UPLIT ... WITH BIRDS
ROME, Italy I pass the Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II, that gaudy, glaring-white marble heap on the Piazza Venezia. The Wedding Cake, they call it. The Typewriter.
"Look, honey," a New Jersey tourist once declared on the 44 bus, "it's Caesar's Palace!"
Italy is a country committed to beauty. How ironic that its Altar of the Homeland should be so grotesque: the cliffs of Dover grafted onto a medieval borgo.
Yet the monster always makes me smile. Because I remember Anna on the Capitoline Museum Cafè terrace five years ago. Twilight slowly stained the apricot sunset. Swifts soared in the Vittoriano's spotlights, playing chicken with the goddesses atop the monument.
"There," she announced. "That's what I want life to be like."
She meant glamor and grandeur and fearless, freewheeling celebrations of speed. But all she said all she needed to say was this: "Uplit ... with birds."