Hey y’all! Welcome back to another episode of The Curious Cowgirl Podcast. Today, we are talking about Gratitude, and The Seven Hills of Ancient Rome. It’s a great travel story, and a deeply personal story.
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The Curious Cowgirl Podcast: Episode 2
What You Will Learn
- How Will and I celebrated a milestone, with the Seven Hills of Ancient Rome as our Inspiration
- The Seven Hills of Ancient Rome: A Unique Way to Explore Ancient Rome
- A once-in-a-lifetime experience for both of us
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Podcast Episode 2 Show Notes, Links, and Resources
Podcast Episode 2 Transcript
It’s episode number two, and today I’m talking all about Rome, specifically the Seven Hills of Ancient Rome, and how climbing to the top of each of them was an experience I will never forget.
Welcome to The Curious Cowgirl Podcast, where we’re talking about all things travel and maybe some other stuff that I find interesting. Let’s jump into today’s episode.
Today’s episode is all about Rome, and if you are planning on visiting Rome soon, I have a resource for you that you’re definitely gonna want to get your hands on, so be sure and stick around to the end.
Okay, for those of you all who are readers of my blog, you know that I adore Rome. I’ve written a lot about Rome on my blog. And just as a sidebar, if you’re planning on traveling to Rome, you may want to go check out some of the blog post I’ve written. I didn’t get back and count before recording this episode, but I think I’ve written at least 20 maybe 25 blog posts about visiting Rome. So you can go to thecuriouscowgirl.com, put in the word “Rome” in the search bar and then every episode I’ve written about Rome will pop up.
But needless to say, I really love Rome. And I wanted to share this story for a long time. But it’s the kind of story that really, I don’t think would translate as well in the written form that is really, really perfect for a podcast. So, um, good thing I have a podcast, right?
Okay, So I have travelled to Italy and to Rome many times, and the first time that Will and I traveled there together, it was his first trip to Rome, and the trip happened to coincide with a really big life moment for Will.
Will is sober. And he just celebrated recently the 30th anniversary of his sobriety birthday, which is a huge deal! During this trip, Will was celebrating his 20th anniversary. So this trip was about 10 years ago, And so I knew that that date was gonna happen while we were in Rome together. And as I was planning for the trip because y’all know how I roll, I like to have a really good itinerary and a really good plan. I wanted to make that day really meaningful for for Will. And for me, too. But really, for him.
One of the important, I guess tenants of, AA, and sobriety in general, is the idea that gratitude is really important. And so, as I thought about how to celebrate this anniversary for Will, I thought, OK, let’s find unique ways to express our gratitude while also kind of visiting important sites around Rome.
And so it occurred to me. All right, so Rome has Seven Hills of Ancient Rome. Probably a lot of you will have heard the phrase the seven ancient hills of ancient Rome. It’s very hard to see the hills in modern Rome because Rome is very built up. You know, it’s a big city, and you might not really realize that there are seven hills. But back in the day, you could see them more clearly because, you know, because Rome was not as developed and there weren’t as many large buildings and that kind of thing. But Rome was founded on Seven Hills. Thus, the seven hills of Ancient Rome.
And you will hear me say this a lot on this podcast. But I do not speak Italian. I don’t even have a very good Italian accent when I try to imitate. Although I am better after a couple glasses of wine, I will say that. But my Italian is really bad. So I apologize. If anybody is listening to this podcast and you’re fluent Italian cause I’m probably gettin ready to butcher your, your ear drums. But the seven hills of Ancient Rome they are names that are familiar to some people. The Palestine Hill, the Esquiline Hill, the Aventine Hill. You know, I could go on on on.
So I looked at the different hills on a map and tried to identify an important church or place of worship or whatever, where Will and I could spend some time expressing our gratitudes. And so I sort of mapped all that out in preparation for this kind of epic day around Rome, exploring the seven hills of ancient Rome. We started off our day really early because I knew that it was gonna be a long a long day. And, you know, we kind of began our trek across room.
Um, I guess it was around lunchtime right after lunch or whatever. Maybe early afternoon on. And we wanted to go to the Forum because one of the hills is the Paletine Hill and the Paletine Hill is where the Roman Forum is. And so we got to the Forum and realized, wait a minute. Going into the Forum is a ticketed experience, and we actually had booked a private guide for later in our trip to take us through the Forum. So we stood there and thought, OK, we don’t need to do this twice. You know, we’re going to do this with a guide in a few days. That’s gonna be better. So kind of what’s our plan B? Trying to stick with you a meaningful place as close to the Paletine Hill as we can identify.
