Rome is my favourite city in the world. It's not an easy city to appreciate at first try, being noisy, dusty, and often hot and crowded. But in every trip I have made - over 20 years there must have been 100 - I have found something new to see or appreciate or learn.The uniqueness of this city lies in the layering of history, and all in the context of a modern, thriving city, so that it has not become a relic or a museum piece like Venice.
This is a gritty metropolis, where the evidence and drama of human life lived at a similar intensity over 2500 years is all around you. From the Romans of the Republic to the Romans of the empire; through the Byzantine dark ages to the medieval popes; to the Renaissance and the baroque period, then italy of the Grand Tour and the Risorgimento; and right up to Mussolini and the present day - all roads lead to Rome, if not the cradle then at least the nursery of western civilisation.Wander the streets and look at the buildings - 17th century apartment blocks will often have old bits of roman temples embedded in their walls. The stock exchange has as one wall the columns of Hadrian's temple.
Meanwhile San Clemente, a spectacular church near the Colosseum, has three distinct layers to it - formerly a private home for clandestine christian worship in the first century, it developed into a temple to Mithras and finally a medieval basilica - the excavated layers reveal each period, one simply built on top of another.One of the best ways to get a sense of the legacy of Rome and its continuity is to rent a copy of Fellini's Roma - Amor spelled backward by the way.
The other is to rent a moped - and tear down the Via Appia, the Appian Way, the oldest road in Europe still in use, whose volcanic cobblestones have "felt the tread of Hannibal and St. Paul, Charlemagne, Lord Byron, and Mark Twain." If you have any historical imagination at all, it will blow your mind.
Written by James Dunford Wood.
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Expert, Claudia Flisi, recommends the most relaxing thermal spas and springs in Italy's Lazio region.
In my return to Rome, I knew I had no time for sightseeing. I ended up meeting Alberto, who saw on my Facebook Fan page that I would be in Rome and offered to show me around. We had terrific pasta at Taverna Romana for dinner and then wan… Read more...
...At the same time, this is the most companionable of cities; a place that seems to make its visitors more tolerant of one another than any other tourist magnet on earth. Each day at the Spanish Steps, hundreds of people of every race and age congregate… Read more...
Written by press. First published 10th October 2008