My aunty Teresa had for her best friend one whose dad who was in charge of the Police Station in Chester. Together those two girls, Teresa and Sheila went to the same school, where I and my sisters studied later.
After a few years my aunt started going abroad with Sheila. I couldn’t believe the excitement watching the large suitcase filled with pretty clothes. A taxi took them to the airport and I couldn’t wait to see and hear about the trip. We waited politely until Aunty returned from Rome. She bought us little cards, dresses, books, and toys. Aunt T had postcards and maps to show us where they had been.
Places like the Colosseum, St Peter’s Square, the Arena, the Vatican museums, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and St Peter’s Basilica. All of those magnificent buildings and places.
I was six when Aunt Teresa went to Rome and no one else at my school had an Aunty who could fly across to Italy to visit Rome.
When she was older my aunt worked for Shell, at the oil refinery, and had a much better job than my teacher parents.
Sometimes I would help Aunt Teresa fold her outfits for her next trip. I was amazed at the amount of beautiful clothes, shoes and hats!
As the years went by Aunt Teresa still travelled and we did too. But it was Rome that I wanted, remembering the excitement of those pictures and presents.
So I set off, on my own, many years later with my minimal Italian, a guide book and a relatively tiny backpack, unlike Aunt Teresa’s enormous suitcase. I do have a slight problem with following routes, roads, signposts but somehow I managed to get to the important places. My hotel was in the Vatican, with good food and unbelievable views.
The skies were always blue and there was no rain. I visited all the places aunty had shown me. I bought lots of cards and little presents for friends.
I visited the services, sang the hymns and listened as best as I could follow. In those days Mass was in Latin which was the same as in England.
At present I am aiming to go back to Italy and perhaps Rome again.