Monday, February 26, 2018

Music Monday ~ Tripping Over Memories

What brought that on?

Last week I contributed this at Quora, in answer to the question:
"What was your first travel experience?"

I did travel, within the UK, a few times before 1962, but that year saw my first venture outside of Britain, into Europe - to Italy. It was a honeymoon trip. I'd married an Italian guy. It was a mistake, the marriage was short-lived and fairly unpleasant, but some details of that first trip abroad remain etched in memory.

We travelled all the way from northern England to Italy by train, without a break. First to London, then to Milan via France and Switzerland, then to Brescia where first husband's family lived, then a few days later, on to Rome.

What I remember most about the actual journey is becoming deadly tired, but unable to sleep. I recall changing trains in Basle, Switzerland, with a little time to spare before the onward train . We visited a station cafe, ate sauerkraut - an unwise choice on a nervous stomach! I’ve avoided the dish ever since.

At last we arrived in Brescia. I met husband's sister and her husband, who took us to meet husband's parents. I lacked self-confidence back then, and have to admit that I suspected already this marriage had been a mistake. Sister and brother-in law were lovely though, made me feel quite comfortable; the same could not be said about the parents-in-law! Never mind. I'll skim over the couple of awkward days, until we caught a train to Rome - where my husband had once lived and worked.

The Rome experience made all past discomfort and awkwardness worthwhile for me. Rome was love at first sight! We stayed in a tiny hotel in one of the cobbled side streets in the main part of the city. Our simple room was on the top floor - no elevator. I recall the scents and smells of those narrow, cobbled streets - baking, cooking, pizza, herbs, fruit, the noise, the voices floating up through an open window. The bread rolls, cheeses and pears husband would bring each morning for breakfast from street vendors below.

Each day we'd go out and wander the city, or visit a couple of nearby towns. So much to see : the fountains, the churches, the river, the famous landmarks - no need for detail! Among all those legendary sights and landmarks it was the Forum which most fired my imagination - don't know why, but it seemed to draw me into it.

Our time in Rome too soon came to an end and the long journey home loomed ahead. I found the trip home less strenuous - even teased husband that I was going to get off the train somewhere near Venice and not continue the homeward journey, but return to Rome! I didn't do that, of course, but I did return to Rome, twice more - before the marriage bit the dust for good. I suspect it was only the prospect of visiting Rome again that kept it from dying a quick death, even before it did.

And so it was...


Twilight said...

Commenting on my own post....
I've just seen the report of a rare snowfall in Rome, with gorgeous photographs - See here:

R J Adams said...

I've never visited Rome, sadly, but did make Venice while vacationing at Lake Garda for two weeks in 1997. It was August and we arrived at our camp site to hear that Diana had been killed the previous night. We'd come through that same underpass in Paris only the previous day (in the opposite direction) which somehow made it more poignant. Northern Italy is beautiful and the day in Venice unforgettable. Mrs RJ has never visited the country and we do hope to take a trip there now we're living in France. Maybe this next timeI'll make it to Rome.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ I can imagine how the news about Princess Di would have felt extra goose-bumpy in those circumstances. When I heard the news it was only days after my mother's death - I remember saying, sadly "Oh, she might meet Mum, still on her way through the pearly gates!"

Oh yes, do see Rome if you can - though what has happened in the years since the 1960s could have made the experience somewhat less magical - hard to say. When I was there I loved to imagine what the city had been like in the 1930s, before the war, and before the occasionally horrendous traffic volume in places - even then.