NOTES FROM ROME

The Italian Risorgimento

By Francesca Troilo.
Published in Italia! Magazine n.77 April 2011

risorgimentoThis year we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Italian unification. The long process bringing to it is called “Risorgimento” – meaning the “resurrection” of the patriotic hopes and efforts to free the Italian peninsula from foreign and absolute rulers – and it spans the XIX century up to 1871. The roots of this movement lie in the ideals spread by the French Revolution and brought to Italy by Napoleon who created several “Republics” between 1796 and 1799: even our “tricolore” – our flag – was created following the design of the French flag, changing the blue into green. The Risorgimento was quite a nightmare for me in high school, with so many events and alliances and dates and battles to try and digest: united Italy was born out of seven different states! So, I’m not attempting to unravel this burdensome page of history, but I’m simply taking you to the places in Rome which will make alive for us the most important events in the long fight for restoring it into the Capital of Italy. Shall we start with Castel Sant’Angelo? This was the fortress and prison for political dissidents in Papal Rome. It became an icon for the detested Papal rule with Puccini’s Tosca, whose action is set in June 1800, when Napoleon beat the Austrians at Marengo: the hero of the opera, painter Mario Cavaradossi is tortured and executed in Castel Sant’Angelo for hiding a Jacobin aristocrat and his lover, singer Floria Tosca, jumps in the Tiber from the terrace of the fortress and follows Mario’s tragic end.
Next we go up Gianicolo Hill, which saw the strenuous defence of the Roman Republic against the French who fought to reinstate Pope Pious IX. Following the wave of the uprisings sweeping over Continental Europe in 1848, Milan and Venice rebelled against the Austrian rulers and Carlo Alberto of Savoy was persuaded by Camillo Cavour and the Piedmont’s intellighenzia to support the rebels. This war was a disaster for Carlo Alberto, who had to abdicate in favour of his son Victor Emanuel II. Anyway, when the hopes for liberty were still high, the Romans rebelled against the Pope and created the Roman Republic on February 9th 1849. A modern Constitution was issued and three men led the State: Giuseppe Mazzini, Aurelio Saffi and Carlo Armellini. The defeat of Carlo Alberto sped up the end if this democratic experience: from June 3rd to July 3rd 1849 a French army of 30000 men led by General Oudinot besieged and cannoned Gianicolo Hill where 9000 men led by Giuseppe Garibaldi defended Rome. Among the dead, a young patriot-poet fell: Goffredo Mameli, the author of the Italian anthem Fratelli d’Italia. During the resistance the church of S.Pietro in Montorio was turned into a hospital and the Milanese Princess Cristina Belgiojoso organized the ambulance service. Reporters from all over Europe followed with trepidation the events. Nowadays the equestrian monument of Garibaldi watches over Rome and his beloved wife Anita lies not far from his sight. After these failures Cavour brought the “Italian Question” to the attention of the European nations by sending troops to fight in the Crimean War on the French and English side. After the defeat of Russia he obtained a statement “against the policies of Austria in Italy”. At the same time he gained the support of Napoleon III in exchange for the territories of Nice and Savoy. In 1859 Lombardy was freed and voted to be annexed to Piedmont; the same did Tuscany and Emilia Romagna in 1860. The famous “impresa dei Mille” – the enterprise of the Thousand – saw Garibaldi and his volunteers sail from Genoa in May 1860, land in Sicily and liberate Southern Italy from the Bourbon rule in five months. At the same time the Piedmont’s army defeated the Papal troops in the Marche region: between September and October 1860 Marche, Umbria and the former Kingdom of the Two Sicilies voted to be annexed to Piedmont. These plebiscites led to the proclamation of Victor Emanuel II King of Italy on March 17th 1861: that’s the date we celebrate this year. The new Kingdom of Italy was immediately recognised by Great Britain and Switzerland on March 30th, followed shortly by the USA on April 30th 1861. As you’ve realized, we still miss an important piece in the puzzle: Rome! In 1860 Garibaldi was stopped from pursuing his enterprise towards the Papal City by Victor Emanuel; he made a new attempt in 1862, sailing from Caprera, landing in Palermo and heading north. He was shot and arrested by the regular Italian army in Aspromonte (Calabria). Garibaldi and his volunteers tried and failed again in 1867. Finally, due to the disastrous war against Prussia, the French were compelled to retire their last troops protecting the Papal State and the Italian government seized the opportunity to get the long longed for Capital. On September 20th 1870 the “bersaglieri” corps entered Rome from the eastern side via a breach opened in the old Aurelian Walls near Porta Pia. The resistance and bloodshed were limited by express will of Pope Pious IX who shut himself up in the Vatican and declared to be prisoner of the Italian State. He had to leave the Quirinal Palace to King Victor Emanuel, but had it locked and didn’t leave the keys behind: so the Italian King had to call a blacksmith in order to break in his new royal palace. The first King of Italy was duly celebrated in 1911 with the dedication of the ultimate monument to our Risorgimento: the Vittoriano – also called the Altar of Fatherland. Stark white, most imposing, it’s an impressive backdrop to the equestrian statue of King Victor Emanuel, under which an Unknown Soldier fallen in the First World War was buried in 1921; inside, in its long high vaulted gallery, you find several touching and extremely interesting mementos of the men and women who made our Risorgimento, including Garibaldi’s blue jeans.

