One would hope that after all this time, I'd be learning some things as we go along. Something I mentioned at the very beginning of this blog was, "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is." Well, in case the lesson wasn't completely cemented, our time in Rome has certainly helped in that area. After coming from freezing cold weather in Assisi, we've been enjoying some fine warm weather in Rome. All week long, the temperature has stayed reasonably constant and our coats and scarves haven't been as firmly affixed to us as in other places. We started out on Tuesday with a wonderful all-day tour of Rome led by Alfredo, an extremely knowledgeable Italian man. The weather was beautiful, brilliant sunshine the entire day. The tour provided the best overview of a city I've ever had; all we had to do for the rest of the week was to go see things for ourselves up close (rather than from a car). We scheduled some good sight-seeing days and visited museums, the Colosseum, the Forums, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps (we've been here several times, as this is a fantastic people-watching spot from any of its 136 steps), St. Peter's and Vatican City, etc. We've also had the chance to meet up with some friends of friends, giving us a good introduction to life in Rome.
As we're nearing the end of our trip however, we're finding that we need more time to just sit and relax. So on Saturday, after several days of fairly constant sight-seeing and visiting with people, we decided to head over to the Borghese Villa area. This is one of the major park areas of Rome, and its acres and acres of lush green grass and trees are often compared to Central Park in New York. We'd glimpsed the area from the car on Tuesday, bathed in the lovely November sunshine, and couldn't wait to go back and spend time there later in the week. Despite warnings from our guidebooks that November in Rome was often rainy, we headed out on Saturday into the first overcast day we'd had in Rome yet. Blissfully ignorant of what was to come, we emerged from the subway stop into the grassy parkland and strolled deep into the foresty area, looking for the perfect spot to sit and read for awhile. We settled onto a park bench overlooking a huge green field and had only been sitting for perhaps 15 minutes when Anna chanced to remark that she loved sitting outside on days like this. I looked up at the dark, ominous clouds in the sky (actually seeing them for the first time that day) and said that I wasn't so fond of such days, since all I could think of was the possibility of rain. It wasn't cold though, and somehow expecting that fact to protect us from any foul weather, we kept talking and relaxing on the bench. We did start noticing great streaks of lightning all across the sky, followed some seconds later by loud claps of thunder, but for some reason, we still made no attempt to move. We were undoubtedly quite secure in the notion that it was impossible for us to have chosen the only rainy day in Rome as the day we wanted to sit outdoors for several hours. It wasn't until sudden drops of rain became more insistent that we actually got up to look for shelter. Thinking it would pass quickly, we strolled somewhat casually through the park, looking for an awning to stand under momentarily. But it turned out that we didn't just choose the only day of rain we'd seen all week, released in the form of light sprinkling; no, we chose the day with an unbridled torrential rain storm, complete with gailing winds that blew the rain in all directions. The umbrella pine trees we were standing under (so called because of their shape) suddenly developed holes and we were drenched in a matter of minutes. We did our best to keep cameras and backpacks dry under our coats, all the while desperately looking around for better shelter, but since we were rather deep in the park, cafès and restaurants were a bit harder to find than they are in the heart of the city. We finally made a run for it, seeing that the rain wasn't about to let up anytime soon, and we found a small amusement park ride to crowd under, along with a number of other people caught in the same predicament. Amazed that the rain was continuing unabated, we decided to buy an umbrella from the quick-thinking entrepreneur who appeared out of nowhere, laden with an endless supply of brightly-colored umbrellas. Now equipped with a bright yellow umbrella of our own (we weren't given a choice), we headed down the path to a cafè across the way. Of course (as you can all surely guess), as soon as we settled down inside with our overpriced thimbles of cappuccino to wait out the rain, it stopped completely. Classic.
The whole situation ended up being so absurd, it was just funny. One of those things where you almost can't be upset by it. Almost. But I guess the unmistakable lesson to take away here is that if you are in a car touring a large city, and the weather is absolutely gorgeous, don't count on it to be the same a few days later. Instead, leap out of the car as soon as possible and seize the day on foot. You may never get the chance again. . .