On a grey morning in late October, we caught a series of trains (Mantova-Modena-Bologna-Rome) to Italy’s ancient capital.
By lunchtime we were eating at an outdoor table at a Roman restaurant.
The waiters were those elderly/middle-aged Italian guys that you find working in traditional Italian restaurants up and down the peninsula, especially in tourist hot-spots.
We ate well: a simple pizza and some grilled squid.
For the next few days, we visited churches, museums, squares, and so on. Walking, walking, walking in the lovely, warm autumn sunshine.
But the eternal city is a smelly city, a ruined city with one of the least attractive underground metro systems in the world. (The staff were helpful, though, and pointed out known pickpockets to us. Did we look like potential victims? Was my inner ninja not evident??)
Homeless people and beggars are everywhere and Rome looks its age. Swathes of tourists continue to wear the city down and there is a general lack of cohesion, co-ordination and common-sense.
Is Rome a livable city? Is it a viable city? Will it ever reinvent itself and become a thoroughly functional urban centre or will it always be a beautifully dysfunctional museum-piece with good food?
For all that, I like visiting Rome. It’s also a beautiful city. A stimulating city. A city with depth.
I threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain because I would like to return there some day.