The Women of the Risorgimento
Among the many women who played a relevant and active role in the Italian fight for independence I’ve chosen two foreign ladies who devoted their life to this ideal.

ANITA GARIBALDI
Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro da Silva Garibaldi was born on Aug 30th 1821 in a poor village in the Brazilian province of Santa Caterina, a year prior to Brazil’s independence from Portugal. Her uncle instilled into her a republican faith; her mother married her to a shoemaker when she was 14. She met Giuseppe Garibaldi four years later, in 1839, when he was fighting on behalf of a separatist republic in Southern Brazil. It was love at first sight: Garibaldi said “You must be mine” as he greeted her and she joined him on his ship, the Rio Pardo. Anita became Giuseppe’s comrade-in-arms distinguishing herself as a skilled horsewoman and a passionate and jealous lover. They spent 10 years together and had four children. In 1841 they moved to Montevideo – where they got married – to fight on the side of Uruguay against the Argentinian dictatorship. Garibaldi moved back to Italy to join the revolutions of 1848 against the Austrian Empire and Anita didn’t hesitate to follow him on the battlefield. They went to the rescue of the Roman Republic in 1849 but after the defeat they had to fly north, towards Venice which was still resisting. Anita, weak and feverish died during the flight, near Ravenna, on Aug 4th 1849. Her remains lie on Gianicolo Hill in Rome, in a monument dedicated to her not far from the one dedicated to her husband-hero.

JESSIE WHITE MARIO
“Hurricane Jessie”, as Mazzini used to call her, was born on May 9th 1832 in Hampshire. Unlike most girls growing up in Victorian England, she accomplished her education at the Sorbonne in Paris studying philosophy. She had the occasion of meeting Garibaldi and decided to dedicate her life to the unification of Italy. Back to London in 1855 she worked with Giuseppe Mazzini who lived there in exile. She married the patriot Alberto Mario in 1857 and toured Europe and the USA in order to lecture and raise funds for the Italian cause, besides writing a regular column on London liberal newspaper Daily News called: “Italy for Italians” – 143 features in 40 years. She was also a nurse to Garibaldi’s soldiers in four wars: she joined him in 1860 and followed the “Mille enterprise” from Genoa to Sicily to overthrow the Bourbon rule in Southern Italy. After 1870 Jessie shifted her attention to the social issues of the united country: she wrote about the life of the poor in Naples and the working conditions in the sulphur mines in Sicily. She wrote the biographies of Garibaldi and Mazzini, too. She died in Florence on March 5th 1906 but her ashes are buried near Venice, next to Alberto’s. You can find her profile on the monument dedicated to Mazzini on Aventine Hill in Rome.

BOOKS

Fiction

• Antonio Fogazzaro, The Patriot, Nabu Press 2010 (written in 1859)
• Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard: A Novel, William Collins PLC & Random House, Inc. 2007 (written in 1956)

Essays

• Denis Mack Smith, Mazzini, Biddles Ltd 1996
• C.T.McIntire, England against the Papacy 1858-1861, Cambridge University Press 2008
• Christopher Hibbert and Ross King, Garibaldi: Hero of Italian Unification, Palgrave Macmillan 2008
• Lucy Riall, Risorgimento: The History of Italy from Napoleon to Nation-State, Palgrave Macmillan 2009

