I’m on holiday right now, in Rome, an astonishing city, saturated in history, and still, of course, the centre of the Catholic church worldwide. Italy is a country that I have loved for a long time — on a visit as a child, as part of a family tour of Europe in our sky blue Triumph, in which we camping in France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany, and, in Italy, passed though dozens of tunnels, visiting Pisa and Firenze, and finding marble quarries high in the mountains; Many years later, with an Italian girlfriend, I visited Milano on numerous occasions, and also made memorable trips to Venezia, to Calabria and to Como — and it wads during this time that I learnt Italian, learned to love espresso, and also learned the basics of Italian cookery.
Fast forward to my life now, with my wife, Dot, and my son, Tyler, and Italy — along with Spain, and, last year, Greece — is one of the regular features of our family holidays in the Mediterranean. A few years ago, we had an amazing Easter holiday in Sicilia, and we also had a short holiday in Firenze, and, two years ago, a two-week bonanza with the first week in Puglia and the second in Napoli, which must rank as the most extraordinary city in western Europe, full of contradictions that are normally only associated with the developing world.
We’re in Rome for a week, and then moving on to Abruzzo province, and the city’s charms became apparent almost immediately — very friendly people, the great food, of course, and the architecture on an epic scale. There will be many more photos to follow, including more of the epic architecture that is such a feature of Rome, as well as photos from the tangle of ancient streets that seem to go on forever, with their shops, their restaurants, their churches, and their hidden corners, but for now these are my first impressions, from the day of our arrival.
Come for a walk with us …
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, Charlie Garcia Monroy wrote:
Enjoy Andy, take it easy my friend. You deserve it!
Neill Le Roux wrote:
Have a wonderful, well deserved holiday Andy.
Thank you, Charlie and Neill for the kind and supportive words! Just off out now, in the blazing sun, to visit the Colosseum!
Charlie Garcia Monroy wrote:
Whenever you have time, download those Colosseum pics. You’re the main man!
Jennah Solace wrote:
Love the one of the plants on the balcony! How do feel about copyright? Can I paint some of these?
David J. Clarke wrote:
Nice shots Andy. Have you seen much in the way of ruins and ancient architecture?
Victor McAuley wrote:
Great photos Andy.
Thanks, Jennah, David and Victor, and thanks again, Charlie. So we just visited the Colosseum today, Charlie and David, along with the Palatine, following a visit to the Roman Forum yesterday. All three visits create a powerful impression of Ancient Rome, with its civic centre, the shady hills for the leaders, and the monstrous blood-soaked amphitheatre of death that was cynically built for the plebs. I was wondering which “liberal” entrepreneurial TV producers have been wondering how to get live deaths on TV, but perhaps what disturbed me more was reading about how, as time passed, the deaths grew more and more staged, with elaborate sets, and inflammable costumes so that the “actors” could be burned alive, and I found myself wondering quite where, on that descent into total moral decline and depravity the Western world is right now. Photos soon!
And Jennah, please go ahead and paint what you want! I’d be honoured …
On Monday, I posted the photo of St. Peter’s at night from the balcony of our apartment on Facebook:
Below are some of the comments that followed.
Richard Osbourne wrote:
Probably my favourite city in the world. *envy*!
This is my first visit, Richard, and it’s already exceeding expectations. Right, off out to the local supermercado to stock up on necessities!
Richard Osbourne wrote:
Getting the food right was tricky – either overpriced tourist restaurants or hard-to-find local stores. Didn’t care though, I fell in love with the place. The Pantheon I think is probably the most extraordinary building in the world.
Have an amazing time Andy.
Neil Wilson wrote:
Rome is a faboulus place, have a great time Andy
Margaret King wrote:
Ruth Gilburt wrote:
have a great time, Andy Dot and Tyler…sounds glorious! xxx
Richard S. Kell wrote:
Jennah Solace wrote:
George Kenneth Berger wrote:
Sharing this. Very nice.
Heather Davidson wrote:
Try Trastevere . . : )))))
Thanks, everyone. Great to hear from you all. I’m used to being offline on holidays, so it’s nice to have the communication channels still open! Can’t wait to see the Pantheon, Richard. It sounds like I feel about the Alhambra in Granada, my favourite place! And I’ll check out Trastevere, Heather. We’ve just had lunch on the terrace, and will soon head out for the Centro Storico for a proper explore.
