A Tourist Finds Her True Love in Rome

A Tourist Finds Her True Love in Rome

One woman's dream of visiting the Eternal City leads to a romantic Roman holiday as she finds her perfect husband along the way.

St. Peter's Basilica at sunset

To find true love in Rome—what could be more romantic? Like Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck zipping around on a Vespa in the classic fifties movie Roman Holiday.

Visiting the Vatican, the Forum, the Colosseum. It was a dream of mine, ever since my girlfriends and I began planning a three-week tour through Europe. I was 34 years old, and I’d never even left North America!

Then, crack! I slipped on some Newfoundland winter ice and broke my arm. “I can’t believe my bad luck,” I moaned to a friend.

“Maybe there’s a reason you weren’t supposed to go on this trip,” she said.

A year went by. I got over my disappointment. I didn’t need a Roman backdrop to find true love, after all. I knew just what I was looking for in a husband: a gentle, spiritual man who’d never been married. Someone with a job that gave back to others—a teacher, for instance. I hadn’t met him yet, but I’d know him when I did.

READ MORE: WHEN IN ROME

For some reason, that spring I felt like calling Marion, an old friend I hadn’t spoken to in ages. “Imelda! So glad to hear from you,” she said. “A group of us is going to Rome for a convention. Can you come with us?”

So that’s how I ended up in Rome a year later than I’d planned. Almost immediately, I went to the Trevi Fountain, just like in the movies. The first coin means you’ll return to Rome.

The second is to find true love. I closed my eyes, tossed my pennies and wished.

A couple of days later, the man of my dreams appeared. Bob, a teacher traveling with some friends from Kentucky. He’d never been married and was very spiritual. Exactly what I wanted in a husband!

READ MORE: FROM ROME WITH LOVE

“We’re going on a two-day excursion to Florence tomorrow,” he said. “You should come!”

It seemed like fate at work—until the next day, when I talked to the trip coordinator. “Sorry, there’s no room for you,” he said. “All the seats are taken.”

My heart sank. Was my Italian romance going to be blocked again?

“You can wait here to see if anyone cancels,” he said with a sympathetic smile. “My name’s Douglas. I’ll let you know if a seat opens up.”

I sat outside the bus with my suitcase, watching for Bob. I just had to get on that trip. Wasn’t Bob an answer to prayer? Why else would we have met? Wasn’t this the plan?

As if to prove my case, Douglas came back over with good news. “We had a cancellation,” he said.

READ MORE: A BRIEF TOUR OF THE ETERNAL CITY

I’d finally gotten a break—a good one. Except…where was Bob?

“Bob?” Douglas looked at his list. “Seems he’s the one who canceled.”

I must have looked as if someone had let all the air out of me. I felt pretty silly taking my seat on the bus alone, the only Canadian in a group of Amer­icans. At least Florence is sure to be beautiful.

Maybe my friend was right. Everything happens for a reason. I only wished I knew what this one was.

Douglas appeared at my side. “Anyone sitting with you?” he asked. I didn’t want him to take pity on me. But all the other seats were filled.

I’ll probably be stuck with him for the whole trip, I thought.

READ MORE: FROM JERUSALEM TO ROME

That’s exactly what happened. Douglas and I spent the trip together. Incredibly, he was also a teacher, from New Orleans. Deeply spiritual, I discovered, with a gentle spirit. He’d never been married.

After two romantic days in Florence, we came back to Rome and visited a little chapel. As the two of us strolled down the aisle, it felt like a promise of what was to come. Douglas thought so too.

Last year we celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary. My Roman holiday never ended.

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10 Cultural and Religious Sites You Have to See in Rome

Rome wasn't built in a day and it will definitely take longer than 24 hours to explore all of the beauty the city has to offer. Guideposts followed in the footsteps of Morgan Freeman—who visited the city while filming his National Geographic series, Story of God —and we discovered there's more to Rome than just good food. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE GUIDEPOSTS TRIP TO SOUTHERN ITALY AND SICILY!

From the Coliseum to the Vatican, hidden libraries and ancient temples, here are some cultural and religious sites you have to see when you book your next trip to Italy.

  • St. Peter’s Basilica

    St. Peter's Basilica

    St. Peter’s Basilica is the most recognizable sight in Rome’s skyline and for good reason. With its grand dome and Renaissance-style features, the church is the centerpiece of the Vatican City. If you go underground you’ll find many of the Catholic Church’s past Popes interred beneath the Basilica but that’s not the only reason you should pay attention to where you walk. The floor of St. Peter's marks the sizes of the 15 largest churches in the world – in other words, they can all fit inside the Roman building.


