The more observant of what I might optimistically term a “readership”, may have noticed my slow blogging over recent days. I’ve been in Rome, an exceptionally enjoyable trip only spoiled by returning to the greyscale drabness of Belfast.
I’m sure no-one wishes to read a blow by blow account of our holiday, but I do have a handful of observations about a city which has established itself as one of the favourite I have visited.
I don’t believe I have ever been anywhere more laden with the weight of history than Rome. Kerry made the most insightful comment of the trip when she pointed out that the historical gravitas of the place means that it can carry the hordes of tourists without losing anything in the way of dignity or individuality.
There is nothing of the museum about the place. The layers of history co-exist amongst a vibrant, occasionally chaotic and always fascinating present. The sheer longevity of the city shows history being reinvented and cannibalised countless times as successive generations attempt to allude to the continuance of a glorious past.
Perhaps two of the sights made the greatest impression on me personally. Firstly the Roman Forum, political centre of an empire which continues to shape the modern consciousness and our very concept of civilisation. Secondly, and for a similar reason, the riches of the Vatican. Principally what was drilled home to me here was the fact that organised religion is by its very essence a tool of politics and power. Christianity, and in particular Roman Catholicism, was equally imperial in impulse and it is no accident that much of the imagery connected with it was lifted directly from the earlier Roman Empire.
Of course it was incumbent upon me to formulate such profound thoughts whilst guzzling tiramisu, cappuccino and wine in various cafes, but clearly such self-sacrifice is worth the glittering results.