Saturday, 19 May 2018

This is Rome .......... from 1960

I have never lost my fascination for Rome.

I have friends who long ago fell in love with Venice, others who keep going back to Florence and yet more who never cease talking about Paris, but for me it is Rome.

It started with an all consuming interest in Roman history and has been cemented over the years by visits to the Eternal City.

The place always amazes me and you never quite get away from that feeling that down every street there is a ruin, and around every corner a piazza.

And despite its magnificent buildings, wide avenues and frenetic pace it remains on a human scale.

Over the years I have invested in guide books, scholarly accounts of the city and picked up those free little maps full of adverts for pizzerias, car hire firms and taxis and recently I added This is Rome to the collection and it is one of my favourites.

Unlike the others it is aimed at children, was first published in 1960 and comes from a series written and illustrated by Miroslav Sasek.

Now I am a great fan of the books of Mr Sasek, partly because they are informative and written with a degree of wit but also because of the illustrations which are bold bright and imaginative.

So on one page there is a fine picture of the Pantheon with a bit of history, while on another a mix of motorbikes with the caption, “Rome is full of statues, but full of motorcycles too.  We prefer the statues, they are so much quieter.”

And it is those illustrations which do it for me.

The style is one you saw a lot of in the 1950s and 60s, which still look fresh today.

In the same series are books on Venice, London, New York, Paris and Edinburgh as well as Hong Kong San Francisco and Texas.

In time I think I will collect the lot after all if the ones on Rome and London are representative of the rest they will not only be fun to read, very informative but will provide me with some excellent pictures to look at.

Picture; Rome, 2009 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, remaining images from This is Italy, Miroslav Sasek, 1960, reprinted 2007

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