Sometimes it is better to discover things on one’s own. I was never a patient guide follower and know that I have consequently missed so much when traveling. The upside is that unexpectedly encountering something splendid – and recognizing the fact – confers a very different kind of ownership.
One late afternoon in 1988, after a long day of wandering though a very hot Rome, I took a shortcut and found myself, weary and footsore, in a small square: Piazza Mattei.
There in the center was the most extraordinary, jubilant, playful, and joyous fountain: The Fontana delle Tartarughe. Dating from the sixteenth century, it depicts naked youths, dolphins, conch shells, and turtles (apparently a seventeenth century addition I have learned since). It was love at first sight and I did most of the drawings included here within a couple of hours that day.
I have of course been back to see the fountain a few times over the years, but nothing can ever compare to that moment of delightful surprise and immediate infatuation. You never forget the first time!
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