Thursday, August 6, 2020



Via XX Settembre 66/68a

1500s, formerly VILLA CICCIAPORCI named after the Florentine family who built it

It was transformed in the mid-1700s, maybe by Paolo Posi (1708/76) for the Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga, Secretary of State of Benedict XIV Lambertini (1740/58). The CASINO (the main body of the villa) dates back to that time

The villa at the time was called VILLA VALENTI

It was called Villa Bonaparte or also VILLA PAOLINA (Pauline Villa) after the sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, who bought it in 1816, lived there until 1824 and renewed it according to the taste of the time, maybe with the help of Luigi Canina (1795/1856)

“With Pauline Bonaparte it was a time of splendor for the villa, as recalled by Lady Morgan in his memoirs: 'Of all the villas that the Borghese family owns only one is habitable, only one offers English propriety, French elegance and Italian taste united in the most wonderful way and that villa is Villa Paolina'. The villa between 1815 and 1824 also became a place hospitable to all Napoleonists banished from France, always welcomed with generosity by Pauline” (Claudio Rendina – from “La Repubblica” of October 1, 2007)

It was badly damaged during September 20, 1870 for the breach of Porta Pia, which was opened in the very section of the Aurelian Walls, which corresponds to the boundary wall of the villa

In 1906 it was sold to the Prussian government, and it was owned by Germany until the Second World War as German Embassy

In 1951 it was bought from France and it is currently the French Embassy to the Holy See

Interior decoration with “Mythological Depictions” by Giovanni Paolo Pannini (1691/1765)

“The qualities of Pannini were stimulated by a close contact with the Roman classical world, substantiated by the charm of the monuments and ruins, at the time still closely inherent to the surrounding environment, and invigorated by the emotion of the continuous new archaeological findings” (Giancarlo Sestieri)



Via Nomentana 216

1896/97 Francesco Mora (nineteenth century) and the archaeologist-architect Giacomo Boni (1859/1925) for the Baron Alberto Blanc, foreign minister in the Crispi government at the end of 1800s

In the park of about 47,000 m² (11.6 acres) there is an “Ancient monument of Tor di Quinto” moved here by Giacomo Boni

Since 1992 it belongs to the Italian state that, according to the plan, should transform it into a public park with local public services

It seems that, for the disgraceful will of the Rome administration, the villa is set to become the school of management at the LUISS University with adjoining parking lots and almost total closure to the public



Piazzale Aurelio 1

Beginning of 1500s for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese later Paul III (1534/49)

Between 1650 and 1667 it was completely rebuilt for Cardinal Girolamo Farnese

During the following years it belonged to the families Latera, Bentivoglio of Aragon, the Bourbons of Naples and Giraud

In 1841 it was bought by Prince Alexander Savorelli who had it restored by Virginio Vespignani (1808/82)

During the Roman Republic in 1849 Giuseppe Garibaldi had his headquarters here and it was partly destroyed by the French during the siege of Rome on that same year

In 1885 the villa was bought by the American lady Clara Jessup Heyland, wife of an English officer who had been injured during the war in India

The lady changed the name of the villa into VILLA AURELIA, had it restored and had the garden fitted

In 1909, by the will of Mrs. Heyland, the ownership of the house passed to the AMERICAN ACADEMY IN ROME, an institute of American culture, whose director was the American architect William Rutherford Mead

In 1914 it was restored by the architectural studio of Charles Follen McKim (1847/1909), William Rutherford Mead (1846/1928) and Stanford White (1853/1906)

In the years 1946-47, the Academy started a restoration of the villa, executed by the architect Bruno Zevi (1918/2000) under the supervision of the Director of Laurence Roberts

“The architecture firm of McKim, Mead, and White defined the look of Gilded Age America. They designed New York's original Penn Station. They built mansions in Newport, R.I., for robber barons and industrial tycoons. They were even invited to renovate the White House in 1903. (...) Stanford White may be best known today for the scandal surrounding his murder (he was shot by the jealous husband of a former lover) but 100 years ago, he and his colleagues were designing a nation. The three men took much of their inspiration from Europe, at a time when traveling to Europe could be a grueling ordeal. They see the first world; they see the old world; they see things that are medieval, things that are Baroque, the Roman amphitheater at Arles. (...) As trans-Atlantic travel grew easier, they began to bring some of this architectural booty home with them. (...) They see themselves as a huge Santa Claus, with a backpack and they put the buildings and the style and the things that they can buy in this backpack, and bring it to the Americans” (Mosette Broderick)

