If you are a history lover, research can be very addictive, and I love it. Of course, you can follow me on Instagram or Like my Facebook Author Page to catch snippets of research but my recent journey to Rome gathered so much that I thought I’d share it here too.
My next historical series will follow a group of young poets who move on to begin a grand tour of the continent. I wish that I had the money and the time to dedicate to tracking the whole grand tour route which would be amazing and I am sure it would generate enough inspirations to write a hundred novels. But that not being an option, so I far I have picked one place to be a ‘tourist’ and research what the men of the 18th and 19th century would have experienced on their travels – Rome.
As I am fascinated by all aspects of history I listened to every bit of information about Roman history and much of it will be irrelevant as somethings were not known in the time of my fictional tourists or will be too detailed for a novel. But I think everything is fascinating enough to share on my blog and I will compare what you’ll see today in Rome with what was there in the time of the Georgian and Regency tourists.
But let me share my first impressions…
We visited the Roman Forum on the first day, without a guide, and just find our way around meant we looked at everything and read every information board so became very acclimatised to the area, but we went back three days later with a guide who added insights we hadn’t know. As I looked at it all the first time, it stood out to me how naked it all seemed. I have been to Pompeii before and walked around the Roman city at Petra both are mesmerizing when you walk on the roads and step into houses still decorated with painted plaster, or temples or early churches decorated in mosaics and shining marbles. The Roman Forum is like the carcass of an animal, it’s just the skeleton, apart from tiny remaining pieces all the skin and flesh had been stripped away.
Having seen other places, even in the UK, I had expected to be more intact and it was so much a skeleton it was really hard to imagine what the areas had looked like when they were whole. So while it was really interesting exploring every nook an cranny on our own and building up a full understanding the skill in the engineering and the size and scale when we went back with the guide she began to add flesh to the scenes in front of us.
And this carcass had become that literally because it had been picked over by scavengers through the hundreds of years since the Roman Empire collapsed. The flesh and skin were recycled again and again. The marble floors, columns and walls, the mosaics, statues and bricks all reused by rich and poor.
St Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican, which the 18th and 19th Century tourists would have visited is lined with Roman marble.
The occasional remaining floor discovered beneath later buildings in the city, show the original floors that in other buildings had simply been lifted and reused.
Then when I looked through the open doors of buildings or even at the walls of buildings I saw lots of remnants spread around the city and so the body of old Roman was really still there, just elsewhere.
What was really useful was that in The Forum there were lots of pictures of paintings from the period I was researching, I’ll share those too soon.
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