If you are planning a trip to Rome, or have been to Rome, you need to know about this book.

The History Of Rome In 12 Buildings

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I have been reading, underlining, ear marking pages and sticking post it notes to this fabulous new book by Phillip Barlag.

The History of Rome in 12 Buildings: A Travel Companion to the Hidden Secrets of The Eternal City
is a fantastic way of exploring Rome, learning about its history and at the same time learning about some intriguing buildings.

Of the 12 buildings there are three of the usual suspects, the Colosseum, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, but the author’s view of them and the information he gives shed another new light on them. Even if you have been to these buildings a hundred times over as I have (well, maybe not 100, but definitely more times than I can count) you will still gain something new from reading these chapters.

The History Of Rome In 12 Buildings



The remaining 9 buildings he takes you to are fascinating and although within walking distance of the Colosseum, quite possibly haven’t yet made it onto your itinerary. From the Mamertine Prison to the Mausoleum of Augustus to Ara Pacis, there is something new for everyone! If you are already familiar with all 12 buildings in the book you will still take away something new.

Rome is huge, and its sprawl can feel overwhelming to a traveler. There have been times when I haven’t ventured out to see a site or monument because it has just seemed too far, only to find later that it was in fact quite close. In the book Barlag uses a well known site, the Colosseum, as the starting point from which you head out to each of his buildings, telling you that with your back to the Colosseum this is a 15 minute walk. (Or however long it takes.) This gives you an easily understandable concept of where everything is.

He also gives you the metro stop for each site, and knowing that travelling is hungry work he gives you the names and addresses of his favorite restaurants close by.

As he closes each chapter he also gives you another building nearby that either bridges the story or the space between the one you’ve just read about and the next. It is fantastic!



If you’ve been following this blog for more than 5 minutes then you will already know that I love Rome. I adore Rome. I can’t wait to get back to Rome (in just a few weeks from writing this post) and will be taking this book with me when I go back.

The History Of Rome In 12 Buildings is available here on Amazon.com
Find The History of Rome in 12 Buildings on Audible here

Buy it for yourself if you plan on ever going to Rome or if you want to re-live memories of this magnificent city. Buy it for family or friends who are going to Rome.

Please also take the time to leave me a comment once you have read The History Of Rome In 12 Buildings – you will love this book, and I love hearing from you!


This post contains Amazon affiliate links. See Disclosure page for details.

Kindle Unlimited

This is not a sponsored post but it does contain Amazon Affiliate links. 

Do you like to read? I love to read.

The problem is that I am a fast reader as well as a voracious reader, so I always have had books stacked up everywhere. My bookcases are always full. I joined a club called Paperback Swap to help unload some of them, but still I have cases of books in my garage.

Then my life took a turn in a different direction a few years ago and I wound up working 7 days per week most weeks, as well as being the personal taxi service to my son getting him an hour across town and back (or paying Uber $65 each way) to music 3 times per week. I just had no time for anything. Library books were either returned unread or accrued late fees. If I used the library app and borrowed books digitally they would end up disappearing before I had a chance to finish reading them.

Reading and Traveling

On top of that, I travel all the time. Airports and airplanes are my best places for reading, which is no doubt why when everyone else hates to fly, I love it! The longer the flight the better. I can be curled up in my seat reading, with no one bothering me, no phones going off, no deadlines to meet. It’s perfect. Except that books are heavy and take up too much space when you travel.

I like to keep my favorite books, because I will re-read them, or go back to them for reference. I read lots of books where people move to Italy and tell you all about the things they do each day. I’m so geeky I actually go to the restaurants they talk about, find the remote towns and villages they wander through, seek out the nondescript, tiny churches with crazy amazing frescoes. I can’t drag all their books with me, so that’s when I started reading books on Kindle. Although I miss the tactile experience of reading a physical book, reading them digitally started to work better with my lifestyle.

I also get my magazine subscriptions on Kindle now too.

kindle unlimited

I don’t have a Kindle reader, mine just come in through an app on my iPad or my smartphone.

I had been happy to just buy books on Kindle paying full price or whatever price Amazon was selling them at. I thought that if I paid for a Kindle Unlimited subscription and got unlimited books for free, authors wouldn’t get paid. But I was wrong. I recently found out that so long as you read 10% of the book they do actually get paid.

So here is the deal with Kindle Unlimited. You pay $9.99 per month and get to read as many books as you want. You can cancel anytime too. The books remain in your digital library on your cloud or on your device.

I am writing a book at the moment and will be selling it on Kindle Publishing. There is a cool option for authors where you can release your book for free for 5 days on Kindle Unlimited so that Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read it and write you reviews before it officially launches, to get your book moving. That will be a win for me as a writer, but also as a (new) Kindle Unlimited subscriber I can get access to books before they release to the general public, which is pretty cool.

