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Rome: capital of Italy, city of romance, cradle of Christianity……….classic rock stronghold!!!
Choral chanting, bells peeling and multi-lingual chit-chat are the sounds and strains you expect to hear on a four-day break to Europe’s most magical destination to mark a special wedding anniversary.
And we weren’t disappointed as we trundled our way through the vibrant streets, a historic monument or building at every turn.
An espresso here, a Peroni there, this was life at its most perfect.
Then it happened. Sitting under a warm spring sun in an unfussy piazza just off Via Corso, the noise sounded familiar.
AC/DC’s Thunderstruck was playing on the cafe’s audio system. Followed by Highway To Hell, then Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns And Roses.
Cream’s Badge was next on the playlist, UFO’s Lights Out came along and we left just as John Bonham’s drumrolling kicked in Rock And Roll by Led Zeppelin.
There were sights to see and places to visit but not before enquiring about this strange yet welcoming playlist.
It was approaching noon on Sunday. The churches were emptying, the shops becoming busier by the minute. The cafe trade was doing steady if unspectacular business.
I’d overheard a waitress working at this fine establishment talking good English to another customer so I approached her, asking how AC/DC had become part of the ambience.
She looked exasperated, rolling her eyes and gesturing towards a man in his mid-40s, Her husband, the owner and a classic rock fanatic.
He came across, his smile as wide as the Tiber. “You like it?” he said in English more broken than his younger wife.
“Yes, very much,” I said and Sue too nodded in approval probably more out of courtesy and curiosity than anything else.
He looked vindicated before letting his own wife, who clearly had reservations about his bizarre business plan, do the explaining.
Apparently, this cafe owner Paolo uses rock music as a tool to boost business.
There were only a handful of customers in his cafe when we arrived but she said he had noticed me and a German sitting a few feet away tapping our feet during Thunderstruck.
So he persisted with the rock music. The ploy worked. Both couples ordered another espresso.
But here is the clever bit. When the cafe is more crowded and he needs to move people on for the next batch, he turns up the volume. Not excessively but enough to keep orders ticking.
The oldies hurriedly leave rather than complain but having paid their bill, Paolo simply resets the table for his next guests.
He invited us back but we politedly declined his offer due to time constraints.
But in this city of gladiatorial heritage, to those cafe owners who rock, we salute you!