r o m e

[Pantheon] After a wonderful time at the Villa D'Este, I walked the streets of Tivoli soaking in the ambience when I heard a large boom, like an explosion. Suddenly, all these people came running around the corner yelling and screaming. I went against the flow of the crowd and found myself looking at a huge gaping hole where the second floor of a house used to be. There was a lot of rubble in the street and a smell of acrid smoke in the air. A woman came up to me with blood streaming down here face and kept crying for the police.

On the way back to Rome, the bus was very crowded - their were people in the aisle, in the exit stairwells, even in other people's laps. Another bus ahead broke down, though, forcing its passengers into our already crowded bus. Traffic was so bad it took two hours to go the twenty miles to the city limits. Half way there, an Ethiopian girl, about 16 years old, and an older Italian man both go for the seat in front of me, just vacated by an older woman. They get into an intense argument in Italian, and the entire bus joins in - the signora across the aisle on the man's side, the soccer-listening man on my right on the girl's side. With much pushing and shoving the girl got the seat. With nowhere else to move to the older man had to face the girl the entire trip. Later on, a couple to my left got up to leave, and the same man went for one of those seats. But, two French girls got to the seats first, saying they were on the bus before him. More yelling followed, and for a full ten minutes, the bus was filled with people calling each other "Cretino!"

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june 1996