Being a smug Londoner, surrounded by history that seeps through every crack in the concrete, I may feel awed by new places but I'm always comforted by the thought, right there at the very back of my mind, that London can hold its own against anywhere else in the world. Rome is the only place that I have ever felt a slight twinge of jealousy. Walking down via Cavour, I came upon a brief opening, where all the buildings seemed to fall away and all that I could see in front of me was layer upon layer of history. London's Roman history is mostly confined to the ditches that sustained them; they are the hidden, buried under railway lines and banks; or the odd stone road marker, all but invisible now. But in Rome their ancestors stand proud and showy. And huge. People often say that the Colosseum is much smaller than they expect but to me it was so much bigger. Everything is on a grand and unabashed scale. And for something so large and with such a violent and bloody past, it is unexpectedly serene.
Forgetting all the tourist-traps and the sense that sometimes we were in a city-sized amusement park, that feeling of calm will probably be my lasting memory of Rome. Along with the sunset gelato *said in unconvincing Home and Away accents* on the Spanish Steps, just like Audrey and Gregory, drinking our body weight in Spritz, the heaviest rainfall I've ever experienced and the most beautiful Valentino dress imaginable (Alexa Chung looked characteristically gorgeous in it the other day. Lucky girl.)