I don’t think Rome would have been Colin’s first choice for a city break, but I really wanted to get a taste of the area I was writing about. So, we booked a short break in October. Nice and cool for walking around, or so I thought.
On the day we visited the Forum, Rome was in the middle of a heatwave.
And so, I found myself trailing a red-faced, sweating husband up Palatine Hill to the Caesar’s Palace. I loved it! In my imagination I could almost hear the tramping boots of the elite Praetorian Guards as they marched up and down this hill; see the colourful parades celebrating the Caesars; and the magnificent palatial villas of the rich and noble.
‘Just think,’ I panted halfway up the hill. ‘My hero, Vivius walked up this very hill to get his assignment from the Emperor Tiberius.’
He used this as an excuse to stop and frown at me. ‘I thought Vivius was a figment of your imagination?’
It was no cooler when we trailed back down the hill to explore the market places, I swear I could feel the hustle and bustle of ancient Rome, smell the meat, the fish and vegetables and …
‘Wonder if there’s anywhere we could find a nice cool beer?’ he said wiping his brow.
I dragged him towards Mamertine Prison. It was dark, suffocating place. I explained that that was where the Roman authorities threw their political prisoners.
He examined it enviously. ‘Looks nice and cool in there.’
The Senate Building, the heart of the Roman Empire, stood tall and proud!
‘I can just imagine the crowds gathered around those huge doors waiting for the Senators’ to fling them open with important announcements,’ I enthused.
‘Yeh! Shame! All that’s left now is a derelict old building and a rubble of old stones’
He has no imagination. But then he wasn’t writing my book, was he?
‘What a strange world we live in.’ I mused later that night as we relaxed on our hotel balcony. ‘Who would have predicted that the Emperor Nero would persecute all those Christians in this city and years later it turns out to be the centre of the Christian Church – the Vatican – the Pope?’
There was no answer. He was enthusing over his ice-cold beer.