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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A highly original book, 20 July 2012
Rome is awash with bees. They are carved into buildings, depicted in frescoes, portrayed in stained glass, set into lavish marble pavements and even appear in ancient mosaics.

Bees, or rather a cluster of three bees, make up the coat of arms of the Barberini family. In 1623 Maffeo Barberini became Pope Urban VIII and over the next two decades his family bees took flight across the city. The Barberini is simply one of the seven great families which form the subject of this entertaining and highly informative book. We learn, for instance, that the Barberini coat of arms was originally made up of horse-flies before the family decided to replace them with the more socially acceptable bee.

The author has selected the families which made the greatest impact on the artistic and architectural fabric of Rome from the 15th to the 17th centuries. We are given detailed itineraries, which allow us to explore the contribution each family made.

Countless books have been churned out on Rome, but few writers have turned their attention to such an interesting and rich subject, one which Mr Majanlahti mines for all its worth.

And yet it is hard to say who the book is aimed at. The absence of notes or a bibliography (of any kind) will, perhaps, worry students of history, while its size and the absence of any decent maps may limit its use as a guide.

But the main reason why I withhold a star is the absence of any photographs. Almost the only illustrations we have are small and rather poorly reproduced antique engravings and drawings.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The history of Rome in an easy to read format, 21 Nov 2010
I always try to do some background reading before a holiday and I read this before I went to Rome. I was easy to read and provided an interesting but readable history of the city, with lots of lovely human stories behind the well known sights as well as suggested walking routes. We followed several of these, the best being the visit to the Farnese Gardens on Palatine Hill. I don't think our trip would have quite as enjoyable without this book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 10 Nov 2010
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This review is from: The Families Who Made Rome: A History and a Guide (Hardcover)
This is the most detailed and readeable account on the artistic patronage and achievements of the most notable popes and cardinals in five centuries. A "must have" for anyone interested in art and history of Rome.
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The Families Who Made Rome: A History and a Guide
The Families Who Made Rome: A History and a Guide by Anthony Majanlahti (Hardcover - 5 May 2005)
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