Nearby, on Via Angelo Masina there is the Library of the American Academy



Via Mazzarino 11

End of 1500s by Carlo Lambardi (1545/1619) for the Vitelli family who had bought the preexisting building with land in 1566 from the Genoese family Grimaldi

It was bought in 1601 by Clement VIII Aldobrandini (1592/1605) who gave it to his nephew Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini and had it restored in the years 1601/02 by Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602)

Here used to be kept a huge collection of paintings and ancient statues including the “Aldobrandini Wedding” now in the Vatican Museums

“The area where the villa was built has played a leading role since the second half of the sixteenth century, in relation to the arrangement of the Roman road ‘Alta Semita’ (High Semite) promoted by Pius IV (1559/65), completed in 1561, symbol of the 'salus publica' (public health) given back to the city by the pope. The renewal of the street gave impetus to the construction of new gardens, usually arranged by clients who delighted in antiquarian research, and in this way would recover the Renaissance scholarly tradition of this hill linked to the activities of Pomponio Leto (1425/98)” (Carla Benocci - Verdi Delizie, le ville, i giardini, i parchi storici del Comune di Roma)

In the third decade of the 1700s Gabriele Valvassori (1683/1761) was in charge of the maintenance of the garden, and designed the appearance appropriate to the French taste of the time

In 1811 the property passed to Count Alexandre François Sextius Miollis, General of Napoleon

“The Count Miollis introduced a new neoclassical idea of collecting works in a museum inspired by Antonio Canova. The sculpture collection was enriched (...); the interiors were furnished with a large collection of paintings both French and Italian, following the general taste, who had made the villa a veritable living room, where it was possible to study Latin literature, especially the works of Virgil” (Carla Benocci - Verdi Delizie, le ville, i giardini, i parchi storici del Comune di Roma)

In 1814 it was re-acquired by Giuseppe Aldobrandini who in 1846 had a NYMPHAEUM built by G.B. Benedetti

In 1876 the area of the villa was halved for earthworks due to the opening of Via Nazionale

In 1929 it was bought by the Italian state

Since 1992 it is a public park

“It is one of the oldest and most prestigious Renaissance complex, where there were exposed famous collections of paintings and sculptures, inherited by Pietro Aldobrandini and later transferred to the Galleria Doria Pamphili, the Borghese Gallery and other collections” (Carla Benocci - Verdi Delizie, le ville, i giardini, i parchi storici del Comune di Roma)


1938 Cesare Valle (1902/2000)


Built between late 1800s and early 1900s after the opening of Via Nazionale


It is the seat of the Istituto internazionale per l'Unificazione del Diritto Privato (International Institute for the Unification of Private Law)

The rest of the villa is managed by the City of Rome

On Via Mazzarino large ancient brick building, probably WAREHOUSES OF LUCIUS NEVIO CLEMENT of the end of the first century AD with restorations carried out at the time of Trajan (98/117) and the Severian emperors (193/235), covered later by the embankment of the BATHS OF CONSTANTINE



Via Salaria 92

1747/67 Carlo Marchionni (1702/86) for Cardinal Alessandro Albani patron grandson of Clement XI Albani (1700/21) in order to keep and display his collection of ancient sculptures

Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717/78), the mastermind of Neo-Classical style, was the librarian of the cardinal and was also in charge of cataloging the pieces of antiquities of his patron’s collection

“Through his writings (Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums, 1764) Winckelmann promoted the aesthetics of Neoclassicism, exerting enormous influence on art and taste of his time, and formulating a new methodological approach that is the basis of the modern history of art” (Enciclopedia Treccani)

In 1817 it passed to the Castelbarco family

In 1866 it was bought by Alessandro Torlonia who modified it in part, and increased greatly the collection of works of art

On the 20th of September 1870 the capitulation of Rome from the Papal army to the Italian army commanded by General Raffaele Cadorna was signed here

“The shape and distribution of the constituent nuclei of the villa are designed in strict adherence to the display function. The richness and variety of solutions - as in the gallery with the new combination of a ornamentation still in rococo style and ancient fragments or as in the garden with the striking interpenetration of picturesque ruins, ancient statues and natural elements - make Villa Albani a totally unique product, the result of the refined sensibility and culture of the client” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

Main Building

It is known in Italian as Casino


It takes its name from the fresco on the ceiling representating the “Parnassus” 1756 by Anton Raphael Mengs (1728/79)

