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Italy: Eternal Rome - Books & Movies
RECOMMENDED READING 
  • An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser. When Laura Fraser's husband leaves her for his high school sweetheart, she takes off for Italy, hoping to leave some of her sadness behind. There, on the island of Ischia, she meets M., an aesthetics professor from Paris with an oversized love of life. What they both assume will be a casual vacation tryst turns into a passionate, transatlantic love affair.
  • Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling by Ross King. In 1508, the powerful Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the newly restored Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling recounts the four extraordinary years Michelangelo spent laboring over the vast ceiling while the power politics and personal rivalries that abounded in Rome swirled around him.
  • When in Rome: A Journal of Life in Vatican City by Robert J. Hutchinson. With playful good humor, Hutchinson explores the mysterious orders of medieval knights, some dating back to the First Crusade, which still play a vital role in the Vatican, encounters the weird relics of Catholicism, recounts the true story behind the True Cross, now kept in a run-down church near the Colosseum; and much, much more. 
  • Crusader Gold by David Gibbins. From the fall of the Roman Empire to the last days of Nazi power, marine archaeologist Jack Howard and his team of adventurers are hot on the trail of history's most elusive and desired treasure: the lost golden menorah of Jerusalem. 
  • Angels & Demons - Movie Tie-In: A Novel by Dan Brown. When world-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to his first assignment to a Swiss research facility to analyze a mysterious symbol, seared into the chest of a murdered physicist, he discovers evidence of the unimaginable: the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati.
  • Italy, A Love Story: Women Write About the Italian Experience (ed. Camille Cusumano). Legendary for fabulous food, persistent men, and a lyrical language, Italy has inspired many great love affairs with the country itself. From the notorious occupants and cuisine of Sicily, to the ancient marvels of Rome, to the couture of Milan, women throughout the ages have invented and reinvented adventure in this diverse and voluptuous land.
  • City Secrets Rome: The Essential Insider's Guide (ed. Robert Kahn). These expert travel companions share with you their favorite little-known places including restaurants, cafés, art, architecture, shops, outdoor markets, strolls, daytrips, as well all manner of cultural and historic landmarks. With over 250 contributors and 400 entries, this curated travel guide is a valuable supplement to any book more devoted to travel basics. 
  • The Seasons of Rome : A Journal by Paul Hofmann. Delving into the daily life of a city that is in so many ways larger than life, Paul Hofmann steers us beyond the tourist board, revealing a fetish for Vatican gossip, the idiosyncrasies of the gattare (cat women who care for the city's stray cats), and the vagaries of the ever-volatile Roman government. As he winds through Rome's ancient streets, we discover with him the intricacies and the beauty of Italy's finest city.
  • A Literary Companion to Rome: Including Ten Walking Tours by John Varriano. Artists, writers, historians, poets--all have included Rome in their travels; and their reactions--whether amazement, adulation, or surprise--have added to the city's allure. James, Isben, Dickens, Goethe, Woolf, and Wilde are among those who have written with passion about Rome, and through them we rediscover a city of grandeur and intimacy, as vibrant and sensual as ever.
  • The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough. When the world cowered before the legions of Rome, two extraordinary men dreamed of personal glory: the military genius and wealthy rural "upstart" Marius, and Sulla, penniless and debauched but of aristocratic birth.  Separately, they faced the insurmountable opposition of powerful, vindictive foes. Yet allied they could win the most coveted honor the Republic could bestow.
  • A Traveller's History of Italy by Valerio Lintner. A compact portrait of Italy from pre-history to the present. Through the supremacy of Rome, Italy enjoyed its greatest influence, as Roman power stretched from the Atlantic to the Borders of Mesopotamia, and from the Scottish Lowlands to the Sahara Desert. Italy remains a land of fascinating history and immense diversity of people and culture.
  • Not Built in a Day: Exploring the Architecture of Rome by George H. Sullivan. Not Built in a Day moves beyond the names, dates, and statistics of the traditional guidebook to provide a loving, personal, and instructive analysis of the architectural pleasures of Rome. Twelve walking tours profile some two hundred sites within Rome's ancient walls, all described in prose that is fresh, witty, and discerning. 
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo by Irving Stone. A masterpiece in its own right, this novel offers a compelling portrait of Michelangelo's dangerous, impassioned loves, and the God-driven fury from which he wrested the greatest art the world has ever known.
  • I, Claudius From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius Born 10 B.C. Murdered and Deified A.D. 54 by Robert Graves. Considered an idiot because of his physical infirmities, Claudius survived the intrigues and poisonings of the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and the Mad Caligula to become emperor in 41 A.D. 
  • Dreaming in Italian by Carol Walt. Andy Carter and her roommate Gracie Castillo are schoolteachers in Dallas. On a whim, the girls enroll in a cultural exchange program that takes them to live in Rome for the summer. Their adventures in Italy change their lives forever.
  • New Italians by Charles Richards. Italy has seduced generations with its sunshine, landscapes, art treasures and the warmth and vitality of its people, devoted to style, sensuality and the pleasures of life. The reality is less rosy. Italy is as exasperating as it is enchanting. Appalling public services, a rotten political class, the creeping tentacles of the Mafia, the all-forgiving Mother Church and infinitely indulgent 'mamma' have long prevented Italians facing up to their collective failings.
