Rome, for all of its dusty antiquity, has some notable green spaces. And the farther out you go from the city center – but not too far, just outside the walls, really – the more untamed, lush and ubiquitous the greenery is. Today, I’d like to attempt to describe this to you, although I fear I’ll just wind up showing you the pictures I’ve been taking recently on this very subject in the hopes of avoiding actually talking about it. Why? Because words about greenery aren’t in my vocabulary.
I grew up on the Atlantic. I moved to a concrete island. And now I live in a seashell-white sand castle of a town on the Mediterranean. I could write a million words about the sea, but green spaces don’t hold the same magic for me. They make me think of the tick I got in third grade, and the time my cousin got stung by bees living in a bush. They make me think of trees, which while beautiful block my beloved sky. I thrive in open spaces.
But there is something about the green of Rome that is so appealing to me. I think it’s because one finds it in the most unlikely of places, meaning, everywhere. It’s growing out of cracks in the aqueduct. It’s cascading off of walls; creeping vines create their own pergolas out of sheds, arches and the sides of houses. And after it rains – which has happened nearly every day recently, good Lord, basta – you can smell the fecundity, and almost literally see things growing and thriving before your very eyes. And it’s not, like, weeds that are growing – on my block alone there is honeysuckle, bougainvillea, roses, and about a dozen other species I couldn’t name.
It reminds me of that David Byrne song Nothing But Flowers:
This used to be real estate
Now it’s only fields and trees
Where, where is the town
Now, it’s nothing but flowers
It’s like the earth is reclaiming this ancient city, block by block.