Immerse Yourself in a Fascinating 2,000-Year-Old World of Celebrity

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), May 10, 2009 | Go to article overview

Immerse Yourself in a Fascinating 2,000-Year-Old World of Celebrity


ONE of the summer's major exhibitions in Rome tells the story of Vespasian. 'Il Divo Vespasiano' - Vespasian the Celebrity - celebrates the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of one of the city's more famous emperors.

But then Rome had so many rulers.

Actually, there is so much history.

In Britain, we have an extraordinary number of Roman remains, from the grand sweep of Hadrian's Wall in the North to ancient villas in Sussex, with much in between. In some places - such as Bath - it's hard to dig a trench without banging your spade on a classical mosaic or ornate tombstone.

When you think of how much ancient Rome there is here, imagine how much ancient Rome that present-day Rome has to contend with. The big surprise for the first-time visitor is that the modern city of Rome seems largely to have been built in, among, around and, of course, on top of the ancient buildings. In many cases - notably with the Colosseum and the Pantheon - the old buildings are still very much alive and kicking.

When you visit the Italian capital, you don't so much need a map as a historical primer. …

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