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.
Did you enjoy this story? Subscribe to Mysterious Ways magazine.