"I hate Barocco!
I hate Scirocco!
So went a little doggerel, very popular in
in fact, moments when, in the more "modern" part of
A short walk away is an older, perhaps even more captivating part of the City, where the Pantheon rests, perfectly at ease in spite of its great age, in that Fifteenth and Sixteenth century Rome which is in many ways more enchanting, albeit less spectacular.
however, precisely the "newer" part of
Rome, the reign of the "Barocco", which brings home the fact that this, indeed,
has always been and still is the "Eternal City". The appellation of "Roma Caput
Mundi" was applicable for many centuries after the Roman Empire had formally ceased
to exist and even after the end of the
It is enough to spend some time at the Caffè Greco (often patronized by Hans Christian Andersen), at the beginning of Via Condotti, and to reflect that, within a radius of about a quarter of a mile there lies more history -- visible, living history -- than most other cities can offer in their entirety.
in nearby Piazza di Spagna, while further up the erroneously labelled "Spanish
Steps" lies Villa Medici, site of the
In the other direction, on the Via del Corso, is the apartment where Goethe spent some years of his life, and following this, which for centuries was Rome's principal avenue, a very short walk leads to the incredibly beautiful Piazza del Popolo in which, through the main gateway to Rome, the Porta del Popolo, many made their triumphal entry, as conquerors, liberators or guests. Among these -- as we are reminded by an inscription on the main gateway - was Queen Christina of Sweden, a Catholic convert in self imposed exile, who was to spend the last thirty years of her life in Rome, a popular and equivocal figure, being at the same time a self-avowed lesbian and carrying on a long, tempestuous and very public affair with one of Rome's most prominent Cardinals..