Restoration Reality and Makeover Madness in Italy

Each time the Agenzia del trasporto autoferrotranviario del Comune (ATAC) bus halted and then lurched forward, I gripped the safety loop hanging from the ceiling in the spirit of white knuckle riding.  I still, however, ended up plowing into the Roman commuters. They seemed to have their own root systems flourishing on the hot, crowded bus. Actually, it was appropriate to stand like statues in the country that hosts three separate cast figures of David, alone, and these public transportation troopers oscillated and absorbed the shock of potholes, ruptured asphalt, as well as stop and go traffic with ease.

While stuck in the urban crawl, the Roman riders, like any other big city commuters, appeared bored, tired and resigned to the haul. Fortunately, if I stood on my toes, pivoting slightly, I could look out the bus windows. The bastardized ballet stance was worth it since after turning a corner, there, right in the middle of Rome, in its massive ancient crumbling glory, stood the Colosseum.

Jerking my head from the familiar view of the eroding edifice, I scanned the reactions of my fellow bus mates. I focused on one woman, in particular, who sat nearby in a seat with her back to the window. Do I tell her to turn around? She’s going to miss it.

To my right, a couple debated a hot topic in loud Italian or perhaps they were just talking about what movie they would see later. I couldn’t really tell. Staring at them, I motioned my head slightly over my shoulder, indicating, “Over here, OVER here, don’t you see it?!

What about the person behind me? He was reading a newspaper and casually leaning against one of the safety poles. Glancing up, he looked at me and then right back down at his paper. What news story could possibly be better than the view before us? All right, buddy — it’s your loss.

I wanted to yell down the aisle — “Look at what we are driving by, people!” It’s freaking amazing — deteriorated yet distinguished! It’s an icon, for lord’s sake.” You know that Gladiators battled there, correct? I’m pretty sure against lions and other big cats. And, by the way, your emperors presided over various proceedings there for centuries.

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