Sunday, 24 September 2023
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

A Surprise Reunion in Enchanting Rome: A Memorable Moment in the Eternal City

Written by  Jun 03, 2023

I love Rome! I have to admit that I’m not a great lover of large cities. But Rome is special. Every corner you turn you literally bump into a new sight, a historic building or a glorious plaza. It is crammed with cultural monuments, like an overloaded pizza.

Everything is easy to reach, it’s pretty much a walkable city, and the value of these sights is priceless.

Is it dirty, yes! Is it overcrowded, again yes! But at the same time it is magical.

The birth of modern civilisation in a bite-sized city.

So, why was I in the Eternal city last weekend? Well, if there is one thing I love more than Rome that is surprising my “nearest and dearest.” My mother, accompanied by my sister, is currently on a bucket list grand tour of Europe.

Surprising My Mother in Rome

Florence was the main goal on her list, but she managed to visit Switzerland, France and large parts of Italy along the way. And all by train. Not a bad way at all to see Europe. And the little treat at the end is a trip on the famous Orient Express from Paris to London.

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So as she was in my neighbourhood I decided to surprise her. She was going to be in Rome for three days, including her birthday, that seemed like the ideal chance. My sister and I kept it between us. I had booked a hotel near theirs and flights, although the only hitch was that I had to catch them from Split.

“I hope she doesn’t have a heart attack when she sees you,” joked my sister. The plan was to meet her in their hotel, in the rooftop restaurant with spectacular views over the whole city, from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica to the Colosseum.

The scene was set. They were having cocktails and I was in the lift. “Go and have a look at the view,” I heard my sister say as she prepared to video the surprise. I stuck my head around the corner. My mother saw me and the look on her face was worth all the planning. Her mouth was moving but no words were coming out.

Shock, love and joy, all wrapped together like a calzone.

Priceless, and the video will always be a fond memory.

So we had three days together in the city of light, the city of love. We hit all the main sights, all that we could in the limited amount of time, for there is much to see.

I have this complex of always comparing a tourist destination to Dubrovnik. And the first thing to say is that if you think Dubrovnik is overcrowded then don’t go to Rome. The Vatican Museum was so busy that so literally couldn’t stop to look at the exhibition, we were herded like cattle through the halls and rooms, like a drive-through museum.

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Finding a spare table at a restaurant or café was mission impossible, and the public transport was bursting at the seams. And by far the most numerous tourists were Americans, presumably going back to their roots and exploring their forefather’s homeland. Some restaurants felt like being in downtown New Jersey.

Pricewise Rome is pretty much on a par with Dubrovnik. Although the parking is drastically cheaper, with roadside parking 1 euro an hour, and you can even pay for 50 cents for 30 minutes. But even with the negatives Rome is still enchanted.

Style of Rome is well-groomed

One of my passions is watching cities awake. So I get up at 6 and walk the streets or sip an espresso watching the citizens go about their lives. Fascinating. Rome has this strange mix of fashionably dressed businessmen whizzing along the street on electric scooters whilst homeless people awake from a night sleeping rough on the streets. The “haves” and “have nots” on one street.

The style of Italian men (much more than the women) is impressive. No matter that it was 35 degrees these guys look like they have fallen of the pages of Marie Claire or Cosmopolitan in their sharp, tailored suits and trimmed beards. They must spend hours in front of the mirror.

“They speak to each other like people in Dubrovnik,” laughed my mother, referring to the fact that no conversation, however trivial, has hands and arms waving. Not so much temperamental, more expressive.

Rome was a delight. And the look on my mother’s face will stay with me for a long time. La vita è bella!

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to


About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik


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