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Hey! Wanna Go With Me To Rome ?

Here’s an exciting announcement that I’ve been eager to make.  And now I can.   I’ll be taking a group of interested (and interesting) folk on a ten-day trip to Rome and Southern Italy on April 14-24, 2020 (this coming April!); this is tour sponsored by Thalassa Journeys, the group that arranged my (with some other blog members)to Greece and Turkey last year.  It was spectacular.

And this one will be as well.   It is an amazing itinerary, as good as they come.  The theme is “Pagans and Christians in the Roman World,” and the places we see will be tied both to my most recent book The Triumph of Christianity, and the one about to come out in March,  Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife.

I’ve been to Rome a number of times, but this trip looks unusually good.  Some of the highlights:  Four nights in a hotel in Sorrento (one of the places I’ve never been; but google it and check it out: right on the Bay of Naples), with trips to Pompeii and Herculaneum (Pompeii is flat out amazing and I’ve always been eager to go to Herculaneum — both of them destroyed in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE), Naples. and Paestum; up the Amalfi Coast to Rome; and then the rest of the time in Rome.

Rome.  What can you say?   One of the great cities of the world, with historical significance that can’t be matched.  Roman imperial sites: the Colosseum, the Forum (and all the glories it holds), the Pantheon, lots of pagan temples; a day trip to Ostia (the famous port for the city — again, I’ve never been there). And the Christian sites: Basilica of St. John Lateran (residence of the pope), St Peter’s Basilica; Sistine Chapel, Vatican museums.  The Catacombs!

For a very long time I’ve been interested in the relationship of emerging Christianity from its pagan matrix.  In Triumph I talked about how it all happened, how Christianity ended up becoming the religion of Rome and empire.  And much of what we see will be related to that.  In Heaven and Hell I talk about how the Christian views of the afterlife emerged out of pagan ones: again, lots we see will be of relevance.

I’ll be giving lectures on the tour.  There will be a local tour guide who is a real expert on all the places — archaeology, history, geography, and so on.    I’ll have nothing to do but hang out with whomever comes and share our thoughts and ideas.  Food in Italy is fantastic (if you like pasta, pizza, coffee, and/or gelato, welcome to heaven); landscape/scenery is amazing; people are great; historical and cultural significance is mind blowing.

It will be a small trip — Thalassa never does masses of people on a trip, usually around 18 people or so.  So space is limited.

Wanna come?  A brochure can be accessed through this link HERE.  NOTE: if you decide sooner rather than later, by November 15, you’ll receive a free signed copy of my book Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife as an additional bonus.

Any questions, let me know.   I’ve done a lot of trips over the past 20 years.  This one looks like one of the very best.  Hope you can think about signing on!

My Speaking Schedule for this Academic Year (so far)
An Opening for the Blog Dinner NYC August 27



  1. Avatar
    Marko071291  September 25, 2019

    Hi Bart! Is it possible to join your group and that excellent tour from another country? I live in Croatia and it’s in near proximity of Italy, and it would be awesome if I could join your tour! I can pay whatever there needs to be paid. I assume it would include a hotel + some other things, since I would pay for my own means of transportation from Croatia to Italy.
    Hope you can help me.
    Kind regards,

    Marko Marina

    • Bart
      Bart  September 27, 2019

      Yes indeed! You just need us there in Italy! Contact Thalassa Journeys and they’ll give you all the details!

    • geomir
      geomir  September 29, 2019

      Sorry Bart, I’m from Croatia as well as Marko so I’ll try to get in touch with him.
      Marko, ja sam Mirko iz Splita i ako imaš namjeru ići sam želim se pridružiti.
      Molim javi mi se na: babicevica@gmail.com

  2. Avatar
    Boltonian  September 25, 2019

    All wonderful places. Ostia is fantastic and huge: when I was last there over 40 years ago it was almost deserted; I bet it is not like that now. I visited the Cistine chapel both before and after the restoration – two entirely different experiences. Like you, I have not been to Herculaneum but Pompeii is terrific. Italian food (and wines) is reason enough to visit, in my view. Great country, lovely people, fabulous music. Wish I could be there with you. Buon viaggio.

  3. Avatar
    fishician  September 25, 2019

    Sounds like a fantastic trip! Have you read Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad? I love the part where he is in Italy and he and a companion get tired of all the touring and their tour guide so they start tormenting the poor guy with inane comments and dumb questions, like asking if a 3000-year-old mummy is dead, or criticizing Christopher Columbus’s penmanship. Hopefully you won’t get that bored on your trip!

  4. Avatar
    AstaKask  September 25, 2019

    Want to? Yes. Can afford to? No.

  5. Avatar
    Larman  September 25, 2019

    man, wish I had 5 grand

  6. Avatar
    Damian King  September 25, 2019

    Bart, a bit unrelated, but always wanted to ask you, as a Roman Catholic. Who is your favorite Pope?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 27, 2019

      The current one!!

      • Avatar
        Damian King  September 27, 2019

        Is there any specific reason why? I am slightly surprised, since I thought you would pick someone from early Christian history

        • Bart
          Bart  September 29, 2019

          Yes, because despite his awful stance on some things (women, etc.) he has many of the right social values on poverty and helping those in need. You don’t start getting a major bishop of Rome until near the end of the second century, and no, none of them is a particular favorite….

          • Avatar
            Damian King  September 29, 2019

            What about elders of Rome before that. Like, Anacletus, Linus,Clement etc. I understand that they were not monarchical bishops, but do you think they did not exist historically or live in Rome?
            Because I have heard historians say that while earlier “popes” were not popes in the modern sense, they did exist and were respected figures in Rome, whom later writers saw as predecessors to what was the Papacy. Does that make sense?

