Most of us have a bucket list of must-see places that keeps growing with each passing year. Though I could not pinpoint it on the globe, Italy topped mine for reasons best known to my heart. To my delight, the dream finally came true when I got an opportunity to visit the country recently.
Since 'all roads lead to Rome', I also decided to commence my journey from the ancient city. Concerned friends and know-it-all travel agents declared that Italy was famous for two things -- pizzas and pickpockets.
With their forewarning repeatedly sounding in my head, I stepped out of the airport with trepidation. Struggling with two over-sized suitcases half way through a flight of stairs, I promised myself to pack sensibly in future. Lost in thoughts, I was taken aback when a lanky guy appeared out of nowhere and stood in front of me. Speaking in what I assumed was Italian, he gestured towards the luggage in my hands. Before I could react, he took both the suitcases and started running down the stairs.
Despite being exhausted and jet-lagged, I quickened my pace to keep up with him. Since I knew it would not be possible for me to catch up, screaming for help seemed the next best option. Huffing and puffing, I somehow reached the landing just in time to see him carefully put down the suitcases. Unfortunately, before I could get a chance to thank my knight in shining armour, he melted away in the crowd. Feeling extremely guilty for doubting his intentions I resolved to ignore all the notions that had been fed to me by well-meaning acquaintances.
Over the next few days, I explored the majestic city of Rome and everything that it had to offer. The imposing Colosseum and spectacular Trevi fountain will forever be etched in my memory.
However, more than the exquisite monuments, what truly fascinated me were the people. 'Dolce far niente' or the 'sweetness of doing nothing' is an art the world has yet to learn from Italians.
Conversations flowed freely through the cobbled streets whilst animated exchanges took place at every nook. Interestingly, no matter what the babble was about, it ended up with high-fives, bear hugs and resounding laughter.
According to tradition, tossing a coin in the Trevi fountain ensures a trip back to Rome. I am eagerly waiting for my coin to do the trick!