So we’re kind of standing there on the sidewalk and we’re looking around and I look across the street and I see a church across the street and I said, Will, hey, let’s let’s go over there. I mean, you know, it’s kind of, you know, close enough to count. And he said, Fine. So we walked across the street. And we had been a few other churches earlier in the day, and sort of what we had done previously was, we’d gone into the church and sat down and we said a silent prayer. I had my list of gratitudes. Will had his list. We hadn’t shared them, and so we would sit down inside every church and say our own kind of private gratitude at each one of these different spots. So that was our plan.
I’m walking into this church, and as we walked up the stops, I started to kind of look around and realize that there were a lot of people gathering that were dressed nicely. And as I really paid attention to what was going on, I stopped Will and I said, Hey, babe, I think there’s like a wedding getting ready to happen inside this church. And sure enough, we peeked inside the church and there was a like, a bridal party inside. And I said, Will, you know what? I feel really awkward and inappropriate walking into the church and kind of just like plunking ourselves town in the pew and, you know, whatever, while these people are, you know, kind of having their family moment or whatever. And Will agreed. And he said, Yeah, that’s that’s weird and intrusive and fully qualifies as a tacky tourist move.
So we walked back out, and to the right of the church, there was a garden and Will said, why don’t we walk over there? Maybe we can find a bench or something of a garden and sit down and I said, Okay.
So we walk into this garden and it’s It’s full of kind of olive trees. It’s not a huge garden, but it’s, there’s probably, I don’t know, 15 or 20 olive trees, and all the trees were separated by little gravel walkways. So we walk in and Will sees, kind of against the far side of the garden, a little, a little set of steps. And there’s no benches in this garden. But, you know, we’ve been on her feet for hours. And so he said, OK, why don’t we go over there and we can sit down on the steps and we can do our gratitude. And I said, that’s great.
So we walked over and sat down on these little steps. So I bowed my head and Will bowed his head and we’re there expressing our gratitude. And then I I hear you know, kind of approaching footsteps. Kind of that crunch, crunch, crunch sound that your feet make when you’re walking on gravel. And I look up and there’s a man standing there in front of in front of me and Will, and he starts speaking in Italian. And I am I say, Oh, I’m so sorry, I only speak English and he said, oh, no problem. He said, I need to knock on the door behind you. Do you mind if I reach over you? And I realized, you know, kind of like in this moment where you think Oh my God, I’m an idiot that the reason that there are steps there is because there’s like a gate or like a door in this wall right behind us.
And so I kind of nudged Will, and I said, Oh, I’m so sorry, sir. Forgive us, we’ll move. Okay, so here’s a funny thing about Will. Will has no fear about asking anybody anything. He will walk into any building through any door through any gate and kind of you know, takes the position that he’ll ask for forgiveness, not permission, which is one of the things I love about him. I’m not quite as bold as that. So I’m gathering my stuff and I’m moving out this guy’s way, kind of horrified, and Will says, Oh, well, what’s what’s behind the door? You know what’s.. why are you knocking on the door? And the guy kind of looks at him funny and he says, Well, there’s some nuns that live here, and I am going to ask permission if I can go into the private chapel to pray. And Will says, I mean without missing a beat, Will says, Oh, well, can we go inside, too?
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y’all, I could have died. I was just like, What are you? What are you asking this man? And he was real, you know, very gracious ,and said, Well, I’ll certainly ask. So he knocks on this door and a minute later it opens and there’s a nun standing there and he has this conversation with her and she nods. And then he obviously is sort of asking her if we can come in, too, and he’s talking and gesturing, and she’s kind of looking at us. And then finally she nods. And so she opens the door and she starts to walk down this the sidewalk. And the man says, I’m gonna speak softly, and she said, it’s fine, but I want to show you something.
So Will and I follow this man down the sidewalk. And on either side of us are a little low one story buildings. And I’m kind of like doing that whole sideways glancing thing trying to see because I don’t want to be disrespectful. But I’m also like, what? Where are we? What are we walking into? And I can tell that we’re walking down a sidewalk and on either side of us, are like the dormitories where the nuns live and ’cause I can see through the open windows there’s like some little cots and some personal things. It is obvious that they’re little bedrooms or whatever.
