"Oh, the hours we spent inside the Colosseum,
Dodging lions and wastin' time . . ."

SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 2000/ROME - It’s 3 a.m. On an obscure Italian cable TV channel with the sound off Errol Flynn is ravaging the High Seas as Captain Blood (1935, B&W). Soon he’ll win the heart of Olivia de Havilland (who read the Gospel a few weeks ago in the Easter service at Marti’s church back home in Paris) and everyone will live happily ever after. The stereo system is sounding softly as Massive Attack trip-hops trancefully through their 1994 remake of The Doors’ “Light My Fire.” The legend of the Lizard King lives. Outside the living room window of British Telecom expat Ian Luddington’s apartment in the Via Capo d’Africa, lights play on the walls of the ancient Colosseum.

Upon our arrival here yesterday afternoon Marti and I finally succumbed to the same deep jet/highway/rail lag that our numerous houseguests have experienced over the past week-and-a-half. Our first afternoon and evening of this twelve-day sojourn in the Eternal City were spent in hospitality recovery: we unpacked and settled into Ian’s enormous duplex apartment, Marti napped, then we went to a salsamenteria across the street to buy the ingredients for a simple dinner of pasta with artichokes. I watched William Shatner narrating a doc (in English) about the solar system on TV until I nodded out and Marti dragged me off to bed. Several hours later I woke when a loud alarm on a bathroom radio that I’d been fiddling with earlier suddenly went off. For the longest time Marti and I thought we were hearing an errant car alarm in the street, so our delay in turning the damn thing off must have pleased Ian’s neighbors no end.

For the last couple of weeks we've been on a nonstop rollercoaster ride of entertaining and partying late into the night back home in Paris, but we’re finally here in Rome, Marti and I have this beautiful apartment around the corner from the Colosseum all to ourselves and next week our Caravaggio Quest begins. More about that later.

I want to wish Ian Luddington and his new bride Jo all the wedded happiness that Marti and I have enjoyed these past 19 years. Jo and Ian were married in England yesterday. Happily ever after doesn’t happen just in old black and white movies.

Ian's apartment is in this building in the Via Capo d’Africa.

Now the newlyweds are off on a three-week honeymoon in the Philippines. Which is how Marti and I scored this awesome flat in Rome. For the next twelve days we’re really gonna do as the Romans do.

Call it a second honeymoon.

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Email: phildemetrion@yahoo.com