Category: Other stuff
Date: 25 November 2001
Roma is grand, sophisticated, warm, vivacious, uncompromising, extreme, passionate and thoroughly elegant. People here work, but they also live. They have learned how to enjoy certain things in life, simple things.
They spend much time over food. Eating is an experience to be treasured, something to be considered very carefully, the combinations of tastes, the pace of consumption. Friday night is a meal with friends in a lively restaurant (although much time is spent debating the best restaurant, the most sophisticated delicacies). The wine flows freely and smoothly down your throat, the mood becomes gently jovial.
Romans like clothes to. They are appendages of the culture of elegance and aesthetic pleasure. The Roman goes to the shop and talks to the saleswomen. She advises him on colour and fit, they have an on-going relationship that is about a little more than commodity exchange. The Roman does not buy 'brands' but shapes, colours, textures.
The city is magnificent, littered with stunning piazzas and coloured with brash reds, oranges and bricky browns which bathe the city in a rouge haze when the sun sets. The people are, of course, oblivious to, yet part of, this beauty. They roar around on their vespas, (which are actually very elegant vehicles), and try to squeeze in to tiny spaces on the clogged, pebbled streets. The relationship between vehicle and human is very different here. To get anywhere, you must be ready to walk out across a pelican crossing with no traffic lights, slowly but surely stopping the fast moving traffic with your physical presence alone. Tourists of English and Japanese origin spend many minutes waiting patiently on the curb for nothing to happen.
Politics is everywhere in Roma. Her stunning architecture is covered in fascist graffiti; swastikas, ultra-nationalist slogans, anti-semitic and homophobic. Yet in the streets are often pro-communist trade unions demonstrating against capitalist greed. Mr Berlusconi, the openly corrupt prime-minister/media moghul organised an 'America today' post-September 11th. All the American's of Rome and many sympathisers turned out. The Romans organised an alternative anti-globalisation march.
Coming back to London you realise what is English about us. I look out of my window and see the council estates, I go in to town shopping and I must buy a brand, I must seek out elegance, good food, aesthetic excellence, exhibitions, art and history in a magazine and then pay for it.
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