Aware that "seeing Rome in its entirety, capturing the place as a whole, has been a longed-for, but ever-receding, Holy Grail," Boardman, the Anglican Chaplain to Rome, weaves a cultural and literary guide through the Eternal City that reflects personal taste and experience. The author uses Rome's architecture and ruins to conjure up the metropolis as it stood during Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Unification of Italy (1860-71), and the fascist era. He draws insightful parallels between the past and present, likening, for instance, the notorious venality of the Borgias to the political bribery scandals of the early 1990s. Despite the occasional whimsical pronouncement ("Rome is a woman, but with a man's face"), Boardman writes in an assured, engaging manner, and his enthusiasm for his subject echoes that of such stranieri ("foreigners") as Henry James, Shelley, and Goethe, whose visits he recounts. Italian perspectives are surprisingly sparse, however, and readers may be surprised that Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck's Roman Holiday receives more attention than such Italian classics as The Bicycle Thief and Rome, Open City. Nevertheless, travelers to Rome will find this installment of Interlink's "Cities of the Imagination" series a fine complement to more practical guides that focus on hotels, restaurants, and museums. Recommended for general collections.--Richard Koss, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.