1.8.08

Stout & Large do Rome - Three


The evening’s a quiet one – camped out at the edge of the Piazza Navona with a bottle of something chilled and watching the tourists, fire-jugglers, hawkers, artists and the simply rather deranged mingle and jostle around.

The next day dawns, of course, with the knowledge that it’s Geddy Lee’s birthday. So it’s a quick toast of orange juice to the Rush bassist and colossus of music and out the door to the...

Oh wait, of course, it’s also Kate’s birthday too...

Out the door slightly later then, we wend our way through the sweltering streets by way of the Trevi Fountain to the Keats/Shelley House. This is in many ways the reason we are here, Kate having had a thing about the poet since she was but a young lass playing in the meadowy pastures outside Belfast (note to self: check with K that that bit’s correct). It’s a sad place in many ways. Keats was only 26 when he died of TB in this house by the Spanish Steps, unrecognised as even a good poet by all but a few in his day, never mind one of the greatest poets to have ever written in the English language. That all came later. But it’s quiet and it’s cool, is a good insight into the lives and works of the Romantics, and in its own small way provides a sense of perspective on things that no amount of tourist-thronged marble can quite manage.

Lunch is at the top of the Spanish Steps and features a Spaghetti Carbonara that redefines the meaning of the words and will have me hunched obsessively over bowls of egg yolks and parmesan cheese for months to come while I try and get anywhere near it. As for the fresh pasta, don’t even start...

Rome is seriously hot. Back in the Ancient days, the great and the good in their purple togas would perch themselves in their villas on the hills overlooking the city to try and get a waft of breeze in the hot, dry summer months. It’s relentlessly in the mid-30s and, while the anvil heads of cumulonimbus mass on the horizon and promise a delicious thundery breakdown to come, it never quite materialises. So a long lunch leads to a lessening of the mad tourist pointing and seeing plans, and more of a desire for seeing the Pantheon on the way back to the hotel followed by a serious amount of air con.



The Pantheon is stunning. A temple originally built by Hadrian to the Roman Gods featuring what its still the largest masonry vault ever constructed, it got consecrated as a Christian church at the start of the 7th century and thus was spared the city-wide meh that saw most Roman buildings crumbling into ruin and/or being quarried for building material. Indeed, by medieval times the city had shrunk from an Imperial capital of over a million souls to just a large town nestled by the banks of the Tiber with barely 40,000 people in it. Then the Pope moved back in just down the road...

Beers by the square, pizzas so thin you could cut your finger on the edge of one if you weren’t careful, and, by this point, the restaurant next to the hotel beams happily at us as we saunter back around midnight (it’s called Rust, and no it never sleeps ;-) ), knowing that they can probably flog us a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc as a nightcap if previous behaviour is anything to go by. They’re jolly well right too.

1 comment:

Mookomatic said...

Carbonara. Even in Italy, it would make me shudder...