It's the end of my second full day in Rome. I'd forgotten how exhausting traveling is--by which I mean emotionally more than physically, although there's always plenty of the latter (I think I hiked up and down every one of those seven hills today, and have the shin splints to prove it).
There are lots of little vexations to traveling, it's true, but I'm not even talking about those: missed plane connections or getting lost or not speaking much of the language. No. For me, there's something about traveling--maybe a sense of being geographically and temporally unmoored--that brings out a bit of the crazy: I find myself bursting into tears or skipping around and singing, either full of manic energy or suddenly unable to unroot myself from my hotel room. Last summer I had to bolt from the British Library manuscript reading room twice because I started crying.
And so it was today. I woke up to Palm Sunday churchbells ringing all over the neighborhood, lept out of bed with a full list of things to do and places to see. . . but by the time I was dressed I was almost in tears and had a hard time getting myself to the train station and out to the Vatican. Being in Saint Peter's, though--and later the Pantheon, which I just turned a corner and found staring me down--provoked such insane euphoria that I couldn't bear to get back on the Metro and so charged up and down several more hills and to every remotely proximate historical site on the long route back home.*
I'm not like this normally. It's overstimulation, maybe, or being cast completely out of normal life, or just being alone for too long. Starting tomorrow, though, I'll be joined by an unexpected travel companion, so we'll see if I settle down then. If not, said companion may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
*Flavia is minorly obsessed with the Jesuits--and has been, since she was a child--so of course one of the stops she had to make was at Gesù church, home of the order. Not only does it have the tomb of my boy Ignatius of Loyola, and a Bernini bust of Cardinal Bellermine, but in one of the transepts is this awesome statue of religion overthrowing heresy. Damn. I love me some implacable nun-like women with whips.