Contrary to the patriarchal beliefs of the most well known group to rule her, Rome is a woman. There is no fatherland; only a mother who nurtured western civilization. The ruins decorating her green and beige landscape display her courage. The changes from Antiquity to the Modern Age across her expanses share the lessons evolving her over the centuries. She rises with wisdom and power. At other times, broken and beaten she falls from the mistakes of the men who once ruled her. She refuses to remain downtrodden and broken. As so many of us do in times of strife, a raw strength develops and forces Rome to reinvent herself. She throws off the mantle forced upon her to become a living and viable being once more.
She is the heart of the ancient world. She is the center of modern Italy. She is a vibrant place where cultures meld into one entity. The people inhabiting her streets and buildings represent the globe. The Mediterranean merges with Asia, Africa, and the New World. From the simple dishes of the cucina povera to the elaborately complex meals of the elite, Rome’s cuisine displays the blending of cultures. Middle Eastern spices add exotic flavoring to pastas, curries or saffron flavor meats and risottos, local fruits and vegetables color tasty plates. Her markets invite any guest to wander the stalls with rich scents wafting on the breeze and brilliant displays of culinary delights from all around.
Rome tempts and teases not only with gastronomical pleasures, she lures one in with artistic treasures and architecture. The masters of the entire art world decorate her elaborate palaces, the Vatican, and ancient structures. Contemporary and modern artists showcase their beloved works in museums, Graffiti colors the towering apartment buildings and adds character to otherwise plain subway cars. Art and structures serve as her adornments.
She conceals secrets only giving them up as she sees fit. We all bear scars and stories of past sins and experiences. Underneath the eye catching surface of this city lay stories of tragedy. Executions, murders, and riots mar the narrative of famous locations.
Campo dei Fiori’s elegant statue of Bruno, her white buildings, and vendor stalls conceal the brutal burning of a man who challenged the patriarchy of the Church. The stabbing of Caesar occurred in a site visitors view as a simple square and cat sanctuary. A museum inhabits a slaughterhouse. The Castel Sant Angelo’s Michael stared down as a silent witness to countless executions. Many died within the Papal fortress’s walls from hunger or torture. The Capitoline conceals its history of murder with museums and the forum. From Rome’s earliest beginnings, prisoners met their end here or authorities dragged them from the hilltop to the Tiber before throwing them into the murky green water. Rome’s founders kidnapped their brides from the Sabine people on the same site.
The eternal city was fought over, coveted, envied, scorned, bruised, admired and sought after. She remains uniquely dignified, independent, and a place of mystery. She appears in films yet is rarely ever the lead. She serves as the silent yet very articulate narrator of Europe and all of her descendants. Forever important yet relegated to the background by the stories of great men. Yes, Rome is definitely a woman.