Ah Rome..a city built upon cities upon cities. Today every time the city needs to expand its subway lines or build a new road it takes years because they discover all sorts of human detritus of interest to archaeologists. My hunny and I took a tour of the Colosseum and our excellent guide (really the best – book here) explained to us that the city has decided to create an underground museum in the subway so as to showcase all the artefacts they are finding as they dig the new subway line. Who knows when that will be something to see – i’m thinking the opening of Starbucks in September here in Milan will happen long before then despite the fact that their sponsored palm trees were burnt down by citizens in protest! Not that it’s a surprise to me but every country has its mob-mentality rabble.
We spent three nights in Rome and the most abiding feeling I got in that ruinous city was how unbelievably humbling it is in terms of the ages of civilisation. I don’t really like that word because it implies a specific kind of success and I believe success is what you define it to be (if you’re interested in my views on success I had a long chat with Arye Kellman about it as part of his Millenial Zeitgeist 2017 podcast series. Click here to listen “Werk”) . If however I accept the word civilisation to mean the building of cities and congregating of human beings in shared living spaces and governments then Rome is a remarkable place to understand how things have changed in the last few thousand years. Taking a look at the photos I took I can’t even imagine trying to build enormous pantheons and temples without electricity, mechanised equipment and computers. I mean how did those enormous columns remain standing based on the drawings and calculations of people without excel??
Our Rome trip was my present to Hunny for his birthday and I decided to book us into a B&B rather than a hotel. NOTE – a B&B in Europe is, like all things European when compared to South Africa, much smaller living quarters than you would expect. It’s like staying in a house full of guests but with your own bedroom and bathroom. You all gather for breakfast in the morning in a kind of over-sized entrance hall under the watchful eye of the owner. I highly recommend this kind of accommodation however – much cheaper than hotels and really cosy.
We stayed in Trastevere which like all fabulous hipster hangouts of today, used to be a violent hovel where nobody wanted to live 40 years ago. It’s a short walk from all the sights and any number of delicious restaurants as well as an enormous Sunday market at Porta Portese. Here we picked up a hand-made oval-shaped wooden frame dressed in gold-leaf for the skull mask Hunny bought in Venezia.
I spent some time with my friend Sian who moved to Rome with her South African Italian boyfriend just over a year ago. We discovered a fantastic busking blues band in a great bar serving my firm favourite Italian beverage – the Aperto Spritz. We talked about the challenges of learning Italian (or any new language for that matter) and avoiding carbohydrates in Italy (never thought I’d say this but pizza really must die now otherwise I will have to buy a whole new wardrobe and who wants to do that unless it can all be Gucci and Prada?).
Most spectacular site? The carefully preserved marble mosaic and miniature gold tiles inside the Pantheon. I’m not religious but I’m always impressed at the dedication people have to glorifying God through architecture and its outfits. The purple and yellow-gold marble inside that building no longer exists in its particular kind in any part of the world. It is priceless.