You see that cat in the picture. It’s sitting in the Colosseum and wondering what all the fuss is about. As far as the cat is concerned, the only benefit to sitting there is that a snap-happy tourist is going to take its picture. As a thank you from the photographer, this will be followed by a tickle behind the ear, which is gratefully received. Then perhaps the tempting offer of some chewing gum, because the tourist now feels obliged to feed it.
Chewing gum was all I had.
The cat has no comprehension that it lives at the hub of a once mighty empire and that its anus is touching over two thousand years of history. If it did have any clue as to why all these people flock to see the past glory of Rome then it might do something useful, like open a nightclub.
You can’t really knock Rome. If you haven’t seen it, you should go. As well as the cat in the Colosseum, there’s The Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps, The Hippodrome, The Forum…..and the list goes on and on. There is nowhere else in the world that matches the architectural riches of Rome. You should see these things before you die, or before you get arrested for choking the local cats with chewing gum.
The Colosseum is not what it used to be, it’s not even what it used to be five hundred years ago. This is because the latter-day inhabitants of Rome had an ignorance of the history that surrounded them, much like that of my feline friend. Consequently they’ve spent most of the last five hundred years pinching the marble blocks from the Colosseum to make house extensions, rockeries or water features. Apparently the Getty Centre Art Gallery in Los Angeles is made with marble from the same Italian quarry that supplied the Colosseum. Or so they say, I think it’s more than likely that those sneaky old Gettys have been continuing an ancient tradition and pinching a bit of the Colosseum every time they visited Rome.
You don’t get stinking rich by paying for marble.
Like the Getty Centre, the Vatican is another monument to vast wealth. This time it’s the Catholic Church paying for it all. All those years of inquisitions, holy wars and bulging collection plates have built St Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world. There aren’t many buildings that take your breath away like St Peter’s. I can only think of The Neu Camp Stadium in Barcelona and the Maracana Stadium in Rio. Perhaps I should travel more, other than just for football.
I could prattle on for ages about the buildings in Rome, but I won’t. Unfortunately the downside of Rome is the nightlife. This is because there isn’t any. I’ve been there several times and failed completely to find any sort of life after the sun goes down. The closest I’ve got is the LunEur Park funfair on the outskirts of Rome, which is quite jolly. The avenue leading to it also does a fine array of roadside prostitutes. Apart from that it’s a case of trotting around the same sights you saw during the day, but this time with the benefit of coloured floodlights.
On one visit to Rome I appeared on a daytime TV programme called ‘I Fatti Vostri’. It’s a long story as to why I was on the show, but I can say I hadn’t been arrested for anything that involved felicide (killing cats).
The set of the show is laid out like a market square with the audience mostly sitting at tables and chairs outside pretend cafes. The show is filmed live and potential audience members queue up from early in the morning, just to get on the telly. They are predominantly young, pretty Italian girls and all desperate to be noticed, albeit as blurry shapes behind the presenter’s right elbow.
I couldn’t speak a word of Italian so I had to have a translator during the interview. Naturally I took the opportunity to say as many obscure English rude words as possible, just to see the look on the translator’s face.
I haven’t been invited back.
See my other Italy travel guides click here