Rome 2014

Three Thousand Years in Nine Days – Day Nine

My last day in Rome. I had originally planned to go out to Hadrian’s Villa for the day but after my relentless eight days of sightseeing it was time to take it a little easier. Besides I had to leave a few things for my next visit to Rome.

So I walked across the Tiber via Insula Tiberina to Trastevere.

Bridge over Tiber to Isola Tibertina
Bridge (Ponte Fabricio) over the Tiber to Insula Tiberina

During a plague in 293 BC, the Romans wanted to build a temple to the god of healing, Aesculapius, so they sent a delegation to Epidauros in Greece to bring back a statue of the god and one of his snakes. Upon their return, while journeying up the Tiber to Rome, the snake escaped onto the island, Insula Tiberina. They believed this was the god’s choice for the location of his temple and that is where they built it. For over 2300 years the island has been associated with healing and there is still a hospital there today.

Streets of Trastevere
Streets of Trastevere

Trastevere is a great neighbourhood for restaurants. I began my walking tour by stopping at a cafe for a latte and croissant.

Santa Cecilia
Santa Cecilia

I visited the church of Santa Cecilia. She was an early Christian woman who was martyred. The columns are recycled from Roman temples. The first church here dates from the 3rd century and this church was built in the 9th century.

Mosaics in Santa Cecilia
Mosaics in Santa Cecilia

The mosaic dates from the 9th century and Cecilia is on the far right. The canopy is from the 1200s.

Tomb of Santa Cecilia
Tomb of Santa Cecilia

The tomb of Santa Cecilia is said to hold her remains. Since she was beheaded her face is turned and hidden from view.

Church of Santa Maria Trastevere
Church of Santa Maria Trastevere

The next stop on my walking tour of Trastevere was one of the oldest churches in Rome. The day I was there people were crowded into the church of Santa Maria Trastevere for Sunday Mass.

Trattoria de Lucia
Trattoria de Lucia

Time for a special Sunday lunch. I stopped at Trattoria de Lucia and had some delicious roast lamb.

View of Victor Emanuele Monument and Spanish Embassy in foreground
View of Victor Emanuele Monument and Spanish Embassy in foreground

After lunch, I climbed up the hillside and found some great views of the city of Rome. Spending my day in the neighbourhood of Trastevere was a relaxing way to enjoy my last hours in Rome.

Trastevere street
Trastevere street

Three Thousand Years in Nine Days – Day Eight

Day Eight was a cloudy/rainy day. I started out early to get to my 9 am reservation at the Borghese Gallery. I had two hours in the museum and no photos were allowed.

I was impressed by Bernini’s Baroque statues of classical myths – Daphne and Apollo, Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius, Rape of Proserpina, and David. Also his self-portraits and portraits of Cardinal Scipione Borghese. These date from the 1600s and are in Cardinal Borghese’s villa from that period. After my museum visit I wandered through the Borghese Gardens.

Borghese Gardens
Borghese Gardens

Below the gardens is the Piazza del Popolo. The obelisk in the piazza was built by Ramses II in Egypt in the 1200s BC. It was brought to Rome by Augustus in 10 BC and was erected by him in the centre of the Circus Maximus. In subsequent centuries it was buried among the ruins until it was unearthed and moved to Piazza del Popolo in 1589.

Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo

In Piazza del Popolo there are three churches to Santa Maria – Santa Maria del Popolo, Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto.

Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto
Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto

I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Rome looking at various sites, including the Mausoleum of Augustus.

Mausoleum of Augustus
Mausoleum of Augustus

The Ara Pacis, or altar of Peace built by the Roman Senate to honour Augustus, was reconstructed by Mussolini and since 2006 has been sheltered in a modern building.

Ara Pacis
Model of the Campus Martius
Model of the Campus Martius
Column of Marcus Aurelius
Column of Marcus Aurelius
T-Shirt Shop near Trevi Fountain
T-Shirt Shop near Trevi Fountain
Temple of Hadrian
Temple of Hadrian in Piazza Pietra
Temple of ?
Temple A (probably dedicated to Girturna)
Round Temple of ?
Round Temple B (dedicated to goddess Fortuna of the Present Day)

At the corner of the site is the edge of Magnus Pompey’s theatre known as Pompey’s Portico. It was here where Julius Caesar was assassinated.

Pompey's Portico
Pompey’s Portico

I ended my meandering tour of Rome at the Campo de’ Fiori market.

