Rome Travel Guide

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Saturday, August 15, 2020

City to Mountain Top, Life to Death: Signs of Summer in Rome

If Americans can't get there, at least we can have some dreams of Rome.  Below some photos from an earlier summer, exhibiting some of Rome's uniqueness - and markers of life and death

Here's life  - a bra ad - and death - notices of death pasted over them. In Castel Gandolfo (summer home of the Popes - and featured in the award-winning 2019 film, "The Two Popes"). "In forma smagliante"  is a sort of double entendre  here, trans. "In great shape" "In top form" "Fit as a fiddle" etc.

 Though from 2012, these graffiti faces at left remind us of our 2020 "mask-up" days.

On the "life" side (mostly), right - "Brigata Peroni" or "Peroni [as in the beer] Brigade."  One doesn't normally associate brigades, as in armed forces or the anarchical - and deadly (they killed Aldo Moro)- leftists, the "Red Brigade," with beer.

Left, a fully-stocked outdoor bar/cafe', complete with the requisite photo of iconic actor Alberto Sordi, in the iconic still of him eating spaghetti (from the film "Un Americano a Roma") - we've probably seen a hundred of these in restaurants and cafes and bars - and books!

Okay - we've posted photos of the nonsensical writings on shirts and jackets, but we think not this one, which does have the word "death" in it - seen in a Rome market. I just finished reading Bill Bryson's "The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way" in which he quotes some of these.  None is better than this one at right.
Eating IN the streets of Trastevere. This could be a good model for restaurants in the US
trying to expand their outside service.  Not exactly social distancing.  And no
worries from those actually standing in the street that they could be run over.

For the death end, here are two photos from the top of a mountain an hour or two outside Rome in the Abruzzi (the Gran Sasso). Yes, the ubiquitous cross was there, but also Mary, complete with rosary, and several plaques to hikers who had gone on to other heights.

In the photo below, the plaque on the right says, "Friendship doesn't need time or space. We know you will always be at our side.  Ciao Nicola."

And in that same photo, the plaque on the left reads, "In memory of Ezio Noce. Your mountain friends affectionately remember you, in this place familiar to you."


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Roman roads pave the way to prosperity in the 21st century

The old via Prenestina, a Roman road we "ran across" in the Roman countryside,
this near Gallicano nel Lazio, during our mostly-successful search for aqueducts.

At RST we're fascinated by the new in Rome, and how it often ties into the old. We've also spent a fair amount of time in and outside of Rome, "discovering" ancient Roman roads, including one in the woods that we couldn't believe dated back two centuries (see photo at right).

Via Sacra ("Holy road") on Monte Cavo
on the way to what once was probably
a temple to the goddess Diana.

At its peak (second century CE), the Roman road system covered Europe and parts of the Middle East and Africa. The tie between the old Roman roads and contemporary life is the thesis of a recent study by Danish economists that links today's European centers of healthy economic activity with infrastructure created 2,000 years ago - the Roman road system.

Looking at the Roman roads in 117 CE, the four economists conclude "greater Roman road density goes along with (a) greater modern road density, (b) greater settlement formation in 500 CE, and (c) greater economic activity in 2010." Underscoring this conclusion is their finding that this tie is weakened to the point of insignificance "where the use of wheeled vehicles was abandoned from the first millennium CE until the late modern period" - that is, in the Middle East and North Africa.  They also found market towns flourishing from the medieval period to modern times along those Roman roads.

Ancient Roman roads (light yellow) superimposed on 2010 satellite imagery of nighttime lighting in Europe. (Washington Post illustration using data from NOAA Earth Observatory, Natural Earth and Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilization)

How did the economists figure this out?  Among other tools, they used contemporary population and road density and night-time satellite imagery of light. (See photo above.) The Danes piggybacked on Harvard University's research and mapping project - its Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilizations - which we plan to feature in a future post.

This article from the Washington Post, here, summarizes nicely the Danish research and has some illustrative maps.

The original paper is here:

Talk about the need for infrastructure?  Could the US take a lesson here?