26 July 2002


August in Roma is my favourite month.

August is the month when 90 % of Italians go on holiday. The city empties out as everyone heads to the beaches or mountains. Boatloads of shops close up and practically the only people left in the city are tourists, sweating their khakis off in the hottest month of the year. Thanks to every guide book warning against said heat and "hoards of tourists", there's not even that many tourists to trip over in August.

I love it. It's like having Roma all to myself.

I can wander amongst her delights without having to push my way through the masses of package tour groups. Walking the vine covered alleyways of Trastevere on a Friday night becomes a feasible option. Traffic is almost nil, and bus trips aren't nearly as odoriferously tortuous as June or July, be it from the lack of crowding or the quicker journey or both. It's the easiest month to learn how to drive a motorino without killing yourself by way of pothole or fellow drivers. My favourite August evening pastime is to sit alone in the Circo Massimo and watch the moon over the ruins of the Palatine hill, smoking cigarette after cigarette, listening to the Italian hippies beat out sultry rhythms on an African drum as a primped giovanotto kicks up a cloud of dust by circling around the Circo's dirt track.

Roma is quiet, like a provincial woman slowly fanning herself in the heat, conserving energy for the cooler night air. No other city where I have lived or visited creates the same anxious hole in my gut when I leave on trips. No other city has soothed my soul when I return. Sto a casa. This is my city, my home. And August is my time alone with her.

I can't wait for everyone to leave. :-)

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