On Kindle Unlimited you also have access to all their audio books.

Reasons You Should Get Kindle Unlimited

    1. Kindle Unlimited is incredibly cheap! $9.99 per month for unlimited books.
    2. You can reread as many times as you want. It’s like a virtual library.
    3. No trees die to make your books!
    4. The authors still get paid. They are better off to have you get their books on Kindle Unlimited than for you to get them at the library.
    5. You can read your books anywhere, anytime on any of your devices.
    6. Kindle is the perfect way to enjoy books while you travel.
    7. You can get all your magazines on Kindle.
    8. With Kindle Unlimited to get access to thousands of audio books too.
    9. You can cancel your subscription at any time.
    10. Kindle is an Amazon company, and Amazon carries more book titles than anyone else. Kindle Unlimited has 1 million titles for you to choose from.


Here is an Amazon affiliate link to Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans You get your first 30 days for free, and can cancel at any time.

I figure it is less than the cost of buying a book each month, and its not a locked in subscription, so what do we have to lose?


Do you know which industries are the worst polluters and do the most damage to the environment? If I asked you which industry was the absolute worst, did the most polluting and caused the most devastation you would no doubt correctly say the oil industry. But do you know which major industry comes in second in causing catastrophic damage to our planet? This may surprise you but it is the fashion industry. An industry that I have been a willing and complicit participant in.

Sustainable in Stilettos

I used to drive a hybrid car. I have solar panels on my roof, and almost all of the total power required to run my home is powered by the sun. I was so proud to be reducing my carbon footprint and doing my part to reduce nonsensical waste, and to minimize my use of plastic bags and excess packaging. But then in 2015 I watched a documentary about the massive pollution and destruction caused by the fashion industry called The True Cost (Netflix) and was devastated to realize that I too was a part of the problem.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links. See Disclosure Page for details.

A Confluence Of Events

I have watched The True Cost several times. (Seriously, watch this documentary.) One of my dearest friends, Tracey Martin, has been the keynote speaker at events introducing and discussing the film. Tracey has long been in the fashion industry and for many years now has been working with environmentally responsible and ethical companies to make her fabric dyes and to re-purpose products such as Indian rugs that she could use in her handbag line.

A couple of months ago life gave me one of those weird confluences of events. I had been reading that Ivanka Trump not only manufactures much of her namesake clothing line in Bangladesh, the country where the world’s most impoverished female workforce has a choice between the sex trade or the garment trade. Much of The True Cost is set in Bangladesh, showing you just how horrifically bad these women’s lives are, working at the world’s lowest minimum wage, in the worst work conditions, to make fast, throw away fashion.

Plenty of designers manufacture there, but most use factories that have independent auditors monitoring the wages and conditions of the women working there. Ivanka on the other hand, with all her family’s wealth, chooses to manufacture in un-audited factories that pay less than minimum wage. Minimum wage for these women in Bangladesh is 0.21 cents per hour, which is close to half of what is considered to be a minimum living wage. You cannot live on what they earn. See The Institute For Global Labor And Human Rights international minimum wage chart here.

Does Ivanka really need to pay less than 21 cents per hour to the women who make her clothes? And then how dare she get on the world stage to lecture about women’s rights and working women’s concerns when she is personally violating the most impoverished women in the world?

While I was stewing over this issue and wondering how I could both effectively make a change and clear out my closet, I was contacted by a company called PACT, who make fair trade clothing using organic cotton.

From their website:


Our organic cotton is a true win-win. Organic cotton uses up to 95% less water than conventional cotton during the wash phase and doesn’t contain the harsh chemicals, bleaches or dyes that conventional cotton uses. Additionally, conventional cotton often requires the use of chemical-laden pesticides that increases the debt burden on the farmer and leaches into the land and water. So not only is PACT organic clothing so super soft that you’ll never want to wear anything else, but your new t-shirt is also better for the environment and good for the people who played a part in making it.

PACT wanted to know how I pair down my closet and how I feel about ethically responsible fashion. Perfect timing.

Sustainable in Stilettos

The 3rd thing that happened right at this time was that my friend Tracey Martin released her fantastic book Sustainable in Stilettos: A Style-Conscious Guide to Navigating the Evolving World of Fashion and Beyond. This book not only explains how the fashion industry is polluting the planet at a terrifying rate, completely destroying waterways, rivers, and entire eco-systems, but also shows you how you can be fashion forward and fashion conscious, make ethically sound shopping choices and still show up in stilettos. That has always been my overriding concern – how to be both environmentally friendly and still look fashionable.

