05 October 2010
'Bumping into Roadies'Rome. Day off.
One of the joys of European hotels is that breakfast is often included in the room rate €“ i.e., free. This is the case here at the very groovy and staggeringly over-designed crew hotel. The pinnacle of its pretension is the breakfast room. With space-age, white, curved walls, bucket seats and sharply contrasting colours it really does look like the missing set from Austin Powers. Breakfast is served til 10, so naturally most of the tour staff arrived at 09.59 on the dot. Happily the staff members weren€™t phased, though it was hilariously like eating in catering because in this large and busy breakfast room there wasn€™t a single person I didn€™t know.
It was a real day off for everyone in the €˜universal€™ crew and being in such an extraordinary city the default activity for all was simply to go sightseeing. This is what I did, spending the day walking, exploring and bumping into roadies at practically every landmark in town.
I don€™t know if it€™s half term or something, but even at this time of year Rome is absolutely heaving. The tourist destinations were just rammed with people, none more so than the Trevi fountains. Prior to the movie Three Coins in the Fountain this place wasn€™t that big a deal but since that and La Dolce Vita it has become an essential part of the tourist trail. As well as being famous, the Trevi fountain scores by actually giving its visitors something to do. Initially this was simply to throw a coin into the water but it seems these days an elaborate ritual has grown up along the lines of having to throw a coin with your left hand over your right shoulder with your back to the fountain standing slightly on one leg whilst (naturally) your mate snaps a shot of you so doing.
My vantage point for observing the fountains was on the roadway on the slightly elevated side, so I had a good view of the whole strange ritual. The more I watched it, the more peculiar it seemed to me. For starters the whole of the square containing the fountain was packed with people beyond any sense of proportion. It was quite literally like trying to get to the front of house mix position during I Will Follow. Why would anybody want to do this? Something to do on vacation? To fill the silence? The €œreason€ is said to be that if you do this you are certain to return some day, though one can€™t help suspecting this rumour is put about by the people who scrape the cash out of the fountain each evening. Apparently around ‚¬3000 gets thrown into the fountain every single day (thank you WIkipedia) which puts me in mind that I should work on building something similar at my place when I get home, whilst promoting a tradition of having total strangers come and chuck money at it. It€™s an odd one.
I was feeling a little run down so after a respectable amount of sightseeing I went back to Mrs Miggins€™ B&B for a nap. Awoke well into the evening so took a late stroll out and met Raff, who directed us to the little trattoria they€™d just come from. Finally, great Roma food€¦