First view of Rome

Our flat is tucked away off the busy streets but it only takes a few minutes to walk down to the Colosseum. It’s quite extraordinary to see the ancient building blacked with exhaust fumes and surrounded by tourists – a memory of a time so long ago. At one of the gates a group of blue robed nuns stood in a circle eagerly listening to a fellow sister and avidly taking notes. Just to the side of it the remains of the Roman Forum lay about long sunken under a meadow and now exposed like an emptied swimming pool. On the hill above it, known as the Palatine, the remains of the villas of the rich and powerful who walked around the Forum and enjoyed themselves in the Colosseum. School children line up mostly unaware of what they are seeing.

The Pantheon has survived in a marvellous stroke of luck and is the only Roman temple standing in an approximate entirety and inside is the most beautiful marble temple which a ceiling which around 2000 years old looks just like something from an Art Deco dream. The apex of the ceiling is an open circle that lets in both the Gods and the rain. Tiny holes on the marble floor let the rain water drain away. For about 1500 years it’s been used as a church which has both saved it but also defiled it with crucifixes and statues. Raphael’s tomb is inside as well as crowds of tourists.

The Italian churches are quite extraordinary. Most have amazing paintings covering the walls and life like statutes painted and gazing down on you. The Italians kneel and cross themselves when approaching the alter, the statues or even entering the church. Grown men kneel and pray. The confession boxes have occupants and appear to be sound proofed.

The Trevi Fountain is a Baroque feast for the eyes. Evidently cleaned and well maintained the statues sparkle white and the water an aqua blue.

The streets are thronged with people and the roads with scooters and cars. I stood and watched a traffic policeman conducting the traffic outside the Vittorio Emanuele monument. In a frenzy of movement the vehicles in front of him whizzed past his tiny podium until the white gloved hand fluttered up and invited the vehicles from the left to come instead. The signals were interpreted somewhat loosely by both scooters and cars and in the midst of all this a zebra crossing that had cool calm Italians walking through the waves of traffic. Most remarkably I didn’t see a single accident for the whole ten minutes I was there.

Leave a Reply