Do you have a bucket list?
If not, make one.
No matter how possible or impossible, expensive or cheap, practical or silly our dreams may seem, we should all have a list of aspirations and goals, things we’d like to accomplish or do before our time on this earth expires. Life is too short and lately I have been reminded how abruptly it can end. Why put off til tomorrow what can be savored today?
When I was in my early twenties (not so recent a time as I would like) I added to my bucket list a visit to Italy for my 30th birthday. I was absolutely smitten by the people, the culture, and the food. (And why 30? I think mainly two reasons. First, it’s a milestone in a young person’s life and secondly, I figured a decade would provide ample time to save money for such a trip.)
As luck and good fortune would have it, in February 2011 Adam had business in Turkey and Italy. I’ll never forget the twinkle in his eyes when he announced this to me. I’m not sure how he does it, but he always seems to make the impossible possible, always seems to make my dreams come true. (I’d like to know where he hides his magic wand or the fairy dust he sprinkles around. I’ve searched through his things when he wasn’t looking, but I couldn’t find it. Sneaky bastard.)
I’m quite positive that he used some of the dust because it was as if all the powers at be were working overtime to make sure that this turned out to be one of those once in a lifetime trips. From start to finish, everything was perfect. And when I say from the start, I mean as soon as we boarded the plane! Delta is our preferred airline, not only because we’re based in Atlanta, and not only because the Sky Team Member benefits are great. But in recent years Delta service has really become first class, even when you’re in 2nd class seats.
Sometimes the service is outstanding, as was the case on our flight to Rome.
I know this may be really hard for some of you to imagine, but I could not stop bouncing from the excitement. Literally bouncing.
Nor could I stop chattering about Rome, Venice, and Florence as we boarded the Delta flight into our business class seats (this time we had the first class seats and the first class service!) The uber professional in-flight team welcomed us by name, served us champagne, and took our dinner order of crab cakes and filet. They were not only amused by me (probably the bouncing) but I think my enthusiasm was contagious, and they all wanted to know what the special occasion was. Adam told them that he had business in Turkey and Italy but that it was also to celebrate my birthday. He casually mentioned that it was a dream of mine to celebrate the big 3-0 in Italy.
Immediately a small crowd of female flight attendants clustered around, all wanting to hear how we met, when we got engaged, when we were getting married, and more importantly if Adam had a brother. (It always makes me smile with pride at the flattery and reminds me of how lucky I am to have such a wonderful person in my life. There is nothing sweeter than to love and be loved.)
By the end of the flight, I think the whole airline knew of our story. The team sent us off with a complimentary bottle of birthday champagne and well wishes for a memorable trip. This was impressive. I’ve been on over 25 different airlines and I can’t remember a single airline ever doing this for me. Bravo, Delta.
And we were just getting started. Upon checking in at the stupendous Westin Excelsior we learned that they had upgraded us not into just a suite, but into the Grandluxe Suite. This little apartment in the century-old hotel had a spacious foyer and two separate large rooms, gorgeously appointed in red and gold. As I entered the living room I stopped short, bouncing momentarily halted. Sitting atop the round table were a dozen long stemmed ruby roses along with a hand written note and a bottle of wine.
I turned and eyed Adam who was smiling like a little school boy (I do love that goofy smile.) Day one into the trip and I’m already swept away. He just never ceases to amaze me. I think I managed to tick off two things on my bucket list. One – being with the most wonderful guy a girl could ever ask for and two – being in Italy for the big 30. With roses, to boot!
Now it was time to explore Rome, a city I’ve fantasized about seeing since childhood.
It didn’t disappoint!
That evening, we met up with our friend Oliver and made for the most famous Baroque fountain in this ancient city – Trevi Fountain. According to legend in 19 BC the Roman technicians with the help of a virgin located a source of pure water in Salone Springs (slutty women were apparently unsuitable for discovering water) and transported it 14 miles via aqueduct to the center of town. This aqua virgo served Rome for over 400 years before being destroyed by the Goths in the sacking of Rome in the 6th century.
In 1732 Pope Clement XII commissioned Nicola Salvi to resurrect the fountain in grand design. Construction lasted three decades, and in 1762 the modern masterpiece was completed.
In the center of the fountain is Neptune, god of the sea, in a shell like chariot pulled by two seahorses. One horse is calm, complacent, and obedient and the other horse is unyielding and restive. These two symbolize the unpredictable moods of the sea (this is why mariners say the sea is female.) On the left side of Neptune is a statue representing Abundance and to his right Salubrity. Above him is a representation of Agrippa, the general who built the aqueduct that ferries water to this gorgeous fountain (and also helped conquer Rome for Augustus Caesar, defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra and apparently had a really nice singing voice.)
It’s a staggeringly magnificent piece of living art, in a staggeringly magnificent city that more than lived up to my dreams.
Legend has it that if you toss a coin into Trevi Fountain, you’re guaranteed to return to Rome.
Unfortunately, I had only bills, and Adam preferred I not start tossing 20s into the water.
But I’ll still return to Rome. Who knows, maybe for the big 5-0? Adam and his magic wand – will you still have a dozen long stemmed ruby red roses and a bottle of wine waiting for me?