Savouring memories from a tour of Rome

As I said in my last blog the old-fashioned grand tours of the continent that incorporated  Rome have impacted significantly on the architecture in the UK. But not only in the outside design of our stately houses and monuments.

 

It also impacted on the internal design of Georgian properties as ceilings were lifted in the living areas of houses and it became the fashion to make your ceiling a domed canvas for a work of art. Previously the fashion had been the style that had begun in Egypt to paint ceilings dark blue with stars or to display Tudor roses in roundels. The places the rich tourists would have explored in Rome included the Vatican and within the Vatican are incredibly bright and beautifully painted walls and ceilings – including the Sistine Chapel of course.

 

The pictures below have paintings from the Vatican on the left and paintings from Georgian stately homes on the right.

 

 

 

This adoption of the ornate ceiling dressing is not very surprising, and you may have guessed this, but the thing that really struck me was when I walked into this room in the Pope’s museum and it threw my memory back to a room in a stately home in England.

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A couple of years ago when we visited Chatsworth House the tour ended with a room full of a collection of statues and busts and nothing else. The 6th Duke of Devonshire, known as Hart, had created the room to house his collection. I thought it really odd at the time, but when I walked into the room (pictured above) in the Vatican, the room I had seen in England years before made sense suddenly. It was a copy. Made by a man who saw something he was awed by and wanted to recreate it.

Harts

Many of the statues in the 6th Duke’s collection were acquired or inspired while on his first grand tour and during future returns to Italy.

The Marlow Intrigues

Discover hours of period drama (2)

 

The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan  

The Passionate Love of a Rake

The Scandalous Love of a Duke

The Dangerous Love of a Rogue 

The Secret Love of a Gentleman  

The Reckless Love of an Heir 

The Tainted Love of a Captain 

Jane’s books can be ordered from booksellers in ebook or paperback

 

A tour of Rome

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.

 

The Marlow Intrigues

Discover hours of period drama (2)

 

The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan  

The Passionate Love of a Rake

The Scandalous Love of a Duke

The Dangerous Love of a Rogue 

The Secret Love of a Gentleman  

The Reckless Love of an Heir 

The Tainted Love of a Captain 

Jane’s books can be ordered from booksellers in ebook or paperback