Thunder and rain in Rome

Fragment of Constantine's gigantic statue

As we go to breakfast there is thunder and rain is pouring down. The restaurant is busy and the staff can hardly keep up with demand. There are guests at almost every table and we are seated in a narrow passage that must once have been a corridor.

After breakfast we settle in the bar waiting for better weather. The Danish colony is in an adjacent room. Most are wearing optimistic shorts and sandals.

They are bursting with impatience and constantly send scouts to check the weather. Outside the hotel a Tamil makes good business - he sells umbrellas! At last a scout reports that the rain has ceased and we leave.

Our first stop is at Star Tours' office in Via Milano; we are to collect a refund for the taxi when we changed hotel Monday. The rain comes and goes and when we leave Star Tours' office it is pouring down. Hastily we cross the street to a bar where we can have a cup of waiting-coffee. My cheap umbrella has been winged and I could use a new one.


On Via Nazionale we board a 64 to the centre. The bus is crammed and like a smelly steam bath, but we are on for a few stops only and stand close to the exit. We get off at Piazza Venezia and walk to Capitol. It is museum-weather and our destination is the collections at Capitol.

Sculpture at Capitol

The exhibitions are duly impressive with many sculptures in pompous surroundings. Our legs are tired from a lot of walking the last days and this museum has far too few chairs where you can admire the art in a sitting position!

We go to Bar Matina at Piazza Rondanini behind Pantheon where we order coffee and water. The glasses are just rinsed under the tap and are not clean. Mine has a film of sticky lemonade and Helle's has traces of lipstisck. I complain and get a new glass, or maybe it is just rinsed once more.

Helle wipes hers with a napkin. There are 5-6 small tables outside. Two Nordic looking guests order beer, but otherwise most guests are locals dropping in for lunch. When we walk towards Largo d'Argentina at 13:30 many bars are crammed with people having lunch.

We get on a bursting #40 - there is just room for us on the step. Going by bus in Rome is an experience not to be missed. I carry my purse in a front pocket protected by my free hand. Back in the room we have a biscuit and cheese lunch and then it is time for siesta.

At a quarter past four I leave for a visit to the chess club Accademia Scacchistica Romana, but the very moment I leave the hotel a thunderstorm begins. Making myself small under the umbrella I make it to the metro station, and on my way I notice more than one happy hawker - today's hot item is umbrellas.

However for some unknown reason my metro is out of service. A red and white tape and a uniform excludes any doubt. The uniform explains some Brits that they can take a bus, but I am certainly not looking for a steam bath. I give up and return to the hotel. The chess club will have to wait for another day.

Evening in the neighbourhood

At seven we go to Café Fantini. The English owner, Kelvin, is here today and we greet each other. He cannot believe two years have passed. The last time was in 2003 when his wife, Tamara, was pregnant, and now he is the proud father of a beautiful girl.

Kelvin cannot stop talking; tells that he had been out with some rugby-players and returned for supper at 23:30. When his wife was serving dinner she suddenly exclaimed: "The water!".

How inconvenient during supper! A long story follows about 18 hours of labour and waiting and we see pictures of the wonder kid and the apartment where everything has been moved to a secure level out of child's reach.

We turn the corner to Angelo di Napoli where we had two meals in 2003. I have suggested a pizza after the heavy meals of the last days. I have had better pizzas though: the ham smells like canned ham, and after 10 minutes you need a saw to cut the edge. We finish off with a delicious Macedonia fruit salad and return home.

The hotel bar is unmanned. In the distance I can hear a TV and soccer noise. I chime the bell three times, but the bartender has left this planet. After the third chime I hear the reception make a telephone call, and soon the bartender appears.

When he has served our coffee with avec he disappears, and several potential customers who do not chime the bell will have to make do with their mini-bar. When there is a pause in the match he remerges and I am allowed to pay.