The End of Everything Part 1:

Saturday, October 25, 2008. Napoleon Street.

Yesterday evening we enjoyed a meal at Van’s Café and shared a glass of Three Little Pigs wine to celebrate the thirty-third anniversary of the Saturday night we met in London. And this afternoon, Joelle took me to see a movie about the painter Caravaggio. The fruit in bowls on Caravaggio’s dining tables were spotted and spoiled. Pilgrims’ feet were dirty and Caravaggio’s Madonnas wore the likeness of prostitutes. Despite the gritty naturalism, his paintings are theatrical with the chiaroscuro and drama of a flat screen TV. Caravaggio’s realism and fusion of the sacred and the profane had critics. Nevertheless, his paintings created audiences and enjoyed the patronage of the counter-reformation Catholic Church. As a six year old Caravaggio lost his father, an uncle and grandfather to The Plaque of 1576. In three weeks we will be a day from Caravaggio’s Rome and in 5 weeks we will be in London. The last time I visited Rome was June 1975.

Domenica, November 16

Rome’s, Fiumicino Airport’s self-service rail ticket machine accepts some euro notes and credit cards and spits out others. At 5.30am there are no staff around or shops open. Red-eyed travellers are frustrated. An Italian from Sydney advocates riding the Leonardo Express for free. Joelle perseveres and we have our tickets, one for the Sydney revolutionary and two for us. We leave for Stazione Termini on the 6.36.

Travelling through an industrial hinterland it’s becoming light. Now suburbs, terracotta paint, washing on balconies and satellite dishes. Emerging in the twilight are the stencil like arches of fascist architecture; Mussolini’s cube colosseum, the Palazzo della Civita Italiano. We pass the Travestere station. There is a church I want to see in the devil’s district of Travestere (Santa Maria della Scala). We arrive at Stazione Termini. It’s 7am.
What centre Hotel Center occupies is a mystery as it’s off our Streetwise Rome map. We walk into the piercing, rising sun of Via Giovanni Giolatti. Our luggage makes the din of a fair ground chocolate wheel as it clicker clackers across the steel grids in the pavement. Hot air rises. Homeless people keeping warm stir. Below the grid is one of Rome’s undergrounds. Rome will not be easy to get around. It has only two underground rail lines. Linea A and Linea B. Construction of Linea C is slow as ruined Rome gets in the way.