MOVIES

1860 – Sicily Eighteen Sixty directed by Alessandro Blasetti, 1934; starring Giuseppe Gulino and Aida Bellia.
The Bandit of Tacca del Lupo directed by Pietro Germi, 1952; starring Amedeo Nazzari and Saro Urzì, from the novel by Riccardo Bacchelli, screenplay by Federico Fellini, Pietro Germi and Tullio Pinelli.
Senso directed by Luchino Visconti, 1954; starring Alida Valli, Massimo Girotti and Farley Granger.
The Leopard directed by Luchino Visconti, 1963; starring Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale. From the novel by Tomasi di Lampedusa.
Allonsanfan directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, 1974; starring Marcello Mastroianni and Lea Massari; soundtrack by Ennio Morricone.
In the Name of the Pope King directed by Luigi Magni, 1977; starring Nino Manfredi and Danilo Mattei; soundtrack by Armando Trovajoli. Rome, October 22nd 1867: the last capital sentence is executed against the patriots Giuseppe Monti and Gaetano Tognetti who put a bomb in a barrack killing 23 French soldiers. An anti-Popish account of the historical event. (The capital sentence will be abolished by the Italian government in 1889). Roman director Gigi Magni also gave a brilliant and capital version of Tosca (1973) all sung in “romanesco” – our Roman dialect. Don’t understand the lyrics? Never mind! Enjoy the music (by Armando Trovajoli), the acting and the locations. Starring the Roman iconic comedians Gigi Proietti and Monica Vitti.

Another Wooden Spoon?

By Francesca Troilo.
Published in Italia! Magazine n.78 May 2011

flaminioIs it hard to believe that two persons living in a big city like Rome haven’t been meeting for… a zillion years? This is what happened to my cousin and me: he lives in the Parioli district (north) and I live in the neighbourhood of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls (south-west). This year we decided to fill the disgraceful gap and we agreed to meet… at the rugby pitch! My cousin Gregorio is a supporter of our national team who entered the Six Nations Rugby Tournament in 2000 and he proposed we should go and watch the home matches at the Stadio Flaminio. I’ve always been much more fascinated by rugby than by soccer, who knows why? Maybe because these powerful big men coveting, shielding and cradling in their arms an egg-shaped ball make ancestral images surge in the back of my mind? With all the symbolism related to the egg, it could well be. Another reason is that no hooligan fear attaches to rugby and I felt safe and sure I’d enjoy the whole experience. In the best Italian tradition, the event begins with an invitation to a family lunch: as if by magic I get across the city in a bare half-hour by public transport (it’s Saturday!) and I’m welcomed by my cousin and his lovely wife. We chat in the kitchen while Gregorio puts his home-made pizzas in the oven and Claudia laids the table. We merrily go through lunch and after coffee we tackle a 20 min brisk walk – downhill, luckily – to arrive at the Stadio Flaminio well before the kick-off. We want to enjoy the colours and fancy attires of the Welsh supporters: gentlemen wearing Red Dragon wigs and ladies disguised as dainty Daffodils! The atmosphere is pleasant and relaxed, an early spring sun warms us, all the people look beaming… also thanks to the beer flowing. It’s time to go to our gate and to reach our seats, we don’t want to miss the national anthems: standing silent to the away team anthem and then singing “Fratelli d’Italia” at the top of our voices is a climax. Around us people from all over Italy – especially from Veneto and Abruzzi, where rugby is big – and of all ages: from 6 to 60! Italy plays fairly well, but the Wales plays better and faster. Part of our problem seems to lie in the kicks: half of them go lost… We clap our hands to the points scored by both teams and we shout ourselves deaf in support of the Azzurri… to no avail, alas! Reading the statistics, I’ve found out that we’ve been deserving the Wooden Spoon since 2007! Defeated but not tamed, we stay on until our men pass through the corridor of the Welsh and then make our exit along with about 25.000 spectators, the Stadio Flaminio was nearly sold out. We walk along this flowing human river ready for a hearty third time towards Piazzale Flaminio, preferring to cover the distance on foot than being squashed in the crowded tram-cars. No matter the results, the afternoon was good sport and before parting we promise to see each other again sooner than the next Six Nations Rugby season.
After all, we didn’t get the Wooden Spoon! In the next match Italia won over France, a true sensational and unexpected victory…

