Lord Byron in Rome and ‘his’ tea

Lord George Gordon Byron arrived in Rome on April 29, 1817, after having left Venice and followed the itinerary of the Grand Tour. During the latter, he visited Florence and Siena while heading with his picturesque “court” toward Central Italy, where was then the State of the Church.

 

The poet was determined to discover the charm and the beauty of the enchanted city, which was attracting many foreigners, and more particularly many of his compatriots. In fact, a rather large British colony, of artists and aristocrats especially, settled in the Eternal City.

Social and cultural gatherings, playful companies, outdoor trips, and moonlit nights. Byron, our eccentric and melancholic poet, had another vision of Rome. It appeared to him as a fragment of time, where the ancient past took shape in front of his eyes. He, thus, relived the glory and nostalgia of a lost classical style, which he was able to find once again during his Roman strolls.

A city extended between the river, the shores and the squares, and the magnificent churches. The city still maintained its dual feature of powerful nobility as found in the magnificent palaces and the small streets and squares of the people, which, in the eyes of our Lord appeared as very picturesque. Rome seemed to be “built” for the young Harold, the protagonist of one of his more famous poems “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”. Harold’s pilgrimage is based on autobiographical events. With these verses, he celebrates and gives life to the romantic hero par excellence. It is the “Byronian” hero, one who is ambiguous, standing between good and evil, nostalgia and sadness and looking for an adventurous and different life.

Rome appeared to Byron as if in a dream, a fragment of a grandiose history, which he felt was hopelessly lost. “In an ensemble of ancient and modern, it surpasses Greece”, this is what he wrote to his editor friend John Murray. He discovered the city in his wonderings partly horseback riding; he pushed himself toward the hills overlooking the panorama and being surrounded by the “silent noise” of the Roman countryside. Lord George loved discovering the surroundings, and especially, riding at night in the moonlight. His rides along the coasts of Pisa and Livorno were already a legend, similarly, in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage a lost past emerged again, which only a love for beauty and antiquity could make it relive in the verses.

They were 22 intense days, in which he found again his will to write. The painful family events that led him to “escape” from England were now far away. He lodged in Piazza di Spagna, almost in front of Keat’s home. The great poet hosted in that period their friend, Shelley, who was visiting the Eternal City. Thus, the three great innovators of English Poetry found themselves united in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. They were the authors of a romanticism that was discovering in the ruins and in the memories of the time a beauty “even more beautiful”, making it so that the classical atmosphere would be romantically permeated with sentiments and emotions tied to the past and the future, which was presenting itself as difficult and dark.

Clearly, the image of the rebellious and tormented genius, scandalous and attracted by the female beauty and where all the women appreciated the attentions given by the dandy poet, was only an image. The hero taken by sublime and beauty, had to face reality, with the prosaic present, which led Byron back to his restlessness and obsessions. We know from his writings that he was always oppressed by the fear of becoming fatter, in fact, after his revelries, he would undergo drastic diets with only carrots or only salads, and so on. Nonetheless, like every British person, he found solace in a good cup of tea.

He would use rare blends, carried in precious tea boxes, in a delicate ritual, a moment of pause and rest for both the mind and the body. Hot water, tea cups, the aromas that comfort and invade the environment with perfume.

“If you are cold, tea will warm you;

if you are too heated, it will cool you;

If you are depressed, it will cheer you;

If you are excited, it will calm you.”

This was Lord Gladstone’s motto. Comfort and warmth, the perfume that was released by the little leaves of this plant so universally known, are always a safety during every trip. Lord Byron used to sip his precious tea sitting near the windows from which he could admire the steps of the Trinità dei Monti.

Elegance and attention for details, which were very much liked by Lord George, are today fundamental for the Hotel that take its name from the great lyricist. For an unforgettable visit in Rome, Hotel Byron has perfectioned its welcoming, in every room, you can find a special corner where you can have tea (or other infusions) with kettles and a selections of teas. The guests, after an intense discovery of the Roman beauties, or a stroll along the parks, can relax with the company of the most famous drink in the world, a choice in hospitality that distinguishes Hotel Byron.

 

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