Theatre and book reviews by Janice Dempsey
We've been visiting the sights that are compulsory for tourists in Rome, for the last three days: the Colosseum; the Sistine Chapel; the Catacombs and the Circus Maximus, and today we went to the Spanish Steps, which are a short walk from where we are staying. We'd walked to the nearby Trevi Fountain the other evening, guided to it by the joyous sounds of young people hanging out near water - it sounded very like a municipal swimming bath from the nearby streets, though nobody was actually in the water. It's an exuberant riot of stone and water, surrounded by tourists and pedlars of all kinds. (I am becoming a little allergic to the red roses thrust under my nose by insistent pedlars and my firm "No" is becoming more convincing all the time, I believe.)
Walking back towards the tunnel home to via Nazionale that night, we found a lovely restaurant, called That's Amore, where the proprietor and Donall established a running joke which promises to run and run. We've enjoyed our times there so much, we've been back twice. The food is excellent and the atmosphere is great.
We also found a play to amuse us on Tuesday evening, just a short walk from our base. At the Teatro Eloise, the play's title translates as "Any Questions". We understood enough through context and body language of the actors to enjoy the evening thoroughly.
Today we visited the Spanish Steps and went into the house where John Keats spent the last few months of his life before dying of TB. His death mask and a life mask are there and I tried to draw both. It was a moving experience to be there, looking at his face, while outside the windows the young people and families of Europe disported themselves on the Steps, most probably ignorant of the history of the house that overlooked them.
Then we went to try to see Keats' grave, in the cemetery for non-Catholics, just outside the city walls at the Pyramide. Unfortunately we arrived just too late - the cemetery shuts at 5pm. Tomorrow morning we'll go again, then go on to visit the archaeological site at Ostia, which is nearby and is free to visit this week.