Thursday, July 26, 2007

Rome 'behind the scenes'

The second leg of the journey passed quickly, since we spent most of it sleeping, and I woke just in time to photograph a spectacular band of colour on the pre-dawn horizon as we passed over Cairo. I thought of Jenny Bowker, asleep in her Cairo home below, and of her love of colour.

At 7am Rome was already hot. The heat haze that had settled over the west coast of Italy had prevented us from seeing the countryside below until our plane was nearly low enough to land, and when we emerged from the terminal at Leonardo da Vinci an almost tropical humidity surrounded us. Southern Europe is apparently in the grip of a heatwave. We were freezing in Sydney – and now we have more than thawed out!

We are staying only a stone’s throw from the Trevi Fountain but neither our hotel nor the Trevi were ready for us at 8.30am. The romantic fountain was still being spruced up ready for the busloads of tourists who would soon arrive, following their parasol-wielding guides down the narrow streets, like lemmings, to converge on the small piazza and photograph each other tossing a coin into the water. It was empty, and workmen were busy sweeping up the coins tossed into the fountain by romantic visitors and scooping them up into bags.

A breakfast of coffee and gelatis gave us a taste of Rome and a much needed energy-boost as we set out to explore.

Although this is our fourth visit, we’ve never been here in the summer, so we weren’t prepared to find that Rome’s public parks look very thirsty and the grass is brown and crisp and not looking cared for at all. Perhaps it is because the Romans (rather sensibly) flee Rome in the height of summer, and so a little bit of neglect that they don’t see doesn’t trouble them. We did, however, manage to find a small patch of green grass in the shade, where we could rest a while when the heat slowed us down.

Lunch was a slice of absolutely delicious Italian pizza in a little back-street pizzeria – one of those serendipitous finds, where they appeared to be doing a brisk trade with the locals. Then it was time to return to our hotel, formally check in, and collapse for a siesta – and blog!

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