Neighborhood Tour

Empty Rome: A Virtual Tour of a Tourist-Free Eternal City

by Pavia Rosati
Empty Rome, as we never get to see it. Photo by Erica Firpo.

We've been following coronavirus recovery in Italy since early March through dispatches from Erica Firpo, our contributing editor in Rome. The whole world is reeling and recovering, but there's special attention on Italy, not only because it was hit so hard but also because, as one of the most popular of tourist destinations, travelers have a vested interest in wanting to return to the country they love so much.

We will be back in Italy eventually. I have no doubt about that. In the meantime, Erica and her husband Darius Arya collaborated on a beautiful video showcasing Rome in its current empty state. Piazza del Popolo, the Trevi Fountain,  the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Castel Sant' Angelo — you've never seen Rome like this.

Without the tourists, the city's beauty and timelessness shine.


Darius, an archaeologist who leads terrific tours of Rome (you can see more videos here), lends an appropriately historic perspective in the video, reading passages from Meditations, written by the Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius during the great Antonine Plague, which lasted from 165-180 AD and claimed five million people, including Aurelius. Just to add a note of timelessness to our situation.

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible.

The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.

Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.

Here is a rule to remember in the future, when anything tempts you to feel bitter: Not "This is misfortune," but "To bear this worthily is good fortune."

Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life.It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.

What we do now echoes in eternity.

What doesn't transmit light creates its own darkness. Death smiles on us all; all a man can do is smile back. Your days are numbered.


Watch more videos from Darius. Read more from Erica about Rome as it re-emerges and get more insider intel and interviews on Ciao Bella, her website and her podcast. Feeling philosophical? Get a copy of Meditations.