The last leg of our European Adventure brings us to to Rome. This is our first opportunity to visit this part of the world, and I immediately feel a sense of comfort and pleasure being here, except for the crowds we have encountered today and the chaos it brings.
Our accomodation is a 1 minute very slow walk to the famous Trevi Fountain and I decided to spend about an hour sitting there this afternoon observing people’s reactions and behaviours near this architectural landmark.
I was overwhelmed with the volume of people, some in smaller groups, some in larger tour groups, come to the fountain, take a quick glance at it and then try to manoeuvre to get themselves in the best photo in front of the water. I witnessed singles and couples with selfie sticks, and those without, trying to either make their arm extend as far as they could or try to enlist the help of complete strangers to take the photo for them. A lot of people spent less than 5 minutes there before moving on to the next venue on the list to see.
Some of the poses and expressions that people adopt for these photos made me smile, and sometimes even laugh. There were those who would inspect the end result and demand that another shot be attempted as they shook their hair to a better position and stood awkwardly for those of us witnessing their behaviour, but not for those who would see the filtered photos on Instagram later. They were standing before a thing of great beauty, but more worried about how they looked in the shot.
I got the feeling that most didn’t really have any idea about the history of the fountain and it’s purpose. Some appeared to know something about throwing coins in, but not really sure why. As a result of this popular pastime, the coins (close to €3000 per day) are cleared out daily and donated to a food bank for the poor. I deliberately chose to sit and watch and listen today and I am pleased I did.
I observed the artistic talent that would have been required to carve the multiple elements that make up the scenes. I listened to the sound of the water crashing over the Italian stone. I smiled at the 3 different names listed, each trying to outdo the previous Pontiff and claim the fountain as their monument. I applauded the accepted marriage proposal that unfolded before us. I did all this despite feeling so sad about our society that seems to insist that unless we can produce a picture that includes us in the foreground we can’t guarantee that people will believe we were there.
Well, there are no photos of me in front of the fountain, but I know I was there. You can choose to believe me or not, because I don’t see the point in the primping and the pouting. I believe the beauty of the fountain speaks for itself. It has been been around for over 300 years and will continue long after the social media posts from today have been forgotten. My little exercise this afternoon reminded me to put my trust in things that last.
I am looking forward to the next few days in Rome, if not the crowds.