After spending an idyllic summer by the sea in Albania, rainy Paris looked too damn grey. While Parisians were flocking back home, I decided to flee to Rome. End of August in the caput mundi and the tourists were thriving under the Lazio sun. Soon, the Romans were back and September launched a brand new season of ruthless flirting.
Had a walk in my new hood, found a nice little church – turns out it’s a basilica – spent hours watching the mosaics, was kicked out because la chiesa è chiusa, had a piada on a piazzetta in Monti where young and trendy Romans were having a birra artigianale, all tanned from holidays.
Decided to have a little evening stroll. Ended face to face with the Coliseum and the Arch of Constantine. Tried to spot night birds to follow Stendhal’s advice in his 1829 Promenades dans Rome but could only see Pakistani men trying to sell scarves made in China. Sat down to listen to a very good-looking Italian hippy and had fun watching Japanese tourists desperate for a selfie with the Coliseum.
Walked back home and about to watch Roman Holiday in my zebra-themed room.
Planned my day to “see” things outside the historical centre today – not a good idea.
Saw some very mediocre contemporary art and caught a headache from 1950s abstract geometry painting at MACRO. Got lost somewhere in desolated streets but was comforted by the sound of a woman making love. Was not impressed by supposedly trendy San Lorenzo as no one was around to make it look alive. Damned the city of Rome for not having street names on its street corners. Burned in the blazing sun so had to retreat into the shade of Torlonia’s gardens. Thought maybe Mussolini took a break under the same tree when he was living here. Walked for hours without eating, finally found my way back but had to stop for a short CasaPound encounter. Don’t you just love a good red fascist movement?
Am now trying to relax in my air-conditioned room. Thinking I’m closer to being an American tourist on a European tour than ever: I don’t care for modern or contemporary Rome, I want the antique stuff, the Renaissance, the History. As one hysterical American blondie said yesterday to her mother while she was wounding me to access Raphael’s tomb in the Pantheon: “He’s famous, a bit like Leonardo da Vinci”. I’m here for the famous stuff too. Raphael-famous of course. I’m a conservative and reactionary Parisian in Rome.
Was having a nice evening read at the Forum when Massimo said that the scenery was perfect for reading. I told him: “si” and went back to Stendhal. He said it must be exhausting to be a tourist in Rome, with all the walking involved. I answered:“si” and went back to Stendhal. Then Massimo told me he worked as a foot doctor, that my sandals were too flat and that I must be in pain. When he gradually started massaging my right foot, I wondered just how far he would go.
I said goodbye when he actually took my shoe off and twisted my back so he could get a better grip.
I decided never to stop walking again.
That was before I met Bruno during my night stroll around Piazza Navona. He stopped his scooter to ask me if we could go out. “I will show you Roma by night on my scooter”. Oh, thank you Bruno. You have beautiful eyes and a gorgeous smile but it’s just too much. Are all Romans frauds when it comes to flirting or shall I go on a date with gorgeous Bruno on Sunday?
The Romans are back! And they are a dressed up and over tanned bunch. Somebody should tell them it’s not good for your skin. Have experienced a lot of screening up and down by the male crowd: old, young, accompanied or alone, they all do it apparently. Am learning whole new techniques.
The only one who really took me by surprise was a severely cute priest from a little chiesa I was hiding in. I was just trying to cool down against a marble pillar while studying a map of the area when he caught me in this blatantly pagan act. With a beautiful smile and a deep deep voice, he said: “Salve“. I thought I was going to die, or that I was finally having a revelation. Had to rush outside because I was getting ridiculously red. I think I’m in love now. The Catholic Church should have more of these hotties.
Photo by Joanna Dunis