Dear Sophie,

And the crowd jeered, “Buffoone! Buffoone!” But in truth, as with so many of these things, only some several dozen were involved, and the fickle eye of the media zeroed in and embiggened the pyschoemotional drama. Frightfully mediagenic.

(Right: Earlier today, pre-resignation, outside the Chigi Palace, journos awaiting announcements; the mob yet to arrive.)

There is no doubt the locals have had enough of Bungaman, but they have no faith in any successor, as our Roman friend, A__, remarked to us over dinner. Certainly, eavesdropping on the locals at the Sunday fleamarket yielded no mentions of Berlusconi, or the calamity supposedly awaiting Europe. And life on the streets of Rome trundled on as normal as things always do. It wasn’t an earthquake or a tsunami or Vesuvian eruption, just another political and market meltdown — something we will get very used to in this age of ultra-sensitivity to initial conditions, to paraphrase Chaos theory.

The charity of Il Papa and the Church

Touring St Peter’s Basilica with Constant Gardener a couple of days ago the astounding wealth and arrogance of the church curled a stink deep into my nose. St Peter’s abounded with the symbol of the dove and olive branch, sign of the Pamphilj family; as the Barberini popes left marks of bees and keys elsewhere. Bernini’s huge canopy; the gigantic statues of saints in the niches — Michelangelo’s famous and moving Pieta was dwarfed into insignificance behind its wall of glass as it suffered in the constant glare of digital flashes. St Peter’s is alternately breathtaking and nauseating.

On our way back from dinner tonight (at il Margutta, that rare creature, a Roman vegetarian restaurant) to our hotel 100 metres from the Vatican, that is to say, on the vast doorstep of the Holy City, we came upon this sight (below): a homeless person bedding down on the kerb of a bank. The irony is murderous, especially on a night forecasted to fall to 3C. Touchingly, he has removed his shoes.

Our street is glutted with shops of Poperhanalia, of rich reds and threads of gold. Even of golden rings embellished with tiny silver figurines of Jesus and the two thieves. I just looked out the window (it’s 11.30 pm) and now there are two homeless folk dossed on the stone sills of the bank.

Faith, hope and charity. . . and of these the greatest is charity. The shame.