Bella Italia– Part Nine— St.Maria Maggiore

It was a beautiful crisp morning, Wednesday, and Yuliya and I were heading to Pompeii and Herculaneum by the fast train, but there was a famous church she wanted to see, which conveniently was right next to the train station--- Santa Maria Maggiore is the name of this multi-domed cathedral. Even the flowers were still blooming in late October...Here is a brief summary about the cathedral, which is yet another papal basilica (a church built by popes), taken from the church's … [Read more...]

Bella Italia– Part Eight (the Pantheon)

If you can read Latin, then you will know that the inscription at the top of the Pantheon says that one Marcus Agrippa made it (in the second century A.D.). Today the temple with the hole in the roof is a church, and one of the most visited churches in all of Rome. There are periodic announcements to those milling around in the inside that they should be silent and respect the holiness of the place. Marcus Agrippa would have agreed, except he built this as a temple to 'all gods' (hence pan- … [Read more...]

Bella Italia— Part Seven (Falling Arches)

Emperors liked to put their stamp on things by building things. And win they won some kind of victory, any kind of victory, they liked to put up arches on major roads so they could march through them in their victory parades. There are two prominent famous arches near the Forum and Colosseum (actually three in toto). We will consider the arch of Constantine and the arch of Titus. Now the arch of Constantine which is several centuries younger than the arch of Titus, is under heavy repair and … [Read more...]

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...]