Saturday, June 30, 2007

Reflections on Italy: Rome

Nothing could be more diametrically opposed to the warm embrace I experienced in Taormina than the sensory onslaughts of Rome. Just as I thought I had adjusted nicely to the time change and various cultural differences, Mr. TMH256 and I arrived in the ancient city filled with so much life and activity it deafened me at first. Slowly and painfully I came to appreciate all that the historically rich city had to offer. From the San Clemente Basilica to the Colosseum and Vatican City, we packed as much sight-seeing in our three days there as two people possibly can without collapsing. (Actually, I did nearly collapse from the heat and the crowds on our second day!) If you have not yet been to Rome and you like to travel, it most certainly should be on your list of "must see" cities. I am thankful to say that I have been there and yet I have no desire to go back, at least not in June.

Because we were there during prime tourist season and it was oppressively hot, I characterize Rome as harsh, like a strict parent, unforgiving and cruel at times. Rome is most certainly masculine and it holds onto you with a painful force that won't let go. Everything about it is larger than life - the ancient ruins and architecture, the loud scooter noise, the cars that barely stop for pedestrians, the umpteen street vendors that approach you with such force you must nearly become violent to get rid of them, and the resilient people who call the city home. Rome demonstrates the alpha and the omega, the epicenter, if you will, of western civilization as we know it. Infinite literature has been published on the numerous ways in which Roman ideas have evolved to affect nearly every modern society. Suffice it to say that most of your daily routine has its origins in Rome. Even blogging on the internet correlates to the Roman notion of constructing meeting places for ideas and conversation.

Therefore, the fragrance that epitomizes this city has a lot to live up to. It must have significant history that has impacted the course of fragrance creation and it must be masculine and strong with a drydown that never lets go. After considering many possibilities, my choice is Guerlain Habit Rouge. It hails from one of the best perfume houses in existence and it has been described as "a beast of a scent" with its powerful opening, "ahead of its time" yet classic, enduring and unique. Fitting for Rome? Certainly!

Incidentally, for the full three days that we toured Rome, I wore Acqua di Parma Colonia Assoluta, the only scent I had with me that was soft and refreshing enough to combat the heat and harshness that surrounded me. I plan to review it in more depth this week.

Image sources - SPQR (initials of the Latin phrase referring to the government of ancient Rome); Habit Rouge

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