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Which of these would you rather see?

This?

lion%20in%20winter%203%20002.jpg

or this?

lion%20in%20winter.jpg

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!

lion%20in%20winter1.jpg

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.

lion%20in%20winter2.jpg

To repeat: how I wish I were there right now!

Comments (13)

I love your photos. I am still not convinced I would find the weather pleasant/warm. I am an official cold weather wimp so anything below 65 is cold for me. BUT if someone offered me a free ticket, I would go in a heartbeat.

You have a lovely view from your window at work. At first I thought it was a photo in Switzerland when I checked out your blog at work until I looked closer :)

Oh my - I wish I was planning to go there. Well, I was, but it didn't come off. :)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, I actually think the snow in your first photo looks pretty but it's easy for me to say as I'm not there to shovel myself out of it or feel the freezing cold.

So . . . after a brief moment (very brief) to decide, I want to say that I much prefer your second photo in Roma! I loved the description of your memories and your photos around Piazza San Pietro and the gardens behind. It sounds like you had the most wonderful time there last January.

sandrac:

Girasoli, pleasant/warm are very relative! Compared with a typical Canadian January, Rome is all that. But compared with your weather in Hawaii, it wouldn't feel so comfortable.

I guess that's why so many Romans wear their fur coats when to me, it feels almost balmy.

The view from my office is nice. I actually work right on the provincial boundary, so the scene behind the Supreme Court building in the photo is Quebec.

Leslie, it's a shame you don't have a trip to Italy in the works. I'm already thinking ahead to 2009 -- sometimes it's all that keeps me going.

Kathy, the snow does look lovely (especially from up here in my office) but I agree -- the view in Rome is much, much better.

I've never lived in a place with snowy winters so I find photos like your first one very beautiful and quite 'Christmassy'. Like Girasoli, I'm a cold weather wimp.

Love your photos from the top of San Pietro. I don't like heights but enjoy reading about other people's adventures from the top of bell towers and churches.

Sounds like you had an absolutely wonderful time in Rome.

Rome in the off season is just fantastic... easy choice! Sounds like a great trip and a wonderful break from the snow.

Kim:

Okay, wait a minute, I saw the first picture, the view from your office, and thought, "Wow, that's beautiful."

Kim, waiting for our first real snow (and it will hopefully be our last).

For those of us who don't live there Ottawa is lovely in the winter!

sandrac:

Maria, I don't think you'd enjoy the cold in Ottawa -- cuz it really gets cold!

Chiocciola, Rome in winter really is lovely. I'm definitely going to go back another January.

Kim, I'm with you! One great snowfall per winter would be just fine by me.

Jerry, Ottawa really does look better from a distance!

I'd like to see them both! I would love it if NC got a little bit more snow (we seldom get anything that sticks). And a quieter less crowded Rome in the wintertime sounds fantastic to me. Love those photos!

sandrac:

Thanks, Annie, and welcome home! I hope you had a wonderful time in Venice. Actually, Ottawa feels like it has attracted the worst elements of Venice today -- it has suddenly been raining with temps above zero. This is very bad because when the temperature drops tonight, as expected, everything will be coated in ice.

Better snow than treacherous sheets of ice covering sidewalks, roads and at the bottom of puddles.

anne:

Hmm, tough decision. Let me think. Mulling over the choice between cold and snowy and sitting in an office looking out the window vs wandering around an uncrowded Rome at my leisure. So hard to choose, but...I'm going to have to go with Rome! :)

I love Piazza del Popolo, and what a stupendous view of Piazza San Pietro. I definitely must climb that dome next time I'm in Rome (I say as if I pop over the pond every other month or something...) I will be back in Rome someday though and hopefully sooner than later!

sandrac:

Anne, I have no doubt that you'll visit Rome again -- to me, it's one of those places that is irresistable!

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