Martin Gray of Learn Italy and our incomparable guide Agnes Crawford of @understandrome gave the 17 Society members an unforgettable visit.
Agnes had gone out of her way to research Muriel Spark's residences in Rome's Centro Storico from the Hotel Raphael to the Palazzo Taverna. We all had an excellent day walking in this fascinating part of Rome.
Agnes had also found the exact site of the setting of 'The Takeover' in Nemi - a small town in the hills outside Rome, and the farmer on whose land much of the novel is set (including Diana's Temple) gave us glasses of his own wine and bread with his own olive oil. We were delighted to be joined for lunch in Nemi by Penelope Jardine, Airdrie Armstrong and their friend Alison.
We also visited Ancient Rome, Keats' grave, the Catacombs, and much more. One evening we were joined for dinner by Ivan Castiglione, an actor in last year's National Theatree of Scotland's production of 'The Driver's Seat'.
On our free day some of us went to the newly excavated (and work in progress) Domus Aurea, Nero's Golden House; some visited the Forum and the Palatine Hill; others went to the Vatican City or the Piazza Campidoglio. Rome is a city which offers something for everyone. We learnt so much - and we also had a great deal of fun.
On our final morning we went to the superb gallery at the Villa Borghese.
We stayed at the friendly Lancelot Hotel, by the Colosseum, whose attentive staff added to our great experience. Our thanks to all at the hotel, to Martin, to Agnes and to our accomplished coach driver Giuseppe.
It was a visit which offered first time vistors special insights into Rome, reminded those of us who had been before what a wonderful city it is, and let us all understand exactly why Muriel Spark chose to live there.
|Day 1 at the Caracalla Baths|
|Day 1 at a part of the aquaduct at the Via Appia|
|One of many lively and delicious meals|
|One of Muriel Spark's flats in the Centro Storico|
|Another location near one of Muriel Spark's flats|
|Ivan Castiglione joining us for dinner|
|The Hotel Raphael, Spark's first port of call in Rome|
|Agnes telling us about the Palazzo Taverna|
|Palazzo Taverna - Spark lived in one of these apartments|
|'The Takeover' setting: The Temple of Diana|
|'The Takeover' setting: The Devil's Grottoes|
|At 'The Takeover' setting: enjoying Signor de Santis' wine|
|The Lake at Nemi|