Oh dear. The Norms’ reversion to the simpler things in life didn’t last for long. No sooner had they settled in the laid back Roman neighbourhood of Trastevere than they got itchy bottoms, and decided to trek again across the river in search of the grandeur for which Rome is famous. And this time they have hit the bullseye, arriving at the monument which, in modern times at least, is probably the grandest spectacle the city of Rome has ever created. Conspicuously named the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), but otherwise known as “the Wedding cake”, “the Typewriter” and the “English Trifle”, this pompous and mammoth construction was, in the early 20th century, built in honour of Victor Emmanuel, the first King of a unified Italy. However, it caused great controversy in its construction, doing away with large swathes of the historically critical Capitoline Hill as well as sticking out like a sore thumb for its gleaming whiteness in amongst a city of ochres and reds.
Yet for all this, being white themselves, the Norms feel rather attracted to this mass of dazzling white theatricality and have made it a high point in their Roman adventure. That is not to say that they are ignoring the spiralling column of Trajan in the ruins of said Emperor’s forum just across the road. For one really can’t do one of these historical monuments without the other. And happily there’s an ice cream stop between the two, just in case the Norms required further inducement to enjoy these two indisputable icons of Rome.
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