Monday, June 19, 2017

200 Views of Rome: Largo Di Torre Argentina



5 Stars

I am engaged in the major literary project called "200 Views of Rome" consisting of 200 reviews of Rome. You should read them all because the whole is far greater than sum of the parts, or, possibly, due to math, exactly equal to the sum of the parts, but reading them all gives one such a rosy sense of completion that it feels like more. And in all these 200 reviews of Rome there are plenty of things where assigning a rating, out of 5 stars, couldn't be simpler. Pantheon? Five stars! Palazzo Barberini? Five stars! But other things are very confusing to rate. How does one score the 20th best church in Rome? Same as the best which is far better? What if that same twentieth best church is prettier than every church in all of North America (and it is!)?

Which, finally, brings me to the Largo Di Torre Argentina. These are some ruins, not much in tact, in a pit, with a fence around them, that you can't go into, in a busy, too sunny area of central Rome. That description surely doesn't sound so good. So what is that for a score? Two stars? Three stars?

Yeah, but there's more to it than that. It sort of depends. Indeed, there are an awful lot of different reviews one could write for Largo Argentina, and maybe that's how it should be done...

If you like cats, even mildly: 5 Stars!

In a large, closed off area of ancient and picturesque ruins a wildly diverse population of cats, operating out of the cat sanctuary tucked in the corner of the ruins, sprawls out in the sun. Generally you can see about ten to twenty cats at any given time, though at first you might see none. Then, you excitedly spot one, and another, until you are delighted in finding them in all sorts of unlikely spots. Seeing cats with free run over Roman ruins is astonishingly satisfying, and vastly more entertaining, morally upright, and more beautiful than any zoo on the face of the earth.

If you like notable historical locations: 5 Stars!

We're not talking about "This is where the Roman Senate convened" or "The Vestal Virgins were in this Temple" or even "This is where Audrey Hepburn drank champagne with Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday" worthy as those might be. We're talking about "This is the precise spot where Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by Senators, including Brutus!"

You may have heard of this event.

If you like a cool spot to get out of the sun: 0 Stars!

This is one big open, exposed square. It is bounded by shops on one side, a modest street on another, and two gigantic, busy streets on the third and fourth. Stand there, leaning on the fence watching sleeping cats in shade that you cannot get to, until you are shriveling like Gollum in the sun and hallucinating that you are in a toga being stabbed to death by your friends!

Of course, as you see, I gave Largo Argentina 5 Stars. I like cats.

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