ANNA BELFRAGE

Step inside and steal some moments in another place, another time

Roma Nova – a place to visit in your head

Recently, Alison Morton released the fourth book in her Roma Nova series, Aurelia. Interestingly, this the fourth book is actually the first book as it details events that are already in the past when the first book in the series opens. Confusing? Not really. Book four simply moves fifty odd years backwards in time. Plus it means it is perfectly okay to start your acquaintance with Ms Morton with Aurelia – not having read the three previous books is not a drawback.

RomaNova booksI am a Roma Nova fan. Ms Morton writes characters I can relate to (and once you’ve read the books, how about mulling that one over…I clearly relate to kick-ass women who excel at deadly combat) and to her characters she’s added an intriguing alternative history angle, in that Roma Nova is a remnant of the former Roman Empire, tucked away in a corner of the alps. In Ms Morton’s world, Hitler never happened, the French never sold Louisiana to the US, and the Spanish retained hold of California and other territories. As to Roma Nova, Ms Morton breathes life into her invented little country, this very much thanks to her obvious familiarity with Roman traditions. In fact, Roma Nova has become my next “to-go-to” destination, which was why I was thrilled to discover this little article recently. What? Roma Nova doesn’t exist? Pshaw! Details, schmetails. Use your imagination, people.

Roma Nova is trending as one of the must-see destinations this year. Sol Populi travel journalist Claudia Dixit reports on what’s on offer for visitors.

Visiting Roma Nova? Well, you won’t find too many orgies – such a myth! – but you will receive a very warm welcome. Roma Novans love showing visitors round their city and countryside, and many of them speak English. Here are my top places to visit and things to do.

ArchConstantine_v.smFor history buffs, there is the forum with the colonnaded public buildings and the Arch of Maia Apulia. Not quite on the scale of ancient Rome, but some of the oldest columns date back to the sixth century. Don’t miss the smaller temples, especially that of Mercury Esus which may look tiny, but like Mercury himself, is deceptive!

You can book a guided tour around the Senate house including the famous Altar of Victory, saved by the first ruler, Apulius and his friend, Mitelus, in the late fourth century. For tickets to sit in the public gallery and watch a lively debate, ask at the information desk. You’ll have to brush up on your Latin, though!

The Golden Palace, which you can see halfway up the hill behind the city, is not open to visits as it’s the imperatrix ‘s private home, but there are guided tours of the gardens.

You’ll probably hear about the Twelve Families, but at present, no tours of their historic homes are available. But as many of their members work in high profile government posts, you might see them speaking in the Senate debates or on the news…

Rome walkabout - 22And shopping? Don’t miss the little shops in the Macellum among the international brands. You’ll find the famous Roma Novan silver jewellery, every electronic gadget you could wish for, plus fine glass and the modern version of Samian ware. A must-see is the daily produce market – you’d be surprised at how many different types of olives and olive oil there are!

Pons Apulius – A treat for engineers to appreciate and the rest of us to gaze at in wonder! The unique design with a single row of three towers and network of support cables is a practical but breathtaking piece of modern design. You can walk or cycle along it in a dedicated lane on the south side. Would it be immodest to mention that Romans have a long history of bridge building?

Learn to sail at the marina basin next to the river port or take a canoe out on the river. Do keep to the designated lanes whatever you use – you don’t want to get boarded by one of the imperial navy’s patrol boats!

Although Roma Nova has an excellent public transport system, you may want to hire a car to explore on your own. Car rental is easy and as long as you can present a points-free licence and a valid ID, you’ll soon be driving on Roma Novan roads. Take a moment to study the speed limits or you’ll hear the siren and see the blue flashing light of the custodes, the Roma Novan police. They can be strict and issue spot fines if you exceed them!

Fancy yourself as a gladiator? Most Roma Novan gyms are happy to issue day passes and several run beginners’ classes. They do blunt the weapon edges for visitors, though! And don’t forget to chill out afterwards in the traditional Roman baths!

For excellent service and fine dining, visit Dana’s in the Via Nova. It’s retained the charm of its origins as a simple bar, but now offers high quality Roma Nova and international cuisine.

Further afield, Castra Lucillan wine is tops – visit one of the vineyards south of the city for a tasting session. You may well be seduced by the fruity, but subtle, white wine – my favourite!

green fields_smBe sure to bring your walking or hiking boots – a complimentary map showing all the paths and trails is available from city tourist centre. Serious climbers will need a permit (35 solidi) to climb the twin Gemini Peaks in the north. You’ll also need to show a certificate of adequate insurance. Contact the mountain watch centre at cust.mont@improm.com for further details.
Roma Nova has one of the lowest crime levels in the world; the public CCTV and restorative justice system make this a very safe environment for law-abiding residents and visitors alike. A word to the wise: do sample the delights of Roma Nova to the full, but please note that using or dealing in illicit drugs is prosecuted without exception.

And lastly, you’ll see a lot of women and men in uniform, not the stereotype Romans in films – that armour must have scratched – but modern military. They are there to guard the safety and integrity of Roma Nova. I know they can look intimidating, but they’ll be happy to talk to you and answer questions. However, do please remember they are usually on duty.

This is just a quick round-up of things to do and see in Roma Nova. Drop the tourist centre at turista@improm.com a mail and they’ll be delighted to send you a full information pack and answer any specific questions.

Happy touring!

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Well, that was that – Roma Nova in a nutshell. For more information about Alison Morton, why not visit her website or her Amazon page?

And as to Roma Nova – it lies just a book away.

AURELIA_cover_image600x385Late 1960s Roma Nova, the last Roman colony that has survived into the 20th century. Aurelia Mitela is alone – her partner gone, her child sickly and her mother dead – and forced to give up her beloved career as a Praetorian officer.

But her country needs her unique skills. Somebody is smuggling silver – Roma Nova’s lifeblood – on an industrial scale. Sent to Berlin to investigate, she encounters the mysterious and attractive Miklós, a known smuggler who knows too much and Caius Tellus, a Roma Novan she has despised and feared since childhood.

Barely escaping a trap set by a gang boss intent on terminating her, she discovers that her old enemy is at the heart of all her troubles and pursues him back home to Roma Nova…

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2 thoughts on “Roma Nova – a place to visit in your head

  1. Thank you for posting Claudia Dixit’s travel piece, Anna. I’ll have a word with her and see if he’ll do some other pieces.

    That is after I’ve booked a psychiatrist’s appointment…

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