I just got back from Rome, where we spent a couple of days celebrating my husband’s birthday. (yeah, it was one of those big birthdays, one of those Rome-worthy birthdays. And by the way, his blog made TypePad’s Blog of the Day–check it out.)
I found Rome to be a surprisingly un-garden-ish place. OK, yes, they have some sort of garden over at the Vatican, but I’m not talking about elaborate public gardens. I’m talking about greenery around the city and in people’s homes. Most of Rome looked a lot like this picture–heartbreakingly beautiful, but all carved out of stone and softened with plaster, not flowers.
Every now and then, you’ll see a windowbox. And those small bursts of color are so glorious, so joyful, that it seemed like you’d hardly miss not having a garden in this city, as long as you could fill a window like this.
And sometimes there were roof gardens, which also seemed like they’d be a complete delight. Rome is wonderfully warm in the summer, something I appreciate coming from chilly London and, before that, chilly northern California. Also, the Italians are very good at lighting their ancient buildings up at night, so the skyline at almost any angle would be perfectly gorgeous at night. Sitting up on a roof at night, surrounded by roses and lemon trees and scented geraniums–does it get any better than that? (I did it two nights in a row, and I can tell you that no, it does not.)
But why not more gardens in this perfect climate, this beautiful city? Is it possible that when the Italians go on vacation, as they all do in August, closing down almost all their shops for the month, that their gardens go on vacation, too?