My time in the eternal city is winding up right now.
I'm moving away after pretty much five years here which is longer than I've ever stayed put for before.
I think I'm ready for a bit of upheaval. This is a city that thrives and chokes on upheaval and I've spent enough time here to embrace a bit more change.
Running thoughts: this is one of the world's most beautiful cities, and although most Romans live the gritty, modern reality of this dirty, dusty city, its classical monuments aren't just for the tourists to enjoy. You could live here a lifetime and its greatest hits will routinely take your breath away (if the smog doesn't first). In a way Romans act like they don't exist; that they are a proverbial theme park that is worth visiting only when you have out of towners here; and even then begrudgingly. Speak to any roman though, and after they have finished complaining about traffic, woeful transport and the terrible state of the politics and finance in this city, they will usually recall the most recent time they fell back in love with their city; usually not after a visit to the roman era sites but rather to the city's wealthier burbs of centre where the architecture and light are phenomenal and enough to lift the darkest of moods.
But it's the gritty underside of this city that makes it so appealing to me. It's perfectly good as a showcase city of monuments and sites that speak to our shared cultural heritage, but it's the aborted transformative nature of a city that is constantly struggling- to modernise, to maintain its standing as a world capital and to balance the disconnect between the perception and reality of the place- that makes it more interesting.
Its people are equally double edged: every single type of social class you can imagine can be found here and often in the most exaggerated of forms- the richest of the rich, those that cling to old worlds and power and those who are doing their best to shake it up. Officially there are about three million of them. Unofficially the number is said to be closer to five or six. Million.
I'll be walking away with my picture of the place as being as edgy as this country gets, a city with swagger and enough photogenic charisma to charm the pants off. Not without its million daily problems, but in another 2000 years it will still be standing- still in traffic and Romans will continue to cling to their notion that the city is still Caput Mundi.