Tonight, I took a group of students on a night tour of Rome. There is something magical about this city when the sun sets. It slows down. It quiets and invites you to stroll the cobblestone streets and lose yourself in its charm, its je ne sais quoi.
We started the night at the Colosseum, moved on to the Vittorio Emmanuale monument, then Campo de Fiori, Piazza Navona, Gioletti's for gelato, Trevi fountain, and finally Piazza di Spagna. The monuments are lit up so wonderfully that again, magic. I loved being with the students and hearing their enthusiasm and watching their faces as we came upon each new location. It was like seeing Rome for the first time again, but thru their eyes.
I fell in love with Rome again tonight in its allure. Of course, that may have changed once I got on the bus.
We had such a lovely night that we lost track of time. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was already 11:15 as we arrived at Trevi. Panic began to set in. Why? Buses and trains stop running at 12. We had 45 minutes to get a train to Termini and then the 90 bus home. Never before has a group of 9 made it from Trevi to Piazza di Spagna so quickly. We were booking it. We practically ran to the train only to wait for 5 minutes. It was now 11:40. Not good. Hopped on the train and, again, booked it from the train to the bus. (This included 5 flights of stairs...I was not amused) We jumped on the bus and settled in for our ride home...and that's when I was reminded of the seedier side of Rome.
Just before the bus pulled out two men boarded the bus. The first was a rather large black man and the second was a smaller white man...clearly drunk. He was staggering around the bus and blabbering at the black man. I sat with two of my students while the other 4 girls had sat together and the other 2 guys sat apart from one another. Wouldn't you know that Drunk Man chose to sit next to one of my guys. He blabbed at my student Loudly in Italian and he just sat there not knowing what to do. It was funny and concerning all at the same time.
The whole ride back this drunk-as-can-be man spoke loudly to my student and would turn from time to time to shout at the black man. As if that weren't enough...a junkie boarded the bus and joined in on the conversation. Meanwhile, my poor student is sitting wide-eyed not sure what to do. Oh and let's not forget the woman across from me who would turn her head and gesture to my student with her head to move from his seat and take the empty seat next to her every now and again. Finally, the drunk "stood" and moved towards the black man allowing my student to move next to the woman.
Never before has our bus stop looked so good and so inviting. We all hopped off that bus as fast as humanely possible. One of my students, a linguistics major, told me that he pulled his Italian dictionary out during the whole event because he was curious. Apparently we had witnessed a racial argument. On the one hand I was shocked that my student would have the presence of mind to "translate" and on the other hand...so proud of his inquisitiveness.
Rome at night....always an experience.