Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

21 July 2017

I Am Not Her, But I Am Here

OK, I have to admit:  Yesterday's post wasn't quite fair.  I asked you to guess where I am, and the clue was the photo I included.  Its subject is an attractive, stylish woman on a bicycle.  You can find others like her in lots of places in this world--and there are more than a few blogs dedicated to them.  

Behind the woman in that photo are two girls dressed in a way that almost nobody would be at this time of year in this place.  Ever since I arrived yesterday, the weather has been very hot.  I am not surprised, as I had been here before in the summer and experienced similar weather.

No, I'm not in Florida with my parents.  From the background, I think you figured as much.  Also, I don't know of anyone in the Sunshine State who dresses like that woman.

If you figured that I'm in a European capital that's not Amsterdam, you're on the right track.

I was here this morning:

And this is where I spent most of my afternoon:

So now I have something in common with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.  Yes, I am in Rome.

So "Why Rome?," you ask. Funny that you should:  One of my history professors asked that same question. In fact, that query was his entire final exam, and we had three hours to answer it. 

But as to why I am here now:  I kinda sorta thought I should come to Italy again.  Until yesterday, I hadn't been anywhere in this country since 2001, and I last set foot in this city five years before that.  The later visit was part of a bike tour that started in Lyon, France and took me through parts of the French, Italian and Swiss Alps.  Some would argue that it's not "really" Italy, but it is in its own way.  

Now, as for that 1996 trip, I'm going to tell you something I don't often talk about.  I had an Italian girlfriend whom I'd met in the US, when she was living and working here.  Then she had to go back and, practically from the moment she stepped off the plane in Fiumicino, was urging me to come over.  So I went the first chance I got--which, since I was teaching, meant summer.

Anyway, our relationship ended during that trip.  I am long past that:  I know that even if I hadn't undergone my life transitions, our relationship had a limited shelf life.  Still, having crossed the ocean to experience it is not a pleasant memory, to say the least.

I guess it's ironic, in a way, that a relationship should end that way (or in any way at all) in the "Eternal City"--one with the Forum and Colosseum, where I spent my morning and afternoon.  

Of course I loved seeing them again, and learning some things I never before knew (or, perhaps, had forgotten) about them.  Hey, I even saw a guy give the ring to the young lady with whom he wants to spend the rest of his days.  Still, I have felt sad:  I should love this city and this country but I don't.  Sometimes I feel as if I'm the only person in this world who doesn't.  Maybe I just don't identify with my heritage enough.  

Tomorrow I'm going to go on a bike tour of the city.  I would have gone today, but the English-speaking guide wasn't in.  And, after that, I'll rent a bike.  Maybe I'll feel better about this place then.


  1. Duh! Duh! Duh! That will teach me not to doubt the evidence of my own eyes!!

    Where else would you find real people riding as part of their everyday lifestyle with such natural style? I have never felt jealousy like I did watching Italian girls on their bikes...

    Visit the Pantheon and all shall be right with the world.

  2. Why Rome??? As if you need an excuse!

    I assume you will visit the Pantheon, the greatest architectural space in the world. But go up to the Villa Borghese and see the Etruscan treasures at the Villa Giulia. And stroll amongst the ruins of the Baths of Caraculla. And the newly opened Palace of Nero near the Coliseum. You should be able to make a dent in the treasures of Rome if you stay for a month.



  3. Coline and I are not collaborating. She posted as I was writing my thing. It is fate: you must go to the Pantheon.


  4. I don't mean to be tedious, but...

    A thing to meditate on when standing in the Pantheon: The dome above you is *** one single piece of caste concrete *** with no seams at all. A modern construction contractor would tell you to go have sex with yourself if you ordered such a thing today. How this was done in the 2nd century AD is a bit of a mystery. Lay a flower at the tomb of the painter Raphael.


    1. Beauty and sheer audacity which we cannot emulate...

  5. Coline and Leo--I have to admit that I was feeling a bit insecure. I haven't seen a lot of women riding here, but the ones I've seen seem to have a style and grace I probably never will have.

    As for the Pantheon--Yes, I will visit. And Leo--It is amazing not only that it was built as it was, but on the schedule you describe. In New York, it takes seven years to build a bathroom in a park, and it ends up costing more per square foot than the most expensive apartment in the Trump Tower!