Easter makes me think of Rome and so to that fine city this week.
Our 1970s Roman holiday was not quite as expected. Indeed one of my most abiding memories is that of holding a souvenir Colosseum at Luton Airport on our return, which seemed incongruous to say the least!
The other overriding recollection is an intense heat I’ve only experienced in one other place – a sweltering July Tenerife.
It was August after all, and the very peak of the season - the month when Italians take their big vacation, thus completely thronged.
Actually, thronged thrice over as it’s perennially so!
Staying at neatly cylindrical Hotel Giotto, on the outskirts, I recall the dining experience of one eggy soup. For an aficionado of all things Italian, I have to admit I wasn’t best fussed about this strange concoction, but I did like the scrumptious ice-cream (as did my father).
Swaying this way and that on a packed bus into the centre, the local residents looked a little uptight, as we rose and fell on the wavy hills. Then to the great city itself.
I’ve spent many an hour in Rome’s gigantic Fiumicino Airport – often en route to somewhere else – a mini Rome in itself, without the artistic wonders.
However, nothing quite prepares you for the splendour of Rome itself. As a youngster, such a feast for the senses on the grandest scale.
We marvelled at the Sistine chapel and baked in the August sun-drenched Forum. We threw a pretty coin or two into the Trevi Fountain and drank thick, syrupy Sugo di Frutta at a stylish Roman bar.
St Peter’s was literally awesome, and gave me an early taste for the wonders of architecture. And the light! The luminosity transported you to some other sublime dimension.
The biggest challenge was traffic-dodging to reach the Colosseum. How odd it appeared – this ancient site – against the modern world backdrop. An amazing yet terrifying place when you pause to think how gruesome the scenes that played out there at one time; it still stands in gory grandeur.
Yet Rome’s a proud and impressive city, beloved by most who visit it.
Overall, the city triumphs in majestic splendour. Incredible Rome.