I am fortunate to have many incredible, passionate, resilient, hilarious, and downright inspirational women in my life, and my Auntie Janice is no exception. A talented artist, Auntie Janice opened her watercolour studio Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver, a few years ago, and also coordinates workshops abroad. When we met for lunch during Christmas holidays in Vancouver, she had just booked her Airbnb apartments for her Spring 2019 trip to Italy. Still unsure of what my course schedule would like like come May, we talked about how much fun it would be if I could tee up with her in Rome.

View from our Airbnb apartment at Via Della Minerva 5

The daydream became a reality and I flew into Rome straight from Vienna, arriving in the late afternoon and meeting Auntie J at Via Della Minerva 5, where the apartment wow-ed with spectacular views of the Pantheon. After settling in and catching up on the past five months, we headed out for a walk through the bustling streets of Roma. It was my first time in Italy, but within moments I was already head-over-heels-in-love with the capital city. We went out for an incredible dinner, joined by Auntie J’s best friend and fellow artist, Tom, and his dog, Otis. We were in the restaurant for hours, delighting in the gourmet dishes and intimate vibe. When it finally came time to head home, it was absolutely pouring rain, and we laughed the whole walk back to the apartment, dodging puddles.

Our first full day, the clouds had parted and we were able to walk through alleys and piazzas to the Pons Fabricius, Rome’s oldest bridge. It was like walking through scenes of all my favourite movies. Auntie Janice is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to Italian art history, and I hung on her every word as she explained various paintings and their stories to me in the Pantheon and various cathedrals. We took in Vatican City, went to the Trevi fountain, and dined on cobblestoned alleyway patios.

Day two saw us tour the Jewish Quarter of the city in the morning before we headed to the Galleria Borghese. Tickets sell out weeks in advance, and I was grateful that Auntie Janice had surprised me with tickets. It was the highlight of the trip; we even opted for the audio guides and I learned so much about Bernini and Caravaggio, among other artists. After taking in the gallery and the surrounding gardens, we walked down towards the Spanish steps, where we joined the crowd and soaked up the sun while seated on the bottom level steps. One thing was left on our Rome bucket list…gelato! We indulged as we headed back to our apartment for a rest before our final dinner out at Campo de Fiori Ristorante. From our seats here, we could listen to a band that had set up in the piazza. After dinner, we went and watched them perform, in awe of these buskers’ talents!

Our time together flew by, and on Wednesday morning, we bid farewell as Auntie Janice, Tom, and Otis were heading to Lucca to run an Artist’s workshop. As my flight was not until late in the evening, I headed out solo for my last day in Rome. First I walked to the Colosseum before retracing our steps from the day before to the top of the Spanish steps. I purchased some postcards along the way and sat in a garden patio, an iced tea in front of me, and caught up on my correspondence.

Getting to spend this time with my aunt who I so cherish was a dream, and I already cannot wait to return to Italy for more fun, food, and fantastic art.

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