“It became the new sacred text of Classicism: the painter abandons the baroque illusionistic perspective and returns to the Raphael inspired idea of panels within a painted architectonical structure. The composition is conceived as a relief and it doesn’t enhance the potential for sensitive seduction of the colors, as much as the purity of the line that defines the forms. The central character recalls the statue of the Belvedere Apollo and the two dancing figures on the left are inspired by prototypes in Herculaneum, but idealized along the lines of a classical style also inspired by Raphael” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

APARTMENT OF LEDA reproducing an ancient thermal bath


Opposite the Casino there is the CAFFEEHAUS

Among the outstanding antiquities:

“Relief of Antinous” from Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli

“Relief of knight who defeats an enemy” original from Attica in parthenonic style

“Torlonia young girl” mid first century BC

“Sarcophagus with the wedding of Peleus and Thetis” of the Hadrian’s period (117/138)

“Hestia Giustiniani” of the Hadrian’s period from the original of 460 BC

“Albani Athlete” by Stefano a pupil of Pasiteles

“Frescoes from the François tomb in Vulci” end of the fourth century BC with mythological scenes of Greek and Etruscan-Roman stories

It would be great if the long dispute between the Torlonia family and the Italian state could be resolved so that one of the most important collections of ancient sculpture in the world woud be finally be made visible to mankind

Among the paintings:

“Madonna and Saints” 1475 by Niccolò di Liberatore aka l’Alunno (about 1430/1502)

“Altarpiece” 1419 by Pietro Vannucci aka Pietro Perugino (about 1450/1523)

“Pieta” 1509 by Francesco Zaganelli (about 1460-70/1532)

Also amazing works by:

Giovanni Paolo Pannini (1691/1765), Gerrit Van Honthorst aka Gherardo Delle Notti (1590/1656), Pompeo Batoni (1708/87), Antoon Van Dyck (1599/1641), Jacopo Robusti aka Tintoretto (1518/94), Taddeo Zuccari (1529/66), Jusepe de Ribera aka lo Spagnoletto (1591/1652), Jacopino del Conte (about 1515/98), Carlo Maratta (1625/1713), Giovanni Francesco Barbieri aka Guercino (1591/1666), Giulio Pippi aka Giulio Romano (1499/1546), Jacques Courtois aa il Borgognone (1628/79), Luca Giordano (1634/1705), Philipp Peter Roos aka Rosa da Tivoli (1651/1705), Jacques-Louis David (1748/1825) and Gaspar van Wittel (1653/1736)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020


Via Salaria 267

The actual area of the villa’s park is 150 hectares (370 acres) 3.4 times the size of the territory of Vatican City
It is the second public park in Rome in size after Villa Doria Pamphilj
In the 1600s it was a farm and the headquarters of the Collegio Irlandese (Irish College)
At the end of the 1700s it became the property of the Pallavicini princes and it was rearranged by the French architect Auguste de Chevalle Saint-Hubert (1755/98) as a landscape garden with the opening of geometric paths and small buildings like the Belvedere or the Cafehaus (Temple of Flora)

The park on various levels provided backgrounds and views congenial to the sensitivity of the Romantic period
In 1872 it was bought by the Italian royal family, the Savoy who transformed it since 1874 in an English country park by the landscape architect Emilio Richter
Richter moved about 25,000 m³ (20.2 acre feet) of land, created two lakes, built two large greenhouses for exotic species still existing and planted no less than 100,000 plants
Among the many varieties of plants and flowers in the park there are the rare dwarf palm and the aquatic fir from Tibet

“A typology that exploited and exalted the landscaped characteristics of the site, thoroughly reshaped by man. Determinants of this composition are alternating hollows and undulations of the land, with sudden forests by seemingly spontaneous open glades and trees in groups or isolated with the function of eye-catchers” (Sandro Santolini – Verdi Delizie, le ville, i giardini, i parchi storici del Comune di Roma)

In 1878 the villa was sold at preferential price to the administrator of the property of the royal family, Count Tellfner, who named it after his wife Ada
In 1904 Vittorio Emanuele III bought the villa again and it became a royal residence under the name VILLA SAVOIA (Savoy Villa) until 1946
It was in the Palazzina Reale of Villa Ada that Benito Mussolini was arrested on July 25, 1943 by order of King of Italy
At the fall of the monarchy, the villa was the subject of a long dispute, at the end of which a section (84 hectares - 207 acres - out of about 150 hectares - 370 acres - in total) remained private property of the Savoy later sold in different periods. It is the part that still retains traces of the eighteenth-century garden
The part by Via Salaria (34 hectares - 84 acres) was acquired to the public domain in 1957

