In late January 2016, Jan (CEO) and James (Communications Director) went to Rome to present at the EAGLE 2016 Conference at La Sapienza University. The conference was about Latin epigraphy and the Europeana project, and our presentations were about how academics, historians, and archaeologists could reach a wider audience. But when in Rome… one has to see the city! We could not help being pulled in by the Eternal City, drawn to wander around and explore its ancient heritage. When it comes to history, Rome is like the mother lode… very few cities in the world (if any) have such a concentration of historical sites and buildings!
Colosseum & Arch of Constantine
The Colosseum (aka. Flavian Amphitheatre) was only a few minutes walk down the road from our AirBnb apartment in the beautiful Monti neighbourhood; so on the evening of our arrival, just before sunset when the light was warm and perfect for photos, we went down to see it. James and I agreed that we always found the Colosseum more impressive from the outside than inside, so we simply stayed out and enjoyed this impressive piece of Roman engineering. Just look at that impressive brickwork!
The Arch of Constantine is just next to it, and not to be missed! The arch is in excellent shape and you can enjoy the reliefs for quite a while, from all angles. Unfortunately, it was getting dark, and we decided not to strain our eyes too much and go to dinner at Scuié Sciué in Monti instead… it’s a beautiful restaurant with high vaulted brick ceilings and simply the best food we had throughout our trip!
The Forum Romanum
Probably no other place in Rome has so much historical significance. This is the place where the great Roman orators held speeches, where the senators assembled, and where the fate of the Roman Empire was decided. By walking among these ancient ruins, you are walking on the very same stones that Julius Caesar, Pompey or Cicero would have walked!
Nervan Forum & Trajan’s Market
Literally one minute walk from our apartment was the Nervan Forum. Much smaller than the Forum Romanum, this small forum is still very impressive. The same goes for Trajan’s Market, which our author Mark has described as “the world’s first shopping mall”. Visit them at dusk… just spectacular! We also met Darius Arya (founder of the American Institute for Roman Culture) for dinner and had a lovely night-time walk along the Nervan Forum with him.
The Palatine Hill
Many tourists stay down in the Forum and never go up to the Palatine Hill… a big mistake! The Palatine is where the imperial palace was (that is where the word “palace” comes from, in fact), and there were villas and gardens here. Nowadays, you can enjoy an oasis of tranquility in the centre of bustling Vespa-infested Rome. Take some time and wander around the ruins, and enjoy the view to the Forum, the Colosseum, and the Circus Maximus on the other side… and if you’re lucky, you can pick an orange from one of the many orange trees up there! 😉
Sapienza University of Rome
The time for the conference had come… we rushed to the Sapienza University of Rome, which is one of the largest in Europe with around 50,000 students! It is huge and the signposting is terrible (non-existent?), so finding the Department of Classics is not easy… but it is worth the trouble. The basement is filled to the rim with plaster copies of classical Greco-Roman art, with people studying in between them.
Etruscan Museum (Villa Giulia)
The Etruscans have always fascinated me. They are the cultural ancestors of the Romans, yet their origin still is not 100% clear. Herodotus, for example, suggests that they were descendants of the Lydians who left Asia Minor after the Trojan War (I:93 and I:94). Wherever they came from, their art is impressive! I particularly loved the Sarcophagus of the Spouses… the art style is so unique and the couple seems so life-like!