So I’m sitting back in my broken swiggly chair.
The sky outside; clear blue, it’s currently a comfortably uncomfortable 28 degrees celsius (90F for our american cousins), expected to reach 34 by mid morning. The leaves of an unknown tree murmur outside in the non existent wind. My window blinds have been replaced by a towel; the Australian national flag as it’s print….. It’s good to be home.
Just 24 hours ago I had walked back through my wooden, stained glass front door; reeking of unwashed hair and sweat, with sleep remaining solidly in my eyes . We dragged our suitcases through the door and dumped them there. Our dog; Skip, went crazy, licking our legs, swirling around in circles and reeking of well, dog. I had a quick COLD shower and was under the blankets in a doze sooner than you could say Vegemite.
38 hours ago I was just departing Dubai airport, most of the people gave me a suspicious look regarding my casual t-shirt and shorts attire. I heard it was uncommon to have your arms uncovered, even in the airport. I shrugged, It was hot, and I was in no mood to negotiate. Especially when I was confusing my brain enough with the fact that I should be sleeping, not walking around looking for the next gate at that time.
45 hours…. I was stuffing my face with (my last) classically huge pizza- the type you can only get in Rome; a simple and pleasing Margherita, fresh out of the oven. There was no triple bacon, megameat, cheese crust, hambuger stuffed, meatlover pizza in Rome (that I could find anyway), sorry to disappoint
A week ago… Was I checking out the Collessem? the Spanish steps at Spagna, the great St. peters Basilica or the Trevi fountain-nestled away in the backstreets of Rome?
I was looking in the Ghetto of Rome; half lost, half exhilarated – but determined not to drag out the city map and risk looking like just ‘another ‘ tourist.
What were we searching for exactly?
We had traveled across to the other side the world, taken three conjoining flights in the space of 48 hours, walked down unfamiliar streets and fallen victim to the dreaded lag of jet. All to find our feline friends, that had no notion of becoming our friends to begin with.
My mum came up with the idea; she had seen street cats dash through the autumn leaves at dusk behind our cozy rental apartment. It had been a mission ever since to find them.
“Seek and ye shall find”, it had been my Dad’s definitive saying for over a decade.
And find them we did.
We stumbled across them, almost by accident.
Ruins, as many did in Rome; just appeared out of NOWHERE! you’d seriously be walking down a normal street and then BAM, Colosseum. Completely and utterly dominating your view, you’d think you were standing in a postcard. Colossal (as the name implies) and oftentimes chipped to nothingness in places- most structures were just remnant slabs of marble, shells of their former splendor.
Absolutely breathtaking nonethless…
Anyway, back to the ghetto cats.
The ruins I’m talking about were nestled in the city centre, a tad tricky to find by foot, to be honest we just kept walking around until we found them.
Eventually we stumbled upon the theater of Pompey, located at Palazzo della Cancelleria. Formally a large wooden (later decorated with marble), multipurpose theater in which formal meetings took place in the late republican era. The theater’s claim to fame is tied to Julius Caesar; the authoritarian and epic dictator (also the namesake of the decadently creamy salad), and the place of his assassination in 44BC. Nowadays an olive tree has been planted to mark the place whereupon he met his untimely end.
You wont find this in the Wikipedia site, but the Theatre of Pompey; whilst a marvelous site to look at, today serves a more particular and rather, residential purpose.
Whilst the ruins are blocked off to the public, on the west side there’s a small stairwell with a sign, the face of a cat imprinted on it’s front. The stairs lead down to a small shack-like shelter, and the strong smell of musk mixed in with heated air hit’s you in the face as you walk inside. A second afterwards the smell of cat becomes almost overpowering. The site is now home to over 200 individual cats. A handful of volunteers scuttle around, mewling after the cats like felines themselves. Whilst a small lady with jet black hair tied in a ponytail, welcomes us with the trace of some European accent I can’t quite place.
“Welcome to Roma del Gato, we are a non-forprofit charity shelter with over 150 cats, running for over 10 years...”
For 30 lovely, smelly minutes I was living the life of a cat lady.
Cats in their tens, twenties and thirties crowded in every nook and cranny of this small hut like shelter, the mewling, purring and meowing was like nothing you could ever imagine. All cats miraculously managed to ignore each other, even though they were basically top and tail next to each other. And all completely clean, well fed and content (well, as content as a cat could be I suppose).
It was incredible, my mum for one was in love the instant we set foot in the door. She bought an 18Euro top and was reluctant to leave. And as if the cats knew she was helping them out, one large tortoiseshell actually CLIMBED on her and stayed in her arms, a paw over her shoulder! as if to give her a hug and say ‘thanks’! I’ve never seen a cat do that before, and the other cat-loving visitors eyed on with apparent jealousy.
Well, my mum is more than keen to go back to Rome now.
Well, as we did throw our coins in the Trevi… It looks like this won’t be the last time I visit the Eternal city.
~until next time!