interested in the game of “which dress was her favorite?”.  After exploring the Borghese park by a family quad bike, we headed to Piazza del Popolo and strolled through the wealthy fashionista streets of the Tridente and Campo Marzio neighborhoods to the Spanish Steps.  I was both envious and uncomfortable in our surrounds.  There were many beautiful people dressed in designer clothing, perfectly coiffed, thin and tan, carrying bags worth more than a month of travel. These obvious displays of wealth were spotted not only in attire, but also in the many Mercedes and BMW’s parked in the side streets, and the high-end window displays of the stores.  I wished for a Fairy godmother that could magically transform my traveler’s wardrobe into the dreams of Cinderella, as much as I mentally rejected the conspicuous consumption around me.  I wonder if this will always be a personal conflict for me.  I love beautiful clothing, art, and the comfort of a luxurious lifestyle, but I also want to be free of a need for the superficial, and strive for a simpler existence. I digress…


After tallying an average of 12 to 13 miles of walking EACH day, eating our fill of fresh pasta, pizza and gelato, getting lost on purpose, only to discover the best nooks and crannies, we all opened our hearts to Roma.  Gabriel declared that he wanted to live here when he grows up, Dan said the city was much better than he ever remembered it, Stella had an eye and great enthusiasm for all of the cutest dogs and shoes, and I shed tears in a church, at the sheer beauty and palpable wonder of it all.


With all my love and respect, I bow to you and kiss your hand, as one who can only hope to emulate your grace and sophistication.


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  • Reply Poppy & Grammy September 5, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    What a wonderful way to begin your trip in Bella Roma. It appears that you are wasting no time is taking in all of the sights and enjoying the Italian cuisine ans desserts. Thank you for ‘taking us along with you’ with your exceptional descriptions and adorable sense of humor. A family hug comes your way as you continue your adventures. P & G

    • Reply Sarah September 6, 2015 at 1:31 am

      Hello Tom & Gayle, Our trip has been truly wonderful so far. We are seeing some beautiful places. I don’t know if the kids understand how lucky they are, but people keep telling them!

  • Reply Mom and Dad September 5, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    It is good to hear your contemplative voice. Seeing your pictures of Rome were like traveling back in time, 3 months ago. You even seem to have walked down “our” street, between those matching churches at the Plaza de Popolo down the Via del Corso. Stella and Gabriel, you look great, well for that matter you all look great. Paloma remarked that you, Sarah and Dan, look much younger, now that the weight go preparations are somewhat lessened. I love the posed pictures of the children, the perfect travel models.
    Rome has changed her face from when I last saw her over 45 years ago. The timing of your visit was great as it appears that the crowds have thinned out. Lucky you!
    So much happened while you were here in California and yet I wish we could have done more. May you continue to be safe, happy and healthy. Hugs and kisses from grandma and Abuelo

    • Reply Sarah September 6, 2015 at 1:34 am

      We all really loved Rome. There is a vibrancy to the place and people that I cannot capture in words, but the beauty and history took my breath away. We miss and love you! Too bad we could not have experienced this city together. I will try and get Stella and Gabriel to contribute some thoughts soon…

  • Reply Mom and Dad September 5, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    I forgot to ask. Stella and Gabriel, do you think you could dictate or write some of your reflections about Rome or Greece, so I can share your experiences with my Third Graders? I’d love to hear how things are going with you and so would they, Sorry to hear that you got sick on your first day in Rome, Stella. I hope your stomach is getting stringer. Was the plane trip as I described it to you? How’s the food? Love from Grandma.

  • Reply Janet Hickman September 6, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    I am sitting here with Grandma, ( Ginny ) showing her all of your pictures. We are loving it! She said you are all so lucky . Mike said “stay away from the gypsies” They tried to rob us outside the Coliseum. Thinking about you lots!❤️

    • Reply Sarah September 6, 2015 at 11:42 pm

      Hi Jan (and Ginny), We are so glad to share our journey with you. Tell Mike, it looks like the gypsies have moved on! Sending lots of love your way…

  • Reply Mollie September 7, 2015 at 9:53 am

    I write this choked up and teary, over joyed at the richness on your experiences and blessed that you are sharing them with us. We all miss you guys very much!

    • Reply Sarah September 18, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      Mollie, thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement. We are so thankful to have amazing friends (& neighbors) like you and Patricia to share them with. We can’t wait to catch up you guys and some Oregon Pinot in the future!

  • Reply Holly September 24, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Hello! I booked a trip through your husband earlier this year, and he told me about your big adventure (and blog). So exciting! Congratulations and good luck. My favorite line of this post (because I relate to it so well): “I love beautiful clothing, art, and the comfort of a luxurious lifestyle, but I also want to be free of a need for the superficial, and strive for a simpler existence.” 🙂 Happy trails!

    • Reply Sarah September 28, 2015 at 12:22 am

      Hello Holly, thank you for your comment. Dan and I are happy to share our adventures. I’m glad to know that any of the content might resonate. Sending best wishes to you, and many happy travels!

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