Casino Pallavicini and Temple of Flora (Coffee-House)

Formerly known as Casino Calzamiglia. It is still inhabited by the heirs of the Savoy family
The monumental gate on Via Salaria dates back to 1795

“The Coffee-House stands out for architectural quality. (...) It testifies the imperial taste between the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the new century. Its type, with pronaos and neoclassical façade, hides on the back an apse, which echoes the motif of the colonnade, overlooking an underlying basin shaped as an amphitheater with a central fountain in cast iron of the late-nineteenth century, the result of a romantic reshuffle of this place” (Sandro Santolini - Verdi Delizie, le ville, i giardini, i parchi storici del Comune di Roma)

Palazzina Reale

1873/74 with the supervision of the technical office of the Royal House Gennaro Petagna
The neo-Gothic tower was built by Emilio Richter to mask a water tank
In the years 1930/40 embellishments were added with the Secret Garden connected to the villa with new stairs adorned with statues and fountains
Now the building is home to the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt

Royal Mews

Three buildings of which only the first towards south-west, the closest to the Palazzina Reale, was evidently designed as a stable in the years 1873/74 probably by Gennaro Petagna

Church of the Divine Love

Abandoned and badly damaged
The exterior dates back to the early 1800s, maybe designed by Fabio Puri De Marchis
Inside “Marble balustrade”, ALTAR in stucco and polychrome marble and “Crucifix” of the eighteenth century in papier-mâché
The building, however, is probably very ancient, identified in 1632 by Antonio Bosio as the CHURCH OF THE HOLY MARTYRS DARIA VIRGO AND CHRISTANTUS stoned, according to tradition in 257 under Valerian (253/260). Bosio identified two small buildings preexisting under the church, possibly dedicated to the two saints

Other houses

HOUSE TRIBUNA I, HOUSE TRIBUNA II, BARN now used as a riding center, HOUSE KNOWN AS “LA FINANZIERA” seat of the WWF and HOUSE OF MARES MOTHERS, so named because it was used for mares from the Quirinal Stables to give birth
In the south-west area of Villa Ada is the VILLA POLISSENA
On the hill now occupied by Forte Antenne was located the ancient city of ANTEMNAE (ante amnem = before the river), where the Aniene River joins the Tiber River
Inside the villa is visible the underground channel of the aqueduct AQUA VIRGO
In the area of the villa near Via Salaria were identified the catacombs of Trasone and of Priscilla


Via Aurelia Antica 12

About 1739 from a project by Alessandro Galilei (1691/1737) for the Cardinal Ferroni

In 1792 it was bought by the Duke Giovanni Torlonia
Later it belonged to the Valentini family and to the Giraud family

In 1849 it suffered serious damage during the siege of Rome by French troops

In 1854 it was bought by Filippo Andrea V Doria Pamphili who had it restored by Andrea Busiri Vici (1818/1911)

In 1863 it was bought by Bettino Ricasoli (1809/80), the mayor of Florence, and the second Prime Minister of Italian history in chronological order after Cavour
Bettino Ricasoli was also the inventor of the formula for the vinification of the Chianti wine: the product specification drawn up by him is still followed today with few changes

In 1907 the villa was bought by the Russian prince Lazarew Abamelek who had it restored by Vincenzo Monaldi and expanded to a total area of about 27 hectares (67 acres)
In 1914 prince Abamelek left it to the Academy of Russia in Rome and now it is the residence of the Russian ambassador


Corso Francia

1958/60 Vittorio Cafiero (1901/81), Adalberto Libera (1903/63), Amedeo Luccichenti (1907/63), Vincenzo Monaco (1911/69) and Luigi Moretti (1907/73)

Structures by Pier Luigi Nervi (1891/1979) and his son Antonio Nervi

“The international area in which attention for Nervi’s work grew faster was the United States of America. If the image of Nervi emerging from American journalism was that of a great architect-builder heir to a centuries-old tradition, whose method of work seemed to owe much to intuition and to artisan-like skills, in those same years, in Italy, two major events - the Olympics in Rome in 1960 and the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of national unity in Turin in 1961 - led to the contrary the name of Nervi in the foreground as a synonym for a constructive and technological modernization worth of representing the rapid transformation of the country” (Filippo De Pieri - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)

