A guitar player sitting on the sidewalk on Via Veneto strummed the chords to the Beatles' "Yesterday."
It could be the anthem of Rome's once-celebrated party strip: nostalgia for a lusty past and worry about a feeble future.The street that hosted the "sweet life" of Federico Fellini's 1960 film "La Dolce Vita" has fallen on bitter times.
Several plans to resurrect the street's jet-set splendor have fallen short. Last year, the busiest section of the boulevard was closed to traffic in hopes that a pedestrian mall would add the right spice.
But, again, the result seemed bland.
Now, the cars may return. The city has proposed reopening Via Veneto to traffic during weekdays and making it a pedestrian zone on weekends.
"Via Veneto is part of Rome's soul," said Mayor Francesco Rutelli.
But some owners of the cafes and hotels along the street claim city hall is not helping them enough. They insist that without a strong commitment by Rome to return fashion shows and other glamourous events to Via Veneto, the street is destined to become just a fading memory lane.
During the "Dolce Vita" era, the street was the world's best hunting ground for paparazzi. Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn, Gary Cooper and Fred Astaire were just a part of the celebrity pack. Princesses, counts and exiled royalty sipped drinks at places such as Harry's Bar and Cafe de Paris.
By the 1970s, the party was winding down. The old guard was fading and the rising stars crossed Via Veneto off their lists. Many of the famous watering holes closed - some permanently, others did not reopen for years.
The street again made headlines in the '80s, but this time as a killing field for terrorists.
A few years later, the last fashion show pulled out and celebrity photographers were left with subjects such as the porn star Cicciolina.