It’s early here in Rome. You may not even have gone to bed yet, if you’re reading state-side, but here the sun is just beginning to rise on our travel day. Traveling away from this magical place, and home to reality.

We spent our last day returning to our favorite spots. Lunch on Piazza Navona and a leisurely walk down my favorite street, which, I discovered, is named Via de Coronari. We checked out the Castel Sant’ Angelo, which was originally built as a mausoleum by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 130 AD, then was used as a fortress and castle by the Popes. It has unbelievable views of St Peter’s Basilica and all of Vatican City, and we were, for perhaps the thousandth time, blown away by the architecture and construction techniques of a people whom I believe used a much greater percentage of their brains than we do two thousand years later.

Afterward, we walked back over to the Piazza del Campadoglio which is the site for the Musei Capitolini, or the Museums of the Capitol. It has a beautiful park-like area that overlooks the Roman Forum, and the remains of the forums of several succeeding Caesars. We found a platform of a stair wall, and sat there, high above the city, in silence for a good half-hour soaking in as much Rome as we could.

Our idea had been to finish the night out at one of our favorite little cafes, but when we climbed down from the wall and wandered through the Capitol Museums, we walked a different way and found a hotel with a rooftop bar. So, we watched the sun set behind the ancient buildings, giving a final toast to our trip and ourselves…to another 30 and beyond.

Then, we happened upon a darling little tucked-away ristorante down the street. It couldn’t have been more picturesque, and it drew us right in. Right next door was an apartment building. Apartment buildings in these ancient cities are beautiful old buildings with giant wooden doors (all of them gorgeous and unique) that open to a courtyard and the entrance to the apartments. As we sat there enjoying the meal, the doors opened and there was a group of people standing there talking. Then the talking escalated to yelling, then screaming in Italian. As we glanced back in alarm, it looked as if it would dissolve into fisticuffs. It had the attention of everyone in the ristorante, including the owner who walked out to see what was happening. Finally, one of their party closed the big doors, and it toned down a bit, even though we could still hear them through the open, wrought-iron-covered transom.

In that instant, I was brought back to the reality that this place, though so special, is a real place where real people live. People who work and pay (a lot of) taxes, who take care of their families, who have arguments and work through them. People not so different from you and me. While I have loved (LOVED) my time here, and have found quite a few ways to live life that I want to apply at home, I found myself ready to be there in my own real life.

These parts of Europe have become a part of my heart and I’ve already starting scheming about another trip, but today, as I stare at suitcases and passports and the man snoozing next to me, I’m excited to do some traveling home.

It may be reality, but it has its own kind of magic, yes?


“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” Proverbs 24:3-4 ESV