In 2021, I will be fulfilling my dream of returning to Italy. It will have been thirteen years since I backpacked through the Repubblica Italiana. It was my first adventure “across the pond” and it changed my life.
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For years, my husband and I have been talking about our milestone ten-year wedding anniversary trip to Italy. We purchased Italian lesson DVDs, vocabulary cards, maps and more. Planning is our thing and so we’ve been saving, dreaming and discussing this journey for our entire marriage.
One of my goals for 2019 was to read more books about Italy. Fiction or non-fiction. I’m getting ready. I want the anticipation of the trip to be just as enjoyable as the actual event.
1. spqr a history of ancient rome
The first book on my reading list is SPQR A History of Ancient Rome. I’m about 300 pages in and finding the mix of facts and personal stories (Cicero, Julius Ceasar, etc.) from Roman citizens captivating.
History was never my strong suit. In fact, my freshman year in college I received a C in both of my History of Civilization classes. For a straight-A student, this greatly disturbed me. However, I connect well with the history of Italy.
I believe my interest in Italy stems from two years of Latin class during high school. Latin was incredibly hard to learn, and I hated the subject. However, I loved learning about Italy. We discussed Greek and Roman mythology and architecture, watched clips from The Legend of Aeneas, Julius Caesar, and Ben-Hur, and read parts of The Iliad. That class made me want to visit Europe and experience everything I had learned firsthand.
When you visit a country every book you read or documentary you watch about that country becomes more real and lifelike. Mary Beard’s SPQR A History of Ancient Rome discusses the origins of the city, its founders, government systems, and the day to day life of its citizens. I specifically enjoy the use of photos to illustrate facts. Right now I am reading about the home life of Roman citizens; particularly, women’s rights, marriage, and property ownership.
Update: I finished the book! My review remains the same. If you are visiting Rome, read this! My only wish is that the book covered a bit more time. It starts with the story of Romulus and Remus and ends in 212 AD after the emperor Caracalla gives Roman citizenship to all inhabitants of the empire.
2. venice: a new history
I am just wrapping up this magnificent book on the history of Venice. Even before my first visit to the famous lagoon, I was intrigued by the city built on the water. Venice: A New History, is an easy read. While it is full of dates, doges, crusades and religious history, the author doesn’t bog you down with them.
After reading this book on Venice, I feel I know the people that initially fled to the lagoon for safety and then built a thriving society there via the waterway. I can’t wait to return to St. Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace and the Rialto Bridge!