success stories

Book: A Traveller in Rome
Author: H.V. Morton
Dodd, Mead and Co., New York, pp. 374

Excerpt from Book:

Men of all nations climb about the House of Vestal Virgins, where for eleven centuries the presence of a male would have been punished with death. It is the only place in the ruins where you do not have to think of Horace or Juvenal to evoke the shades of the past, and here, no matter how Christian you may be, you cannot be unaware oft he nobler, gentler side of paganism, almost as though one of those beautiful little fauns in the Capitoline Museum had frisked in the sunlight ans was nestling his head against you, asking to be scratched.

I like to imagine that the Early Fathers felt that way too, otherwise surely they would not have allowed the atrium to become, as it did, the architectural prototype of the Christian nunnery: neither, I imagine, would they have married their daughters to the Church with much the same rites which admitted a novice to the sacred order.

. . . . .And who were the Vestals and what did they do? In primitive times fire was a magic element which could be created by rubbing together two dry sticks. In such communities a hut was sensibly set apart where a fire was always burning from which the people could take precious element. While the men were at war, or hunting, and the married women were looking after their homes and children, the care of the fire naturally fell to the charge of young maidens with no other responsibilities. As the Romans became civilized, what had in tribal days been a matter of commonsense became a religious cult an the care of the fire was a symbolic rite which involved the safety and welfare of the state. In the days of Rome's greatness the thought that the sacred fire might be extinguished was horrifying, and the curl of smoke from the top of the Temple of Vesta was a daily sign to Rome that all was well with the Empire.

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: From a Roman balcony — the noise of Rome — walking about Rome — breakfast near St. Peter's — the Fontana di Trevi

Chapter 2: The Capitoline Hill — the tragedy of Rienzi — S. Maria in Aracoeli — the Santo Bambino — a diplomatic party — American Rome — the Borghese Gardens and the Pincio

Chapter 3: A ticket for the Forum — the Roman Toga — the Senate House — the Vestal Virgins — where Caesar was murdered — Cleopatra in Rome

Chapter 4: The Pope at a window — the Papal Farm — a day on the Palatine Hill — Caesarian palaces — the writer in Ancient Rome — Nero's Golden House — the Colosseum

Chapter 5: A visit to the Catacombs — on the Via Appia — Early Christians and the Sacrament — St. John Lateran — a hermit Pope — Westminster Abbey's link with the Forum — S. Clemente — A Mithraic temple below a church

Chapter 6: A visit to Lake Nemi — an audience at Castel Gandolfo — Cats of Trajan's Market — Roman palaces — the English in Rome — Fountains of the Villa d'Este — Hadrian's Villa

Chapter 7: The Quirinal Palace — Pauline Bonaparte and her American sister-in-law — the price of a Cardinal's hat — the Piazza Navona — the Pantheon — the Hospital of San Spirito

Chapter 8: St. Peter's in the early morning — the history of the Vatican Hill — the tomb of St. Peter — the Roman cemetery under the church — Santo Spirito in Sassia — Saxon pilgrims to Rome — Janiculum Hill

Chapter 9: A visit to the Vatican — the Vatican State — the Pope's motor car and ‘chariots' — Vatican Radio — the Pope's Garden — an exquisite summer house — a forgotten relic of the Stuarts

Chapter 10: Rome in rain — a pilgrim's hostel — the Castel S. Angelo — Trastevere — the game of ‘Morra' — how the Pallia are made — the island in the Tiber — an English Cardinal — goodbye to Rome