Temperatures plummeted last week and somewhere between devouring a cream filled croissant and downing my second cup of Fortnum’s smoky Earl Grey, I was forcing to carry out an emergency "cambio di stagione". Traditionally it takes a whole weekend to store away the linen and unwrap the cashmere but masterfully I achieved it in under 15 minutes partly due to the absence of my mid-weight early Autumn outdoor collection which went up in smoke last September after the coat stand in my hall got jammed up against a 17th century Venetian wall light and carbonized its entire contents. Another time saving was to leave unexamined and packed away the mounting reserve of trousers no longer able to find their away around my waist. It’s not just the annual arrival of Pandoro and Panettone which will hinder any attempt to squeeze back into these clothes but recently, a Roman friend confirmed what I had always suspected: Roman air is in fact fattening. The calorific output and daily exchange of gastronomic pleasure from a zillion pasticcerie, gelaterie, and trattorie dotted around the city releases something intangible into the atmosphere which facilitates the delightful Roman phenomenon of ” Passive Eating”. It doesn’t matter where you sit, there are no compartments which can save you from the effects of passive eating in Rome. Your ears will hear flowery descriptions of food, your nose will pick up the aroma and even if you keep your mouth firmly closed, you will never be far from a chef prepping, a barista grounding or somebody’s grandma peeling. If you really insist on losing weight in the Eternal city (why would you?), the only solution is to actually stop breathing.
Alternatively, go and breathe in the skinny, low-fat, semi-skimmed air at the biggest fruit and vegetable market in Rome: “ Il Mercato Esquillino” in Piazza Vittorio. Here, one could forget they were in Rome with the mountains of ethnic spices, nuts and vegetables from all over the world. In November the glow of autumnal orange throughout the market is due to Loti season. Known to Romans as cachi they are a delicious fruit grown locally , are too delicate to transport and look like a piece of a Pre Raphaelite still life. Here the air is proported to be much less fattening and if you walk from Termini Station, you just might lose a kilo, if you can hold your breath for that long.