Guide to Rome’s Best Gelato Shops

By Mauro F. Girella.
Published in Italia! Magazine n.79 June 2011

giolittiIn spite of what the Chinese may say, the gelato’s cradle is Italy, and Sicily in particular! Chinese claim they had invented almost everything before Europe: from the spaghetti to the compass, from the fireworks to the gelato, from paper to silk … well I have to admit that the most amazing , shining, sophisticated silk I’ve ever seen comes from China … but did you ever dare tasting a Chinese ice-cream? Come on: they are not world-wide famous for that, as they are for the incredible peculiarities of their cuisine and their intense use of garlic! On the contrary, every tourist that comes to Italy want to try one of our juicy, fruitful, mouth-filling, rich-flavored ice-creams!!! Sicily is the area where most of the gelato base is prepared and where the richest flavors come from, but … should you come to Rome, there are some places that are really worthwhile visiting for the gelato-fans and … gluttons in general! Let me guide you to some of the most popular in the city center. If you come to Rome by train, the closer for sure is the “Palazzo del Freddo” (Palace of the Cold), in Via Principe Eugenio, 65 – http://www.palazzodelfreddo.it/ . The building is interesting for the intact early XX century architecture and this ice-cream factory has been here for almost a century now. Coming to Rome I’m sure you don’t want to miss the chance to toss a coin in the water of the Trevi fountain! Well, just around the corner you may find “San Crispino” in Via della Panetteria, 42 –www.ilgelatodisancrispino.com. This place is really small but as clean as a surgery room, their scoops are not very generous but their taste is really unique. Keep on walking from the Trevi fountain and in 5 minutes you will be in front of our Parliament, and on a little street siding this huge baroque palace you can find “Giolitti al Parlamento” (Via degli uffici del Vicario, 40 – http://www.giolitti.it/) This is the historical seat since 1900: all in liberty style, nothing has changed since then in the decoration of the shop. Great variety of flavors, tables inside and outside, and sometimes you may have the chance to seat next to one of our MP’s leaking a gelato like you. Another short walk in this intriguing baroque district of the city and you will enter in one of the most spectacular baroque squares of Europe: Piazza Navona. The plan still reflecting exactly the shape of the Domitian Stadium, this square was enhanced with no less than 3 fountains in the 1600. On the side of the church of Santa Agnese in Agone you can spot “Tre Scalini” (Piazza Navona, 28 – http://www.trescalini.it/ )with tables outside, particularly famous for the Tartufo (the truffle): a ball of bitter chocolate gelato, covered with scales of frozen chocolate, served on a little dish and topped with whipped cream (if you like it). But … don’t tell me you come to Rome and you are not interested in visiting the Sistine Chapel! Well, just in front of the walls marking the border between Italy and the Vatican, in Via dei Bastioni di Michelangelo, 5 , you may bump into a line of people on the sidewalk: no, they are not lining up to see Michelangelo’s frescos, they are queuing to slap one of the fabulous ice cream cones of the “Old Bridge”. Only 2 sq. mt. (21 sq. ft.)for clients that line up on this side of the street to buy their gelato and then cross to the opposite sidewalk to eat it … just before meeting Michelangelo!

Rome Fountains

By Mauro F. Girella.
Published in Italia! Magazine n.80 July 2011

fountainsWhoever comes to the Eternal City is surprised by the incredible number of monumental marble fountains scattered in every district of the wide “city center” and by the astonishing number of drinkable water fountains for the everyday use of both citizens and tourist as well. When the English poet Percy B. Shelly came to Rome in the XIX century, he wrote “the fountains are enough to justify a trip to Rome”. Certainly every tourist who came to Rome has taken a pause (and some pictures) at some of the most famous of them, actually surrounded everyday by thousands of tourists: the Trevi fountain, the fountain of the Triton, the fountain of the Four Rivers, the fountain of the Pantheon, the fountain of the Lions in the People square, the two fountains in St. Peter’s square. But none of these tourists may even imagine that beside those, the city may boast today something like: 1,200 nasoni (cast-iron fountain providing drinking water to everybody), 70 marble “wolf-fountains” for the same use, and no less than 170 monumental marble fountains! And their water is always drinkable. So, today I would like to draw your attention on some of the lesser popular but equally beautiful, relaxing and elegant waterworks that you may happen to meet with in an adventurous walk … in the city center!

Giardino del Lago Garden’s Lake. The garden in question is named after one of the most prestigious families of the Papal State at the beginning of the 1600: the Borghese. In the late 1700 the Borghese princes asked to the architect Antonio Asprucci and the landscape gardener Jacob More to build an “ambient” inspired by the romantic English gardens around an artificial lake. Hundreds of wild plants were added according to a wild scheme and winding lanes were traced; the borders of the lake were made irregular and artificial rocks were added. Finally, in the little island in the center of the lake, a temple dedicated to Aesculapius was erected in neoclassical stile to remember the first temple dedicated in Rome to this Greek god of Medicine, during the plague of 291 b.C. You may even rent a little boat and row to the temple.

