For a thousand years, Rome was enshrined in myth and legend as the Eternal City. No Grand Tour would be complete without a visit to its ruins. But from 1870 all that changed. A millennium ended as its solitary moonlit ruins became floodlit monuments on traffic islands, and its perimeter shifted from the ancient nineteen-kilometre wall with twelve gates to a fifty-kilometre ring road with thirty-three roundabouts and spaghetti junctions.
The Rome We Have Lost is the first full investigation of this change. John Pemble musters popes, emperors, writers, exiles, and tourists, to weave a rich fabric of Roman experience. He tells the story of how, why, and with what consequences that Rome, centre of Europe and the world, became a national capital: no longer central and unique, but marginal and very similar in its problems and its solutions to other modern cities with a heavy burden of 'heritage'.
This far-reaching book illuminates the historical significance of Rome's transformation and the crisis that Europe is now confronting as it struggles to re-invent without its ancestral centre - the city that had made Europe what it was, and defined what it meant to be European.
Since 1977, John Pemble has been attached to the University of Bristol, where he is currently Senior Research Fellow. He has published a wide range of books and articles, including Shakespeare Goes to Paris (Continnuum, 2005), Britain's Gurkha War (Frontline Books, 2008), and The Mediterranean Passion (Faber and Faber, 2009). He has written for The Listener, the Times Literary Supplement, and The Guardian, and is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books.