It’s a long story, but I ended up taking the kids to Rome last week by myself, and it was great.

Really, I should have been doing more of this all along (I say that without having looked recently at my bank balance – it’s not the sort of thing I can easily afford, but oh well). It actually wasn’t that hard to travel by myself with two kids. We didn’t push ourselves, but each day we had adventures. And I think it helped that we stayed just in Rome for the week. We didn’t feel pressured to see everything in just a couple days (which is impossible anyway). Instead, we relaxed, and got to feel that we were Romans for a week.

One of the movies I loved last year was The Great Beauty (I bought the soundtrack and listen to it constantly for writing music), which is set in Rome. I thought that this guy at the Capitoline is the river god that Tony Servilio sat next to in the movie poster, but now I’m not so sure…


Anyway, the Capitoline is one of my favorite museums. You can’t beat the view over the Forum, and it’s not that crowded. Plus, this …


I remember studying this statue of Constantine in art history. It’s so amazing it’s just sitting out there in the courtyard. But that’s what I love about Rome, there’s something incredible around every corner, no big deal.



When I was in Rome a million years ago, I missed getting in to see the Pantheon because it had just closed. On this trip, we not only went inside, but then had lunch across from it, staying for a good couple hours. (It was hot, and the cafe had this amazing mist machine… heaven!)

I had a wonderful class on the Romantic poets in college, but somehow I didn’t realize the huge influence Italy had on them. The Keats Shelley house is right by the Spanish Steps.


The kids were troupers, only sometimes complaining of all the museum-going. (The Vatican museum was especially challenging. It was simply packed, to the point where we felt we were just pushed along by crowds of people all with the aim of getting to Sistine Chapel, where we stood miserably crushed together feeling like we were in a cattle pen.) But of course, the Vatican has things like this:


My one stroke of genius was that each kid could have a day to choose what we did and decide things. For her day, Simone wanted the beach. We took the train north (this was fun: a little challenge involving the tickets, the destination, even finding what platform we should be at—and we had to run for the train and made it just in time). Santa Marinella was a little beach town about an hour away. Just gorgeous. We spent the afternoon dozing under an umbrella, reading and people-watching.


We’re back now, and the whole trip feels a little bit like a dream. My hope was that while I was there I’d gain a different perspective on things, and possibly uncork some new ideas. I did have some thoughts and vague inklings of new stories. But even if nothing results in terms of stories or manuscripts, it was good to do. Now back to normal life!