Fontana dell’Orologio Clock’s fountain. In the garden next to the Borghese, called Pincio we can find this romantic masterpiece of hydraulic technology and inventiveness. Conceived and built by the Dominican G.B. Embriaco this hydro-chronometer was exhibited for the first time in 1867 at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. The water falls alternatively in two big spoons which, oscillating, make the mechanism move. The clock looks like a little tower in glass and dark wood set up on rocks emerging in the center of a fountain.

Fontana delle Tartarughe Turtles’ Fountain. Thanks to the peaceful quite of the Piazza (square) Mattei where it’s located –pedestrian area only- you may fully appreciate the elegance of this very pretty fountain built around 1585 by Giacomo Della Porta and Taddeo Landini. Four sophisticated bronze ephebes holding a dolphin with one hand push a turtle in the upper basin. An elegant contrast of colours generates from the light blue water and the African marble of the generous shells, continues with the dark bronze and the light “pavonazzetto” marble. This masterpiece of Della Porta spreads harmony and serenity all around.

Walking underground Rome.

By Annalivia Villa.
Published in Italia! Magazine n.81 August 2011

underground_rome_toursMillions of people come to Rome each year in search of antiquity, and walk unsuspectingly across invisible buried baths, villas, theatres and stadia during theirs tours on the surface ruins. Beneath this bustling metropolis lie the remains of another Eternal City, entombed underground since the Fall of Rome. On a summer day, when the temperature reaches 90Fh,. I like walking through this underground realm, discovering unexpected sites and clues to the evolution of the modern city long vanished from the surface. A good place to begin exploring Rome’s layers is San Clemente, a twelfth-century church near the Colosseum. Descending the staircase from the church above you find yourself in a hall decorated with fading frescoes painted on the wall related to a previous church of the fourth century; then following a narrow stair of this lower church you walk into a Roman apartment where, almost hidden, you find a worship place dedicated to Mithra. This oriental god of truth and salvation was one of Jesus’ main rivals during the late empire. Along the walls of this low-roofed hall are the benches where the worshippers reclined, and in the middle is the altar with the carved cult statue of Mithra plunging his sword into the neck of a bull. Here, you can feel the humidity in the air and on the greenish stone patched with fungi and moss, and this is not even the lowest layer! Descending deeper, you reach the fourth level at about a dozen yards belowground: the ruin of the ancient Mint of Rome, where you can hear and see a stream of water flowing in original roman pipes. Take a breath and start walking again on the city surface but remember that wherever you see a church standing you may find an unexpected ancient ruin below: churches make excellent hunting grounds. In many crypts and side chapels are locked doorways that the sacristan can sometimes be persuaded to open. They lead down to Roman baths, prisons, military barracks or remains such as the huge sun dial of Emperor Augustus below the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina. Recently, an astonishing luxurious house of the Imperial Age wrapped within earth for centuries has been opened to the public, right beneath the local government building of the Provincia: Palazzo Valentini. The site is close to one of the most famous monuments of Rome: the Trajan Forum. The most remarkable thing about the house is its luxury marble flooring. The expensive marble sheets have been imported into Rome from all over the Empire, including Africa, and have been cut into geometric shapes to form an inlay work, “opus sectile” technique. Through a mixture of archaeological remains, restored baths and virtual reality, it’s possible to experience a sense of life in imperial times and with the help of a large 3D display you enjoy the reconstruction of the area as it would have appeared in Rome’s Imperial Age.

