Saturday 19 January 2013


19 January

Motivation on the blink today. A dull morning with damp penetrating cold. In Rome. Did I really need to come here for this? I have put on my long johns. This laptop is getting on my nerves, constantly making unwanted windows appear. I am going out to see the fourth century Church of the Four Saints, pointed out to me by my Roman friend Claudio when he was taking me back to his high-rise home last night for a pleasant few hours of reminiscence and dinner. 
When I am out this morning, I also intend to purchase a corkscrew, and suss out the Shamrock Bar down near the Colosseum, as it has billed TV viewing tomorrow of the match between Munster and Racing Metro, a must-see if at all possible.


The long johns were not a great idea: it seemed quite cold, but I warmed up from walking around, and then I got too warm for comfort. I am glad to say that I achieved all three objectives of my morning walkabout, which is good for my morale. On the other hand, it rained incessantly for the two hours I was out. The rain gave rise to my being frequently assailed by peripatetic street-vendors, droves of them, who were making hay while the sun shines by selling umbrellas. I found them quite annoying, particularly when one of them interrupted me as I was asking directions for the Shamrock Bar. They had the effect of steeling my resolve not to buy an umbrella, which meant that I got rather soaked in the end.

The Chiesa dei Santi Quattro Coronati (to give it its full title) was a gloomy place but of great antiquarian atmosphere, and there were notices at the entrance about the various restorations it underwent since the 300 ADs. The portico was quite bright, but the inside so dull I couldn’t properly see the frescoes behind the altar, many of which seemed to show naked men suffering extremes of torture (it wasn’t waterboarding), and I presume these unfortunates were the four bless├ęd martyrs. The cupola showed the usual eschatological depiction of the gathering of the saints in heaven with the Trinity represented in the centre.
The centre aisle was covered with majolica-like tiles which I couldn’t properly admire because of the gloom. 
The four saints were martyred in the 300s at the command of the emperor Diocletian, for refusing to worship idols. 
I suspected I’d find a corkscrew in a shop whose fascia proclaimed Ferramenta & More, and indeed there was an entire rack of them just inside the door. The one I bought - a ‘hands-up’ type - cost €6.30.
Off I headed towards the Colosseum, searching for the Shamrock Bar. I like to locate places beforehand, to get the befuddlement over with in advance of the time I want to be there. Sure enough, I found the Via del Colosseo (where the internet map assured me the watering-hole was located) but  the street took an indeterminate unsigned turn sharpish left. Befuddlement ensued and was not assuaged by asking directions from a middle-aged woman (it was at this point I was interrupted in my conversation by an umbrella vendor). The woman did not know where the Shamrock Bar was (probably didn’t know what I was saying and got a bit nervous of me). I was about to turn back up the street, which had now become a downhill cobbled laneway with small cars parked plentifully on either side, when I noticed two flags hanging limply from a building further down. One of the flags was a tricolour which might have been either Irish or Italian, but I soon saw that the building was Hotel Perugia. 
I went further down and was greeted by a young man coming out of an office. ‘Can I help you?’ He had a Dublin accent. He pointed out the Shamrock Bar and told me that one or two of the barmen play rugby for an obscure Roman XV, therefore the bar would be almost certain to show Heineken Cup games. He also told me that the the only ‘real’ Irish pub in Rome was quite near, on Via Cavour: Finnegans. He added that he ran a travel agency, and that if I wanted a tour of the Vatican, he could arrange one, or indeed any other kind of Roman tour that I fancied.
It is now half past twelve, time for lunch. Still raining: I’m afraid I may eventually be compelled to buy an umbrella.

Rome Journal © Copyright Ciaran O'Driscoll 2013

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