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In 24 hours I’ll be somewhere over Nova Scotia on a flight across the Atlantic bound for Rome. In my minds eye I can see the beautiful Umbrella Pines in the fields around Fumacino Airport – those unique trees that first caught my eye in 1989 as my plane approached the runway on my very first trip to Europe. I’ve never forgotten that sight, and the 23 times since that I have landed at Fumacino I always look for those pines. I know then that I am back – back to my favorite city in the world!
Rome is a baptism by fire. It is an intense first taste of Europe, loud and busy and warm and crowded, full of ruins and churches everywhere you look, and at the same time serene and sublime and beautiful and magnificent. Rome overloads every one of your five senses, and even encroaches on your sixth, as you wander back in time to the first Romans, then the early Christians, then the marauding bands of Germanic warriors, then the ascension of the Catholic church with their Baroque churches, and finally modern work-a-day Rome.
But through it all the Romans, the people that live here, still take time for a long lunch and slow evening stroll after a late leisurely dinner. They don’t live to work here in Rome, they work to Live. For the fine art of living in a bustling urban center, you can’t beat Rome.
And so it is to Rome that I first take my tour groups. I go a couple of days early to soak in the European lifestyle so that I am a good teacher of how to be a temporary European. When my group arrives and I greet them at the airport, it is with that goal in mind that we begin our wonderful journey through a part of Europe together. I love every minute of it. I can’t wait to get on that plane, I can’t wait to see my Umbrella pines!