In each installment of A Travel Story, I share a single photo that I’ve taken while traveling. In an experiment in travel story telling, I then write and record a short audio story that relates to that photo in some way to bring you into the moment leading up to, during, and after the photo was taken. The stories are simply meant to be glimpses into a longer, untold narrative.
I’d like to preface this story with this: while Alone In Rome might seem kind of melancholy (being alone in a romantic city can be a bummer) I actually do like traveling solo and I think this story is pretty funny now.
The Story – Audio
The Story – Text
I left my hotel in the mid afternoon. It was raining. To the average American like me whose brain has been infiltrated by fantasy ideas of what romantic moments are supposed to look and feel like, this was the holy grail — a beautiful, old, European city wet with rain on a quiet Sunday afternoon. The only thing wrong with the imaginary movie I was staring in in my head was that I was the only person under my umbrella. In the movie, the hand in my pocket should have been around the waist of a pretty, nicely dressed young woman who I would keep dry and warm.
I kept walking. I ate gelato. I got lost — but that was my intention. I thought I looked like an Italian and that made me feel good. I was wearing brown desert boots, fitted blue jeans and a blue sweater with a light blue oxford shirt underneath. A tourist even asked me directions.
I kept walking until I found myself on a narrow cobblestone street lined by worn stucco buildings in shades of burnt orange and brown. There were Vespas parked along the right side.
I kept walking. It stopped raining.
That night I ate a tourist trap restaurant with the Pantheon at my 12 o’clock. It was the first time I’d ever sat down to eat at waiter-serviced restaurant by myself. The waiter brought two menus. I told him I only needed one.
I wanted something simple, cheap and quick to eat so I could get out of there as fast as possible. I didn’t know why I even sat down in the first place. I got a pizza. Even then, although its become amplified with time, it was painfully cliche.
Afterwards I walked to the Trevi Fountain. It was packed with people. I actively looked for my counterpart: the female travel writer, alone in Rome, wandering, looking for the male travel writer, alone in Rome, wandering. But no one was alone. Not a single person. It was strange.
A Chinese couple asked me to take their photo, smiling with the Trevi Fountain in the background. I took three. I wanted to make sure their moment was captured just right.
Afterwards, I walked up and then down the Spanish Steps waiting for a connection. Nothing.
When I finally returned to my hotel room, the universe provided one last reminder that I was alone — yes, the couple in the room directly next door were having sex. Incredibly passionate, borderline scary loud sex.
But somehow I fell asleep and I flew home the next day.
Listen To Another Travel Story: