During the 18th and 19th centuries, artists and travellers were lured to Rome, the home of civilized values and artistic beauty. But the history of visiting Rome had a pathological side―not only crisis and disorientation but repulsion at its filth and stink. Rome’s air was considered to contain a chronic source of disease. This book argues that “bad air” (mal’aria) is a neglected aspect of thinking about the city’s history and as a destination for artists, visitors, and Romans both ancient and modern. These problems interfered with exploring Rome, its art and architecture, and representing its landscape. Atmospheric contamination made plein air painting and investigating antique ruins challenging activities.
Roman Fever invites an original and alternative perspective on the city and its countryside, revisiting the history of Rome in terms of ideas about climate and the role of the environment. Beautifully illustrated with unfamiliar images, it focuses on the interplay between enthusiasm and inspiration, and debilitation and mortality, all an integral part of discovering and engaging with the Eternal City’s landscape.