Wandering through Childhood Rome


After an almost 1 1/2 year hiatus, here I am again.  With several projects on the go, besides work and ministry, I needed to give those my full attention.  Now I’m semi-retired and will be using my blogs to generate residual income, while at the same time celebrating sights and sounds on my wanderings.

The Romans’ Rome

I was 5-6 years old when I lived in Rome. Aside some memorable moments that are forever sealed in my brain’s hard drive, I don’t have major recollections of that time. I attended 1st. Elementary in Rome and 2nd. Elementary in Milan; had my very own 1st. Communion at a nun’s school in Rom – that is: I was the only celebrant, while my classmates looked on. Amazing what money can buy.  At the time I accepted this as a normal practice; little did I know that such momentous event takes place together with all other pupils. I had no idea that I grew up in a privileged environment. My parents, siblings and godmother made sure the event was celebrated in style, with the little Princess as the center of attention.

Street names sounded familiar  and triggered daydreaming moments. I did unsuccessfully search for the school I attended, and was disappointed that I couldn’t locate it. Not having the proper name didn’t help. It’ll have to wait for a next visit.

I still remember the school’s park, which encircled the back part of the school.  Lush  trees provided shade on sweltering days, while flowering bushes spread their pleasant fragrance along the way. At the opposite end of the park was a grotto with the Virgin Mary looking down on us. I can even remember how, with a few friends, we used the sand on the pathway to fashion a small village with narrow canals for the resident ant colonies.  We would watch with fascination, how these ants would scurry around, carrying tiny pieces of branches and grains of sand that were double their size; quite incredible how they managed to transport these to their nest.

Growing up I wouldn’t have had to contend with the present-day congestion that often brings drivers to a standstill.  Now, hundreds of tour and pilgrim buses enter and exit the city every day. The results can be seen in the greatly damaged infrastructure, not designed to withstand the relentless abuse caused by oversized vehicles. A few years ago, a major scandal broke out when it came to light that the mayor and his council were pocketing the moneys collected from tourism, instead of repairing the deteriorating roads.  No doubt, it will take another decade or so before any road improvements will occur. By then damage will be so extensive that it will cost the city millions in restorations.

The Pincio Gardens

High above the city, in the Campo Marzio quarter, between the  Piazza del Popolo and the Villa Borghese, are the well-known Pincio gardens where, as a six-year old, I spent many happy hours. Our governess would walk me there from our nearby home.  Either in the morning, around 10-11 am or in the afternoon around 3: pm, we would go to the mobile puppet theatre, whose theatrical antics would delight both big and small. The Pincio gardens are popular with the Romans and many make it part of their daily stroll.

The mobile theatre was nowhere to be seen, instead, a large permanent structure has become the home of our puppet divas, who can now continue to enthrall young audiences all year round. I was thrilled that the theatre still existed, although its present home has taken  away a bit of its romantic mobile past.

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As we ambled through the Pincio, I let my mind and imagination cast back to a carefree and magical childhood, summoning happy memories that had long been buried.

At the various park entrances golf-cart-like buggies are available for rent,  2 to 4 and 6-seaters, in order to criss-cross the gardens. The Pincio are Rome’s first public gardens, which flow into the adjacent Villa Borghese with its extensive grounds. The alleys of the Pincio are flanked by busts and statues of legendary worthies from th Roman Empire, Middle Ages and Enlightment periods.

The towering outlook  offers an enchanting and sweeping view of the Eternal City with its imposing Vatican grounds, numerous basilicas and archeological treasures.

It was a lovely conclusion to an intense 10-day visit, which I shall detail in my next post.


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