Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I first visited Roma when I was seven years old. My Nana and Nono (grandmother and grandfather) took me there for a summer vacation. It was many years ago but I still have some great memories of that summer: my first taste of wine, playing with a bunny all afternoon at a farm house then not seeing the bunny anymore after a dinner of what I thought was chicken stew!!!! I also remember crying a lot when I was told it wasn't chicken!!

I remember having to call my parents when my grandparents heard that the Andrea Doria had sunk. We had booked passage on it before my grandparents made a last minute change. My mother saw the news report on TV before they received the telephone call. 

I remember so much of that trip including our last morning in Italy. My Nono, Nana and I went up to the roof and we were talking and looking at Roma from the rooftops. As I child, the red/orange roof tiles were something new to me. Where we lived in the U.S., the roofs were all shingled but here the roofs had color and shape. It seemed like a great metaphor for the entire trip. Italy had color, texture and shape like no other place I had ever seen. Fifty-four years later I still remember that morning looking at Roma over the rooftops with my Nono and Nana!!

This year when Phyllis and I traveled to Rome I knew that our hotel, The Campo de Fiori Roma, had a rooftop patio. We booked a room on the top floor, right next to the patio and I knew I would go out as much as possible. The first thing every morning and each night before going to sleep, I would go outside. Unlike all those years ago, I  had my camera and photographed Roma from every direction from the hotel's rooftop. 

I will not tell you how many images I took but thank God for digital!! I will now have the memories of Roma every time I look at them. The wonderful by-product of being up on that rooftop was the memories that came back to me from over fifty years ago; the memories of Emma and Charlie, my Nana and Nono and how I was named after their oldest son who was killed in World War II, (the war to end all wars) but unfortunately, it was not.  Maybe for that reason, Emma and Charlie spoiled me or maybe because I  was their first grandchild. I loved them very much and still do. They were remarkable people who came here from Italy as young people, met, fell in love, married and started a new life. Working hard, they raised four sons and started a very successful bakery.

As I have aged, I  still think about them and that's good because without them, I would not be here!! I have too many memories to start writing here. The one memory I will share is the day we changed our booked passage on the Andrea Doria. When they had originally booked the return trip to the USA, the only cabin available was for two adults. There was a nursery where some children would sleep and I would sleep in there. As the day we were to leave approached, they had second thoughts. What if something happened, the ship sunk, would they be able to get to me? I was not privy to this conversation but was told after the fact. I do remember going to the travel agent's office and my grandparents changing our booking. We would now leave a week later on the ship, the Julius Caesar. We were having dinner in Rome when the word came that the Andrea Doria had indeed sunk. 

Who knows what may have happened if they had not changed the booking? We may have all survived or not. They did change it out of concern for my safety. I will always be able to see Charlie and Emma's face in my mind and in pictures. The moment that is most clear is that moment standing outside the travel agent's office in Rome in front of a large white wall and my grandparents telling me why we would be leaving for home later then planned!!! That moment  possibly changed all our lives forever! 

I thank the Hotel Campo De Fiori for the opportunity to see Roma today and remember back over fifty years ago. They helped me  revisit that morning looking over the rooftops of Roma with my Nono and Nana.

 In these images you can see all the rooftop gardens in Roma.

    This seagull found a very comfortable place right outside our 

  You cannot look very far in Roma without seeing a religious 

                    This shows the courtyard below our room.

                   That dome in the background is St. Peters.

  The Campo De Fiori at night become a social gathering place, with restaurants, wine bars and entertainment outside!!

Seeing this ancient city with all the modern satellite dishes really added a contrasting point of view!!

Unlike where I live, you see laundry hanging out to dry all over Italy!!  As a photographer, I loved it. As a person, it brought me back to my youth.

In this image you can see how close the buildings are in parts of Roma.

In the wee hours of the morning, the Campo starts changing into the market place. You can see some of the vendors starting the process!!

A delivery being made to the butcher shop down below our room!!

                 I really loved the earth tones all over Italy.

                                                                        Sunset !!!

                                               Sunrise !!

           A view of the Campo in the morning with the vendors.

         I will do a posting on the Campo De Fiori at another time!!


Leah Griffith said...

I really enjoyed reading this post Jim. Just image if you had sailed on the Andra Doria. Wow! Life had other plans for you and your family.
I love the earthy tones of Italy, the old fashioned air about the city with the clothes hanging out to dry. You're an amazing photographer Jim. This post was a feast to me as I've never been to Italy!

Alejandro said...

I love Roma only been there once but will always stay with me. Lovely photos as always..

Cheers A

jan neel said...

Stunning photos Jim. I love being able to travel with you, I will never see Roma unless through the eyes of others. How wonderful I get to share this with you.
I am so glad that your trip was changed, what a life changing event

melissa said...

Wow! You are so blessed to have re-visited this place Jim. And you have a great memory too! I love the relationship you had with your grandparents. And the change of plans was a miracle...

*You toured me again to Rome from your rooftop. The thing is it isn't my birthplace, but I truly love that country. There's so much holiness embedded in that place.

I love the earth tone colors too. The simplicity with which the Italians live. *I could smell the fresh air from your rooftop images. Everything is so vivid. It makes me ask if you even slept LOL ~ you waited for sunrise and sunset :P

*Nostalgia :) Love love love this Jim! Thank you for sharing your memories and experiences there.