I gave a private concert for the Mayor’s Diplomatic Ambassador. On the roof of the Musei Capitolini, in the sunshine, with the ancient city spread out below us.
Actually it wasn’t that private. It required a staff of six to organise, escort, take notes, photograph the event, and generally see fair play. As I said to the Ambassador, it made me feel very welcome in Rome. I was right to feel that, he said; I was indeed very welcome in Rome.
In the last few days, when I’m supposed to have been resting, recovering, I’ve biked a lot of miles over Rome’s back-breaking cobbles. They look nice, from a distance, those cobbles. But they are not nice for riding on. Libre does not like them at all.
Proper Romans ride electric bikes with enormously fat soft tyres. Much better on the cobbles.
I’ve played in the Piazza Navona in front of a famous fountain and a million tourists. I’ve played a couple of times by the Fontana Tortarughe, the Turtle Fountain, serenading a little wedding party with The Swan while they took their pictures beside the fountain’s rather immodest bronze youths.
I tried to negotiate with the police to play in front of the Colosseum, but there was no room for negotiation. Even the suggestion that I’d just play the Italian national anthem didn’t stop the solemn shaking of heads.
So I played instead in front of the “fake Colosseum”, the Teatro Marcello. That probably wasn’t allowed either, but the police were elsewhere.
I’ve played for the shoppers and tourists and stall holders at the Testaccio Market. I’ve played for the evening strollers, and the young and dangerous footballers, in the local piazza, and then strolled with them, carrying Libre and eating ice cream as slowly as the heat allows.
And tomorrow, my last day in Rome, I really should get back on the bike, for one last hurrah. As the Ambassador was presenting me with a rather fine print of the Piazza Campidoglio, where we were meeting, they were quite clear. Having started from Hadrian’s Wall, I should properly finish at Hadrian’s Villa.
It’s at Tivoli, just 20 miles outside Rome. Hadrian built it so that he could govern the Empire in comfort, not cooped up in the little villas and palaces of the city itself.
Will I go? I really ought to. They were very definite, almost insistent, about it. But I think I won’t take Libre. I really can’t see my little homemade aluminium cello rack surviving any more of these Roman cobbles.
We’ll see how we feel in the morning. We’ve come this far together, and at least one of us might get separation anxiety if we don’t go together. We’ll see how we feel in the morning, our last day in Rome.