Blue Guide Rome

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Blue Guide Rome, 10th edition 2010; 11th edition in preparation for publication later this year (Alta Macadam with Annabel Barber)

Blue Guide Concise Rome, 1st edition 2010; 2nd edition in preparation (Alta Macadam)

The Blue Guide Rome, which belongs to the famous English guidebook series established at the beginning of the 20th century, is widely considered the standard guide to Rome.  The tenth edition currently in print has over 600 pages it takes the visitor to the most beautiful parts of the city, and provides a detailed description of all its major monuments as well as practical information about the best way of visiting them.

The text is arranged in 36 chapters devoted to areas of the city, such as: The Capitoline hill; Trastevere; The Aventine hill (with the Circus Maximus and Baths of Caracalla)The Pantheon and district; Around Campo dei Fiori; or to similar buildings such as: The Sumptuous churches of the Counter-Reformation; Galleria Doria Pamphilj and the Galleria Colonna, etc.

In addition there are 6 walks to areas which particularly lend themselves to detailed exploration, such as: The old streets close to Piazza Navona; Through the artists’ district (between Piazza di Spagna and Piazza del Popolo); The Borgo (around the Vatican); The old Ghetto, etc.  These are accompanied by large-scale plans of the particular district described, with all the places mentioned marked.

Editorial policy is to accompany descriptions of museums, galleries, churches, and archaeological areas with detailed keyed site plans to aid the visitor. At the back of the book there is an 8-page atlas, including a two-page spread of the centre of the city, and the places mentioned in the text throughout are keyed to the atlas.

Museums are described in detail, room by room, and for archaeological sites descriptions are provided of what you can see today on the ground as well as an account of how the temple or basilica may have looked in the ancient city.

‘Boxes’ within the text are devoted to certain aspects which need further explanation such as: ‘Roman statues and portraiture’;  ‘ Cosmati & the Cosmatesque’ ; ‘The Castellani jewellers’;  ‘Romans and their baths’; ‘The influence of Fascism on the urban context of Rome’; ‘St Paul the Apostle in Rome’; ‘Roman gods and their worship’; ‘The Aqueducts of Rome; ‘Rome as a centre of pilgrimage’;  ‘Roman copies of Greek statuary’; or they provide a short biography of important Emperors, Popes and Artists.

The Guide is illustrated with a series of photographs, many specially taken by the editorial team and most of them of the less familiar sights, or of details of what best characterises the city.  There are also excellent architectural elevations of some of the most important buildings.

An entire section of the book is devoted to hotel and restaurant listings. These are chosen with great care and described in detail to help readers make a choice of where to stay and where to eat in all price categories. When drawing up the list we are obviously prohibited from accepting payment from any establishment as the statement of editorial independence on the title page of the Guide states. We believe that less is more in these days of  numerous websites specializing in places to stay: we produce  a short list of reliable and comfortable places in each area of the city in various price brackets, all of which we have inspected.

Practical information also includes steering the reader to the best, most up-to-date and official websites which will be the most useful to them, since nowadays there is such a proliferation of websites which sometimes makes it difficult to obtain reliable specific information.

There is an excellent historical introduction to Rome by a professional historian at the beginning of the book, an article on Popes and the Papacy, and a chapter on Twentieth-century Rome. For days out of Rome, the wonderful archaeological sites of Ostia Antica and Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli are described in the last two chapters.

Churches and museums and archaeological sites normally kept closed or difficult of access are listed and described in the Appendix in order to give as complete a picture as possible of everything of historical importance in the city.

For handy reference there is a chronological list of the rulers of Ancient Rome and all the Popes from the 1st century up to the present. The analytical 25-page index also gives dates for all the artists.

In the preparation of each new edition of the Guide every place described is revisited as this is the only way an accurate account of the city today can be produced. There is no substitute to a visit on the ground, even now that many places have websites.

Much research is carried out to ascertain that there have been no important changes in attributions of works of art since the previous edition (information which is obtained also from the catalogues of all the most important exhibitions which have taken place, especially those in Italy, in the intervening years). Newly published monographs on important artists are also consulted. Expert knowledge about excavations in progress is obtained when necessary to keep up to date on this important activity which continues year by year in the very heart of the city.

The Blue Guide series includes the Concise Blue Guide Rome the first edition of which was published in 2010. Preparations are under way to produce a second edition which will be issued as an e-book. This pocket-size guide is intended for the visitor who has perhaps only a few days to spend in the city. It covers the major sights as well as a few of its more hidden treasures. Each chapter has a section at the end on ‘food and drink’ to steer readers to places close by where they can sit down and rest and have something to eat. Like the full Blue Guide Rome it is supplied with illustrations, ground plans, and an atlas. It attempts to provide a distillation of the best in Rome in a handy format for on-site use.

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