Monday, December 31, 2012

A quiet New Year's Eve in Rome: Soaking up the simple beauty

Would you like some Trinità dei Monti with your fairy lights? No, that's all right, the fairy lights are enough for me.

Since moving to Rome over eight years ago, I have come to realize that it is the simple things in this splendid city that fascinate and charm me the most. Of course I adore the Pantheon and Castel Sant’Angelo (and while I may not adore the Colosseum or St. Peter’s Basilica, I recognize what works of incredible human achievement they are), but those monuments are not what thrill my soul, nor what make me sometimes think, “How could I ever leave Rome?” Instead it is the minute details, the curiosities, the simple pleasures, which are often overlooked (even though, I must admit, in Rome even the simple things are extraordinary.)

This afternoon I took a long New Year’s Eve walk with my adorable Maritino through some of the most picturesque neighborhoods in the city. I’m a sucker for the twinkling lights and other decorations that make it even more magical than usual at this time of year. I’ve never been one to make too much of a fuss over New Year’s Eve (although I have always dreamed of going to a big fancy ball à la Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally). My first priority has always been to be among good friends and I usually end up at a cozy house party and maybe going out for post-midnight drink, and generally I am tucked up in bed by 1am or shortly thereafter.

But this year, the Maritino and I decided to ring in the New Year quietly, on our own. It’s after 8pm, and we still haven’t decided if we’ll go out for an informal dinner or stay in with a bottle of champagne and a movie. Either way, it will be simple and quiet.

But we did create a new tradition: a long, leisurely, afternoon walk through the sparkling city, trodding the sanpietrini of some of the loveliest streets and piazzas of the city, from Via dei Coronari to Via dell’Orso, Piazza San Lorenza in Lucina, Via del Campo Marzio, Via Borgognona and many more. And what simple yet enthralling pleasures awaited us at every turn: ogling the priceless antiques in the store windows, stopping to admire a never before seen (by us) curiosity, reminiscing about moments passed together in hidden corners of the city, marveling at the Borromini and da Cortona that seem to follow us around every bend, grabbing a piping hot slice of pizza al taglio, seeing locals and natives greeting each other with boisterous “Buon Anno!”s and “Happy New Year!”s, catching snippets of the song of an unusually talented street performer, and stopping for a pot of tea at Babington’s. The city was so rich and alive. It made me grateful to be alive and to be able to live in this extraordinary place, and to be able to keep on loving it so passionately, day after day, year after year.

Here are just a few photos from our epic five-hour walk. I would have taken more, but I was so busy feeding my pupils with the gorgeousness all around me, I simply forgot most of the time!

What's hiding behind that plant on Via dei Coronari?

Oh, no big deal, just a fragment of an ancient sculpture, plastered right into the wall of a building.

You know when you walk around the corner and run into a massive church you don't remember ever seeing before? (If this were Twitter, the hashtag would be: #onlyinRome) (In case you were wondering, it's San Salvatore in Lauro)

An almond cupcake by the fire at Babington's. Delicious, but can't compare to Christina's!

Tea and cake at Babington's: it costs at least as much as a full meal any decent trattoria, but it is the only place to get proper cup of tea in Rome.

Happy New Year, my darling bloglings! Thank you for reading my humble words in 2012. I promise there will be more, hopefully many more, posts in 2013. I wish you a thrilling New Year’s Eve wherever and however you might be celebrating it. Here’s to drinking in the beauty that is all around us every moment, whether simple or extraordinary, or both!

All photos by author

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