People have been going to Rome for more than 2000 years, for leisure, for work, for religious or educational reasons, to take part in history and to share and expand their knowledge and beliefs. Some went together, some went alone, some were accompanied by tutors and tour leaders, some stayed a day, and some remained for the rest of their lives, but they all shared one need: the need for a guide. In olden days, when books were scarce and literacy low, this guide was often a person, official or self-employed entrepreneur, but with time, the guide more and more decisively took the form of a book. A guidebook.
I have called this blog ’A Guide-Blog to Rome’, but it is in fact more than that: it is a guide to the guidebooks to Rome, starting from the oldest examples of guiding texts from the Middle Ages and with random visits to other old and new examples.
The city of Rome is multidimensional. Like a kaleidoscope, remnants of Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque lie scattered about as hereditary jewelry mingled and entangled in a wonderful box. The effect of this is twofold:
- Rome as a place is very difficult to understand without a clarifying narrative.
- Rome is a place where very little has changed in the cityscape through the ages: the ancient ruins are still there, the medieval streets are still running on top of the Roman roads, and the palaces and churches of more modern eras have been fitted into this archaic pattern like pieces of puzzle.
This means that to a large extent, it is still possible to navigate from the oldest maps of Rome, or from the oldest guidebooks to Rome. And that is precisely what this blog aims to do! Departing from the medieval itineraries of the 8th century, you will find that you can experience Rome from the same angles and the same views as the medieval pilgrim or the Renaissance antiquarian. Let us go, then, you and I!