sight of the CapitoHne Hill. I looked atrnAaron; Aaron looked at me. It’s amazingrnhow in a crisis of this sort your brain eitherrnshuts down or defaults to foreign languagesrnpreviously studied, in my casernFrench and Spanish, in that order. “Howrndo we tell him to stop?” Aaron asked, butrnI couldn’t tell him. Either I ranked wellrntoward the bottom of Signor Berlitz’srnclass, or I deserved my money back. Inrnthe end, whether deliberately or not, therndriver did the smart thing, delivering usrnto the Piazza S. Pietro, which typicallyrnhas enough taxis waiting to convey thernenhre Italian Arm’ to the Austrian front.rnHere, we swapped horses and rode backrnto the CapitoHne Museums, overlookingrnthe hotel across the Roman Forum. Thernmuseum had some fine frescoes depictingrnscenes from Roman history, but forrnme the high point of the visit was ChrisrnCheck’s near-arrest by a mettlesomernguard when he took a flash photograph ofrnAaron and nie before an imposing hermaphroditicrnstatue.rnFrom the CapitoHne, we descended tornthe Roman Forum below. “I trod,” Gibi’liiltonrnWilliamson, ]r., and Aaron D. Wolf(r)rnpose in front of a hermaphrodite, as ChristopherrnCheck (behind the camera) prepares to run.rnbon had written, “with lofty step, the ruinsrnof the forum; each memorable stoprnwhere Romulus stood, or Tully spoke, orrnCaesar fell, was at once present to myrneye; and several days of intoxication werernlost or enjoyed before I could descend torna cool and minute investigation.” And tornhis father: “Whatever ideas books mayrnhave given us of the greatness of that people,rntheir accounts of the most flourishingrnstate of Rome fall infinitely short ofrnthe picture of its ruins. I am convincedrnthere never never existed such a nationrnand I hope for the happiness of mankindrnthat there never will again.” As for ourrnpart}-, we inspected the Arch of SeptiniiusrnSeverus (the marble relief all butrnobliterated by weather on its southern exposure),rnthe Rostra (where Cicero’s head,rnliands, and tongue were displayed), thernremains of the Vestal Virgins’ temple andrnaltar, the Curia (Caesar woidd have beenrnstabbed here had the building not beenrnunder reconstruction in 44 B.C.)… Wliatrnis there to add to Gibbon’s reaction? Inrna vide puddle below the steps of thernCuria, a gaggle of young girls dressed inrnparochial-school uniformsrnwaded, giggling as thev wettedrntheir sky-blue shoes inrnthe muddied water.rnDuring the following days,rnwe continued to hear talksrn(“Images of the Apocaljpse”rnby James Patrick, “RomanrnSpies and Spies in Rome”rnby Srdja Trifkovic, “ThernAge of the Martyrs” byrnAaron Wolf, “The Makingrnof Papal Rone” by MarcornRespinti, “Good Popes/BadrnPopes” by Chris Check,rn”Pio Nono and His Enemies”rnby Alberto Carosa,rn”The Papacy” by Robertornde Mattel, “Why I Don’trnLive in Rome” by AndreirnNavrozov, “Italian LessonsrnFrom E.M. Forster” by TomrnFleming) early in the morningrnand late in the afternoon,rnin between times visitingrnthree of the four majorrn^ Roman basilicas (S. Mariarng Maggiore, S. John Giovanrrnni in Laterno, and, of course,rnl-S. Pietro in Vatican City),rnI the Pantheon and the Piaz-rn” za Navona, S. Clemente, arnnumber of churches inrnTrastevere, the Piazza Boccarndella Verita, and the VillarnBorghese, among other places. Werncontinued to eat superbly, enjoying arnthree-hour lunch at Goffredo on the ViarnPanispenra after hearing Mass celebratedrnby three bishops at S. Maria Maggiorernand a fine fish dinner at le Tavernellern(the Mediterranean boasts several deliciousrnspecies unknown to North Americanrnwaters). One evening, as a guest ofrnthe Kohlers together with the Flemingsrnand Gary Hofmeister and Jo Anne Carmonyrnof Indianapolis, I enjoyed a splendidrnsupper at La Cisterna in Trastevere.rn(jAfterward, we were given a tour of therncistern below the restaurant and treatedrnto an entirely redundant glass of Prosecco.)rnOn Sunday, with the Flemings, Terryrnand Mary Kohler, Paul Oberbeck andrnKathy Pfeiffer, and the Zanoccos, I heardrnMass at SS. Cosmas and Damian overlookingrnthe Roman Forum; after the usualrnelaborate pranzo and another talk, wernwent walking downtown to see how Romansrnspend Sunday afternoon. Rome, Irndiscovered, enjoys her Sundays andrnknows how to make the most of them —rnoutside of church, that is. Major arteriesrnare closed to traffic, the streets flock withrnpedestrians strolling, eating, and droppingrninto the innumerable shops that remainrnopen, the Pantheon, and otherrnlandmarks not closed for the Sabbath.rnSomber colors (blues, browns, and black)rnare currently in vogue among Romanrnwomen, who seem divided into tworntypes: the stone knockouts, plainly of thernhaute bourgeoisie and the aristocracy, andrnthe furtively cute and homely, who arernjust as obviously not. Under one of thosernwonderfully mixed Roman skies, I took arnwalk on the Quirinal Hill, past the Pope’srnsummer palace where a uniformed militaryrnband played to a large and enthusiasticrncrowd, then descended by narrow,rncurving, cobbled streets to the TrevirnFountain, in the vicinity of which Irndropped into an hostaria for a glass ofrnwine and a pastr,’. Lovely Italy, wonderfulrnRome, where you can walk all day forrndays without having your aesthetic eye offended,rnnot even once. To paraphrasernNathaniel Hawthorne, in Italy every objectrnis either a work of art, or the raw materialrnfor one.rnRome receives twice as much rain annuallyrnas does London, the difference beingrnthat the Eternal City measures its precipitationrnover a period of days ratherrnthan months. It was on one of these days,rnstrongly recalling the Flood, that we visitedrnSt. Peter’s and the Necropolis beneathrnAPRIL 2001/33rnrnrn