I have just come back from a really fabulous week in Rome with my two eldest children. We’d never been before, so it was really exciting, but most of all it was exiting because we are all massive fans of Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Mysteries series.
My eldest, Zoe, was just the right age to be read them when they first came out, and then four years later I read them again to my son Max. Both have ended up fascinated by Roman culture – Zoe is currently studying Ancient History at university, and Max has just done GCSE Latin as an extra subject, working on it at weekends and after school (yes – he was that keen!). So the two of them had lots of fun spouting Latin at each other as we wandered round the Forum and Palatine Hill.
But absolutely the best bit of the holiday was going to visit ancient Ostia, where the characters in the Roman Mysteries lived. A lot of it is still preserved, and we could walk down the main street – the Decumanus Maximus – and look at all the little side-streets and remains of people’s houses and really imgine it as it had been.
We tried to work out where Flavia’s house had been, and we got to wander in the necropolis (where the tombs were) – with the memory of Flavia’s own sometimes scary adventures there.
There was an almost totally preserved small taverna – you can see Zoe happily pretending to serve from behind the bar – and here’s Max sitting in the impressive remains of a theatre.
Ostia has been such a big part of our lives – there are eighteen books and with every one you get to know the characters and their lives more deeply. Knowing the stories made ancient Rome so much more vivid and real to us – and it made our trip to Ostia the absolute highlight of our holiday. I saw quite a few other tourists there with children, and I was very tempted to ask the if they, too, were looking for the remains of Flavia’s house down on Green Fountain Street…
I wonder if you have any books that have made you want to go and visit the places where they were set?