The city of Rome has held a fascination for students of just about everything for literally thousands of years. Literature and common folklore have thrown up all sorts of expressions and traditions centered around this ancient city. What many scholars have failed to realise until now is that many of these cliches relate specifically to aspects of the four days I spent there.

All Roads Lead to Rome

Patently untrue as my previous post will testify. However, it must be said that I did eventually get there, and checked into the dankest, most overpriced excuse for a cheap hotel known to man. It was, at least, close to the train station, lending it its chief virtue; it was easy to get out of.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

I wasn't really sure what to make of this one. What do Romans do, apart from walk around in the sun, drink lots of coffee and speak Italian? I wasn't really keen on any of these, but thankfully I stumbled upon the answer while sightseeing on the Spanish Steps.

To compensate for the fact that all the clubs in Rome close down for the summer, the local government sponsors concerts and public cultural displays in the evening. I could see they were setting up for something on the steps, but I wasn't sure what. I decided to go back later and find out.

When I stepped out of the metro later that night I found myself in the middle of an opera recital, which was just perfect. What could be more Roman than sitting on an ancient monument and listening to opera? Sitting on an ancient monument and listening to opera while drinking lots of coffee and speaking Italian, I suppose.

The opera, by the way, was fantastic. I'm no opera buff, but I can tell when something is being done well. When the tenor sang Nessan Dorma (the only opera number I can recognise by ear) and nailed the last few notes he just about lifted the roof, which, considering we were outside, was no mean feat.

A Roman Stone Gathers No Moss

No... wait. Hang on...

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day.

Well, no, probably not. Just to make sure, I went on a walking tour of the city's ruins and monuments. The forum, the Spanish steps, the Flavian Amphitheatre (known colloquially as the Colosseum), the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon (not to be confused with the Parthenon which is a different shape, a different colour and in Greece), the Capitoline Hill; I did it all and can confidently assert that they were probably not all built on the same day. I also saw the church built on what is believed to be the site of the prison where Peter was held. You could still see the foundations under the building. That was quite cool.

All things considered, I would have to say that Rome definitely lived up to expectations, which was nice since so many things don't these days. Like iPod batteries. Or the Australian batting order.

Far from home



Garry with 2 Rs

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