1958/59 by Luigi Moretti

Saturday, June 27, 2020


Autostrada Roma - Aeroporto

1965 Riccardo Morandi (1902/89)
Built in the bend of the Tiber River, where the Magliana district is at beginning of the Rome-Fiumicino highway

“On June 28, 1965 a landslide, extended in width for about 200 meters, hit the Magliana bend of the River Tiber and the motorway bridge still under construction at the time. The designer Riccardo Morandi - commissioned by ANAS to remedy - identified two possible solutions: either rebuilding the ruined stretch, with a deck based on sets of poles inserted in the ground in great depth; or cross over the whole area of the landslide with a suspension bridge with a single arch. ANAS chose the second option, the most ambitious and never attempted in Rome until then” (Antonella Anappo - Il Ponte Morandi, Monografia)

“In a continuous research, which does not consider technology for its own sake and at the same time is devoid of formal preconceptions, Morandi designed works marked by a perfect balance between functionality, rigor of structural solutions and quality of the final image. (...) He studied the prestressed concrete, developing a system, for which in 1948 won the first of seven patents related to his name” (Enciclopedia Treccani)


Via Tiburtina

Extremely ancient road probably drawn on protohistorical routeslinked to transhumance

It was used by the pilgrims who visited the shrines of Tibur, Tivoli today
Later it became the road used by the Roman nobility to sojourn in summer villas in the surrounding countryside

The beginning of the road was Porta Esquilina (The Arch of Gallienus) of the Servian Wall and it used to pass the Aurelian Walls through the Porta Tiburtina (St. Lawrence Gate)

It was extended in 307 BC up to Corfinium (current Corifinio near L'Aquila) in the territories of the Equi and Marsi peoples, at the behest of the consul Marcus Valerius Maximus with the name of VIA TIBURTINA VALERIA, to facilitate political control of Rome in those provincial areas

In less than 200 km across the Apennines it used to connect Rome with the Adriatic Sea, reaching up to Ostia Aterni, today's Pescara
It still connects today Rome with Pescara with the name STRADA STATALE 5 VIA TIBURTINA

From the Tiburtina Valeria road came off two important roads:

VIA EMPOLITANA from Tivoli to Ciciliano (Empolum), Bellegra and Olevano

VIA SUBLACENSE commissioned by Nerone (54/68) for access to his villa in Subiaco


Via Nazionale

Connection between Termini Station and Via del Corso layed out following the route of the ancient Roman road Vicus Longus, along the valley of S. Vitale, after the capital of the Kingdom of Italy was transfered to Rome in 1870

The Vicus Longus was in the valley in between The Quirinal and Viminal Hills 17 m (56 feet) below the level of Via Nazionale today
The area was very little inhabited at the time and the land had been purchased by the Belgian Monsignor Francesco De Merode purposefully in anticipation of this use

The first part of today's Via Nazionale, urbanized by De Merode, was called STRADA NUOVA PIA (New Pius Road)
The historical STRADA PIA was the road called today Via XX Settembre, rebuilt and enlarged by Pius IV Medici (1559/65) to create a scenic perspective between Porta Pia and the papal residence of the Palazzo del Quirinale

The idea was to open a fast and straight as possible link between the central station of the capital and the Tiber River, beyond which was expected, since 1873, the intensive urbanization of Prati di Castello
This intention was put into practice in 1886, with the resolution of a second wide route between Piazza Venezia and the river, which became the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II

Along Via Nazionale were built in the last three decades of the 1800s several important buildings:

Large hotels in the upper part including the Hotel Quirinale (1865)

Church of St. Paul's Within the Walls (1880), the first non-Catholic Christian church built in Rome after the unification of Italy

Exhibition Palace (1883)

Eliseo Theater (1901)

Palace of the Bank of Italy also called Palazzo Koch, headquarters of the Bank of Italy (1892)

Residential properties for the new middle class of the capital city

Works for the construction and urbanization of Via Nazionale demanded, among other things, the demolition of the Teatro Drammatico Nazionale (National Drama Theater), which allowed the discovery of exceptional bronze statues, the “Hellenistic Prince” and the “Boxer” now at Palazzo Massimo and the excavation of the northern part of the garden of Villa Aldobrandini, with the construction of the retaining wall
During these same works (1875) traces of Porta Sanqualis of the Servian Walls emerged currently visible in the middle of Largo Magnanapoli


