Friday, 24 August 2012

I Went Round The Mediterranian In The Womb: 3. A Roman Holiday, Summertime, A Room With No View But No Death In Venice

No wonder I ended up a bus driver.

My mother and father's pension for finding hotel rooms with good views of roundabouts and other traffic hotspots seemed to be prevalent throughout their trip around Italy. The rhythms of the rumbling traffic must have filtered through into the womb and instilled the inspirational vibes of Baby Stan Butler (Reg Varney) from On The Buses instead of Baby Einstein.

The romance of Siena took over from the romance of Rome and Positano. Perhaps my love of horseracing came from the sounds of thundering hooves of the horses racing around the Piazza del Campo in the twice yearly race called Il Palio. The restaurant where they sat, Ristorante Alla Speranza is still there, 51 years later, which is quite a feat for any establishment and still serves good Tuscan food.

That's where the romance ended. My parents managed to find a hotel with glorious views of the local petrol station.....

.... and another roundabout.

They moved onto Venice, stopping off for a brief stop in Florence. I recently watched one of David Lean's (Director of Lawrence Of Arabia, The Bridge On The River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago etc) lesser known films called Summertime where Katherine Hepburn plays a middle aged American lady who goes on holiday to venice and she ends up having an affair. It was filmed entirely on location there in 1955 but there was little change six years later and my parents photos were reminiscent of stills from the film.

The old tramp steamer slowly sailing past the restaurant with the multi-coloured seats and the river taxis overflowing with passengers were evocative of a second Venetian golden age.

The third golden age was thirty years later when my boss, Woodrow Wyatt fell into the Grand Canal, fully clothed with a cigar tightly clenched between his teeth. He came up for air, looking like a drowned rat, but with his cigar still in place.

For me, it was fortunate that my mother did not do the same trick.

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