Magazine article The Spectator

Roman Holiday

Magazine article The Spectator

Roman Holiday

Article excerpt

To Rome for a christening, which turned out to be a media event like no other. Although I am a failed Christian -- I refuse to turn the other cheek -- I have attended church ceremonies regularly, mostly for weddings and funerals, and not a small amount of baptisms. This one, however, was unique. It was the first time I've seen a priest at the altar signalling to a cardinal to get closer to Elle Macpherson so he could take a picture. For a moment I thought the priest might be a paparazzo in disguise, but no such luck. He was the real McCoy, a man of the Church, but I suppose celebrities nowadays impress even men of God.

Outside the beautiful and grand Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore there were more paparazzi than there are failed Iraqi experts in Washington. Never have I seen such a scrum, and all that for a baby being baptised. The parents, needless to say, are mega-rich Arkie Busson, a man I've known since the day he was born and then some, and the Australian model Elle Macpherson, now almost as rich as Arkie due to bras, knickers and other female accessories. Ironically, Arkie and Elle split some time ago, but the split never got in the way of the baptism and the two great parties which followed.

The lunch at La Caccia, Rome's most exclusive and aristocratic club, was hosted by Eduardo Teodorani, an Agnelli through his mother and a London-based Lothario.

Never have I seen so many pretty girls turn out for a lunch following a christening.

That evening the festivities continued at Via Mafalda di Savoia, named after the martyred princess who died in a death camp, and whose house has probably the grandest garden in all of Rome. It would take an Olympic sprinter on steroids more than 30 seconds going at record speed to reach the house from the front gate, and this in the middle of the Eternal City.

Mind you, it's possible only because it's Rome. In America the place would have been split up into 'units', and sold separately to upwardly mobile folk. Ditto in London, although there would have been some resistance. My son, who lives and paints in Rome, seems to love it, but he does get restless. However eternal, the city is parochial, but the greatest danger to the ancient place are the ghastly tourists.

Rome is now like Venice and Florence, its cobbled beautiful streets overrun by sweaty types carrying cameras and backpacks. …

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