Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rome Guide 1: Rome by Elizabeth Speller

I have now read through five different guides to Rome, and am going to report on each of them separately. All of them provide useful information about the city. The first is Elizabeth Speller's Granta Guide.

Rome by Elizabeth Speller is part city guide, part travelogue. The writing style reminds me of a commercial version of W.G. Sebald's, recommending restaurants and hotels, providing little anecdotes and suggesting places to see. The descriptions are just wonderful and sometimes very witty. I read it through from cover to cover, scarcely pausing.

Ten walks are featured. I was hoping to decide which ones would be best to take, but each one seemed so enticing that I wanted to take all of them. In walk one I would encounter the ghetto, in walk two the parthenon and a museum. In walk three I walked down the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and encountered a gelateria which I couldn't miss. Work four was the unmissable sacred heart with steps by Michelangelo. Walk five featured quiet rarely visited catacombs, while in walks six and seven I would experience the history of Rome through the architecture of its churches. On page 186 in chapter eight the Trastevere Museum was described - which made me desperate to see it, while walks nine and ten featured the Vatican and Appian Way respectively.

It's given me an excellent overview of the city, with interesting little cameos about the people Elisabeth Speller encounters as she did her research, and these in themselves give a good insight int the Italian character. It greatly increased my eagerness to see the city, my only regret is not coming across her guide to Athens before we went there too last year.


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