Campo de' Fiori
Campo de’ Fiori

Three Thousand Years in Nine Days – Day Seven

Another beautiful sunny spring day. Arriving in Ostia Antica from Rome I followed the crowd from the train to the ancient port of Rome. Though Ostia is away from the sea now, the River Tiber having silted up the port centuries ago, I could smell the salt in the air.

The entrance of the archaeological site begins at the ancient road into Ostia.

Road into Ostia
Road into Ostia

Graves line the road into the town. Romans did not allow any burials within their cities.
Graves line the road into the town. Romans did not allow any burials within the town limits.

Necropolis - Home of the Dead
Necropolis – Home of the Dead

Once past where the town gates once stood the Baths of Neptune are to the right.

Baths of Neptune
Baths of Neptune – Palaestra or exercise area

Further along is the theatre.

Ostia Theatre
Ostia Theatre
Theatre Masks at Ostia
Theatre Masks at Ostia

While I was sat looking back at the theatre from the Temple of Ceres, I could hear a choir giving a little concert of Adele songs in the theatre.

Temple of Ceres
Temple of Ceres

Surrounding the Temple of Ceres are the remains of commercial offices of shipping and cargo companies.  The doorway in front of each office had a black and white mosaic relating to their business, mostly pictures of their ships.

Commercial Forum Ship Mosaic
Commercial Forum Ship Mosaic

Some also had mosaics representing the cargo that was shipped to the port of Rome.

Fish, olive oil and dates?
Fish, olive oil and dates?

Amazingly second storeys of building survived at Ostia. I took a photo of the Forum from the second storey of an ancient apartment block (or insula).

View of Ostia's Forum
View of Ostia’s Forum
Forum Capitolium
Forum Capitolium

I met a couple from England and I spent the afternoon touring the site with them. They had been to Pompeii a few days before and they thought that Ostia was equally impressive.

Front of the Forum Baths
Front of the Forum Baths

We wandered around streets and into houses. It felt like a maze and I know I missed a corner.

Domus Della Fortuna Annonaria
Domus Della Fortuna Annonaria

The Domus Della Fortuna Annonaria had its own private latrine.

Domus della Fortuna Annonaria private latrine
Domus della Fortuna Annonaria private latrine

The small museum on the site had several interesting pieces of marble statuary found in Ostia.

Cupid and Psyche from the Domus of Cupid and Psyche
3rd Century Cupid and Psyche from the Domus of Cupid and Psyche
Muse Sarcophagus Detail
2nd Century AD Muse Sarcophagus Detail

Ostia is a sprawling town and, though I had a day to spend there, I did not see everything.  I’m going to have to return again one day.

After a day among the ruins, I took the train a few stops west to modern Ostia and dipped my toes into the Tyhrrenian Sea with my new friends.

On Ostia Beach
On Ostia Beach

Three Thousand Years in Nine Days – Day Six

Day Six began inauspiciously. I took the metro out to EUR to visit the Museo della Civilta Romana only to find it closed. It was a shame because this museum holds a model of ancient Rome that I wanted to see. Next time.

Back into town to the Piramide metro stop. Just opposite this stop are two small remnants of ancient Rome – the Porta San Paolo/Museo della Via Ostiense and the Pyramid of Calius Cestius.

Museo della Via Ostiensa
Museo della Via Ostiensa

The pyramid is the tomb of a Roman magistrate and member of a college of priests built between 12 and 18 BC. It was built along the Via Ostiensis, the road that lead to Rome’s port, Ostia.

Pyramid of Caius Cestius
Pyramid of Caius Cestius

A short walk away is the area of Testaccio and Monte Testaccio, the hill created by centuries of discarded ancient clay amphorae.

Monte Testaccio
Monte Testaccio

From here I walked to the Baths of Caracella. These baths, dating from AD 212, are located in a gorgeous setting and are impressively tall.

Baths of Caracalla
Baths of Caracalla

The baths were decorated with mosaic flooring.

14 Baths of Caracalla Mosaic
26 Baths of Caracalla Mosaic Fragment

And tiles on the wall.

23 Baths of Caracalla Wall Tile

On the grounds of the Baths of Caracalla a modern artist Michaelangelo Pistoletto has created a piece from ancient fragments of the baths called The Third Paradise.

37 Baths of Caracalla Fragments
A short walk and then a metro ride from the Circo Massimo stop and I’m back in my own neighbourhood.

