Do you see this little old man? I took this photo in Rome, Italy about two years ago, at the Three Rivers Fountain. It was a beautiful, warm summer day in June and the people were out and about looking at paintings as the artists sat near their creations, in hopes to have someone buy a piece. The outdoor cafe was filled with people, drinking the sweet nectar of wine, or eating the delicious Italian cuisine. They were people-watching, resting from the bustle of tourists at the Forum, the Colosseum, or the extensive and spiritual journey to the Vatican. It was a quaint plaza.
There was a painter, actually a spray painter, who dazzled the audience with a fast painting of the beautiful night skies of Italy. As I looked up, I saw a lot of nuns and priests walking together and chatting; they stopped to look at the spray painter too, and I stared at them. They looked happy – the older nuns and the young priests – they had smiles on their faces and I could feel their peace. I took pictures of them, without them knowing, and I finally relented and asked them if I could take a photo of them. They obliged and continued to smile, wondering how could they become a part of the Italian photo opportunity.
Later on, we ate pizza at an Italian restaurant that was housed downstairs in a building. Of course, the pizza was nothing like Domino’s or Pizza Hut or even Papa Johns! No…it was thin, delectable with fresh tomato sauce and authentic cheese. Across from our table sat two young priests and a man dressed in civilian clothes. They noticed the huge amount of American teenagers and adults who were speaking English. The man in the suit jacket asked where we were from and we replied “Arizona. Tucson, Arizona.” He laughed and said that his parents live in Tucson and he began to give us the cross streets of his parents’ house. Wild! We all laughed to talk about Tucson with a complete stranger in Rome, Italy. The two priests (very handsome priests too), were from the United States too.
I took pictures of the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, and I even broke a rule and took a picture of the ceiling at the Sistine Chapel (and it’s not the Sixteenth Chapel), you know where the finger of God is touching the finger of Adam. It’s unfortunate that I don’t know where the photo is..ugh! But, the masterpiece is the photo of the old Italian man at the Three Rivers Fountain.
In the photo, he is contemplating. I’m not sure about what, but I took the photo in the moment of his thoughts. He might have been thinking “Why is this woman taking a photo of me?” or, he might have thought about the beauty of the plaza, and the laughter of the children and the conversations of the people. The conversations. He might have been listening to a conversation and tried to translate the words to understand what they were saying.
I guess it doesn’t matter what he was thinking about, but I’m glad that I captured the moment in his thoughts. My belief is that he is the epitome of an Italian man. The last time I was in Rome, I gave a rose to an old man, who looked lonely and sad at the Spanish Steps. When I gave him the rose, he beamed with a toothless smile, held on to the rose and walked away, still smiling.
I don’t know why I’m blogging about this. I was going to talk about the beginning of the school year, but I wanted to share this photo.
The old man of Italy
leans on the fountain
thinking about what life
could be, will be or what life
would have been.
He thinks deeply
as the voices carry
across the plaza
and the water bubbles behind him
He’s an old priest
He’s an old peddler,
a former artist
a Roman citizen
an old man
in his thoughts.