The book  talks about things such as exactly how fast fashion is destroying the environment (you will be really surprised!), how to make a difference, how to make ethically sound as well as healthy fabric choices, how to change our buying decisions and how to modify them, garment care, and has a huge list of companies who back ethically responsible clothing, such as Eileen Fisher! Who knew?

Taking Action

I decided it was time to take action and pare down my own wardrobe. I have always believed that the key to a really functional wardrobe was to buy classic pieces that were well made, fit my shape perfectly and could be the foundation pieces not only for this season but for years to come. I have tried to stick to that plan but four years ago I got thyroid disease and an additional 40 lbs to my 5’6″ frame. Try as I might I cannot get the weight to budge, but I have to believe that it will one day come away.

This caused the problem of my core pieces of clothing no longer fitting, and much desperation shopping trying to find clothes in larger sizes. My closet started to overflow.

The first thing I did was to pull everything out of my closet and sort it into piles. There was a pile for things that currently fit me. There was a pile for pre-thyroid fashion that no longer fits but will hopefully sometime soon.

Then there was a pile of clothing that I consigned. Good quality items in good condition that someone else could re-purpose and get some wear out of. The final and sadly largest pile was items to donate.

The donation pile was sadly huge because I had at the point of purchase rationalized buying these items, all of which come under the fast fashion category, because they were cheap. I had figured I could wear them for a season and then give them to charity and in doing so help someone less fortunate than myself. Noble thinking perhaps, but in reality I had been propping up manufacturers who create a chain of destruction every step of the way in the creation of these garments. From beginning of production, the chemicals, bleaches and dyes used to treat and color the fabrics, the run off from these industries turning rivers into bubbling, frothing chemical waste tributaries and destroying surrounding land, to the poorest women in the world being forced to work in insufferable conditions to make this stupid top or skirt or dress or pair of pants that only ever got worn a few times.

As an interesting side-note my thyroid doctor has talked to me about the dangers of fast fashion with relation to thyroid disease and autoimmune diseases. When the chemicals used to treat, bleach and chemically color clothing that sits against our skin, (the body’s largest organ) then make contact with our skin for hours on end as we go through our day, they (the chemicals) then enter our bodies via our skin and cause all kinds of illnesses. In my case perhaps thyroid disease. In other cases autoimmune diseases. Who knows if we will ever know conclusively during our life time how fast fashion has impacted our health?

The sad truth is that only,  10% of the clothing we donate actually gets worn by people in need. There is more throw away clothing than people can wear. 90% of the bargain clothes that we buy wind up like this. Landfills in places like Haiti with steaming piles of cheap clothes, releasing chemicals and chemical dye compounds into the earth and the atmosphere, no doubt taking hundreds of years to break down. In our lifetime we will not see the clothing landfill in this photo from The True Cost, biodegrade and disappear. Isn’t that frightening? And the world is full of fast fashion wastelands like this.

The True Cost clothing landfil

image via The True Cost

My Choices Moving Forward.

Moving forward I have a new plan for my wardrobe. I have been paring it down, and although not having an entirely minimalist wardrobe, I am making an effort to have fewer items. I want more core pieces that are interchangeable, and that move effortlessly from year to year.

I am no longer interested in buying fun, cheap, just one season items.

I am devoting the same amount of time and energy I expend on reading food labels to reading clothing labels so that I am more aware of where an item was manufactured and exactly which fabrics have been used.

I am making very conscious decisions about any clothing item I buy. Instead of picking up cheap white t-shirts at fast fashion joints I am going to buy organic cotton tees for only a few dollars more from PACT (see here)

I should add at this point that I have no affiliate marketing with Pact, and they have never so much as given me a free T-shirt. I make no financial gain by linking them here or by talking about them.

I am using Tracey’s book, Sustainable in Stilettos as a guide to modern, chic designers who make environmentally and ethically responsible fashion.

When I hear about brands that are known polluters or who utilize un-audited sweatshops in places like Bangladesh, I will not only not buy from them but will also make sure I tell my friends not to buy from them. I have never bought an Ivanka trump product, nor would I, not because of politics but because I am not her target market and hers are not clothes I would wear. There are however other brands using the same sweatshops as she is and some of them will be targeting me as their ideal consumer. As I find out who they are I will make sure they are not getting my shopping dollars.

If you have Kindle Unlimited you can read Sustainable In Stilettos for free! Learn about Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans and download this as well as any other Kindle books for free. If you choose to buy Tracey’s book please take the time to leave her a 5 star review on Amazon.com. The best way to push a book to the front of the line and to get it to show up on recommended lists is for that book to have huge numbers of positive reviews.

To make a conscious choice about the clothes you wear check out PACT here


This post contains affiliate links for Amazon.com. See Disclosure Page for details.