How the Danish author Vilhelm Bergsø could ever write a lengthy novel about Piazza del Popolo is beyond me: a cobblestoned and uncharming square with the ancient Egyptian obelisk and the lion statues as the liveliest elements. It was a lot more colourful in 2001, when AS Roma had just won the soccer championship, and thousands of fans celebrated the victory wearing the team's red and yellow colours.
We cross the square quickly and head south towards the Spanish Steps along Via del Babuino. One of the first shops on your left-hand side is a hat-shop: Borsalino. And here I thought that Borsalino disappeared together with Philip Marlowe and Al Capone, but it is still here! However the new models have a more modern look than the classic.
It is a fashionable neighbourhood. Outside one of the hotels a door-man clad in a dress-coat and a top hat escorts a couple of guests to a waiting cab. Here are shops with fashion, shoes, antiques and art reserved for those, who do not ask the prize before buying.
It gets even more exclusive when we turn into Via Condotti. Here Dior, Cartier and all the other expensive brands reside. Only a few prize-tags can be seen. I see one on a flimsy, see-through dress by Dior. 9480 Euro, it says. It didn't take much wool to make it, so it is quite a prize per kilo.
You don't walk into these shops just to have a look. Some of them have their doors locked even through opening hours, and customers are let in one by one, while the other applicants (if there are any) must wait outside in the street. I spot a small jewel-encrusted jaguar figurine, which would look good on the kitchen-shelf instead of the salt-cellar; but I change my mind - it seems unable to hold anything.
We walk in the general direction of Pantheon. There is a lot of activity in the streets and with the many shops there is plenty to look at, if you can find your way past parked cars and vespas. Every inch is put to use. It is less hot today and that is fortunate, because the air hardly moves.
At La Villetta Once Again
After an aperitif and meditation at the wine bar we walk slowly to Vicolo del buco. We want our last supper in Rome at La Villetta.
It is almost cool tonight - my guess is 24° C - and for the first time we have a meal with no hot flushes. We both have spaghetti carbonara - we cannot resist. The portion is bigger than usual and with less pepper. Is it because papa Gino is in the kitchen himself tonight? The usual waiter has a day off and maybe the cook too. There are also fewer guests today and everybody sits outside. Maybe Tuesday is the quiet day?
Helle has grilled cheese and a salad for secondo. The veal tails are still finito so on Helle's recommendation I try their saltimbocca alla romana. It is disappointing. Papa has used too much flour and the sauce is sticky. Today it is Helle's turn to have truffle ice cream and I lemon sorbet.
We are going home today. We packed yesterday afternoon and walk straight from the breakfast table to the delicatessen to buy parmesan and pecorino cheese. On impulse we buy some almond cakes too.
We leave for the airport early. It seems that smoking is banned everywhere at the airport, and there are posters everywhere promising big fines if you smoke anyway. Okay, you can smoke outside, but once you are through security it is over. By the way security seems lax. Helle triggers the metal detector alarm, but to her disappointment she is just waved along. No body search - blonds apparently pose no security risk despite the finding of bombs in two domestic flights last week.
It feels cold when we arrive to Copenhagen, but how the air is fresh and clean!