  • The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon. Spanning thirteen centuries from the age of Trajan to the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, Decline & Fall is one of the greatest narratives in European Literature. David Womersley's masterly selection and bridging commentary enables the reader to acquire a general sense of the progress and argument of the whole work and displays the full variety of Gibbon's achievement.
  • Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. E. Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success and find what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali. 
  • Rome Tales by Helen Constantine. Presenting a vivid mosaic of dramatic, comic, and tragic stories, all set in the Eternal City, these twenty absorbing tales capture the delight of discovering and exploring one of the world's most beloved cities. Spanning seven hundred years, this marvelous collection includes works by Italian authors ranging from Boccaccio and Casanova to Pier Paolo Pasolini and Alberto Moravia.
  • Cabal: An Aurelio Zen Mystery by Michael Dibdin. An apparent suicide in the Vatican may in fact have been a murder conducted by a centuries-old cabal within The Knights of Columbus. When a discovery among the medieval manuscripts of the Vatican Library leads to a second death, Zen travels to Milan, where he faces a final, dramatic showdown.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING 
  • Bicycle Thieves (1949) by Vittorio De Sica. Poverty-stricken Antonio needs his bicycle to do his new job. But the same day he buys it back from a pawnshop, someone steals it, prompting him to search the city in vain with his young son.
  • Quo Vadis (1951). Mervyn LeRoy's Hollywood epic recounts the sweeping saga of star-crossed lovers General Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) and Lygia (Deborah Kerr). The smitten Marcus pursues Lygia, but to no avail. At the behest of Nero (Peter Ustinov), Lygia is given to Marcus, who makes it his mission to prove to her that his intentions are pure and true. But just as it seems love will prevail, Nero's atrocities threaten to destroy them and Rome forever.
  • Roman Holiday (1953) by William Wyler. Audrey Hepburn, the essence of 1950s chic, stars in an Oscar-winning performance as a cosseted European princess who goes AWOL in Rome and is soon taken under the wing of tabloid journalist Gregory Peck and his photographer sidekick, Eddie Albert. She thinks the boys don't suspect who she really is, but they're onto her -- and sense a sensational story if they can just keep Audrey's handlers from retrieving her too soon.
  • Three Coins In the Fountain (1954) by Jean Negulesco. Three American working women pin their hopes for love on wishes they make as they toss coins into the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome. Their wishes come true ... but only after a series of dramatic misunderstandings on their quest for true romance.
  • Ben Hur. Charlton Heston plays Judah Ben-Hur, a proud Jew who runs afoul of ambitious boyhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd) in this 1959 epic that boasts an unforgettable chariot race and earned 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Heston) and Best Director (William Wyler). Condemned to life as a slave, Judah swears vengeance against Messala and escapes, later crossing paths with a gentle prophet named Jesus.
  • Spartacus (1960) by Stanley Kubrick. After leading a mutiny against the Romans, a Thracian man (Andy Whitfield) is torn from his homeland and condemned to a brutal death in the arena, only to outlast his executioners and be reborn as the enslaved gladiator Spartacus. The legendary rebel leader tirelessly wages battle -- in and out of the ring -- to reclaim his wife and home in this graphic tale co-starring Lucy Lawless and John Hannah.
  • La Dolce Vita (1961). Federico Fellini's lush and intoxicating masterpiece, La Dolce Vita, is a meditation on the meaning of life and love and stars Marcello Mastroianni as Marcello, a gossip writer who seeks the fleeting excesses and decadence of life and sex. He sleeps with the beautiful Maddalena (Anouk Aimee), alienating and driving his lover, Emma (Yvonne Furneaux), to attempt suicide. When he meets an elusive actress, Sylvia (Anita Ekberg), he dives deep into the abyss.
  • I, Claudius (1977) by Herbert Wise. Roman history comes alive in this 13-part drama told from the perspective of Claudius (Derek Jacobi), a man whose physical impairments helped him avoid assassination by the corrupt Caligula (John Hurt) but ultimately led him to embrace corruption himself. Set in one of history's most fascinating eras, this critically acclaimed miniseries is an epic of ruthless ambition, tracing the lives of the first of the Roman emperors.
  • Gladiator (2000) by Ridley Scott. Tapped for the throne after the death of the emperor, Roman general Maximus (Russell Crowe) instead finds himself condemned to death by the late ruler's power-hungry son (Joaquin Phoenix). Escaping execution, Maximus becomes a powerful gladiator, bent on exacting revenge in the ring. Ridley Scott directs this visually stunning historical epic, winner of the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Picture.
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Why travel with other women?
Many women do not have families or compatible friends who wish to travel. When going on a main-stream tour, women often find that most activities are geared towards couples and quite often they feel left out. Singles' tours are not always what women are looking for. If you do not have a traveling companion, there is also the issue of the expensive "single supplement", sometimes as much as 50 or even 100 percent of the tour cost. By going on women-only tours, women can easily avoid paying for the single supplement by sharing a room with another woman traveler.
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