From a commercial point of view it seems to me that the new owner of the Sir Christopher Wren hotel has a difficult decision. An old main building needs expensive refurbishment which you would do out of season but with less revenues from bookings or events. Still it was convenient for Heathrow and we all arrived there in good time.
I detest the modern airport with its shopping malls. We were travelling standard class. Polly, my p/a and a seasoned traveler judges business class in Europe as a total waste of money. My beef with business class anyway is that even such a traveler has to deal with long queues in security and immigration. I did not avoid the dreaded body search and as the hands of the security officer gave me a most unwelcome and unsatisfying massage I did remark “this is not how most people would want to start their holiday” it seems to me that the airlines are remarkably passive with airport authorities in not seeking a better and more comfortable alternative, easier passage and is a regular traveler in business class likely to be a Jihaidist? The reality is that they’re probably afraid of isolating and prejudicing against any group and we are all Jihadists together.
On arrival at Rome we proceed smoothly through the EU channel. Will this all end on June 24th? I will be amused if Brexit friends visiting their chalets in the French Alps or villas in Tuscany are shoved in a queue with all the Somalis.
The hotel is well situated just off the large Piazza Popolo one of the main squares of Rome. I was expecting a single room the size of a monastic cell but was pleasantly surprised that it had a lounge area, small kitchenette , bathroom and bedroom. There was not too much time for freshen up and nap. We were off to the city gate Porta Pia Michelangelo designed and built. Our lecturer Martin Gayford, author of Michelangelo – an Epic life had already commented that he lived to the ripe old age of 89. The Porta he built when 86. For this longevity of creation alone he merits the grandiose claims of polymath. It was adjacent to the British embassy, one of those execrable pieces of sixties architecture that abounds the South Bank all biscuit-coloured concrete, glass and unattractive boxy lines. Next we went to the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli. This had curious history as it was built at the site of the great baths of Diocletian. It says much for Michealangelo and Roman masonry that the edifice is till standing. There is still Michaelangelo’s vault but it’s mostly baroque now.
I wil leave Daffers to evaluate the restaurant opposite where we dined. After a day’s travel and quarter day sightseeing we were grateful just to cross the road to rest. The meal comprised a selection of vegetable and cheese starters, a delicious suckling pig and tiramisu. As is going to happens conversation turned to the referendum vote. Martin Gayford was able to give the discussion a personal dimension as he is a Spectator art critic and had worked under Boris Johnson when he edited it. He received three Christmas cards the same year from Boris which I thought said much about his personal people skills and also lack of organisation. Red and white wine and two limoncellos did for me and I was grateful for the short distance to bed and immediate slumber.