ROME -THEN AND NOW

It was our first trip to modern Rome and the carefully preserved remnants of ancient Rome. We found the Eternal City to be beguiling and seductive, in more ways than one.

I clicked away a roll of film in the Colosseum where Christians and gladiators perished to the cheers of the crowds and their emperors.

Very early one morning my wife and I walked in the empty Roman Forum where Julius Caesar had been slain by Brutus and his co-conspirators. We stood where Marc Antony delivered his eulogy as immortalized by Shakespeare. (“I have come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”) Later we climbed the Palatine Hill, picking up tiny specks of marble from the bygone palaces of Augustus and his successors.

Toward the end of that day as I walked up the Via Veneto from Mass at the Capuchin church, I saw a group of attractive women in evening gowns, strolling in sultry circles in front of my hotel. We had visited the Temple of the Vestal Virgins in the Forum and I was quite sure these ladies were not related. A man in a tuxedo called out to me as I approached. “Sir, would you like to experience the most wonderful night of your life?”

I scratched my head and said, “Maybe. You and the ladies wait here while I go and ask my wife.”

“Ask your wife?” he shouted. “Crazy Americans!” I can’t record the rest of his reply. I’m not fluent in profane Italian.

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