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A Tour of Rome’s Jewish Quarter

Marble tiles in the Jewish Quarter of Rome

 

“It’s impossible to do this tour or any other tour chronologically.”

This was one of the first things Lauren, a guide for the walking tour company Context Travel, told us as we stood in Largo Arenula, our starting point for a historic walk of Rome’s Jewish Quarter and Trastevere. In addition to Lauren, a British scholar who has studied the art, history, and culture of Rome for the better part of two decades, my group consisted of a quiet, young couple and a young, single woman. Context had invited me to be a guest on one of their tours and I chose to take this one as it was an area I knew the least about. I liked the idea of going on the tour as more or less a blank slate. I wanted to learn something.

At this point, I should back up and say that I have studied Rome, its landmarks, art, history, and neighborhoods for more than 15 years. Before that, I worked at an institute for German Studies and interned at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Even with this specialized knowledge, I’ve always found it difficult to find information about Rome’s Jewish heritage. Most guidebooks give it short shrift, which isn’t surprising; there are too many layers here to cover any one topic in detail. But I would venture to say that the story of the Jewish people in Rome is one of the few threads that weaves together the story of this city in a way that is both historically comprehensive and personal.

Following are just a few of the sites I learned about on the three-hour tour. Continue Reading →

Best Places to Stay on a Roman Holiday

Mood 44 - Hotel in Rome

I recently wrote about some of the best hotels in Rome for travelchannel.com. There really are so many more places I could have included. So stay tuned here for more suggestions.

Where to Stay on a Roman Holiday

Photos: On the Capitoline Hill

Marcus Aurelius statue on the Capitoline Hill. Note that this statue is a copy. The original is housed inside the Capitoline Museums, also located on this hill.

Marcus Aurelius statue on the Capitoline Hill. Note that this statue is a copy. The original is housed inside the Capitoline Museums, also located on this hill.

If you climb the Capitoline Hill from the back, it is not really clear what wonderful views await you. It’s also not clear that this was once the site of ancient Rome’s most high profile executions. Roman executioners flung the empire’s traitors off of the Tarpeian Rock, which is today an overgrown, nondescript spur on an otherwise illustrious hill. (Side note: Rome probably has more history hidden from view than other cities have in total.) Continue Reading →

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