If you hail from the ‘West’ then the influence of Rome on one’s cultural, political and aesthetic sensibilities is palpable. As a Brit, and one that has just been celebrating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, this oft fêted document to democracy was of course preceded some 1500 years earlier by the rise of Republican Rome.
Yet freedom for one is rarely achieved without significant collateral damage to others. As one walks through the endless magnificence of this city, from the Coliseum, across the Forum before stopping for some well earned gelato opposite the perfectly preserved Pantheon; one’s admiration for the civilisation that built these enduring monuments is tempered by the knowledge that they were only possible via the violent subjugation of others.
With so much blood and sweat fuelled history leaking from every ornately carved archway and sun-lit piazza one can forget about that other Roman gift to the world: food. It was over one particularly long and languorous lunch that a friend introduced me to one of Italy’s great white wines (from a neighbouring state); Valentini’s Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. Smelling of water freshly drawn from some deep and slightly dank well, this arresting white demonstrated the depth achievable with a variety considered by many to be fermentable but never memorable. This provided the perfect accompaniment to plates of silky burrata, soft prosciutto and fresh, succulent buttered pasta. The Eternal City delivered thought and tongue provoking pleasure throughout our three night stay but it was time to move north to our next destination: Tuscany.