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Rome actually welcomes me.

It is uncommon for me to accept waiting time of any kind; queues, airport delays, to be served in a coffee shop. But I am in Italy today. My room isn't ready so the garden, a glass of red and the warm spring sunshine in which Rome's Trastevere basks will soothe my usually fractious mood.
Room not ready? No problem, where's the bar and garden?

Indeed, something of a surprise met me on arrival a Fiumicino airport. It was efficient, the taxis were abundant and driven by polite Italians, the price was set and people were helpful. What has happened to Italy? I am feeling a bit bereft without the chaos. The police sirens are still from the 1960's and the smell is familiar (musty, damp, exotic tobacco) but It feels organised and outward looking. Still, I'm off to Napoli in August which should restore my faith in this country's pre-eminent reputation for lavish, stylish pandemonium.

I am up on a hill, high above Trastevere which means walking into town is a pleasure, but riding back in a taxi is a necessity, especially since I intend to absorb as much of Italian culture as I can. This district of the city has the prettiest squares and most interesting bars and restaurants, and that makes cultural absorption easier and less prone to measure or resistance. It helps that the friends I am meeting are on a professional wine trip and will thus be keen to experience the Enoteca scene fully.

Rome, I'm all yours.

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