Mom’s Tour de France 13 (FGK 104)

In 2009 a bunch of us were fortunate enough to go to Rome to see my cousin get married. Large as the city is, it seemed as though every time we turned a corner we bumped into a Copithorne, which made our sightseeing days pretty damn enjoyable as we always had someone to share them with. I loved that trip, and I’m so grateful that mom and dad were in good enough health to fully enjoy the trip too. The wedding was amazing, the food was outstanding, and the place was unbelievably spectacular. I hope to get back again someday soon.

Rome, November 25th 1960.

Dear Everyone:

Well – I made it at last! You know how I’ve always wanted to see Rome. We left Tours at 2am Thursday morning and arrived here at 5:30 this morning. I had sleepers for both nights so didn’t get too tired. There was some snow in the Alps – it reminded me of home, only there are fortresses along the passes instead of the wild kind of nature that’s in the Rockies. There were two busses to meet us at the train. They took us past all sorts of fascinating monuments to our hostel which is run by some monks and is a block away from the Tiber. A great big breakfast was served and then we were let loose on the town. Gail, Pat, Ruth and I walked along the Tiber for a way and then turned off up a street which led past some sunken ruins of Republican temples. There were all sorts of cats prowling around the broken columns and statues. I tried to take some pictures but don’t think the film was set right. We then wandered to the central church for the Jesuit Order. It is a magnificent example of baroque art. The marble had designs in it made of different colours of rock, and the paintings on the ceiling were well worth a stiff neck. The streets of Rome have no rhyme or reason. They just twist back and forth or else end abruptly at a fountain or a church. Every time you turn a corner you don’t know whether you are going to run into some old Roman theatre or a church. It makes one feel so very ignorant because it seems as though the whole wealth of western civilization is displayed here like a historical pageant. I never realized there was so much history I didn’t know about – and I never thought I’d see the day when I thought a building dating from the 8th century was relatively recent! After we came out of the Jesuit church Gail and Ruth lingered in a little shop while Pat and I strolled a little farther on, planning to meet them later. I wanted to see the fountain of Trevi first thing (remember the movie?) so we went to find the right street. When we went back to get Gail and Ruth they were gone so we decided to go on. We asked an Italian policeman for directions and boldly set off – not sure whether or not we had really understood the Italian. After we turned innumerable corners and gone up some little side streets we decided it was time we got our bearings again. We saw a priest standing on the steps of a church so I said, “Oh, let’s ask him, priests are very well educated so he’s bound to know French or English!” He had already seen us so we went up and hardly got our mouths open when he said: “You speak English?” We were immediately relieved and started to speak in very slow careful English – imagine our embarrassment when he answered us fluently. Then Pat asked him if he was Italian. He gave a start and said “Aye n’ if I had any Italian blood in me I’d give it back to them! I guess I haven’t been puttin’ on me brogue enough!” His face just overflowed with mischief. If I’d given it a second thought I’d have guessed he was Irish – and after we heard him talk a bit we knew!! When we asked him where the fountain was he insisted on taking us there because he had a few minutes of spare time and it wasn’t far away. As we were walking along we found out that he is a student at a school here for fellows who are going through to be priests. Classes let out while we were there and we met ones from the US, Canada, and Germany. They are there from all over. When we got to the fountain, Jon (that’s his name) offered to take our picture in front of it. That got me to explaining how I have this gorgeous camera and don’t really know how to use it. I had two pictures left on the film so Jon took those of us and offered to take us to a camera shop where I could get the film changed. We didn’t have any Italian liras so he said he’d take us to a place where we could get our money changed. We said “Oh no,” we didn’t want to take up more of his time since he’d already spent about half an hour with us. Then he told us he was already late for class by 15 minutes, that he might as well cut the whole thing and that while his Superior might not understand he was sure God would! So we proceeded to have a guided tour. Jon told us the best Italian foods to buy and the cheapest places to get it. I got a slide film put in my camera and had my travellers cheque changed into Italian money because you get 20% off here for cashing travellers cheques in stores.

After we left the American Express we went to the Spanish Steps. By this time it was almost noon and Joe had to leave us, after giving us careful directions for our way back. We got hopelessly lost and finally had to take a taxi in order to get back to the villa in time for lunch. After the meal the whole group went off in busses for a general tour of Rome. We saw so much it’s just impossible to name it all. We went through an old quarter where they say the people who live there are now the same (type) as those who were there during the time of Caesar. This road led to the top of one of the seven hills of Rome. Here we had a magnificent view of the entire city spread out before us. St. Peter’s was the next stop – we just saw the outside as this trip was just to get a general idea of the city. We went past all sorts of Pope’s palaces and Emperor’s tombs and ended up at the stadium where they had the olympics last summer. It is by these buildings that Mussolini was going to make into a second forum. There is still a big monument there with his name on it. We stopped in the Park Borghese overlooking the Plaza do Puopolo. This gave another view of the city. Several countries have their Academics in the park there and there are all sorts of ponds etc scattered through the trees. It was here that I saw my first Punch and Judy show – only it was in Italian. when we were going by the monument Emmanuel 11 on our way to the Colosseum we met some kids from Stanford in Italy so they came along on the tour with us. We went out a little on the Oppian way and followed the old wall of Rome until we came to a freeway which went right under the gates. We also passed the place where they used to have their chariot races. By the time we started home it was evening and we could see the sunset over the city. Tomorrow we are going to the Vatican and will have a chance to see the Pope. Pat and Ruth came with us as we wandered down some back streets tonight to a little pizza place which had been recommended to us. I burnt my tongue on a pizza, but it was just delicious. We also had some Italian pastries which were also yummy. I wish I could send some of those dishes home to you, they are so much fun to try.

It’s now 9pm – and I’ve spent an hour writing this letter. There is just so much to say I can’t get it all down on paper I think I’ll go to bed instead.

I’m going back to the fountain of Trevi before I leave, so I’ll throw a coin in for you all.




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