          • Bart
            Bart  September 30, 2019

            I think they probably existed, but they weren’t anything like “popes” in the modern sense. They were the leaders of the church in Rome, just as there were leaders of the churches in Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, etc etc.

      • spencer290
        spencer290  October 1, 2019

        You’re Catholic?!

        • Bart
          Bart  October 1, 2019

          I am so not Catholic….

          • Avatar
            Damian King  October 31, 2019

            Does this imply any sort of anti-Catholicism or is this just tongue in cheek?

          • Bart
            Bart  November 1, 2019

            Oh my god, it’s not anti-Catholic or tongue in cheek. I’m simply saying I have absolutely not connection with Roman CAtholicism (or with Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Southern Baptists, or anthing else…). I just didn’t want people to think I had any stake in any religious matter, for one side or another.

  7. Avatar
    crt112@gmail.com  September 25, 2019

    If you get a chance go to Positano. It’s amazing. Dont think Jesus or Paul ever ventured down there 😉 but it’s a must see.

  8. Avatar
    qditt  September 26, 2019

    What a wonderful opportunity for those who will be able to attend! I am looking forward to reading your new book Dr. Ehrman. May I ask (and excuse me if this has been addressed ad nauseam), what made you decide on this subject in particular for you, or we laymen in particular? It’s always interesting to read a thought process behind such a large endeavor.

    Thank you!

    • Bart
      Bart  September 27, 2019

      Ah, that’s how I *begin* the book, explaining how I got interested in it. Apart from that, in my view it’s the one book I’ve ever written where I don’t need to explain to anyone why it matters. Just about *everyone* is concerned about death and dying, and most people are concerned with what happens next. I try to argue in the book that the “common sense” view most people have today (you die and your soul goes to heaven or hell) was not the view of the Bible, never in the OT and, I argue, never in the teachings of the historical Jesus himself. So where’d it come from? I think it’s important (this is one major reason I wrote the book) because so many people are afraid of death and what will happen after; I try to show why there is nothing to be afraid of.

      • Avatar
        qditt  September 27, 2019

        Thank you for the answer. It is the question of and for the ages isn’t it? Appreciate all you do for others.

      • Avatar
        Fernando Peregrin Gutierrez  September 28, 2019

        Fortunately, after the biochemical reactions that make us alive on this Earth are over, the most peaceful, comforting and joyful NOTHING comes.
        Because the alternative is terrible: a life that if it existed, would no longer be ours– how is it possible to be myself if, as Paul says, in order to go to eternal life, God would give me a new transfigured body? I want to take my body with me, not another, if I have to go somewhere after my death! – for ever and ever, amen.
        A boredom, a martyrdom to see that it never ends (but never, never, never …), something unthinkable and absurd.
        There is no doubt that that of eternity is a joke in very bad taste and could even be said to be obscene.

  9. Avatar
    APOCALYPSE  September 26, 2019

    ARG!. Waiting for that book so badly.
    I´ve lived and studied in Rome for several years (great library at the Pontificio Istituto Biblico) in case you need advice about where to eat best pizzas and icecreams in town 🙂

  10. Avatar
    godspell  September 26, 2019

    Would there be martydom reenactments? I demand authenticity!

  11. Avatar
    Fernando Peregrin Gutierrez  September 28, 2019

    Great idea.
    I’m thinking of going from Madrid to see you in Rome, at least a couple of days.
    I have a friend in that city, a great Roman lady, who always invites me to her house. In addition, between April 19 and 28 will be on stage at the Opera di Roma Kát’a Kabanová, by Leoš Janáček.
    It is not La traviata or La Bohème or a popular and well-known Italian opera, which would be the most appropriate. But it is a great Czech opera that is worth knowing. And the Teatro di Opera di Roma is one of the most beautiful and classic opera houses in Italy. A must see!
    In case any of your party is interested in following my advice and go to the Opera di Roma:
    In addition, it is said that ROMA is the city of “love” (read from right to left AMOR and you will understand why).

    • Bart
      Bart  September 29, 2019

      I hope you can come on the trip! But I’ll be tied up the whole time with the tour, and so going would be the only way to see me then. Think about it!

      • Avatar
        Fernando Peregrin Gutierrez  October 2, 2019

        I cannot accompany you on the entire tour. But I can join the group when you invite me to join you for a meal, a dinner or to visit any of the artistic jewels that the Roman Empire and after the Catholic Church – before and after the Reformation – have given to universal culture and have made of Rome “La Cità Eterna “.

  12. geomir
    geomir  September 29, 2019

    Why it still stands for my first comment:
    “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

    I do not know if Marko071291 will notice my call to him to contact me, so please connect us if possible.
    Thank you.

    • Bart
      Bart  September 30, 2019

      I’m sorry — I’m not sure what you’re referring to. (who is Mark0)7129?) Why don’t you send me an email and we’ll see if we can figure it out.

      • geomir
        geomir  October 6, 2019

        Thank you. I solved the problem, I was able to get in touch with Marko.
        “Marko071291” is the first commenter on this topic.

  13. Avatar
    jeffmd90  October 1, 2019

    On the subject of Rome, there is a British historian named Tom Holland. He has recently published his new book “Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind”. It is similar at first to your book on the Triumph of Christianity but it extends a lot further, basically telling how the beliefs and practices of the Christian underpin Western society, culture and thought. If you haven’t read it I would encourage you to give it a look.

    • Avatar
      Fernando Peregrin Gutierrez  October 2, 2019

      Surely many of the cults readers of this blog know this “opera magna” by Edward Gibbon.
      If not, knowing it is mandatory if you want to visit and know Rome “comme-il-fault”.

      The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788 and is known for the quality and irony of its prose, its use of primary sources, and its polemical criticism of organised religion.

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