Walking around Rome is always pleasurable even though I have to admit that after fifteen years of living here, I often curse the broken sanpietrini (cobblestones), the uneven pavement, the gaping holes in the sidewalks, and the slippery marble when it rains. Yes, all that glitters is not gold and Rome, while a marvel, has its downright obnoxious side! However ——
A few months ago, I awoke early in order to go to the anagrafe to change my address. This bureaucratic bowel strikes fear into the hearts of even the most stalwart Roman. There always seems to be one piece of paper, documentation, or something that is not mentioned on the application form that is required once you get there, forcing you to return again with the missing link and, sometimes if you are really unlucky, come back again.
In any event, I set out at 8 o’clock to make sure I was on time for my 8:48 a.m. appointment. That’s right. I’d been given an appointment at twelve minutes to 9. Go figure! The office has now cleaned up its act (a bit) and gives you an actual time to show up instead of, like before, a number that was usually waaaaaaay down the line.
In any event, I was looking forward to an early morning stroll. Artistic masterpieces abound in this open-air museum and I live in a neighborhood where I have to pass at least one no matter where I walk. All polished and spruced up after a year and a half long restoration financed by the fashion house of Fendi, the Trevi Fountain was on my path. Usually swamped by tourists during most of the day, so few were the spectators that I felt as if I had it all to myself, just like the first time I saw it around midnight in December decades earlier. Then it was completely lit up; this time the rising sun cast a deep shadow, slicing the façade in two – one part chiaro, the other scuro. Breathtaking. I stopped for a moment of admiration.
And then ——
Off to the far left, level with the pool of water itself, stood a couple. A young, handsome man and a dazzling, raven-haired woman in wedding garb with two photographers, snapping away. I quickly took a few photos myself but mostly I just stared at them, suspended. Were they on their way to the church? Had they been partying all night and decided to dash off for photos at the fountain with photographers in tow? Was it just a publicity shoot for wedding garb? I hoped not for the latter but it didn’t really matter. The romanticism of the moment swept me away like the bride’s veil that billowed behind her.
The Eternal City eternally surprises and delights no matter the potholes, the pitfalls, and pratfalls (I’ve more of my share of the latter). But then in a moment, all the hassles vanish, obliterated by a scene like the one I stumbled upon.
And you know what? Sometimes even bureaucratic hurdles disappear. I got to the anagrafe ahead of time and at precisely 8:48 my number was called. I finished registering my new address in less than fifteen minutes and almost danced out of the office. Magic here, magic there, magic just about everywhere you go in Rome.