Can Rome’s Ancient World Be Saved? My Video with BBC Travel


In July, I filmed my first video for BBC Travel: It’s about how Rome’s ruins are at risk — and what’s being done (or not) to save them. The video is part of what we hope will be a series called Dissolving History, about cultural heritage under threat around the world. You can watch Dissolving History: Rome here.

Cultural heritage (a decidedly unexciting term for what I think is one of the most exciting things around — the one way we can really get up close and personal with our own history!) is a topic close to my heart. I first covered how Italy’s heritage was underfunded five years ago. Since then, I’ve written about UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage for National Geographic Traveler and Italy’s stolen works of art for the BBC.

But even when I’m not writing about cultural heritage directly, I’m writing about it somehow. It’s rare that I write a travel story — or take a trip at all — without somehow touching on the destination’s monuments and museums, its artifacts and archaeology. And I have a feeling it’s the same for most of you.

So it’s an important topic. And a surprisingly fun one. Check out the video for more.

And here are some behind-the-scenes shots, if you’d like to see…

Biblioteca Casatense, Dissolving Heritage Rome

I was fortunate enough to get an interview with Italy’s Minister of Cultural Heritage Dario Franceschini. Here, I’m debriefing with his aides after the interview.

biblioteca casatense

Dissolving Heritage Rome

How ridiculously stunning is this library? It’s the Biblioteca Casanatense, which was opened by the Dominicans in 1701. Today, the collection has 400,000 volumes. It’s administered by the Ministry of Culture, which is why we were there.

Darius of Save Rome

Chatting with Darius Arya of the American Institute for Roman Culture. He’s always one of my go-tos when I need to know something about Roman archaeology or preservation, including for this video.


Rome Dissolving Heritage

This is the view from the rooftop of the mayor’s office on the Capitoline. (If you saw Spectre, or even just a poster for Spectre, it might look familiar).

Dissolving Heritage Rome

And here I am interviewing the mayor. Former mayor, that is. A couple of months after we spoke, Ignazio Marino resigned from his post.

Dissolving heritage rome

Can you see how worried I am?! It was my first time riding a scooter in months, and I’d never been on one so heavy (or beautiful) as this red Vespa!

Dissolving Heritage Rome

So relieved not to have crashed! So is Fred, one of our crew.

And that’s a wrap! Check the video out here and let me know what you think in the comments.

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