With my darling Blake, better known to Nicky and Nora as Uncle Pervy, in town I found myself in Centro today visiting oft visited but much loved sights here. I never cease to be amazed and delighted by the incredible perfect geometry of the Pantheon, the slight imperfections of Michaelangelo's Cristo della Minerva, the rush of water you hear just before you turn the corner to the Fontana di Trevi, that moment when an unsuspecting guest discovers the trick of the dome in Sant'Ignacio or entering a church like Santa Maria Maddalena that on other occasions has been shuttered and finding an amazing baroque organ loft.
But for every wonder there are things that have me making that funny sharp intact of breath sound that indicates I am displeased with something or scratching my head in bemused bewilderment. And within the space of a few minutes today I found myself doing both in the area of the Fontana di Trevi.
For some reason the city of Rome has allowed souvenir sellers to set up large stalls to the left and right in front of the Fontana. Aside from the fact that what is for sale is cheap and cheesy it blocks what should be an uninterrupted view of the wonders of the largest Baroque fountain in the city. It is said that back in 1751 Nicola Salvi made sure that an unsightly barber's sign, that a stubborn shop owner refused to move, was hidden behind a vase - only to have his grand design spoilt 250 years later by a hawker of Chinese-made plastic-marble replicas of his masterpiece. Whoever in the city authorized this should hang their head in shame and be made to stand full clothed in the Fountain while we throw coins over our shoulder at them.
And in looking at the wares for sale in a few of the souvenir shops that encircle the Fountain I really wonder if anyone buys any of this stuff - I can only suppose that as the shops continue to operate and the various tchatzkahs are displayed for our buying pleasure someone must. And who wouldn't want this lovely full length synthetic wool tapestry in their home as a reminder of their time in Rome? Just a hint - we are leaving in 9 months time and there will be a farewell party!!!!
10 novembre - San Leone Magno - Papa