So we follow the man down the sidewalk and he motions for us to peek inside this one particular room. And in the room, there’s hardly anything there. There’s literally a cot, And, I mean, like, I cot like a wood cot, with a blanket on it and a crucifix on the wall and a desk with nothing on the desk. And so Will and I, you know, kind of look around and we nod. And we say, Oh, yeah, that’s really interesting. And, you know, in my mind, I’m thinking, I don’t know what I’m looking at. But, this guy thought it was important. So you know what? I’m gonna be polite.
So after we kind of poke our heads in the room, he motions across the sidewalk and kind of whispers and says, All right, here’s the chapel, and you all are welcome to stay as long as you would like. Please take your shoes off before you enter the chapel, and and, you know, you are a welcome guest, whatever. So Will and I walk into this little, kind of, outer waiting room There are several pairs of shoes sitting there on the floor. We take our shoes off and we walk into the chapel.
And the chapel, y‘all was a a very small room, with a like a six foot table set up on one end with like a white lace tablecloth. There was a crucifix on the table and a couple of vases of flowers. Nothing fancy. And then there’s like 4 or 5 people sitting on the floor praying without their shoes on. I mean, nothing else. This is not some kind of fancy, you know, Renaissance or Baroque era highly ornate chapel at all. It was really just a room kind of with a table set up.
So Will and I sit down on the floor and we do our gratitude. We definitely kind of linger there a little longer than maybe some of the other places we’ve been because it felt, you know, like we were experiencing something very special. And so we took a little bit longer and I got up first, walked into that little outer room, put my shoes on and kind of stood there waiting for Will. And then Will got up, came out, put his shoes on and, as Will was standing up and we were walk getting ready to walk outside onto the sidewalk and head back to the gate where we entered.
I hear this rattling noise and I looked down and there’s this precious, very short little nun. I mean, I’m not kidding you, like four and 1/2 feet tall, maybe five feet tall, and she’s rattling a basket, and I I didn’t understand what was happening. But the rattling sound made me feel like she was asking for us to make a donation, because in my mind that rattling sound was like change in a basket. And I looked at Will and I said, Oh, Will, she wants us to make a donation. And he said, Oh! So he starts to reach in his pocket for some euros. And the lady, the nun says, No, no, no. And she holds the basket closer to us, and I realized that the basket is full of little silver charms and she’s offering for us to take a charm. And so Will and I both take it charm and we say Grazie, and she kind of nods and she’s real sweet. And we walk down the side walking out the gate and the gate closes behind us.
And, you know, we kind of stand there and I looked at Will and I said, Okay, what just happened? I feel like something big just happened, but I don’t really know what it is. And Will said. I know I feel the same way. So I looked down at this charm in my hand and, I am not Catholic. And so those of you who are Catholic, I’ve actually told the story to some friends that are Catholic, and they’re like, Oh, it’s you know, it’s , it’s a saint, But I did not know that. And so I look down at this little silver charm and I’m looking it on one side. There’s a cross. And then on the other side there’s a profile of a woman. And I and I’m like , that that looks so familiar to me. Like that profile looks really familiar to me.
And as I glance up, I look into the garden where the olive trees are, and I see this bronze head that I had not noticed, like on a plinth in the middle of this garden that I did not notice when we walked in. And I said, Will walk over here with me. And we walk over to this bronze and walk around to the front, and it is a bronze of Mother Teresa. And I realize that we somehow stumbled upon the her, her home church, her home sect. Her home. Nunnery. Sorry on my Catholic friends. I don’t know what the terminology is, but where she either grew up or did some training or whatever. She spent time there, and they honored her with this bronze of her in the garden.
And then the little charms they were giving away were, the profile was her on one side. And so, you know, so that kind of registered in my brain. And I thought, Wow. Okay, so that was the little very austere dormitory room that we saw. That was her room. That was where Mother Teresa stayed when she was there. That’s why that man wanted us to look in there. He obviously assumed we knew where we were. And that’s why the that Nun, the outfits that habits that the nuns were wearing looks so familiar to me. I mean, you can probably picture Mother Teresa in your mind, and these nuns were wearing the same habit or, you know, outfit.
