Spring has Sprung
Rome in spring is something else. May has always been my favorite time of year in Rome. The sun is wonderfully warming, but not yet fierce, and the scent of jasmine fills the air. As a tour guide I am usually preparing for the influx of cheerful tourists and excited to share the wonders of the eternal city. But, of course, this is not a normal year. For the last two months Italy has been in lockdown, along with so many countries, to restrict the spread of the coronavirus. From my small apartment I have only ventured 400 metres around the block or to visit my nearest supermarket. The empty streets are eerily silent in my usually bustling neighbourhood. Grass has started to grow through the cobblestones of these ancient streets. BUT… two days ago Rome took a tentative step to ease the lockdown. The bars were allowed to open for a takeaway service and once again the aroma of fresh coffee filled the air. And people seemed to have a spring in their stride, I hear the words . . ben tornato …welcome back! Although wearing masks and keeping a safe distance this was my happiest day for a long time!
Walk In The Park
And best of all, the parks reopened. So yesterday I ventured to the Colle Oppio, my nearest park. My dog Topsy was overjoyed and while he bounced through the grass like a spring lamb I sat to reflect. This is Rome . . . wherever you are there is a story. I sat overlooking the iconic Colosseum and considered what I was sitting on! The Colle Oppio is part of one of the seven hills of Rome. The Esquiline hill has three peaks, the cispian where can find the great papal basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the fagutal where you find the basilica of St Peter in Chains with the amazing statue of Moses by Michelangelo and this, the Colle Oppio, redesigned as a public park in the 1920s.
Rome is like a lasagna, so many layers and the further down you go the further back in time you travel. I am surrounded by the vast remains of the Baths of Trajan from the second century. Under these are the remains of the Baths of Titus – the son of the Emperor Vespasian who built the Colosseum! And even further down are the remains of the Golden House of Nero, the few remaining sections of the immense palace that the notorious Emperor Nero had built for himself following the great fire of Rome in 64 AD.
Light at the end of the tunnel
But today the park has been rewilded! The grass may not be as high as an elephant’s eye but it is definitely up to my knees. The two months of lockdown have allowed nature to take control and the place is overflowing with wildflowers and, in particular, poppies. We are just two days from the 75th anniversary of VE day . . . the end of the second world war in Europe .. and the symbol for the fallen
is the blood red poppy. Here, in my local park, the poppies are everywhere and I feel this is a sign of the rememberance and also the rebirth of our beautiful country, time to start afresh and see what the future holds for us.
Stay safe everyone and I hope to see you in Rome soon.
Fe & Topsy!