Once a month we’ll be interviewing our guides, and getting their recommendations for the best things to see, do and eat in the Eternal City. This week it’s Thomas…
Where are you from?
I’ve moved around quite a lot – Orlando, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Haven, Lyon (France), and now Rome for 10 years – but I was born and raised on the Space Coast in Central Florida.
Why did you decide to become a tour guide?
More than any other field, including teaching, guiding has allowed me to make a living while indulging my obsession with history. In Rome, I’m like a kid in a toy store at Christmas.
Which is your favourite Through Eternity tour?
Generally, whichever tour I’m doing is my favorite one – I really get “in the moment” and am swept away by the art and architecture surrounding me. But with my penchant for all things medieval, there is perhaps a preference for the Underground Rome tour, a walk I helped develop.
If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be? Why?
Petrarch, I think. At the height of his success in the middle of the 14th century, courted by cardinals, patronized by popes and princes, Francesco Petrarca had a particularly enviable vantage point from which to observe his rapidly changing world. I’d want to ask him what he saw that he couldn’t say, what he hoped would occur, what he feared would happen, and how he managed to maintain his faith in humanity in the face of political and social upheaval, economic crisis, and widespread violence.
What’s your favourite work of art in Rome?
Considering the embarrassment of riches that is Rome, this is a very difficult question to answer. One piece that stands out for me, though, is Caravaggio’s David and Goliath in the Galleria Borghese. Presenting us with a David who pities rather than scorns the man he has just slain, and giving his own face to the giant’s severed head, Caravaggio proclaims his own wretchedness while begging for underserved mercy. This moves me, humbles me, inspires me.
It’s your last ever meal in Rome. What do you eat, and where do you eat it?
Gnocchi ‘de Gasperino’, filetto di pepe verde, broccoletti ripassati, a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino, homemade profiteroles, espresso, and a grappa barricata at Ristochicco in via di Borgo Pio.
Where would you go to watch the sunset?
The rooftop terrace restaurant of the Hotel Raphael near piazza Navona. Sharing wine and conversation with friends as the sinking sun casts its fading glance over the rooftops of this Eternal City has been one of the great pleasures of my life here for a decade.
And finally…tell me something I didn’t know about Rome.
At its height, Rome was the largest city the world had ever seen, with well over a million inhabitants. No city in Europe exceeded that number until London in the 19th century.