Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Spanish Steps... and the rest

Last day in Rome, and we took a gruelling route around as many of the things we hadn't already seen as possible. This was extreme tourism. Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps (pictured), Pantheon, Trevi fountain, Trastavere, Colosseum (again). We walked for eleven hours until are feet and out backs failed.  

The highlight was - I don't know - it was all wonderful. But we sat on the Spanish Steps for a long time watching the antics of the rose grifters. We were the first victims so we knew how they worked. As you walk into the piazza the smiling young man swoops. Couples are his favourite. He thrusts a bunch of roses into the lady's hand.There is no refusing. The flowers are yours. "For the beautiful lady." Then he walks off. A few moments later he is back. "Take your photograph? With the roses?" And then you know that he is not going away until you pay. So the male half of each couple is pestered and badgered. I relented after a few minutes and handed him two euros. "Not enough," he says. So, in each case, the lady tries to hand the roses back. He doesn't want them, he just wants money. Only paper money is enough. He didn't get paper money from us so in the end we were left with one rose, the consolation prize. All up and down the Spanish Steps there were couples with roses - a badge of gullibility. It really was fascinating to watch the subtleties of how he and his many colleagues worked.

The rest of the day was no less fascinating, and we had learned how to stare-down the street vendors in a way that sent them scurrying.  We ate ice cream. We watched rain pour through the hole in the Pantheon roof  (the only time it has rained during our trip to Rome). It stopped again as soon as we went back outside. We threw money into the Trevi Fountain - two coins to ensure we return. I really hope there is something in this. We have every intention of returning.

Tomorrow we fly home. I have a gig in the evening. The wonders of air travel, hey? But this is the 'Travelling in a Box' blog. We'll be hooking up the box and heading for the hills again soon. But our trip to Rome goes right up into the top five of the holiday league table. It has been a cracker.  


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