Three Thousand Years in Nine Days – Day Five

For Day Five I made an online reservation at the Vatican Museums, a great way to avoid the long lineups. Better to spend 4 euros than wait hours in line. Day Five was a Wednesday and Pope Francis was giving a Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square so I was swimming against the tide heading to the Museums instead of the square.

So much to see in the museums. The Catholic Church and Popes have acquired a lot of ancient Roman artifacts over the centuries. I think I enjoyed myself most in the Museo Chiaramonti which was filled with an assortment of ancient Romans, many unknown, whose busts have survived the centuries.
82 Bust Gallery
The woman sported the most diverse and interesting hairstyles.

39 Roman Women Busts 21,22,23 45 Roman Busts 8, 7 Faustina the Younger
42 Roman Women 15,16,17,18 70 Roman Women 6,7,8
The men were varied as well, with dignitas and quirkiness on display.
48 Roman Men 13,14,15 49 Roman Men 16,17 50 Roman Man 66 Roman Man
Scattered through other rooms and courtyards were more stunning remnants of the Roman Empire.

Apollo Belvedere 2nd Century
Apollo Belvedere 2nd Century
Laocoon
Laocoon
Tauroctony 2nd Century
Tauroctony 2nd Century
Sarchophagus of St. Helena mid 4th Century?
Sarchophagus of St. Helena mid 4th Century?

One complaint I have about the Vatican Museums is the lack of signage for many of the artifacts. Possibly they don’t have provenance for all of their pieces but some description would be nice.

No lack of provenance for Rafael’s frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura of Rafael though. These date from 1508 to 1511.

School of Athens, Rafael
School of Athens, Rafael

I really was impressed by the Sistine Chapel. I saw it 33 years ago and all Michaelangelo’s frescoes had a smoky mutedness. They have been cleaned since and now the colours are vibrant and the paintings have come to life. But since no photo taking is allowed, I have none to offer.

Finally there were Roman mosaics in various rooms and here are some highlights.

Palestrina Mosaic 2nd Century
Palestrina Mosaic 2nd Century
18 2nd Century Palestrina Mosaic
Palestrina Mosaic 2nd Century
Odysseus? 3rd Century Sala Rotonda
Odysseus? 3rd Century Sala Rotonda
1st Century Greek Cross Room
1st Century Greek Cross Room
Sala Aldobrandine Mosaic Detail
Sala Aldobrandine Mosaic Detail

After many hours in the museums I finally ventured outside into St. Peter’s Square.

Swiss Guards
Swiss Guards

Into the Basilica.

Michaelangelo's Pieta
Michaelangelo’s Pieta

Then walked home via Castel Sant Angelo.

St. Peter's from Castel Sant Angelo
St. Peter’s from Castel Sant Angelo
Castel Sant Angelo and one of Bernini's angels
Castel Sant Angelo and one of Bernini’s angels

Three Thousand Years in Nine Days – Day Four

Day 4 was spent visiting museums and a church.

The Museum of the Imperial Fora was an expensive museum with very little in it. I hoped to see the interior of Trajan’s Market as part of it but this was closed.

Next up was the National Museum of Rome and I found a few more things of interest there. There were statues and little sarcophagi with intricate carvings giving some insight into the individuals who once inhabited ancient Rome.

A Dockworker from the port of Ostia. 1st Cent. AD
A Dockworker from the port of Ostia. 3rd Cent. AD
Funerary Urn of C. Iulus Hermes, a freedman. 1st cent. AD
Funerary Urn of C. Iulus Hermes, a freedman. 1st cent. AD
Family Group from Funerary carving. 75-50 BC
Family Group from Funerary carving. 75-50 BC
Carving of Mithras - Tauroctomy
Carving of Mithras – Tauroctony

Next was the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria and the Baroque decorations of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, including the statue of the Ecstasy of St. Teresa, dating from 1647.

Interior of Santa Maria della Vittoria
Interior of Santa Maria della Vittoria
Cornaro Chapel with relief of Cornaro family
Cornaro Chapel with relief of Cornaro family
Cornaro Chapel relief of Cornaro family
Cornaro Chapel relief of Cornaro family
Ecstasy of St. Teresa
Cornaro Chapel – Ecstasy of St. Teresa

Finally in the Piazza Barberini is Bernini’s Triton statue dating from 1642.

Bernini's Triton Fountain
Bernini’s Triton Fountain