Rome’s water is magnificent, sweet and abundant. After a full day rambling through the City, I would deliver myself to my hotel room’s shower. Throwing my arms up and tilting back my head, the water would run over me and down my throat. “Venus’s sweet ambrosia,” I would say to myself. I was lucky to have this shower.
This was Antun’s and my first trip to Rome. Well, actually our second, but the first was only a quick jaunt down from Florence. We didn’t even spend the night. For this ten day adventure, we thought we were planning well in advance but soon realized that when booking hotels in Rome, a year’s notice is best. I am not kidding.
After many e-mails, phone calls and disappointments, we finally booked a hotel in the ancient City on the via del Corso, one of the largest and busiest shopping streets. When we arrived, our room, on first look, seemed satisfactory: Clean, with wood floors, high ceilings, large windows overlooking the street, and a comfortable bed. But, in the bathroom, we discovered much to our dismay, there was no shower. It had only a bath tub and a so-called hand-shower, an unwieldy device with a short hose that reached absolutely nowhere and ensured that, all day long, we would be scratching at the soap slick between our shoulder blades.
Antun immediately got on the phone with the front desk. The attendant explained that there was only one double room with a shower and, unfortunately it was occupied. “Maybe tomorrow it will be free,” he said. We asked again the next day. “Sorry,” he said again shrugging his shoulders, “Maybe tomorrow.” We struggled on with the hand-held contraption. Washing my hair was almost impossible as I hopelessly tried positioning, all at once, myself, the shampoo, the conditioner, and the hand-held gizmo. Water was everywhere, except where it needed to be. We waited for two more days, almost half-way through our visit, before the room-with-a-shower was ours.
This room was not as pleasant as the first. Facing an interior courtyard, it was dark. When we opened the windows, which we always did, we could hear the clanging of pots coming from an adjacent building’s kitchen and an argument in the apartment facing us. Instead of a wood floor, it had a badly soiled carpet. I made a mental note not to walk barefoot.
But, all was not lost. In the bathroom, I threw off my clothes and slid into the narrow tiled shower that delivered a steady burst of Rome’s delicious water. I stood there a long time. Afterwards, we laid on the bed thinking about the day – about the beautiful Roman fountains, their marble worn soft from time and the sweet Roman water flowing out and over them. They were everywhere — in every piazza, in cubby holes cut into the sides of buildings, in hidden courtyards, and on street corners. They told ancient stories: The Triton on his enormous shell, an old boat brimming with water, the more-than-I-can-count gods, goddesses, and dancing nymphs; not to mention the wild and fantastic animals and the homage to four great rivers.
The fountains had refreshed us visually and quenched our thirst. Now, at the end of the day as we laid together, the waters continued to flow and the singing of the students of the nearby Santa Cecilia, Rome’s famous music school, wafted in through the open windows lulling us to sleep.
All original content copyright 2008 Mary E. Slocum