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Hello.

I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind www.thetimeofourlives.net - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Fast Fiat,high heels; big bangs....



You can pay good money for a whistlestop tour of Rome in a Fiat 500, you know.

But here I was, travelling buckshee beside the petite Italian driver of this little white chariot; its horsepower whipped to the max on a hilly hairpin .

An hour before, I`d laughed at the plump Bellini elephant statue chosen for the start of our foodie themed walking tour, quickly rescheduled as other group members were delayed. That left guide Daniela and me--a Rome alone newbie. A walk together? Yes please.

The pace was brisk, with Daniela serving up stories on every square, street and statue; with a side order of good girlie gossip. Crazy cabbies? Reader, she married one. Zebra crossings where traffic never stops? The lines were more a `suggestion`. Those girls in heels on scooters?  So much easier than heels on cobbles.

We pause at the world`s most improbable place for a cat sanctuary-- the temple ruins at Largo Argentina where, some say, Caesar was murdered. Scores of the city`s feral felines are cared for and fed here. Our turn next : at the city`s oldest produce market, Campo di Fiori --fresh fruit salads and sticky handshakes with Emanuale, fifty years a stallholder. We pose for pictures and a Japanese couple want shots with him too. Bewildered, he smiles again, and we leave him to box up his beans.


Next stop: the Tiber, for tales of torrential downpours and burst banks, then we`re piling into her car, opening windows for a breath of breeze in this searing city heat. `We should make it,` she says softly, before snapping, fortissimo, at the scooter rider on her blindside.

The road`s steeper now; twisting. Summit reached; Daniela brakes sharply; ramming the car into reverse, one palm flat on the wheel, winding it this way and that: a snug Fiat fit.

`We`re in time`, she beams, ushering me across the road to a low wall, watching with pride as I gasp, drinking in the most stunning panorama; the city`s riches laid out like an emperor`s banquet.


Pantheon, piazzas, monuments; churches ; only my guide knowing that in tre, due, uno, I`d be gasping again at the reason for her haste throughout my bespoke buzz around Rome--my big surprise: the deafening `BOOM` of cannon fire just metres below; a daily, high noon nudge to the battle here in 1849, when Garibaldi defeated the French.

The smoke fades; the show`s over; mine too. Daniela has a date.

Fiat fired up, we speed back down to the city centre; now an angry bee swarm of blaring horns and buzzing scooters. Rome`s getting tetchy; needs feeding.

`It`s like lasagne, this city`, she says, dark eyes darting about for one of the relatively few Metro stations in this ancient place. `You know, in layers. You can`t just dig more stations. You could damage something precious.`

But a red `M` is in sight, so I scramble out into three angry lanes of snarling traffic; shouting a drowned out `thankyou` to my new Italian friend.

I dive down the Metro steps, way below b├ęchamel sauce level. And I`m sure, even with a Colosseum trip to come, that this tailor made morning that started alone, and ended up in a tiny Fiat with a real Roman…..is going to be hard to beat..

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