Rome on the edge of December

It rained last night and the garden behind the villa awoke smelling like spring. L says she cannot quite believe it’s nearly Christmas. The palm trees along the fence line between the convent and Via Nomentana throw her off, she says. She’s accustomed to Pennsylvania and Kansas, where Palm trees do not belong in November. But the Mediterranean vegetation that the nuns planted many years ago remind me of the tropics and sub-Saharan Africa. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I am counting down the days that I will be home.

In the past few days I've realized just how much of Italy I have not seen. I've already begun to compose a list of all the places I wish to visit when I return. Tricarico, Palermo, Verona, Assisi.

The shops along Via Dell’Corso have set up their Christmas displays and last night as M, C and I meandered through Piazza Navona, we smiled at the shining strings hung around the square, like a million fireflies illuminating Bernini’s fountains.

The Christmas market is being set up. Lines of booths and a carousel. December first they will open, through the candy booths are already open, selling fudge and candies fruit by the kilo.
Men sit on the street corner a fire before them and a sack of chestnuts at their feet. The smell of smoke and toasted nuts wafts through the streets and it is tempting to linger round each corner because the fire on which the chestnuts roast is warm. The men have been sitting on the street corners since October, selling paper cones filled with chestnuts for 5 euros each, but now their small stands have also been decorated for the holidays.

I love how I no longer have to think about where I am going here in Rome, for my feet know the way and I hardly even notice the twists and turns in the dark alleys anymore. There is no such thing as getting lost in this city for I am always able to stumble upon something that is familiar. There is something deeply fulfilling about that.


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