From Friends of the Heart
Ollie and I visited all of Rome together. My mother, Donatella, worked for the government, restoring ceramics, and his mother, Greta, was an art historian. They were best friends. They'd grown up together in Rome. Then Ollie's mother had gone off to England and met his dad. They'd returned to Rome together. And from the day we were born Ollie and I journeyed back in time with our parents, touring ruins, museums, ancient monuments. We often went evenings when the traffic had thinned and the hustle had died down to a quiet shuffle. We hovered beneath overpowering statues of Roman gods who ruled over us, bigger than life. We tossed coins into fountains and made wishes too grand to ever come true. We sat next to the Roman Forum eating "toasts," flat square grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, while Greta told us stories of Julius Caesar. He was another of Rome's great rulers, intelligent, courageous, generous.
"He wasn't beautiful," I remember her saying. "And he was always worried about his baldness, which he tried to hide. But women loved him." Then she recounted how Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, had rolled herself in a carpet and had it taken to Caesar's rooms in order to make his acquaintance. Ollie raised an eyebrow when he heard this and broke out laughing. I laughed, too.
Ollie rarely called me Lucrezia. I was Lukey until we were eight, and then I became just Lou. We were best friends, Ollie and I, amici del cuore, as we Italians say, or, literally, friends of the heart.