Visiting Rome, I notice fountains. Lots of them. Rome is a city of fountains. Washing my face in a fountain feels refreshing. The city lends itself to wandering, to existing among its old, palatial buildings.
It is Also a City of Squares
It is a city of squares. Of tightly winding streets that curve and turn every which way — I know because I have been lost in them. And I have gotten others lost. When you travel alone, getting lost in a city feels adventurous. Getting lost in a city with others — especially with others who expect you to know the way — is embarrassing.
It Was My Time as a Catholic Seminarian I Spent the Most Time in Rome
My mother and my first-cousin met me in Rome when I was spending the Winter there — I, along with a group of seminarians from the American College in Leuven, Belgium (where I officially was a student at the time), was staying at the North American College (near the Vatican). It is the American seminary in Rome (and at that time I was a young seminarian). We met the Pope and I spent a glorious Christmas in the Eternal City.
Getting Lost in Roma — With Others
My family was staying at a hotel on the opposite side of town from where the college is located. Since they knew I would be in town, they made travel plans to visit me. In between my duties at the seminary and so on, we met often and meandered through Rome's old, city streets. Trying to get to their hotel one evening, we were chased by Roman dogs — that was scary — and I was lost. At that time — it was 2001 — people still used paper maps to get around town. We eventually found the hotel — but for a long time we were lost, going up and down streets, as I turned the map over and over trying to get my bearings.
I am not generally good with maps — but I have learned through the years to plan a route and to follow, read, and generally be directed by signs — and with Google Maps, Apple Maps, Open Maps, and all of those nifty smartphone map apps, it is a lot easier to find one's way.