    This is a view from the back entrance into the Vatican. Only workers and special guests go through these gates as Pope Francis’ living quarters are just off to the right. 

     

  • The Coliseum

    The Coliseum

    You can’t think Rome without the Coliseum coming to mind. The oval amphitheater in the heart of the city and east of the Roman Forum is one of the most famous heritage sites on earth. Built of concrete and sand in 72 AD, the Coliseum has survived earthquakes, fires and wars which have all contributed to its partially damaged faced. 

  • The Hypogeum

    The Hypogeum

    The Coliseum was mostly used for entertainment purposes. Gladiator matches were fought here and though the original floor of the theater is gone, what’s underneath remains. The hypogeum – the series of tunnels and cages underneath the Coliseum – is where gladiators and animals were kept before their contests began. 

  • St. Peter’s Square

    St. Peter’s Square

    St. Peter’s Square is another popular tourist destination. After you’ve walked the halls of the Vatican Museum and taken in the magnificent beauty of Michelangelo’s ceiling artwork – he painted it standing up, not lying down contrary to popular belief – you might find yourself here where thousands of people gather to hear addresses from the Pope. The square’s central tower is actually an Egyptian obelisk. It was placed there by Emperor Caligula in 37 AD when the square was used as a circus – a place for chariot races and other forms of entertainment.


    It was once believed that the gilded ball on top of the obelisk held the remains of Julius Caesar. 

  • The Pantheon

    The Pantheon

    The Pantheon is a building commissioned by Emperor Hadrian in 126 AD and converted into a Christian church by Pope Boniface IV. Originally dedicated as a temple to the gods, the Pantheon is one of the most well-preserved pieces of architecture from Ancient Roman times. It serves as the final resting place for two Italian kings as well as famous Italian painter and architect, Raphael. 

  • Tempio Maggiore di Roma

    Tempio Maggiore di Roma

    Tempio Maggiore di Roma or The Great Synagogue of Rome is the largest synagogue in the city. It was constructed after the unification of Italy in 1870 after the ghetto where the Jews were ordered to live by the Catholic Church was destroyed and Jews were granted Roman citizenship for the first time. 


    Beautiful architecture can be found anywhere in Rome, but the inside of Tempio Maggiore is a sight you have to see. Its eclectic style was made to grab attention. After suffering for hundreds of years, the Jewish community wanted their newly-constructed synagogue – it was built in 1901 after the ghetto’s remaining synagogues were demolished during unification – to be a celebration of their hard-earned freedom. 

  • The Stumbling Stones

    The Stumbling Stones

    A stolpersteine or “stumbling stone” in the Jewish ghetto. These commemorative plates are located in front of the last place of residence of victims of the Holocaust. Each plaque is detailed with the victim’s first and last name, date of birth, date and place of deportation and date of death in a Nazi extermination camp. There are currently almost 200 stumbling stones installed in nine districts throughout the city. 

  • Biblioteca Casanatense

    Biblioteca Casanatense

    The Biblioteca Casanatense is a hidden gem in Rome. Nestled on a side street, this library houses 400,000 volumes of some of the oldest texts and manuscripts in the world. Morgan Freeman came here while filming his National Geographic series The Story of God to examine 12th century Greek manuscripts of the Old Testament. 

  • Bridge of the Four Heads

    Bridge of the Four Heads

    Ponte dei Quattro Capi also known as “Bridge of the Four Heads” is the oldest bridge in Rome, connecting the former Jewish ghetto to Tiber Island. On each side of the bridge is a four-headed figure and legend has it that those heads represent the architects commissioned to build the bridge by Pope Sixtus V. The architects apparently had a few too many disagreements during construction prompting the Pope to have them beheaded but later recognized for their work by having their portraits placed there. Before you walk over the bridge, rub one of the four heads and you’re supposed to have good luck. 

  • The Fountain of the Four Rivers

    The Fountain of the Four Rivers

    Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or The Fountain of the Four Rivers can be found in the Piazza Navona. It was commissioned for Pope Innocent X in 1651. The fountain depicts the four river gods which serve to represent the four continents ruled by the Papacy during that time: the Nile representing Africa, the Danube representing Europe, the Ganges representing Asia, and the Río de la Plata representing the Americas.

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