Years later, I was back in the Eternal City to see if a dating app could bring it alive for me again. The Spanish Steps of Rome at dusk Credit: AP There is also the option to register as a guide to show solo travellers around your city. Creating a profile is easy and, after adding a few upcoming trips and registering as a guide in London and Rome, I settled down to survey the offerings.
Some 35 per cent of users were female meaning the majority were male, so the odds were in my favour. However, I was disappointed by the prospective suitors on TourBar, especially when setting the filter to Rome.
Ploughing boldly on, fuelled by a couple of glasses of chianti, I received a message from Lorenzo. On first impressions, he sounded promising: The director of a start-up, he travelled often to London, with his next visit a few days away.
We arranged to meet for lunch. Via dei Condotti, Credit: I mentioned that I might soon be travelling to Italy, and over the next fortnight we swapped regular messages while I arranged my trip. Like many Mediterranean cities, the outskirts of Rome are dominated by low-level warehouses, sprawling outlets, scrubby grassland and restaurants that look vaguely run down. But my excitement increased as I got my first view of the city. As I emerged from the gloom of the metro into Piazza di Spagna, I was engulfed by the fairy-lit splendour of Rome in full swing.
Thronging with tourists, the recently cleaned marble of the Spanish Steps gleamed white in the late afternoon light. Olive-green garlands framed the doorways of the designer shops lining the square and twinkling strands of white and yellow lights lit the way along Via dei Condotti, Via del Babuino and Via Margutta. Greeting each other in Piazza del Popolo, we were enveloped by the cheerful bustle of a Friday evening and chatted easily as we wandered along Via del Babuino.
Flanked by several imposing busts, and with just a few fellow diners around us, the atmosphere was austere yet pleasant, and I gave myself a mental pat on the back for showing Lorenzo something that, although slightly kitsch, was a memorable place for a quick drink and a crostini or two.
Piazza del Popolo Credit: Entertaining though it was, by the time we walked back towards the now quiet Piazza di Spagna, I suspected that our attraction was more amici than amore, so I was surprised when Lorenzo asked me for coffee again the following day.
That afternoon we joined the buzzing throng of Italians enjoying an afternoon stroll — a ritual known as la passeggiata. A chance to see and be seen, well-dressed couples and families filled the streets, adding to the festive atmosphere. In the twilight, we followed the steady stream of people up Via del Corso to Palazzo Chigi, seat of the Italian government. He confided that he had chatted with a few women, but almost all were in locations that he was unlikely to visit anytime soon.
A photo posted by Bar Del Fico bardelficoroma on Nov 15, at 7: Despite swapping messages with a few men from Europe, the vast majority of users who contacted me were from India, Egypt, Turkey or the UAE, locations I had no plans to visit in the near future. The forward tone of some of the messages I received did little to convince me otherwise. AP Take Umit for example, a business man 12 years my senior. If you accept, I can organise everything from plane tickets to five-star hotels. You ask for what and I can tell you for joy and passion.
I know my age but please [know] that only a mature man can give you that queen feeling. The feeling, it seemed, was mutual. That evening I met with Luigi, an old friend from Rome, and our talk drifted to relationships. When I suggested he try a dating app he stared at me. The best hotels in Rome.