Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ciao Roma!

Like a previous trip I have been extremely remiss in not staying current on these posts.  However I did use that wonder App called Track My Tour (please tell Chris that I sent you if you check it out) which did a much better job.  Here is the link to this part of the trip -- Click here.


One major purpose on this trip was to catch the Italian Open tennis tournament with tennis friends from Bermuda and Canada (ex-Bermuda). Formerly it had been an all guys trip but with Viv and I starting earlier and going on to other places, this would be the first year that that holiest of holies had been broken.

The format is quite simple. Play tennis at 9, elevensies at 11, tennis by 1 pm and leave probably around 7 pm for dinner and other frivolities.  Usually there'd be an excursion involved and this year wouldn't be any different as that lovely little hill town, Frascati, was only a short haul away. We had a wine tour booked!

We'd booked an apartment through AirBNB and found the experience fantastic.  Furthermore the apartment was terrific too.  Situated right on Piazza dei Populo near the street cars and metro.  That means right next to the Centro Storico, the old part of the City which is where we have always chosen to hang out.  Realistically why wouldn't you?  There's the choice between Roman, medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, etc. in the old part and then there's the 1950's rebuilding projects, glass buildings and some weird Mussolini hangovers in the new.  No choice at all.

Populo is a big piazza and the place where they created a tournament set complete with mini courts that we tried but couldn't get to play on.  But it's only a short hop from the Enoteca Antica, our bar!  

Nick, Viv and David of Il Parti fame

It has been a while since our last tour (5 years I think) so getting refamiliarised was a must.  With an old city though with so many city ordinances, UNESCO World Heritage sites and the general lack of money, virtually nothing had been done which was just great as far as I was concerned.  The feel of the city remains as good as ever.

Il Parti 2016 is complete with Gary on the right
One of the joys about being in great cities like Rome is the ability to wander fairly aimlessly and come across wonderful random sites.  I don't think Rome has a historical or cultural comparison anywhere in the world.  For sure there is a better Colliseum in a couple of places (Nimes and some place in North Africa spring to mind immediately).  But for the sheer vast amount of simply fabulous antiquity, it has no equal.

Rather a gruesome colour but the Tiber (Tevere) is still picturesque
Coming back and revisiting gives an opportunity to remember our high point associated with a particular place.  Piazza Navona for example is the place where each of the 5 or 6 strolling musical combos had as part of their repertoire 'Stealing Our Religion'.  Campo di Fiore is where the Guinness Bar is.  No matter that Navona used to be the place where in Roman times they staged naval battles by flooding an arena that is no longer there and Campo di Fiore is a famous place of execution, for Il Parti it is the song and the bar!  

One thing I noticed is that this time the Forum is enclosed.  You have to have a ticket to wander through it.  Not so last time we visited.  I just hope it is not being transported into being something along the lines of a "Realistic Roman Forum Experience" complete with IMAX, rides and a gift shop like so many other places like this.  I do understand that funding is always going to be short but in a time when we are living through the noxious fumes of Quantitative Easing when governments almost the world over are throwing insane amounts of money at favoured industries in order to keep them going and perpetuating whatever nonsense they were doing to get into the pickle in the first place.  The ECB is buying 80 billion euros per month of various bonds driving interest rates and yields into negative territory.  To what end?  Officialdom says that it is to shore up the financial sector.  Really?  They made that big mistakes?  18 months of that equals 1.5 trillion euros.  The Roman forum probably needs 50 million to make a real difference.  Where are the priorities?

Renovations at the Spanish Steps.  Aargh!
I really like the little things that create some sort of connection even if tenuous and imagined.  In Trastevere for example there were the 2,000 year old graffiti (a Roman tradition carried on widely to this day) and as I remember outside the gates on the Via Appia all the old standards of legions from 2,000 years ago set in stone to commemorate their departure on some campaign or other.  Just wonderful.

2000 year old graffiti
For me though, one of the things I had been looking forward to above others is eating Linguine Carbonara at Maccherone near the Pantheon.  No fuss, nothing fancy.  Just fantastic.  What Rome is all about.

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