Remy and I met in a rare book store on Monopoly Boulevard in Boston. Not only did we have an interest in rare books in common, but we loved finding obscure historical places to explore that we’d found in them. In a 15th century tome, the Romana Obscura (RO), we were able to acquire for a pretty penny, we learned of a legend of a river that flowed under Rome, where a silver-lighted vortex took the waters to who-knows-where. We looked at each other, smiled, and began our preparations.
The RO chapter on the silver vortex had a curious warning in the form of an engraving that was alleged to rest in granite on the edge of the river near the vortex. It read:
For all the lost who reach this place
beware when silver turns to gold.
We looked at the descriptions and intricate illustrations, used maps on Google Earth, as well as other rare books with maps of Rome at that time. Our patience and persistence paid off, and we saw where under modern-day Rome the river would be flowing. We were able to get vaca from our jobs and were on our way in days.
Once settled into our lavish hotel room at the Hotel Artemide in Rome, we had a dinner of radiccio/avocado/tangerine salad with olive oil balsamic dressing, porcino mushroom ravioli, pumpkin gnocci, and the best tiramisu for dessert at the Ambrosia Rooftop Restaurant there, looking out on the city. It was an early bedtime for us in our bed so cushiony it felt like sleeping on clouds. Upon waking each of us were astounded to discover that we both had dreamed of flying through windows!
In the morning we headed out, backpacks full of maps, flashlights, portable battery-powered lanterns, water, snacks, and our cameras (as well as our phones), a rope ladder, a telescope-handled pickaxe, a Swiss Army knife, and plenty of extra batteries for the cameras. Our well-worn hiking boots came in handy as we walked through the city.
Our research paid off, and there it was, beckoning us: an iron cover on the cobblestones. If we were right, it opened to the underground world where the river was supposed to be. It was an out-of-the-way alley and so nobody disturbed us. With a little effort, we had the cover lifted. We could see an iron ladder leading down and each smiled. Remy went first, calling out when he got to the bottom; I followed.
It surprised us to see no cobwebs, scurrying underground critters, or moss on the smooth stone that lined the floor, walls, and ceiling of the tunnel. Neither was there much moisture, which seemed abnormal for the subterranean. According to our calculations the river was at GPS coordinates 50 yards ahead, the silver vortex in another 50 yards. We walked and our excitement grew when the sound of water met our ears. Just as the RO described, there it was! the underground river, with crystal clear, ice cold water! Dipping my hand in and tasting it, I thought this must be what the elixir of life tastes like! Now both adrenalin-pumped we ran onward for another 50 yards: there it was! The Silver Vortex! And there, in the granite floor, the warning, just as it said in the book. The water turned slowly in a mesmerizing fashion. Neither could take our eyes from it. Soon, without any thought, but with a compelling need, we pulled our clothes off and stepped into the river, letting the elixir flow over our bodies as we watched the swirling silver.
The silver sheen shifted to gold and some distant parts of our brains registered it. We heard a whooshing within the bowels of the rock where the water disappeared. A giant gold fish as large as a dolphin, burst from the opening with its gaping mouth open. The smooth pinkness of the inside of its mouth was the last thing either of us ever saw.
Paula is the host at Thursday Inspiration. Paula says:
This week’s theme is window.
Image link is here.