An Adventure A Day

Because "life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all" – Helen Keller

More than 2,000 years of history ensures that you’ll stumble across a familiar name or two in Rome.

A walk down nearly any street is a chance to mingle with the names of people, places, and events found within the pages of travel guides, histories, myths, and novels.

Perhaps its emperors you’ll encounter, like Augustus, Caesar, Hadrian. Maybe you’ll find the apostles Paul or Peter. You’ll undoubtedly encounter an artist – will it be Michelangelo, Bernini, or Caravaggio? Will your encounter be with a more modern ruler – Mussolini, or Vittorio Emmanuel?

In time, you’ll become familiar with the names Capitoline, Palatine, Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline, Viminal, and Quirinal the cities fabled seven hills. These names hold within them the treasures and secrets of both the ancient and modern city.

I love encountering names in the city that unravel the past, making things just a little clearer. Last year, I read a fantastic novel about the early history of Rome called Roma, written by Stephen Saylor. What I really liked about this novel was the way Saylor wove myth, history, and oral tradition together to explain the foundation and early years of Rome.

Although I lived in Rome when I read it, I found it difficult to place the names on the page with the locations in the city. Rome is a vast city and centuries of history overlap making it difficult to extrapolate specific periods of history. This changed a little for me following a tour of the Palatine Hill.

Often overshadowed by other more familiar sights, the Palatine is an unexpectedly enormous space. The size of the grounds and the popularity of neighboring attractions make this a less crowded place to explore. It was here on the Palatine that something became more than just a name on a page, and the story became much clearer.

In the early myths of Rome, a monster named Cacus was said to inhabit a cave on the Palatine. He was defeated by Hercules, and a temple was built to honor the mythical savior. Later Rome’s founding father – Romulus lived in a small hut on the stairs of Cacus. In time, the Emperor Augustus and his wife Livia were thought to have lived here as well.

These events and places remained a jumble of names for me, until that tour of the Palatine. As we searched for the site of the Hut of Romulus, we stumbled upon the stairs of Cacus and the area of his mythical dwelling. As I reached to apex of the stairs, I glanced over the outlying area where I was surprised to see the Temple of Hercules. Suddenly, the novel I read took on new meaning. Being able to bring these names out of the book, bringing the story to life, gave me a more intimate perspective of this ancient city.

This is what the best of travel is; taking the names of the past off of the pages of the book and bringing history to life.

Visit WordPress for more examples of Names.

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Here are a few of the other Names you’ll stumble across in ancient Rome!

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*The photos this week are a wrap-up of the shots I’ve featured on my Instagram feed. Stop by and check it out!


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