Wednesday, September 05, 2012


FLAMEN Antonyus Subia jokingly says that traveling to Rome with him is a bit like having Sir Edward Gibbon as a travel guide, referring to the 18th Century author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Actually that is not far from true. While he is not the least acquainted with the latest "in" places to eat and drink on the tourist route, he knows the city of the Ancient Romans like the back of his hand.

Sitting at breakfast on the rooftop terrace of his hotel overlooking the Ancient Forum, Antonyus points to a gabled building nearby and says, "That's the Senate House, you know, where Julius Caesar was assassinated. A bit small, don't you think?"

And pointing in other directions he picks out the Capitoline, the Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum (all of which are obvious) along with many, many minor landmarks which are not at all obvious.

While ordinary visitors to Rome flock to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, Antonyus zeroes in on all the Ancient Roman sites, a lot of which are not well-marked or well-known to the average tourist.

"There's the Tomb of Augustus," he says reverentially as we stop along a side street and he points to some tumble-down ruins in a pit.

Aside from two priests of Antinous, not one tourist or other person is in sight.