Well, Rome was every bit as beautiful as ever under its glorious blue skies and strong sunshine – and I got to see again the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps and the lovely backstreets around Piazza Navona and the Pantheon together with Elisabetta and the kids, who walked with me onto the platform of Bernini's "Barcaccia" and reached out to the fresh jets of water. Ice cream and coffee at Camilloni's on Piazza Sant'Eustachio was de rigueur.
The city centre has all been cleaned up, and pedestrianized for the most part – this enhances the tourist's (and, no doubt, the local's) experience of the city. The recently restored Villa Torlonia park, a few hundred yards from Villa Mirafiori on the via Nomentana (where Elisabetta and I studied languages) was another highlight. Tucked away at the back of the park, an al-fresco restaurant where flocks of children can run amock and play in complete freedom the simplest of games. This is Italy as I remember it.
Back to England now, and the misery of clouded sky, but we brought a bit of Rome back with us, in the shape of porchetta d'Ariccia, corallina, coppiette, coppa, olive alla calce and many more titbits that we are going to share with some Roman friends later on today.