Why Rome? The Eternal Question

by Richard Cameron

Almost every year someone asks me the question: ‘Why Rome?’ They usually mean why do I go there almost every year.

The answer to the question is larger than that though­: why Rome, in the end, for all of us? Why Rome for the artists of the renaissance, for the Grand tourists, for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts for two centuries.  

The simple answer is that the study of art is the study of its great masterpieces. There is a higher concentration of those masterpieces in Rome than anywhere else in the world. Most of my trips over the years have been with students and colleagues, visiting some of the less well-known and less easily accessible masterpieces to study, draw, and paint.

My kids and I love the  book 'This is Rome' by Miroslav Sasek more than any other bedtime reading. One of their favorite pages is the one dedicated to the piazaa of the Knights of Malta on the Aventine. They love it - as do many of the people who visit it - for the view of St. Peter's that can be seen through the keyhole of the entry portico to the villa. 

As the only major built work of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, it is one of Rome’s least well-known small masterpieces. This entry documents a visit we made to the grounds of the villa (residence of the Grand Commander of the Knights of Malta) and its church, S. Maria in Priorato, in 2012.

What have been your experiences of Rome? We want to hear from you!