I’d been in Rome for two days. It had been two of the busiest days of my life. I was there on a little solo trip and I had been to every monument and gallery that I could think. I was so tired that when I got back to my hotel room all I could think was “Sleepzzzz.”
I remember my head hitting the pillow and felling that in and out of the consciousness that the first hour of sleep puts you in… Then I remember the loudest bloody siren I have ever heard in my life! It would have woken the dead had we been close to a cemetery.
I walked out thinking that it was a fire drill and cursing the silly Italians for making me get up just as I had started dozing. Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. Someone had been smoking in their room and it had caught on fire and the entire hotel had been evacuated. It didn’t make it any better when I learnt that the now very singed room was on my floor and I couldn’t go back to my room for an hour or so.
Standing outside, I was very glad that I had crashed immediately into my bed before getting undressed, if I was in my pajamas and outside I would have been mortified! Especially since one of the waiters who was ridiculously cute was looking my way. He came over to me and we started talking about what was happening. His name was Stefano.
Stefano told me that he was just about to finish his shift and that if I wanted I could tag along with him as he was going to get a drink. I said “yes” without trying to sound too keen, but who was I kidding? I was a goner. He had the most gorgeous big brown eyes that I had ever seen and his English was perfect, especially with his sweet accent.
Stefano took off for the kitchen to grab his bag and when we returned he motioned for me to get on his Vespa. He didn’t have helmets and I was a bit scared, but… when in Rome…
I jumped on and put my hands around his waist and held on. He knew the streets so well and you could tell he had ridden these roads a million times before as he knew just when to lean in to a corner and these little alley ways you could have never known about otherwise. My grip around his waist tightened and I got the sense that Stefano liked it.
We stopped in a piazza where there were a few little bars. We walked into what seemed like a quiet little place and then through some doors into a back-room which was full of life! My gosh these Italians knew how to party!
Stefano got us a drink and we sat with his group of friends and talked about everything. They asked about Australia and what I thought of Italy. They were very kind and I couldn’t have felt more welcome. We had been at the bar for a little while when Stefano asked me if I was hungry. I told him I was peckish and he smiled. He said a few words in Italian to everyone else and all of a sudden the whole group was up and going!
Onto the Vespas we all jumped and we were on our way through the eternal city at what seemed like a million miles an hour. Places were flashing by that I had only seen in movies before this trip. “There goes the Colosseum” I thought. “Oh, there’s the Pantheon” these monolithic buildings were now just a part of my movie and I was loving every second of it.
We stopped in front of a buzzing pizzeria whose patrons had spilled onto the sidewalk. We went in and I was shocked when Stefano called out to the older lady behind the counter “Ciao Mumma!” Oh my gosh his parents owned this place. She came out and Stefano introduced us. This little Italian woman then grabbed me in a bear hug and squeezed! “Ciao Bella! Come stai?!” To which I could only respond “ummm, good?” I felt so bad that I knew no Italian. She then shocked me by replying in perfect English “Don’t worry sweetheart, I speak English better than my boy!”
Maria had been bought up in Australia. She told me about her days in Melbourne and why she chose to move to Rome. Love. I looked at Stefano and wondered if the same fate awaited me. Sounds crazy now but I was so besotted with this guy that I had known for a few hours, so enamored with his zest for life that I could feel those little butterflies which are normally reserved only for the most special people who come into my life.
Maria made me some home-made pasta and Stefano and I drank wine out the front and took in all the action of the Roman street life. I looked at him at one point and was overwhelmed with emotion. I had to pinch myself. After an hour or so we wished Maria goodbye who looked like she would cry when we left. “Ciao bella” she called out our Vespa pulled away.
Next we went to a discotheque which played 90’s music. Stefano’s friends were burning up the dance floor and I wanted to hold my own! I grabbed Stefano’s hand and we danced like it was 1999!
The next thing I knew it was 3am. Stefano asked me how I felt and I said I felt fantastic. He asked if he could take me somewhere special just by ourselves. Of course I replied, “Si.”
We said goodbye to his friends and took off for the mystery destination. After a bit more time back on the Vespa I felt so comfortable with Stefano that I was gripping on like lovers do. As we rounded a bend I saw where it was that he was taking me. We were back at the Coliseum. We dismounted the bike and walked toward the massive arena. Stefano grabbed my hand. Butterflies just had a red bull!
As we approached a door, Stefano called out “Ciao, Giuseppe?” A little Italian guy came out of the door and gave Stefano a kiss on either cheek. Stefano then introduced me and I received the same treatment. Joe, as I called him, then took us on our own personal tour of the Coliseum at 3am in the morning. It was amazing.
At some point when we were in the stands above this antique beauty, Joe said goodbye. I smiled and said goodbye. I looked at Stefano and he had a very cheeky smile on his face.
So here I was. In the Colosseum with an amazing Italian guy all by myself. The butterflies had turned into budgies by this point and when Stefano leant into kiss me they were full-blown eagles. It was the most romantic moment of my life up til’ that point.
The rest of the night will forever be in my memory. We made love in the Coliseum. It wasn’t just random sex… it was making love. I realise some will roll their eyes, but those that know will just know. Italians are well-known for their passion for good reason.
When we said our goodbyes in the morning back at the hotel, it was a sad happiness that I felt. Sad for having to leave but oh so happy for meeting him. We kissed goodbye and off he went on his Vespa.
I had to leave that afternoon. I was that type of happy exhausted you get after running a 10k run. You know your tired but you also know it’s for a good reason.
I have never seen Stefano again but I think of that night often.
I have told this story before and people have been sad at the end and ask me if I feel the same.
No, is always my answer. That was the most perfect night of my life and I have no right to be sad about that.
Thank you Stefano.