We’ve had some lovely stories from guests who were bringing their children, grandchildren, or nieces or nephews to Rome. There was the couple bringing over their grandson: he was going to be able to put his years of studying Latin to use in real time, in real places, reading inscriptions both ancient and new(ish). Another couple brought their daughter to Rome because she was studying ancient Greece and Rome, and they wanted to let her actually see the places she was reading about. And the gentleman who booked the trip in secret because he wanted to surprise his kids (actually, his words were he wanted to “blow their doors off”). This particular dad not only had a generous heart but he also had amazing luck, as the family was there at the Vatican when Pope Francis was elected, and they ended up being interviewed for television. Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
One thing is clear: Rome can inspire both the young and the not-as-young, even in this age when most teens are unable to tear themselves away from their smartphones. We’ve heard how a young man surprised his parents by saving his money, researching shops, and negotiating with the Roman shopkeeper to purchase an antique book, complete with Latin text and leather cover. And there was the son who studied up on all things Colosseum, and excitedly led his family through the ancient stadium… twice.
And then, a guest let us know that Rome had inspired her 16-year-old daughter to write a poem. We are honored to feature that poem here.
The Great Beauty, by Leila Breen
If Los Angeles is a 25-year old experiencing her mid-life crisis
and if London is an edgy teenager making his mark
then Rome is a timeless deity resting in a golden armchair
twirling her dark hair through her adorned fingers
inhaling the jasmine above her and the smoke below her
overlooking the expanse of chaos that was once hers
smiling at the good riddance of her omni-potent ways
If New York is a bustling business woman
imploring the Chrysler for a 15 minute break
and if Tokyo is a child wandering in the perplexity of a daydream
then Rome is a gratified goddess of the ages
strolling through the proud grounds of Villa Borghese
whose paths lead to the center of the universe;
a place where the wolves still prance in the darkness of her heartbeat
If the New World is a woman crying out in awe
over the news of her bestseller novel
and if the Old World is a handsome man,
smoking his cigar and humming Debussy
then Rome is a matron of the homeland
still as the evening, laughing fondly at the fools of the Whole World,
who could never forget her, even if they tried
Even without the rest of them, Rome will always be as so:
eyeing the senescent man who carries yellow carnations,
another day of sunlight, and the tireless phrase,
“boca lupo, bella ragazze” to his children
who are no longer girls, but women
raised by this crumbling, ceaseless old man
and the Great Beauty herself
I think this poem says it all. Trip to Rome: $$. Having your teenager inspired by the Eternal City: priceless.