Bella Italia– Part Six: The Pope’s Basilica

Directly behind Lateran University is the so-called Basilica of the Popes. What is even more confusing is that this is also where St. John Lateran is. This basilica is one of many many such churches in Rome. There are probably more churches per capita in Rome than in any comparably sized city in the world. Here's the impressive ceiling inside this basilica..The two largest statues in this basilica are not of Popes.... not even close. They are of Constantine and Moses! What a … [Read more...]

Roma Aeterna– Part Eight (the Forums)

There are in fact several forums in the heart of Rome, the Imperial Forum, the Julian Forum, I could go on. We will treat them all in this one post. We will start with the famous column of Trajan in the Imperial forum (113 A.D. is when it was finished), which tells the story of his victories and triumphs, round and round and round to the top.There is a lot to see in the ancient forum along the Via Sacra, or sacred way. For example there is the impressive Temple of Antonius and … [Read more...]

Roma Aeterna– Part Seven

There are a variety of great museums in and around the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. One of them is the Capitoline Museum, and this post is about that museum and what is in it.... for example the original symbol of Rome-- Romulus and Remus being suckled by a wolf (no, this is not the origin of the recent 'Dawn' werewolf movies).And this beats the replica everyone sees on top of the same hill where the museum is...And while we are talking humans and animals bonding, here is a statue … [Read more...]

Roma Aeterna Part Six– The Colosseum

You've probably seen the movies--- Christians tortured and killed in the Roman Colosseum. Only, it never happened there.The Colosseum didn't exist in Nero's day when there really was persecution and prosecution and execution of Christians in Rome (and later during Domitian's paranoid reign as well). The Colosseum was built by the Flavians, in particular Titus. Here is the Wiki summary... which is correct."Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in 70 AD, and was completed … [Read more...]

Roma Aeterna– Part Five (the Wall Mosaics)

If your mental picture of the Romans is a bunch of conservative folks wearing white sheets and living in bland houses, you would be wrong. The Greco-Roman world of homes is awash with color--- on the walls, on the floors, on the columns, and not just any colors--- bright colors. They were especially fond of bright red and bright blue. But not just any painter could paint the house of the wealthy, if they wanted frescoes, paintings done while the wet plaster is drying (or else it will be on … [Read more...]

Roma Aeterna– Part Four (the Frescoes and Mosaics in the Ruins)

The Romans were not dumb. They knew you needed lights to get around at night to go to the dinner parties (etc), and one of the things they did to facilitate this was put reflecting stones in their streets especially since the streets were not flat or paved. Here is an example...They also put this same material in their mosaic floors, so they would reflect light at night.(Notice the meander pattern on the right side... no that's not an early version of a swastika. The meander … [Read more...]

The Vatican Visit– Part Eight (the Audience)

We were bussed to the back of the Vatican complex, entered by a small door, and then went up three flights of stairs. I, as I imagine all other first timers, had no idea what to expect from an audience with a Pope. Once on the third floor, we wove around through hallways, until we came to the one that led to the Salle Clementia--- the audience hall for the day. Here are the shots of the some hundred people who were invited to this audience.Once we were in the rather small room or salle, … [Read more...]

The Vatican Visit– Part Seven

Without question, one of my favorites of the Italian classic period painters is Raphaelo-- and among all his works, my very favorite is The School of Athens, which hangs in the Vatican. On the way to the Sistine Chapel we went through the Raphael room... and here is what we saw. The ceiling in the hallway leading into the Raphael room is spectacular in its own right. Then you turn the corner and see something even more astounding.In case you don't know the story of this painting, … [Read more...]

Roma Aeterna– Part Three

If you are going to spend all day at Pompeii (and Herculaneum), you need a break now and again, and something cold to drink. So we stop at the instant fresh orange juice machine, and Yuliya made us some juice. We also stopped at the cameo shop as well. There is a large industry in and around Napoli, making beautiful cameos out of conch shells.But where would you go in antiquity to eat in Pompeii? Well there were food stands of sorts, soup counters really built into the front of … [Read more...]