Via Flaminia

 220/219 BC for the censor Gaius Flaminius Nepos the Elder after the conquest of the territory of the Falisci and Capenati

It is the same route of the Cassian Way until the Milvian Bridge
It ended in Ancona but later it was extended through the Furlo Pass until Rimini, where even today the Arch of Augustus f 10 AD marks the end point

In Grottarossa was discovered in 1674 the TOMB OF THE NASONII of the second half of the second century AD, now almost totally destroyed, with frescoes and stucco, removed and taken to the British Museum, that inspired the friezes of Palazzo Albani Del Drago

At 12.7 km (8 miles) there is the MAUSOLEUM LA CELSA. It was part of a vast funerary complex that used to stretch from Saxa Rubra to the River Tiber
“The most difficult and the most picturesque stretch of the Via Flaminia is the Furlo Pass, where the path runs embedded in the mountain at a considerable height above the ravine, until, having no more room to continue outdoors, it enters a tunnel called Intercisa, or Petra Pertusa, or Forulum, which was restored by Vespasian, as the inscription on the Eastern mouth mentions. Shortly after the descent to the plain begins: to span the Metauro bridge the road passes over a large Roman bridge with three arches, known as Colmazzo Bridge; here the battle occurred between the Romans and the Carthaginians led by Hasdrubal” (Giuseppe Lugli – Enciclopedia Italiana Treccani)


Via Cassia

The origins are uncertain as rather uncertain is the identification of the public figure (curator or consul) who gave it its name
The two most likely “Cassius Longinus” may be the Cassius Longinus censor on 154 BC or the Cassius Longinus consul on 127 BC, the first one being more plausible than the other
The road used to link and connect various pre-existing Etruscan paths
Leaving the Fontinalis Gate of the Servian Walls, the first part, the Via Lata, was common with the Via Flaminia. The two roads parted after the Milvian Bridge
The Via Cassia separated from the Via Clodia at the ninth mile, where currently La Storta area is

Towards the tenth kilometer, in an area which is within the city today, there is the so-called Tomb of Nero, which also gives its name to the area, despite the sarcophagus roadside actually contains the remains of Publius Vibius Marianus prefect of the third Gallic legion
At the end of the second century BC it was extended to Florentia (now Florence) and then up to Luni through Pistoia and Lucca

Trajan (98/117) had a new stretch of the road built between Orvieto and Chiusi, which was known as VIA TRAIANA NOVA
After the year 774, the year of the defeat of the Lombards by the Franks, most of the road was used by pilgrims traveling between France and Rome and that’s when it took the name of VIA FRANCIGENA, the most important European street in the Middle Ages


Via Aurelia

 241 BC for the consul Gaius Aurelius Cotta on a former Etruscan route

The VIA AURELIA VETUS was 134 km (83 miles) long starting in Rome from the Sublicius Bridge, leaving Rome through Porta San Pancrazio, to end up in Cosa, today's Ansedonia, in Tuscany. It was later extended to Pisa
After Pisa it deflected east toward Lucca avoiding the northern coast of Versilia, from Migliarino Pisano until Luni, for the presence of the warlike Apuan people which made the area a dangerous one

It was Julius Caesar in 56 BC to instruct Marco Emilio Scaurus to build the shortcut directly from Pisa to Luni, the current Sarzanese Provincial Road 
It was eventually extended to Genoa and Augustus (27 BC / 14 AD) had it extended until Massalia (modern Marseille) as the Via Julia Augusta
Antoninus Pius (138/161) had it extended to Arles (Gaul Narborense) coming to the length of 936 km (581 miles) and taking the name of VIA AURELIA NOVA

On the site of MALAGROTTA (Mola rupta), 12 km (7.4 miles) from Porta S. Pancrazio, were found paved stretches of the ancient Via Aurelia and the tower tomb called Monumentum Magnum Rotundum

Also along Via di Malagrotta, near the largest landfill in Europe, was found a necropolis, not far from the necropolis of Via Castel Malnome-Piana del Sole, where over 300 burials have come to light
The name Malarupta, later Malarotta and finally Malagrotta, derives from a grinding wheel on the Galeria River remains of which are still visible

Wednesday, June 17, 2020


Via Appia Antica

312 BC for the censor Appius Claudius the Blind (350/271 BC)

The road ended in the city of Capua. Later, in the year 190 BC, it was extended to Brindisi
The original pavement is still visible in some places