Talking Statues in (papal) Rome

By Mauro F. Girella.
Published in Italia! Magazine n.82 September 2011

pasquinoIn a city oppressed by the temporal power of the Pope, the cardinals and their aristocratic families, and where even the faintest idea of freedom of the press did not exist, talking statues were the only way left to the ordinary people of Rome to express their discontent with the arrogance, dishonesty, vice, corruption and immoral behavior of the ruling class. During the night, notices were hung on these statues with a comment (generally in elegant Latin rhymes) so that the next morning everybody could read them before they were removed by papal guards. However, once taken down they were delivered to the Pope, who was at that point well aware of the discontent of the working classes, or pissed off by the heavy or sagacious charges of immoral behavior against himself or members of his family. These messages (or rhymes) were so frequent and struck every aspect of both private and public lives of the mighty that as early as 1509 a satirical pamphlet was published containing the best “pasquinate”. These messages were in fact named after the most popular talking statue: Pasquino. More than one Pope tried to eliminate the talking statues: Hadrian VI even planned to throw Pasquino in the Tiber river, but he was fortunately discouraged by wise cardinals who understood that, without the possibility for the working classes to express their voice through the satire of those rhymes, the Pope would probably have had to face much greater problems of law enforcement and social peace. Yet, who wrote these short lines, sometimes sagacious, sometimes vitriolic, sometimes bitingly satirical, sometimes devastating like a scandal, always explicitly targeting ruling figures? For sure not the working class. Only a small percentage of the European population was able to read and write (and among these many were priests or monks). Given the elegance of those Latin rhymes, probably men of letters and famous writers like T. Tasso or G.B. Marino, picking up the discontent in squares, inns, streets and markets, synthesized them in the pasquinades. Others were probably written by the same members of the clergy, out of spite, to damage a political opponent, expose evil doings or the corruption of an official, at least to the crowds. In election times the pasquinades increased. These talking statues were not placed in particular sites, but in common streets and squares of the city, exactly like the common people of whose dissatisfaction, anger, and disenchanted irony was being reported through them. And the good thing is that they are still visible in today’s Rome. Here they are:

• Pasquino – in the square of the same name (near piazza Navona)
• Madama Lucrezia – next to St. Mark’s Church in Piazza Aracoeli
• Marforio – inside the Capitolini Museums on Capitol Hill
• Il Facchino – (the Porter) in via Lata, beside via del Corso
• L’abate Luigi – in Piazza Vidoni, beside St. Andrea della Valle’s Church
• Il Babuino – in the street of the same name, near the Orthodox church

We’re talking about the same ancient Roman statues, in white marble, devastated by time and neglect, but should you come to Rome, go and see them: Pasquino is still able today to rail against Prime Minister Berlusconi, Pope Ratzinger and Mayor Alemanno!

The English Romantic Age in Rome

By Francesca Troilo.

romantic_age“It may make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place.” This is what Shelley remarked about the Protestant Cemetery by the Pyramid of Caius Cestius – the latter one of the most famous landmarks in the south-western suburbs of Rome that amazed all Grand Tour travellers (did you know that all Neoclassical artists used the Roman Pyramid as a model?) In the 1700s, Papal Rome was visited by more and more North European well-to-do travellers and had several Protestant residents: ambassadors, members of the clergy, part of the court of James Stuart who lived as an exile in Rome. Consequently the need arose to give them a decent burial place outside the Aurelian Walls, as the Papal law prescribed for the non-Catholic. The appeal of the Pyramid as a melancholic yet appeasing memento mori made the plane of Testaccio – once used for the Carnival “corrida style” games – the perfect spot elected by the Protestant community of artists and aristocrats for their last sleep. The oldest burial found dates to 1738: it’s George Langton’s, a young Oxford graduate. Nowadays it counts about 4000 tombs, one fourth of which of North Americans, confined in a rather tiny area shaded by majestic cypresses where you can take a peaceful and inspiring stroll away from the hectic hustle and bustle. The “bright star” of the cemetery is John Keats, who spent the last three months of his life in Rome, trying to recover from tubercolosis, of which he died at only 25 in 1821. “Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water” he shares with us from his tombstone. Shortly afterwards Percy B. Shelley joined him: his heart was buried at the foot of an ivy draped wall, after he drowned in a shipwreck off the Tuscan coast in 1822. Most aptly his epitaph recites Ariel’s song from Shakespeare’s Tempest: “Nothing of him that doth fade, But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange”. We also find Joseph Severn’s tomb: he escorted Keats to Rome and then returned to Eternal City as British consul in 1861; he wanted to rest by his long regretted friend and was buried next to him when he died in 1879. To learn more about the “Romantic Connection” in Rome go to the Spanish Steps and visit the apartments where Keats and Severn lived in 1821. The house was bought by an Anglo-American-Italian committee decided to save the place from disruption and turned into a museum and library. 8000 volumes, the last drawing of Keats by Severn, Lord Byron’s Carnival wax mask, John Milton’s locks and many more relics await your inspection. After which you’ll surely need to comfort yourself with a nice strong cup of tea: walk to the other side of the Spanish Steps and slip in at Babington’s Tea Room. Funded by Miss Isabel Cargill and Miss Anna Maria Babington in 1893, it made available to the English residents the precious “drug” – i.e. tea- which was sold only at chemists’ at the time!