I am now an official member of a lesbian club in Rome. I went in for drink with Sinead and two of my best friends and their wives on Friday night after a fine meal of calamari and octopus in a restaurant just across the road. We were attracted by the name, Hippie Hour, and psychedelic décor and so went straight in and sat down before I really looked around and noticed that the entire clientele were female and giving us bemused looks. Never-the-less the bar manageress came over and explained that because it was a club we all had to join before we could be served a drink, which we did and after our drinks were brought to us we were each handed a membership card.
Rome as a city is a bit like New York in the sense that a first time visitor gets the distinct feeling that he has been there before and knows intimately the famous landmarks such as the Colosseum, St Peter’s Square, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps from movies, travel shows and photos. In the space of three days we managed to cover all the major landmarks, eat quite a lot of pizza and pasta and indulge in some fine Chiantis, beers and a few shots of grappa.
For me the highlight was the remains of ancient Rome, particularly The Forum where it is possible to visualise how the city would have looked 2,000 years ago at the height of the Roman Empire. I have always been a sucker for history and my imagination gets carried away as I try to visualise myself as a participant walking through the paved streets of the city which stood at the centre of a huge empire which dominated most of south western Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, North Africa and England, although they never managed to invade Ireland. Wimps.
Although we went to the Vatican we only wandered around St Peter’s Square for a while – the massive queue and the ‘mixed’ make up of our little party being the main factors for not going inside. There was much mirth from the other members of the party, including my beloved wife, as they pointed towards a tall, gangly man in his mid-forties walking in a slow, loping gait with fair hair and glasses who they said was my doppelganger. They even made me go walk towards him so that they could take a picture of me standing close to him. I couldn’t see any resemblance myself but it kept them amused.