They tumble from the walnut brown velvet bag; shiny, heavy hoops - rings of the Gods. Brilliant bright silver with a speckled texture, as they drop into my open hand I feel the weight of them - these are not for the faint hearted.. or thin lobed. They are a little bit Lily Allen circa 2006 - which might be why I love them so. No, truth be told, I love them because of where they came from.
On the way back from our explorations, we pass through the shaded market area by the old castle that I am unable to name. It's incredibly hot; we've been roaming the cobble-stoned streets, snapping obligatory daggy photos while hopping on and off our dodgy version 'hop-on-hop-off' tour bus. It has been exhausting. I welcome the sight of the markets - I recognise the area as we came through here this morning. Familiarity in a foreign country is travellers gold, I know where I'm going, I am not lost. Ahead we can see a stall selling slushies - we are drawn to it like magnets. The cold condensation on the outside of the machine makes me want to lick it - my mouth waters at the thought of the sweet strawberry brain freeze I am about to experience. They could've cost 10 euros, and I absolutely would not have cared.
After we buy our slushies, we linger in the area, making the most of the cooling shade. There are the usual touristy items on offer - postcards, key rings, general junk - but then, behind the hanging woven bags and cheap t-shirts sits a jewellery stand.
Laid out upon four tables, arranged edge-to edge in a square, are sparkly jewels of all kinds. A older man stands in the centre of the tables, I suppose watching for swift fingers - but he is perfectly lovely when I ask him if the items are sterling silver. "Yes, they are all sterling silver, I don't work with anything else." He is the maker of these things. After some time, and some mental negotiation with myself, I settle upon a pair of kick-ass hoops - these are not like anything I would find back home. Well, of course not - they would be from Rome!
I wear these hoops today because I am trying to relive the magic from almost one year ago. Even though they are a little more 'dancing on bar tops' than 'heading out for the weekend papers' - I don't care. Lately the universe has been conspiring against me, reminding me how much I want to go back to Italy. I pine for it now. As I eat leftover potato bake for lunch today, I say to my Mother, who sits across from me at the table "I want to go back to Italy".
"You want to go back? Really?"
"Yes, of course, why do you think I'm wearing my Rome earrings today?"
"Oh" she says. She doesn't get it, of course, how would she know? She goes on to tell me I should go with my uncles family or another uncle who is planning a trip. "Your father - he wants to go, why don't you go with him?" Sure Mum, because every girls dream is to explore Rome with her sciatica-suffering father. No thanks. She does not understand. Maybe I'm being silly now, remembering only the good stuff and neglecting the troublesome memories. Still, maybe I could be brave some day, and do it on my own? Just imagine.