Out of all the Holidays, Valentine’s Day is one of the few that I just don’t have any positive or negative feelings towards. I like the idea of giving out goodies to people you care about. But, I’m not here for long lines at restaurants, or being forced to profess my love by spending hundreds of dollars on elaborate, romantic things. I’d rather just throw gifts at people throughout the year when they’re not expecting them. It’s more fun that way.
During my semester abroad in Rome, I experienced quite a few Holidays in the city (Easter, St.Patrick’s Day, etc.). My favorite was Valentine’s Day.
In 2015, Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday. I wasn’t traveling, but my roommate was, so I had the apartment to myself. A rare weekend where I could spend my mornings laying in bed and not feel bad for refusing to join my roommate when she went running along the Tiber (miss you Nicole). I could just lay there, in my own filth and bask in my laziness, and I was very excited about it.
It wasn’t my first Valentine’s Day alone, either. I don’t normally celebrate the holiday for its intended purpose. Usually my friend Catherine will plan some sort of party for us back in Texas, but since we were apart, I hadn’t really planned to do anything. It was a normal Saturday in Rome for me, so that meant exploring until my feet fell off.
As one of the proclaimed cities of love, Rome was packed for the weekend. My normal route from Trastevere to the Villa Borghese was overrun with people who couldn’t seem to disconnect from one another. I didn’t mind. There was something different in the air that weekend, and that feeling, combined with the sounds of accordions and clarinets and soft strumming of guitars filtering down the orange alleyways, made everything a bit more light– as if every citizen of Rome was floating on their own personal cloud.
What made Valentine’s Day in Rome special for me, was all the clarinet buskers. It was like stepping back to another lifetime. In school, I played the clarinet from the ages of 10 to 18. It was my passion for a good six out of those eight years, until the clarinet and I had a falling out my junior year of high school.
Those clarinet buskers reminded me why I enjoyed playing the clarinet so much. It is the most beautiful instrument ever created. When it’s played well, it’s like bathing in a hot spring in the middle of a dense forest; secluded and embraced by a warmth that spread from your fingers to your toes. Walking past those buskers, I reminisced in the days of blistered lips, and rubbed my gloves along the inside of my fingers where my callouses used to be.
Rome rekindled a bit of my love for the clarinet that day; not enough to make me run home and buy another clarinet, but enough for me to start listening to my favorite pieces again. The longing pull of Brahms vibrating through my very soul. I played Brahms clarinet sonata No.1 (I think in F minor?) my junior year of high school for the solo and ensemble contest. The song was a reminder of an age where I was truly good at something I loved, and I missed the feeling of sitting in the band hall practice rooms trying to perfect the runs at the end of the piece (I never did).
To some, spending Valentine’s Day alone is sad, but I enjoyed walking around the city; being on the outside seemed like more fun than being one of the couples dragging each other from monument from monument. I was able to move through their spaces like a wraith, just floating along to the songs lingering in the air. That and I didn’t feel bad about spending the whole afternoon playing with the cats on the steps at the Largo di Torre Argentina, which was way more fun than trying to squeeze my way into St.Peter’s Square or the Piazza Navona.
Valentine’s Day in Rome was better than the other Holidays because of how easy it was. Easter was chaotic and St.Patrick’s Day was filled with drunk college students. Valentine’s Day was all cats, clarinets, and chocolate. Nothing could beat that.
What’s your favorite holiday to travel on? I like birthday trips myself. Are you a big Valentine’s Day fan? Let me know in the comments below.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. I hope you have a nice day whether you care about the Holiday or not–or I guess have a horrible day if that’s you’re thing too. We’re having a potluck party at work, so I’m pretty excited about all the cupcakes I saw on the table earlier.
Thanks for Reading!