The rains stopped; the cobbles are drying. A November chill lingers in the Mediterranean air, not what you were expecting. Italy brings up images of baking cobblestones and bright sunlight and eating gelato as it drips down the cone into your hands. That is Italy in summer; in autumn, the rains come, you see the ancient city in a different light. You wonder: how old are these stones? If these stones could speak, what would they say? Would they speak of the miner who dug them out of the earth? Of the mason, who shaped them, who put them where the overseer commanded, to create the structure the architect designed? Would they speak of the soldiers’ blood spilled in their shadows, of the children who picked pockets during the Pope’s speeches to the masses? These stones have seen the world, for the world has come and stood at these columns’ feet. A German priest, sick with the hypocrisy of the church. A tourist from America, with a plastic light saber in his backpack. A Japanese tourist, viewing the Basilica through the lens of her camera. A child, falling, crying as every tired child has cried since the beginning of these stones’ memories. The stones see who comes to pray, who comes to see, who comes out of boredom or curiosity or piety. If the stones could speak, what would they say? Would they cry for Abraham and weep? Or would they stand silent as the stones they are?
Photo: St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy.