In the skies above Rome.


Chapman Swifts by Kat Sam

Before the rain the air above Rome was full of swifts, flying to feed their chicks under the eaves of city centre apartments. diving between buildings, feeding on the aerial plankton of insects which floated high above the traffic. ‘Why don’t we have the swifts in London?’ I thought. ‘We have old buildings too, why aren’t we living with streets full of swifts?’

Maybe the difference is in our attitudes to life. The Italians, I am told, take a more relaxed view, not forever worrying about tomorrow, not financially planning for a future which could not arrive. They live for the day, they enjoy the pleasures of life, good food, family. Maybe this relaxed attitude extends to building renovations, maybe that crack in the fascia or slipped roof tile will just be fixed tomorrow, so the birds find a home here which is denied to them in our more fastidious society.

Maybe the difference also is that Rome seemed to be full of people living in the city, ordinary people with ordinary apartments where as London is nowadays only the preserve of the super rich. The super rich can afford all those building renovations which ordinary people put off until tomorrow.

So Rome is a city in which life is on the streets where as London seems increasingly to be a city devoid of its citizens both human and avian.


2 thoughts on “In the skies above Rome.

  1. It´s hotter in Rome, so more insect food for the swifts!
    But your points are all well made Carol, many cities in Europe are more lived in and less tiddied up than London etc… As you know, I have been hiking through Spain with my wife and we have really enjoyed the swifts, house martins and even swallows, flying through the streets of the towns, especially before dusk, they are so abundant and life-affirming.
    Also, the streets are full of people socialising, drinking coffee, not rushing maddly about in cars (polluting the air) and spending from shop to shop. Everyone seems to have time for each other and themselves. Culture is alive and so are the skies.
    Britain could learn a lot from our European partners, and to turn our arrogant backs on more civilised societies is to be blind to what is best in this world.
    Here is a link to a beautiful poem on swifts………… rise above…………..

    • Thanks for sending the link to the poem Barry, the swifts really are shape shifters. There was a huge screaming party above my house tonight, enjoying the warm air below the storm clouds but, along with house martins, they seem to fall victim to our endless home improvements.

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