Ottawa is in the grip of one of its first major winter storms, a lot of snow fell this morning and much more is expected through the day and overnight. No big surprise, since this is Canada and mid-December.
But it makes me nostalgic for last winter's escape to Rome.
What a contrast! The first photo is the view from my office today, looking down on the Supreme Court of Canada, an especially lovely building, even with a layer of snow sliding off its slate roof.
The second photo was taken in Rome's delightful Piazza del Popolo during the second week in January 2008, 11 months ago. I wish I were back there now.
It's hard for me not to reminisce about this period one year ago, when I was sitting in this same office, with a similar view, excitedly making final preparations for a fantastic, two-week visit to Rome.
At this point one year ago, I was hoping that Rome would provide a necessary escape from Ottawa's blizzards, icy streets, and harsh winter winds. But I really wasn't prepared for just how mild January in Rome can be!
When I reached Rome, I couldn't get over the fact that not only was there no snow, but there wasn't even any need for gloves or boots or wool coats! I was glad to have a scarf and a lined raincoat against a slight chill in the air. But as you can see in the green trees across the piazza, under the gaze of this great lion, frost wasn't an issue in Rome last January!
With the enormous luxury of two weeks to burn in Rome, and the sharply reduced numbers of tourists, I could wander freely and really enjoy this fantastic city with few constraints. I spent a fair amount of time at the Vatican, which is, of course, choc-a-bloc with incredible art and history.
One day, I took the underground Scavi tour beneath St. Peter's Basilica (with VickyP from SlowTravel) and later, rode the elevator to the roof of the great Basilica. From the roof, I then climbed the twisting, deeply angled steps up through the dome of St. Peter's to the very top and looked out across Rome.
I looked down on Bernini's two incredible colonnades that wrap around Piazza San Pietro, and back over the lush, green gardens behind St. Peter's.
To repeat: how I wish I were there right now!