It burns. It is an October night and the lights of Rome go out one after the other following the trail of the river, from South to North, where the Magliana begins up to the Tiber island. The flames can be seen from afar and light up the sky with a dark red that tastes of congealed, as if it were blood the sacrifice of a God, too ancient for still something to say and slaughtered as you do with pigs and then left to bleed . But how does an iron bridge burn? It is a question that many instinctively repeat, because these metal beams that design an architecture of fire amaze even the Romans. What happens? It is an unnatural sight. The bridge connects Ostiense and Portuense and they call it “iron” because when they built it it marked the arrival of modernity. It has been there since the time of Pius IX, specifying since 1863, when Italy had recently ceased to be just a geographical expression, but Rome was still papal. The official name is Ponte dell’Industria, which in Rome always has the echo of the mockery, underneath there are the shacks and the weeds and the waste of those who do not expect anything from this eternal city, because Rome knows how to be ruthless with those who do not he knows no one and has stopped standing in line in the procession of clientes. The signs of the industry are the skeleton of the Gazometro, a cylinder almost ninety meters high, a stripped tower of which only the metal bones remain. It was Mayor Nathan’s dream, but it was finished by Mussolini in 1936 and his gas powered the lights of the city. It was the largest in Europe and now they tell it as an example of industrial archeology, as if it were a small Colosseum of the twentieth century, in an area that those who come to govern appear as all to be redeveloped. The flames are thinking about it. It is so deep down that the city speaks. Burn, burn Rome. It burns so maybe someone notices it. It burns like in Nero’s time. Burn as you do with heretics, in the sign of Giordano Bruno, because at least he was right. Here everything comes back and everything is lost and only the fire leaves its mark. It burns to purify the rottenness and disillusionment. Burn to give the haruspexes something to say, to obscure the rays of the stars or to feed on your wild soul, awakened by wolves, boars, whores and seagulls, from this immobile and besieged metropolis, which no one knows where it begins and where it closes, where you end up knowing only your neighborhood because buying costs indefinitely, but too often more than a train trip to Milan. Except that the Romans won’t want to go to Milan. The sky scares them, the one that when you look up is not there. It is a shade of gray.
In Rome, the sky is an illumination, except that it is not reflected in the river. The Tiber is the slaughtered god, the pig that burns, bleeds and screams. He is the renegade father. It is the mystery of this Rome, the unsolved and postmodern capital. When did she become angry and hydrophobic? It has a sea and does not know it. It has a river and does not frequent it. The Tiber is a free zone. It is not livable. It is not the Seine. It is not the Thames. It is certainly not the Danube. It is not a center of aggregation, of culture, of entertainment. You don’t go there to eat or to admire improvised artists. There is no left bank. Cross the city, as if it were a hindrance, a border to be crossed each time, an idea to be paved. Summer, yes, the Tiber Island awakens as a parenthesis of life suspended between Trastevere and the Ghetto, with the ambition but really realized to make it a citadel of arts and stories, but otherwise it is no man’s land, where at the most you venture out to run in solitude in the stretch that goes from Prati to Ponte Milvio. The rest is a clandestine furrow, a scar, the land where the invisible find refuge. The landing place is there, right under the iron bridge, where the center overlooks the suburbs, where the road leading to Ostia opens up, the rejected and abandoned sea, where the dreams of the new suburra, a criminal novel by cloak and dagger. The scent of the sea no longer arrives. The reality is that Rome, as Christian Raimo writes, is not eternal. Rome stinks. It is not a metaphor. Rome really stinks. It is undone and there is garbage. It is the smell you smell as soon as you arrive and what you have left when you leave.