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Remembrance of A Roman Holiday Past

roman street, originally uploaded by coolfonzies.

Once upon a time I lost all of my luggage in Rome. Through sheer stupidity, through force of habit. Because I behaved as an accidental tourist instead of a seasoned traveler. But that would come later, honed carefully after years of globe-trotting.

Fresh out of a semester abroad in London and loaded down with one too many suitcases. The train got in at midnight. Not the hour to arrive at Rome’s seedy train station, full of thieves looking to unburden a silly American of her cash and valuables. I look around furtively, panicked, and hail a cab. We drive in circles. Literally, and not because the Roman cabby was trying to pull a fast one either. But merely because that is what one does in Rome. It is a city of circular streets. Streets like curly cue French Fries.

“I take you to nice pensione,” the cabby tells me.

Si, grazie,” I respond in my non existent Italian.

And several dozen circular streets later we arrive at our destination. Two over-eager school boys and a domineering Italian mama introduce themselves as my host.

One of the handsome boys grabs my passport when I proffer it.

Bella, Bella, Bellissimo!” He sing-songs while regarding my picture.

A warm feeling spreads over me as I’m reminded of my eighth grade Latin teacher, The Reverend Ford, otherwise known as “The Heavy Revy “or “The Revy Chevy,” depending on which saucy school boy or girl you asked. The Heavy Revy walked around our small classroom in his clerical collar, reciting the Latin verbs aloud, in a monk’s chant. Once upon a time, it turned out, he had been a monk. I had loved the class and loved the dead language which allowed me to understand, if not exactly speak, it’s very vibrant and living counterpart, Italian.

The good looking boys escort me up the spiral stair case, lugging my many bags. I collapse in a heap upon the lumpy bed in a torpor of fatigue.

The next morning I wake up late and ravenous. I realize I have no Italian lire and decide that my first order of business is a visit to the cambio de change.

And then, behaving like the egregiously stupid tourist that I am, I make a fatal mistake. I look at the address on the back of the door of my room—which is what you’d do in an American Super 8—and write it down in my small notebook. Because obviously, I assume, this must be the address of the pensione. And when I walk downstairs with my camera and purse—the only items that will return with me to England in three days time—I turn in my key at the desk.

I walk out into those madly circular streets looking for a change kiosk. And find out much later—at the police station, after I’ve collapsed and a kindly Italian gentleman takes pity on me and brings me a sandwich—that the address I’ve written down is in fact that of the Italian tourist bureau. I never find the pensione again, or the large suitcases, or my diary from my semester in London.

But sometimes I dream about them.