Books about Rome #1: A Traveller in Rome

One of my favourite books is H.V. Morton’s A Traveller in Rome.  Written in the 1950s, it’s a charming and highly informative account of Morton’s summer in Rome, combining top-notch travel writing with some fascinating insights into Rome’s long and illustrious history.

Although some of the archaeological information supplied by Morton is inevitably rather out of date, many of the scenes he describes could have been written yesterday:  whether it’s the coach-loads of tourists paying a fleeting visit to the Eternal City, or the animated Italian conversations taking place beneath the balcony of his lodgings near the Borghese Gardens.  Even his description of the pensione lift – “I have never known a more evil-minded piece of machinery” – will ring bells with anybody who’s experienced the tiny and erratic lifts in some of Rome’s older apartment buildings.

Morton gives the reader a comprehensive introduction to all things Rome:  everything from the Colosseum to the innumerable stray cats which famously frequent the archaeological ruins.  But above all, his writing is extremely evocative, and highly successful in conveying the rich tapestry of Rome’s incredible history.  His history is not presented in a chronological format, but rather in exactly the sort of way you would encounter it on a walk around any part of Rome:  ancient Roman alongside Napoleonic near Fascist on top of early Christian and goodness knows what else.

Morton also penned the wonderful words which sum up how Rome-lovers like me feel when we are forced temporarily to leave the Eternal City:  “one does not say goodbye to Rome.”

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About Rachel Ingram

I graduated from Oxford University in 2009 with an MA in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History from St John's College. After graduating I worked as a Geographic Researcher at Holidaylettings.co.uk, spending lots of time researching and writing travel guides to worldwide destinations, developing my copywriting skills. After working as a copywriter and content consultant at White.net (formerly SEOptimise), where I most enjoyed working with travel clients, I went self-employed. I now divide my time between freelance copywriting and running the business I set up with my boyfriend - AirExperiences.co.uk - selling aviation gift experiences. In my spare time I'm training for a Private Pilot's Licence, and I also enjoy travelling, wine and baking. My favourite authors are Charles Dickens, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Bill Bryson.
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3 Responses to Books about Rome #1: A Traveller in Rome

  1. We’re big Morton fans, too. Have you seen our alternative guidebook, Rome the Second Time: Fifteen Itineraries that Don’t Go to the Coliseum (2009)?

  2. Jacquelyn Laurenda says:

    Love Morton’s book! I got my copy at the public library and couldn’t bear to return it – is it theft if I paid the replacement fee for the book? 🙂

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