Thomas Philip Davis wrote:
Nello Ibn Luigi wrote:
Andy, enjoy it!
Colin Brace wrote:
lovely cityscape. Enjoy your time there and stay cool
Sue Glenton wrote:
I can taste Italy, be there in November. Enjoy!
Wi-fi connection cut out yesterday, but it’s back now. Thanks for the comments, my friends. Heather, we visited Trastevere yesterday evening, when we finally made it out of the apartment after – yes – a day of torrential rain! Will post photo/s soon. In the meantime, check out my photos of what I left behind: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2012/08/14/a-place-to-call-home-photos-of-brockley-from-winter-to-summer/
Beebs Tweet wrote:
Dhyanne Green wrote:
ENJOY – ENJOY – ENJOY your well deserved family holiday. Peace – Love – Blessings to you and your loved ones.
Beverly Hendricks wrote:
Have fun, Andy. I wish I could vacation with my family in Italy (hard to arrange from NY). Sounds wonderful.
Thank you, Dhyanne. Such wonderful good wishes. And Beverly, I am definitely having fun. Sorry NY is so far!
كيرستن ماكنزي wrote:
You’ll love it, Andy! Make sure you walk through the Imperial Forum, et al., before you leave
Have a lovely time. . . I think it’s safe to say you’ve earned it!!
Thanks for the kind words! Imperial Forum, Colosseum and Palatine all visited, along with the wonderful Pantheon. Still a few more days before a week in Abruzzo. Hoping to catch the Sistene Chapel tomorrow!
David J. Clarke wrote, in response to 8, above:
It was considered an indication of a weak nature to feel empathy for those who were tortured and murdered as entertainment for the pliable masses.Yet not all Romans were of one mind: Seneca the younger found the ‘games’ to be cruel and dehumanizing…”All cruelty springs from weakness.”
Thanks, David. “All cruelty springs from weakness” is an excellent motto, and one that is eternally true.
Rupert Williams wrote:
hope you´re having a great time Andy always wanted to go to Roma
Yes, having an excellent time, Rupert. It’s worth a visit if you ever get a chance. Lovely people here in Rome. You’d like them.
So I posted the statue and seagull photo on Facebook: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyworthington/7791177852/in/set-72157631093058168/
and Henry W. Peters wrote:
The sculptors friend (or enemy; i.e., good or bad “paint jobs”)!
Fiona Nedeff wrote:
Some days you’re the pigeon (seagull), and some days you’re the statue.
Ha! Great comment, Fiona. I’ve noticed, actually, that the statues here in Rome tend to be clean. There’s a lot of money being spent on cleaning. Bins are constantly emptied, it seems. I guess tourists are a fussy lot these days. I’m old enough to remember scruffier times, when guide books had hardly been invented, and danger – or opportunity – was much more prevalent. Now we’re safer, and in many ways that’s to be commended, but we’ve lost some things in the shadows, and they weren’t all bad …
Fiona Nedeff wrote:
We’re on a not so Lonely Planet, but getting lost was half the fun.
Jennah Solace wrote:
You are very poetic these days — nice transformations happening in your thoughts and writing — I like
And you are very perceptive, Jennah. I’m not sure where this poetic inspiration is taking me, but I have to follow it, after six years of dwelling in the world of facts, forensic analysis and sustained empathy for the victims of America’s descent into tyranny. I believe my muse is refreshing me …
Jennah Solace wrote:
It was inevitable… I was waiting to see this side of you emerge. All transformation leads to enlightenment
I remain interested in your analysis, Jennah. Transformation leading to enlightenment, eh? I very much hope so. I have certainly been undergoing major changes, having given up my previously toxic lifestyle (the cigarettes), having gone through major illness and bereavement, and, a year after giving up smoking, having decided to get fit. The cycling and photography project is the one that really excites me – actually that, and finding a way to try and turn my thoughts about politics into some useful action. The evolution continues, I hope …!
Writer, campaigner, investigative journalist and commentator. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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