This is the first edition of Wanted in Rome to be published in August. When we first started 25 years ago it would never have occurred to us to publish at the height of summer. Our children were young and, like everyone else, we closed the office and our homes and headed out of town.

Now times have changed, partly because our children are no longer children, but also because Rome has changed and our business has changed.

Rome in the mid 1980s used to be a desert in summer, literally and figuratively speaking. It was certainly a deserted city. Whole families, with children and grandparents in tow, would depart leaving the sun to burn down on the empty streets and the summer wind to throw up the litter and the dust. Local shops and bars, almost all of which were family run, would shut leaving only one essential service of each kind open per area: a grocer, a green grocer, a supplier of milk (usually a bar) and of course a pharmacy.

Today these small family shops are almost a thing of the past. They have been replaced by supermarkets, most of which stay open late, on Sundays and throughout the summer. Apart from the week following Ferragosto (the national holiday marking the feast of the Assumption on 15 August), which this year falls on a Saturday, the city now leads a fairly normal life in August.

Almost the best thing about Rome in high summer these days is that it is easy to find a place to park and it is a delight rather than a torture to come into the historic centre. People are polite and have the time to talk, which can