The Incidental Roman Affair, Part III: Rome at Night
At night, Rome sizzles with a subtly sensuous sheen. As tourists retire to their luxury suites and their budget hostels, as shops lock their doors and street vendors return home, the city’s historic center –its Centro Storico– eases away from energetically enchanting and slips towards hushedly hypnotizing. Even the sanpietrini take respite in the lamplit streets, lending their old-world charm to the city’s bewitching hours.
In the darkness, the Trevi Fountain sparkles with a certain luminescence. La Fontana di Trevi. It’s been featured in countless films and photographs (so much so, that you’d probably recognize it without having ever been before); and yet, you could still never tire of looking at it. In the moonlight, with the statues aglow and the gently gurgling waters dancing with the night breezes, it’s even more spellbinding.
The stars wink lazily overhead as Nicolò and I amble our way up Gianicolo, known to be a great lookout over the city. Limbs tired, feet heavy, eyelids drooping with sleep, we stop to admire the view.
Earlier in the night, we had hopped from bar to bar in Trastevere until its streets emptied themselves of inebriated college exchange students giving in to the summons of slumber. Somewhere along the way, we had found ourselves walking hand in hand. And now, here I am, huddling under Nicolò’s coat, looking out over The Eternal City’s glimmering lights.
With dawn on the verge of breaking, we leisurely wend our way down toward il centro, back toward the Termini train station, entangled in the beguiling city that is Roma. True to Italian form, the stazione doesn’t open at its scheduled 5am. Also true to Italian form, il treno è in ritardo: the train is delayed. It’s perhaps 5:45 before we pull out of the station on the day’s first regionale. As luck would have it, we experience further delays at the first stop just outside the city proper, in the nondescript town of Torricola. I groggily resolve to write Trenitalia a chastising love letter.
Finally, we arrive in our little town. Reality settles back in, personal boundaries return, and you would never guess we’d just had what might be considered a 13-hour date. As first dates go (assuming that’s what we’ll consider this), not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, months from now, Nicolò will go on to say that this was one of the best days he’s had all year. And as he walks me home with the sun shedding its first rays of light, he nonchalantly says, “So…today is Valentine’s Day. How do Americans celebrate?”