,And so it all all of a sudden all of those things kind of clicked together in my brain. And I, you know, I thought, Wow, what? What an unbelievable experience we just had. So so Will And I are kind of standing there debriefing this whole experience. And I think this was the fifth hill that we went to because we went to two others. I believe after this. So anyway, Will looked at me and he said, Hey, can I ask you a question? And I said, Yeah, sure. And he said, Do you mind if I ask you what your gratitude was here? And again, we have not shared our list with each other. We didn’t talk about it ahead of time or coordinate or whatever. Yeah, that was kind of a very personal thing. And I said, Yeah, I said, I, um, expressed gratitude for my health, and Will looked at me, and he said, I did, too, and both of us kind of got that, I don’t know, that look, you know, like our eyes got bigger. We just looked at each other and thought, what are the odds?
First of all, of all the things that you could be grateful for in life ,that we would have been, that we would have chosen health at the exact same place. And then Will said, and I thought this was really profound, or it felt very profound in the moment to us. He said, You know, Mother Teresa was well known for healing the sick. You know, working with lepers. He said, You know, I just find it, you know, kind of the perfect intersection of, ah, lot of different things that we’re here together. We are expressing our gratitude in this place for our health. And Mother Teresa was really known for working with people who were sick and trying to heal them. And I, you know, both of us kind of got that, like, goose bump moment. And and, um, needless to say, have talked about that experience many, many, many times over the years together.
How, um, you know, interesting, it was, that with all the planning, and all of the different ways that I could have put that day together exploring the seven hills of Ancient Rome. You know, from our perspective, God had some real intentionality and having us together in that place on that day in that moment with that same gratitude.
So anyway, it was an unbelievably cool experience for both of us, and, needless to say, one that we will never forget. So from a travel, you know, podcasting perspective, or a travel blogging perspective, here’s something that I want you to consider. Because that was a very unique story and obviously not one that I told you all because I’m, you know, I’m thinking that, you know, whatever, that that that is an experience you ought to seek to have too. But I guess my biggest point in sharing this story with y’all is this. No matter how many times you’ve been to a city, if it’s a city you love, and a city that you want to go back to, there’s always a new experience to have there.
And the reason I say that is Will and I, since that time, have been back to Rome together many, many times and will continue going back to Rome many, many times. And it really doesn’t matter to us how many times we’ve been there. There is always a new experience to have. There is always something new to see. There’s always something new to learn and even, you know, going back to some of the major sites over and over again. Well, I mean, there they are. There’s, like an infinite amount of knowledge to be gained every time you go visit the Colosseum or the Vatican or whatever it is. And neither of us ever kind of take the position, been there, done that, check the box. Don’t need to see it again.
And I know that there’s a lot of people who do travel that way, and that’s not throwing any shade at all. But what I am encouraging you all to consider is going back to the same city over and over again, is is not by any stretch a waste of time or kind of depriving you of the opportunity to see new things. There’s an infinite number of experiences that you can have in the same city that you visit year after year after year, and that is definitely how I feel about Rome.
So a couple of final points and then we’ll wrap up today’s episode. If you are interested in, truly, the exact itinerary that Will and I followed on our seven hills of ancient Rome day, I will link to a blog post I have written, detailing it out. Exactly in what order we visited each of the seven hills of Ancient Rome, and the different places of worship that I identified at each of those, at each of those places, so that we could express our gratitude. I’ll put a link in the show notes to that blog post about the seven hills of Ancient Rome.
If you are planning on traveling to Rome, I want to remind you that I have written several guides for Rome. 1,2 and 3 day curated itineraries. I have a Rome Restaurant guide and a Rome Shopping Guide. And the beauty of my itineraries is that each day is divided into a set of morning activities and a set of afternoon activities that are all very interchangeable. So you can kind of, I guess, like Lego pieces, kind of move them around, and arrange morning and afternoon how you want. But all the activities that are grouped together in the mornings, and all the activities group together in the afternoon, are very much in the same geographic area.
So I really take into consideration saving your feet and not running you all over Rome. Zigzagging around, I really believe in efficiency in sightseeing. So my guides were definitely designed that way. Um, if you’re interested, I will put a link in the show notes to my Curious Cow Girl Shop, where you can take a look at my guides and if interested you can purchase one for an upcoming trip to Rome.
All right, that wraps up today’s episode. Thank you for traveling with me to Rome today. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. And I will look forward to talking with you all again soon. Bye.