A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
You can call yourself The Eternal City when the shadows of your history include Titian, Caravaggio and Michelangelo; when your urban population was a million people a thousand years before those talents built the European Renaissance and when your emperors ruled the known world five hundred years before that. History is everywhere; you can find evidence of it on any street corner. Five hundred years of Roman ruins sit quietly beside medieval churches and Renaissance monuments. But it doesn’t end there. The Monument of Victor Emmanuel was built in the late 19th century. The Altare della Patria (Altar of the Nation) as it is called (among other things, including The Wedding Cake) dominates one of the many Roman skylines. It’s only 17 centuries and a 10 minute walk from the Flavian Amphitheatre, universally known as The Colosseum – and when you call it that, nobody asks you which one. Across the Tiber, Vatican City has been the centre of one of the world’s major religions for more than a millennium. St. Peter’s is the largest Catholic Church in the world, and the Vatican museum system holds the treasures of its history. The collection is so vast no single person can possibly see it all.
Romans are proud of their history and there is a lot of it to see — but one stroll down Via Veneto shows you where the 21st century lives. Not five minutes from the Trevi Fountain, built in 1762, you can find the latest female fashions walking smartly along the street. So today I’m going to relax, order a cappuccino and remember Rome wasn’t built in a day.