It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll…


You don’t have to like rock music to appreciate a Rolling Stones concert at Circo Massimo. Seventy-one thousand people packed the grounds of the ancient stadium to see the 50th anniversary performance of the iconic band in Rome this week.  I suspect that many were there, like me, to witness the electronic rock spectacle in the sunset glow of the Imperial Palace and the Palatine Hill.  I also wanted to see if the nearly 71-year-old Mick Jagger could still gyrate across a stage for two hours.

He can.

And shake, rattle, and roll he did, much like the chariots that once raced in Circus Maximus two thousand years ago.  The rest of the original band defied age as well with nearly two hours of good-old-fashioned rocking and rolling, though Keith Richards looked more like an air-guitar-playing anachronism than lead guitarist.  (I don’t think he plucked more than three notes.)  Still, this performance of the 14-On-Fire world tour was worth every centesimo of the 90-Euro ticket.

That I got to take my daughter to her first concert in such a memorable venue is priceless.

(He mom, do you remember that you wouldn’t let me go to the Rolling Stones concert in Philadelphia in 1981?  But you did let me see the Village People in 1978 – my first concert.  A precious factoid… )


Also this week, an outdoor performance of a different genre:  Bizet’s Carmen with a stunning backdrop of the Baths of Caracalla.


And more:


Rose Petals And The Pantheon


The Pantheon is deeply weighted with marble and Roman cement and two thousand years of pagan and Christian history.  It’s capped by the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome and it looms heavy and colossal in an area of the city dense with alleys and old buildings.  The small piazza outside the Pantheon slopes into the portico as though it were tilting under the load of the building.

Among all this weight floated rose petals today.  They fell from the Oculus in the middle of the dome during a special mass to celebrate Pentecost.

The unlikely sight of flowers cascading from the sky to the rotunda below made me cry. This involuntary response wasn’t preceded by a noticeably powerful emotion and so it surprised me.  I didn’t feel the tears until my cheeks were wet.

But I was moved by the moment, as if awed by a brilliant sunset or some other natural wonder.  Nothing less.

Maybe my tears fell in harmony with the petals:  pushed over the edge of my body like the roses thrown from the roof of the Pantheon.

The floating petals reflected the sunlight and some of the red burst into flecks of explosive brightness.  It was all rather magical.

And unbearably beautiful.





A few other bits: