Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: Time Travellers Hidden Rome by Maurilio Tavormina

Time Travellers Hidden Rome by Maurilio Tavormina

Cicero the Cat has a friend, Ascanius Wells, who owns a time traveling Vespa. They go for a ride through the city and through history to tell stories about some of the monuments and locations in Rome.

Some stories are (I assume) historically accurate but quite fantastic, like how the Romans in the late 15th century would flood the Piazza Navona on August weekends so they could enjoy a cool and refreshing artificial lake in the middle of the city. Other stories are clearly folklore, like how the Devil plugged the hole in the top of the Pantheon with a giant golden pine cone. When the temple of all the gods was turned into a Christian church, the demons inside fled so fast that the cone popped like a champagne cork. All the stories are entertaining and nice bits of trivia.

The book is aimed at children with jokes about the clunkiness of the Vespa and the standard array of cat jokes. Cicero the Cat talks directly to the readers at several points, which might be off-putting for some but I didn't mind. The art is serviceable and the book has three transparent overlaps turning photos of current-day locations into what they would look like in ancient times (like the Colosseum, see my scans below). And there's a little historical quiz in the back with an email address to send in answers, which seems a little weird. I did not send in my answers.

The book makes a nice souvenir with some fun stories about places in Rome. Available for purchase from the publisher.

Today's Colosseum

Back in 212 thanks to that Vespa and a transparency

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