Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Magnificent vermin of Rome
Let us begin near the start.
After the usual accelerated (by disappearing hours) two days of air travel to Europe, this time on three flights, my wife and I got into the city, sleepless, in the afternoon. We checked into our apartment and did what we could to stay awake, making a first bleary reconnoiter of our neighborhood. Then we went to sleep.
But it didn't work so well.
And so at four in the morning we looked at each other and said "Let's go out."
Because Central Rome is crammed with people, urgent, partying, touring, eating, drinking, piled high, one might think it never sleeps. I thought maybe it didn't sleep. But Rome sleeps!
We sauntered its moody, abandoned streets alone. It was quiet in the strange way of great cities; punctuated by outsize, mysterious crashes and distant sirens and clatters. Our apartment cozied up to the Pantheon (and it still delights me even to say that), so we weaved our walk around it as the first stirrings of morning activity and light readied themselves to trickle in. We were coming up the west side of the great ancient monument, from the back, holding it all for ourselves. As we got up to the porch (monumental yes, but still a porch) I looked over a little wall there and down. There was a big, fat rat. Dirty, lumbering, bloated, and the size of a small raccoon.
There is always more to Rome than meets the eye. Warrens, underbellies, the rich droppings of a million ever feasting tourists, a labyrinth of ancient lost cities under the city of my eyes. I thrilled to the story that rat hinted at, and we waited for more.
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