The view from the Sporting Hotel Villa Maria
Land of 1,000 Castles:
The Ooh in Abruzzo
By Linda Oatman High
I'm in Rome, which is an easy three-hour drive from Abruzzo. Not all
roads lead to Rome, but this one does. The A-24 highway is an efficient
one, with picture-postcard views. And now I'm gazing down on another
Kodak-moment-come-true: the view of the Forum area from the Villa Caffarelli
terrace restaurant on Capitol Hill. Urns flicker with flames, and the
sky turns first purple, then pink, then a streaky combination of both.
It looks like a fruit gelato melting, spreading sweetly overhead. It's
a lovely sight, and I breathe deep of the nighttime smells of one of
the world's oldest cities.
Below the terrace, an old man paints. He's propped on a stool, easel
before him, paintbrush in the air, eyes to the sights. He's in his own
world, and I know just how he feels. A toddler squeals, two women walk
arm-in-arm, and an Italian supermodel type teeters across the cobblestones
in spiky heels. Young lovers kiss and old people smile, and all is right
with the world, here above this city so full of history and religion
and faith in what remains.
I'm in my room at the Exedra Hotel. The room is a suite, and there's
a loft. From the bed, I can see the fountain of the Piazza della Republicca.
I met a woman of Italian descent who told me about having an old black
and white home movie of her husband walking around the fountain, 46
years ago. It was their honeymoon, and they were so happy to be in Rome.
The husband is now gone; the fountain remains.
From my gigantic window in the Exedra I can also see something brand-new:
the world premiere of the Spider-Man 3 movie. There's a carpet
(not red but black, with spiders), risers painted red, lights and sound
and crews of good-looking men in black suits. There are buses and vans
and workers and hundreds of spectators. They're waiting for the movie
stars to exit the theatre and walk the spider carpet. The crowd keeps
stirring and cheering in anticipation, and gorgeous people exit the
theatre and stroll the carpet to the flash of digital cameras. TV crews
are there, and so is the papparazzi, hoping to get the best shot of
Kirsten and Tobey.
But I'm here, in my bed, content. It's fun to watch the combination
of old and new; the union of movie and fountain. The water splashes
into concrete that's been here long before films and digital cameras
and Hollywood movies.
I feel small in this big place, and I'm aware of how good life feels
now, at this moment. I push the button that opens the curtains so that
I can see more, and then I just kick back and relax: The Sweetness of
La Dolce Vita.