Dreaming of Rome

For the last few days I have been dipping into a general tourist guide to Rome at odd points during the day.  It’s been very pleasant, imagining myself there, thinking of the Piazza Navona or the Spanish Steps, or the little shop not far from the Pantheon where one can buy bread and cheese and other essentials.

But today I found myself reading a section about the Appian Way, running south-west from the city.  The Baths of Caracalla I have seen; but beyond these the road runs out through the Aurelian walls of Rome, and down past various catacombs to the tomb of Cecilia Metella (reconstruction image left from here).  The circus of Maxentius is nearby, and the guidebook vaguely refers to the ruins of an “imperial palace” nearby.

I’d like to see these.  But I realise that I have no real idea how to do so.  In central Rome I walk, or I take the metro.  But I would like to be able to get a bit further.  I’d like to be able to hire a car and driver and go to Ostia, or to the ruins of Hadrian’s villa.

What does one do?  Has anyone any tales to tell?

I mistrust taxis in Rome.  I well remember picking up a taxi at Termini to go to my hotel — which was almost walking distance away — and noticing with surprise that the meter started, not at zero, but at 20 euros.  That was a pricey trip; and when the time came to return I walked back.

I must go to Rome again.  Only … my last visit was by myself, to photograph a manuscript.  It was cheap enough to do, and to take a flight by Easyjet — was it Easyjet? — to Rome and an Easyjet minibus as far as Termini.  But it was a lonely trip, really.  I remember feeling lonely while I was there.  My other trips have been as part of tours, with people to talk to if I wanted.  Perhaps I need to find a Rome tour that will do much of this with me.  But where, I wonder?

14 Responses to “Dreaming of Rome”

  1. judith weingarten

    Roger, check out this good advice: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Periods/Roman/Topics/Engineering/roads/Appia/Roma-Bovillae/home.html
    The first part of the Appian Way is indeed ‘schifo’.
    Have a lovely trip, Judith

  2. David S.

    i used to attend this church many years ago. There are lots of young, enthusiastic, and wonderful people, many of them are foreigners to Rome and are used to helping each other navigate life in the city. I was friends with its founding pastor though most of my acquaintances have moved so I cannot refer you to anyone in particular. Still, perhaps a member would be willing to drive you for a modest fee? It wouldn’t hurt to send an email. Even if your beliefs aren’t exactly the same, this is an excellent network of friends to have in the area…

  3. Roger Pearse

    Their beliefs are mine, as it happens. This is a very good and very thoughtful suggestion – thank you.

  4. Roger Pearse

    Judith, Thank you for this! The diary entry seems to be here. Useful to know!

  5. Maureen

    You know, an awful lot of patristics students or theology students, or even professors, in Rome probably feel grateful to you. It seems that a lot of them like to have an excuse to take people on tours, etc. So it doesn’t seem to me that you should be shy of company in Rome, if you start blegging now. 🙂

  6. Roger Pearse

    It would be nice to think so! But sadly I am probably much less well known than I think. Mind you, I do get a lot of offers to send me money from Nigeria, together with advertisments to enlarge parts of my body. But I am too modest to accept the first and the second is quite unnecessary.

  7. XD

    Need a guide ? Tall, dark, handsome gentleman named Gregory Peck owes 500 to his boss.

  8. Jona lendering

    Bus 118 will bring you to the part of the Via Appia you need to reach. Renting a bicycle is also a good idea in Rome.

  9. Roger Pearse

    Thank you for the suggestion.

    Bicycles in Roman traffic, tho — sounds like suicide to me?

  10. Jona lendering

    “Bicycles in Roman traffic, tho — sounds like suicide to me?”

    Don’t worry. I never had any problems.

  11. jo rosenblum

    I Meant to comment on the whole “Roma” thing…
    are you really considering an Italian holiday?..
    that’s fantastic, me too .
    I can’t wait , and I know that everything I see I’ll fall in love with.
    (well all the info shared on your blog is helpful).

  12. Roger Pearse

    Rome is wonderful. We all know what a “capital city” tends to feel like, but Rome does not feel like this. A friend of mine who was living in Rome described it as feeling more like a village, and I know what he means.

    I must make the time to go out there. As the song says, “it’s later than you think.”

  13. berenike



    Some city guides say which buses go where (I think the popular something Kindersley one does- the one with all the cut-away illustrations). It’s a good starting point for poking around the ATAC website.

  14. Roger Pearse

    Not so keen on buses, myself. I feel sick on them, for instance.