Rome – The Great Beauty

Rome is Rome, and that’s it.

The first thing you notice is her light. Rome has a unique light, which is not seen anywhere else in the world. It’s a golden light that turns into a washed-out yellow, like a sepia toned picture of the past, a faded Polaroid photograph. Only it’s real and it soaks you up.

Rome is a bitch who spellbinds you the moment you walk out of the darkness of the Termini train station,  you fall at her mercy and you’re defenseless. She hugs you with her blonde light and her amber marble, her burnt bricks, her ancient columns, her modern structures, her Renaissance buildings, her uneven cobblestones, her traffic, her chaos. It’s an avalanche falling down on you, but with a sluggish note of laziness, because Rome doesn’t overwhelm you like other metropolis do, she doesn’t bother showing you her efficient side, it would take a senseless effort. She‘s a noble matron, a little overweight, who smiles at you and sometimes burps, she’s good-natured and toady when needed, but she can even become surly at times. She just sits there like an ageless sphinx who languidly watches epochs go by.

Rome is one of those places where you can see the history of the world unravelling before your eyes , the perfect place to sit by the river  and watch the corpses of your enemies go past. Because in Rome everything elapses: time, history, men and empires. It’s a place where you can turn around a thousand corners and always find yourself in an different scenario, because each district has its particular distinctive feature and is a town of its own. In fact, Rome is a city made up of multiple towns where you can go down to the bar in the morning and have a chat with the other customers, even if you don’t know them, there is always a resident who keeps you informed on all the neighborhood gossips and there is always time to share views on politics or on the most recent international events.

You can walk past private gardens or have a stroll in a public park, and you will find that they are all kept with that neglected charm that’s makes them look untamed and wild. Plants and flowers are left to grow naturally, because the most sought-after quality in Rome – and in Italy in general –  is to have as little impact on the environment as possible. Modernization should never alter the beauty, appeal and perfection of traditional symmetry; no greyish concrete footbridges are to be seen in town, no bulky skyscrapers. After all, conservative restoration is the most envied and inimitable Italian skill and the outstanding number of Italy’s World Cultural Heritage sites, higher than any other country, prove it.

Rome is a condensation of history and represents the very essence of humanity, because she embodies what we all are, each of us so imperfect and yet so extraordinary. Yes, Rome is not perfect and this is what makes her all the more adorable. She is so beautiful that she would be insupportable if she didn’t have any flaws.  She is so self-confident that she displays her imperfections without any embarrassment, even boasts about them, she slams them in your face with an annoying air of superiority, as if to say: “you are going to love my curves and edges, and all of my perfect imperfections”.

She knows she is breathtakingly attractive, just like a gorgeous woman who doesn’t need make up to seduce you. That’s why you can’t help but fall in love with her.

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