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And a Roman Holiday

This long, elegant piazza was once an ancient stadium for chariot racing – just like in the film Ben Hur. You can see the entrance arch still, hidden away at the end of the stadium where taxis and buses rush by. In time the stone stands fell away, to be replaced centuries later by houses around the open space, themselve replaced by the palaces, the churches and the fountains we see today.

Every night Piazza Navona comes alive. The artists draw up their easels to show off their paintings and prints. The fire-eater draws a circle of fascinated spectators about him, faces taut with the danger of his act. The juggler throws his rings high in the air – so high they seem to disappear into the twilight. Great applause when he deftly catches them and rolls them around his back, to be thrown high again into the sky.

A group of students sit on the wall of the central fountain, two guitars and four voices in raucous harmony as they sing a famous Italian pop song. A waiter twists between the chairs like a dancer as he brings one of the Piazza’s famous ice creams to a couple of Americans, the same place where Gregory Peck once offered Audrey Hepburn an ice cream in the film “Roman Holiday”. Soft light from the street lanterns illuminates their smiles as they celebrate their Roman holiday. Across the square is the restaurant Julia Roberts ate at in “Eat, Pray, Love”. Piazza Navona is a place for romance.

Article and Photographs Copyright © Carl Ottersen