Ostia Antica

There are 20-25 Germans in the breakfast-hall. They must have arrived yesterday and seem almost bursting with energy. They chat along full of expectations. I would like to see them at noon.

The heat has ruined all plans for going to Pompeii on a one-day excursion. We had intended to catch the express-train to Naples and go from there with the local shuttle for Pompeii. But we would not arrive until near noon and the mere thought of walking around in Pompeii in the midday-heat is unbearable.

Ticket to Ostia Antica

Instead we decide to go to Ostia Antica, Rome's old port city. It was abandoned in the third or fourth century. The Empire was declining and the Tiber had altered it's course. The once so enterprising city with about 100.000 inhabitants was left to sand up.

We catch the metro to the Pyramid. I want assurance that our weekly bus tickets are also valid for the local shuttle, and once again my "Italian" is met with broad, but kind smiles.

The free newspaper Metro claims that June temperatures have not been measured this high since 1782. The train is full. It goes to the sea where you can swim. Two young men carry large plastic bags filled with new bath towels - entrepreneurs.

Arriving at Ostia Antica a little past 9 it is already sweltering hot, and we stick to the shadows where ever possible. It is a fascinating place - and large. Too big for us to see it all, but we admire the amphitheatre, the huge bakery with the special grinding mills of stone and a public bath with beautiful floor mosaics.

The small museum has many fine statues, busts, sarcophagi and fresco paintings. The building is light and airy and above all: cool!

The amfitheatre in Ostia One of the houses

Sarcophagus by the museum Fresco Floor mosaic
Click to enlarge

It is too hot to explore the ruins any further so at noon we return to the station. On the way we meet several tourists going in the opposite direction. They are in for a hot experience.

At the station demolition work is carried out on one of the platforms. In the scorching sun a man attacks the concrete with a jackhammer. He has draped his T-shirt over his shoulders and is glistening with sweat. He wears no ear protectors, just a fag in his mouth.

Back to Rome

Going away from the sea and the beach there are free seats in the train. At the next station an Armani-man enters and sits down facing Helle. He wears a cream-coloured suit, matching silk shirt and -tie. His sun glasses are like black mirrors. Here we sit perspiring and he just looks so cool! Freon in his veins and ready for Euroman.

But before long I contentedly see him wipe his brow, and soon he takes off his jacket. Careful not to cut himself on the knife-edge creases, he folds it with the inside out. When we exit by the Pyramid, the creases on the back of his legs are numerous and moist. I guess he is too young to have reached full freon-dose.

The heat kills our appetite, but we manage to eat a sandwich at Caffé Fantini, where there is rush-hour. Today we wisely keep indoors. By 2 o'clock we are back home, and I ask the reception clerk if something has been done to our air condition, which I reported not working this morning. He answers "Pommerigio" or something like that, but I do not understand, so he says "later".

Back in the room I look up "pommerigio" in my dictionary. It means afternoon. There is hope after all, and when I return around 5 after a visit to the Internet-café, the room is much cooler.

Evening in Trastevere

At 7 we take bus # H directly to Trastevere and head straight for the wine bar for our Frascati and water. Grand-Mamma walks slowly with her swollen ankles. The young people at the bar obviously care about her, they take her to a table, wait on her, talk with her. A waiter from the neighbouring restaurant comes over to fan her.

House with pace flag in Trastevere

Tonight we plan to dine again at the nice restaurant La Villetta. We leave the wine bar and have walked some distance before Helle realizes that we have left without paying. We hurry back and apologize to the waiter who hasn't thought much about it. "I knew you voud riturrrn!" he says.

Our appetites reach no higher level than pizza tonight. Helle's is with zucchini flowers and anchovies. It is OK, though a bit nondescript. Mine, on the other hand, with cheese, tomato and a nice spicy sausage is very good. The pizzas leave room for lemon sorbet. Heavenly!

A large company of Germans crowd the restaurant inside. There are many German tourists in town.

Drama in the bus

The tram arrives with perfect timing, and at the Argentina Square an air conditioned # 70 soon arrives. After a few stops all Hell breaks loose in the back of the bus. We stand in the middle and cannot quite grasp what has happened, but people are shouting and screaming angrily.

Especially a young woman cries out loudly. We understand next to nothing, but when she shouts "Polizia! Polizia!" to the bus driver, more people join her in a choir. Maybe a pickpocket has been caught red handed?

However the bus driver continues unaffected. The woman cries on, but soon the choir ceases and instead people start shaking their heads. The woman tries a few more "Polizia!"s, but now there is no back-up, and she soon sits down weeping. What really happened is still a mystery. It was hardly a pickpocket or a thief - then public sentiment would not have turned as it did. Maybe the woman felt molested, but in a crowded bus much can happen.

Back home we are relieved to feel the air condition working again. In the garden the Germans sit around a table in the dark, but they are very quiet. We agree not to set the alarm clock for tomorrow.