With a family name of Rome, I was fascinated with Roman history from a very early age. I survived the childhood puns like “Rome wasn’t built in a day, it took nine months.” Or when I was tumbled to the ground I would hear, “hey look, it’s the fall of Rome”. I watched every sword and sandal film that came out in the 1950s and 60s. As the years progressed I began to read and study this amazing history. There are hundreds of great books, and everyone, including the ancient historians, has a different point of view and different explanation. Just like today, the ancient historians wrote to sell books or put themselves in good favor with their superior. As Winston Churchill put it, “History will be very kind to me, for I intend to write it.”
I was hooked on Rome after my first visit in 1981. These days we spend our time between Rome and San Francisco. Rome is a city that is always re-discovering itself. With large private endowments for restorations and the excavation of the new metro C, there are new discoveries opening all the time. It’s an exciting time to be a Rome enthusiast.
Visiting the past gives us a better explanation of why we’re here. We can see what happened along the way. It’s a lot of fun digging through the clues.
Things really haven’t changed that much through the years. We still live in a world filled with cultural creativity, technological advancement, culinary rapture, international scandal, myopic religious tolerance, insensible prejudice, childish power struggles, corrupt governments, conspicuous consumption, abject poverty, unimaginable wealth, loving people and incredible beauty. We might wear different clothing and live in a world of different technology, but basic humanity really hasn’t strayed that far from the Roman Empire. As the Historian Mary Beard so aptly wrote, “We do the Romans a disservice if we heroize them, as much as if we demonize them. But we do ourselves a disservice if we fail to take them seriously – and if we close our long and complicated conversation with them”.
Travelling might be a little more inconvenient these days but it is still worth the effort.
I hope you enjoy the website. I spend most of my time writing about the city of Rome and the Roman Empire but we’ll go anywhere with an interesting history, which is pretty much anywhere.
“Stuff your eyes with wonder. Live as if you’d drop dead in ten minutes. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories”. Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451.
All the best,
Jonathan Rome and Gretchen Van Horne
San Francisco, California and the World