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Book Review on FEELING ROME

Published on 10/04/16 in Reviews

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Ever the charmer when she hits the paper, Barbara Athanassiadis takes us along on a stroll through Rome, her dwelling city of adoption. As a matter of fact, this journey is bound to take us far beyond the walls of this city and on to a trip to the Holy Land, where the journey turns into a soul-searching experience, as the author endeavours to connect her establishment in Rome to her remote origins.

Thus, as light as a feather, from palazzi to verandas, and from piazzas to movies of the ‘60s, Barbara flutters along, shedding what she feels is superfluous, along the way. Sometimes entire blocks are obliterated, churches seem to vanish into thin air and even historical accuracy seems at some point, to lose importance…. An experienced traveller, fully conversant with the art of getting rid of unnecessary burdens in her own, so very special, unmistakably feminine and romantic way, something like picking up the most beautiful Mediterranean flowers, before putting them in a vase to share the composition with roses and… artichokes alike!

From the capricious countess to the petty, naughty sister of Bonaparte posing naked for the creation of the statue of Venus now admired at Villa Borghese, from Julius Caesar to the marble worker, from the Pope to the gardener and – why not, even to the pickpocket – there they are, all of them, introduced to us by the author in the same, affable way. From Sophia Loren to Cinecittà, from Cinecittà to the TV-spots and the young beau grooming his hair on his Vespa shortly before getting into the role imposed by modern-day tourist kitsch and from the funny errand boys and their melodious voices as they carry around parcels against the colorful background of the grandeur and the brouhaha of the Italian capital…

Skilled and perspicacious, her eye leaves no stone unturned, no passport in hand, not even, should I chance saying, a Greek identity to embark on – a feature so rare for Greek wanderers who more often than not indulge in the cult of the past and the quest for Greek inscriptions, names of places and perhaps some bean soup!  Barbara opts for walking sneakers as she tours the reader around a setting that, although Roman, is no less exclusively her own. It is a kind of revelation that happens as she sets foot in Jerusalem, a parenthesis but also a hum where her own East and West meet, combining Catholicism and Orthodoxy, cosmopolitanism and wanderings, origins and present. That is where Barbara symbolically transcends Greece – set halfway between Italy and Israel – to reveal Rome!

Maria Ioannides, journalist

Vakchikon Magazine, Athens

The eBook Feeling ROME, illustrated with colour images, is available on:

ROME Feeling EN 210 print FrCvr 8 sm 5

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