Little is known about the life of Giacomo Lauro, an illustrator active in the first half of the 17th century. Lauro is in particular recognized for his views of Rome found in Antiquae urbis splendor…, published in many editions beginning in 1612.
One of the engravings in this work is a town-plan of Rome highlighting ancient Roman monuments. The plan is strikingly similar to modern tourist maps of the city, with monuments exaggerated pictorially and a numbered table as a guide. Keeping in mind that one could go to Rome today and focus only on historical sites built after the 17th century, it is interesting to think of people at that time playing the role of tourist themselves.
But in the end it shouldn’t be a surprise; societies have always been interested in the civilizations that preceded them. The Greeks believed that ancient civilization originated with the Egyptians, an idea inherited by the Romans.
Actually, there was a flourishing tourist trade between Italy and Egypt during the height of the Roman Empire. A constant stream of ships ran across the Mediterranean Sea from southern Italy to Alexandria. Roman tourists would arrive and travel up the Nile by boat to the pyramids and then on to Luxor and Karnak and the Valley of Kings, just as tourists do today.