Dear Sam,


I hope you’ve had a good break over the Easter weekend? We spent some of the time doing jobs around the house and I’m still on a mission to clear our clutter , so I was able to use some of your tips for  recycling what you usually can’t – they were very useful!

It hasn’t been all chores around here lately, though, and today I wanted to tell you about a trip we’ve recently taken to Rome.  I know you visited last summer but we’d never stayed there before, although we had been for a day whilst on holiday nearby which had given us the chance to get a feel for the city and we were looking forward to exploring further.

As you know, there is so much to do in Rome from the famous sights like the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel to the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon, quite apart from the shopping, eating and people watching! We were staying near the Roman Forum so we planned to make the most of the location and visit the sites of Ancient Rome.  It turned out to be very easy to get around on foot and it helped to give us a sense of how the different areas of the city linked to each other.  With classical references everywhere, I was glad I’d packed Caroline Taggart’s excellent book:

Classical Education

In my case, having done Latin at O Level, it could be subtitled The stuff you were taught but have forgotten and I found it invaluable in telling me who exactly were the various Emperors and mythical figures you come across as a tourist in Rome. It’s also very funny and entertaining and would have been a big help when I was in school!

As we were visiting sites like the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus, we thought how wonderful it would be to be able to see the buildings as they looked originally. So, I was very intrigued when we arrived home to see that Futurelearn were offering a free online course called Rome: a virtual tour of the ancient city, based around a computer model which has been built at the University of Reading.  It’s fascinating and really brings the ancient city to life and gives an idea of what ordinary Romans did from day to day.  It even includes recipes, some of which sound similar to modern Italian dishes like pesto and olive tapenade, but I don’t fancy roast flamingo!

To continue the Roman theme, I’ve also started reading Dictator. With much of the action set around the Forum, this is the gripping last book in Robert Harris’ trilogy about the politician Cicero:

image of book cover Robert Harris The Cicero Trilogy

And, before I finish my immersion in all things Roman, I think I’ll re-read an old favourite, Asterix the Gladiator:

Book cover Asterix the Gladiator

When you travel, do you like to read books that relate to places you’ve just visited?  I’ll add these to our Reading List page just in case!

Much love,


Photo credits: Main image of the Colisseum from Pixabay, The Cicero Trilogy image from Penguin Books and the Asterix the Gladiator image from the official Asterix website. Thank you to them.

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