Thursday, January 16, 2020

Rome Journal: Rocco Siffredi

The Via Nazionale runs into the Piazza Repubblica and nearby is the Quirinale where a long line of government ministries are watched over by blank-faced machine gun-toting guards. Il Palazzo del Quirinale is fronted by a special phalanx that are like the mission which tends to Buckingham Palace. One wonders about the stuff of soldiers who're capable of standing at silent attention for such long periods of time. As you walk from Via Nazionale to Rome’s Termini which is one of the main train stations, the atmosphere become seedy with shifty-eyed merchants manning a line of green bookstalls selling pornographic DVD’s. It's the kind of place that Graham Greene's Pinky might have retired to after his criminal career on the streets of Brighton Rock. These relics, in the age of the internet, exude an almost archeological quality. There’s a whole collection devoted to Rocco Seffredi, the Johnny Holmes of Italian porn who’s now 55. It’s a little like Pompei (whose phalluses are still a must on any sex tourism itinerary) a dead civilization preserved for posterity just as it once was, in this case not in volcanic ash, but plastic-wrapped digital discs. The number 75 bus departing from the main train station running past the ancient tourist sites of Rome as it makes its way up the Janiculum Hill, carries a romantic young couple on a recent Saturday afternoon. She boasts a streak of purple hair and he's wearing white-framed sunglasses. As the bus turns into the Via Cavour, they begin to kiss and hug, unable to keep their hands off each other for the whole ride to the top. Once there, they stride towards the arch at the Porta San Pancrazio and its monument to Garibaldi, the great liberator of the Italian people.

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