Roman invasion - part II

Yesterday I revealed how my love affair with Rome began with a whistle-stop tour of the city.

Much of it is traffic-free and once the coach had dropped us off from St Peter’s we were walking along quiet streets and piazzas. Lunch was taken outside a pizzeria off the Piazza Navona. Pizza and a beer cost less than £7 - a bargain considering the location. I joined a table of other day-trippers. They were keen to enjoy another beer but I wanted to explore the area. Mime artists performed, silently competing against a backdrop of fountains and statues.

Fortified by pizza - tasting nothing like the pizza I’d eaten at home - we moved on to the Pantheon and one of the highlights for me, the Trevis Fountain.

First you hear the water, next you see the crowds. Weaving your way through you discover an eruption of marble. It’s hard to comprehend how it came to be - that someone had a vision to fill such a small area with something so immense.

A short walk led us to the Spanish Steps. Dreamy students with their heads stuck in books were like carpet, running over every step - I soon discovered why. Keats had lived for a while in one of the nearby houses - now a museum dedicated to him. The Spanish Steps were a shrine to Keats but instead of leaving flowers, they read his poetry.

I sipped my coffee and let the late summer sun wash over me. The colours of the buildings warmed and reflected back as the afternoon slowly melted into early evening.

Just a twenty minute walk took us to the coach and we were soon back on those busy streets, with traffic, scooters and black leather-clad Romans marching home from work.

Of course with no luggage we were whisked through the normally tedious airport procedures and it wasn’t long before we were up in the air, flying home.

What had I experienced? It wasn’t a city break, it wasn’t just a taster. It was the beginning of my love affair with Rome - one that I couldn’t turn my back on. I knew I’d embrace it again.

And the photos? Wonderful memories - the only reflections were the ones in the fountains.