Series of tombs and monuments after the Caffarella Valley. The stream which runs into the valley corresponds to the ancient Almone, the sacred river where on every March 27 was washed the sacred image of Cybele, the Magna Mater 
The most important of these tombs is the so-called TOMB OF GETA, a high mausoleum tower topped by a small old house which is a private home now

It is called the Tomb of Geta with no historical basis

Villa di Massenzio

Villa of Maxentius

Built for Maxentius (306/312) over the expropriated Pago Triopio of Herodes Atticus
It is wonderfully immersed in the Roman countryside

Palazzo Imperiale

Imperial Palace

Four main phases of construction:

1) First century BC

2) Julio-Claudian (27 BC/68 AD) period

3) Half of the second century AD, corresponding to the time of Herod Atticus

4) Period of Maxentius with construction work common in that period known as Opus Vittatum or Opus Listatum made by parallel horizontal courses of tuff blocks alternated with bricks

Two nymphea (fountains), major and minor
Cryptoporticus consisting of two parallel tunnels
Large basilica hall, the most important room 33,10 x 19,45 m (108 x 64 feet) originally heated
Long tank, about 63 m (206 feet)

To the east of the tank semicircular room, maybe a monumental entrance to the building during Maxentius’ period

Mausoleo di Romolo

Mausoleum of Romulus

Romulus was the son the emperor had when he was just 16 years old. He drowned when he was only fifteen in the Tiber River in the year 309

Circular building of about 33 m (108 feet) in diameter, preceded by a rectangular projection
Originally there were two floors with the upper floor, now disappeared, probably used for funeral rites and the lower for the graves of the family of Maxentius, constituting his dynastic tomb

At the center of the lower floor huge pillar of 7.5 m (24.6 feet) in diameter with eight niches for burials
Six other niches are inserted in the walls

To the east of the perimeter of the mausoleum, there is a tomb maybe dating back to the Augustan period known as the TOMB OF THE SEMPRONI FAMILY

Circo di Massenzio

Circus of Maxentius

About 500 x 78 m (1,640 x 255 feet) with central part of 296 m (971 feet), exactly 1000 Roman feet, able to seat up to 10,000 spectators on six rows of twelve steps each

In the center used to stand the agonal obelisk maybe originally placed in the Iseum Campensis or, some say, in the Villa of Domitian (81/96) in Albano. Filippo Coarelli and Jean-Claude Grenier deem it coming originally from the Templum Gentis Flaviae which was erected on Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando where now the Octagonal or Minerva Hall, former Planetarium is

The obelisk was moved here in the year 311 by Maxentius and now is in Piazza Navona
In 1959 took place in this circus the outdoors shots of the chariot race for the film Ben Hur

Tomba di Cecilia Metella

Tomb of Cecilia Metella

It dates back to the beginning of the Augustan period, about 25 BC
The diameter is 29.5 m (96.8 feet) or 100 Roman feet. The height is 11 m (36 feet)

The inscription attributes it to the daughter of Metellus, conqueror of Crete and wife of a Marcus Crassus, perhaps the general of Caesar in Gaul

In the eleventh century it became part of the fortification of the Counts of Tusculum and later, in 1299, of the Caetani Castle built for Boniface VIII Caetani (1294/1303) with merlons and sixteen towers
Subsequently it was owned by the families Savelli, Colonna and Orsini
The castle was demolished by Sixtus V Peretti (1585/90) to hinder the baronial power and prevent it from being used by bandits

Its shape connects it to the architectural type of the mausoleum of Hellenistic tradition, which at that time reached the maximum diffusion in Rome

Coating of travertine blocks in simple smooth ashlar in faux opus isodoma: not all travertine blocks have the same length and some joints are not real but only drawn on the surface to give the impression of regularity
Pentelic marble frieze with “Bucrania (ox skulls), festoons and trophy of weapons”

In the cella there is brick facing, one of the first examples of the use of this technique, which helps to date the monument to the Augustan period

Inside there is a small ANTIQUARIUM (museum)

Opposite the castle there is the CASTRUM CAETANI with ruins of the church of St. NICHOLAS OF BARI was built by the family Caetani, a rare example of Gothic style in Rome


Named for the ox skulls adorning the frieze of the tomb of Cecilia Metella

Thermal baths of the mid-second century AD used at least until the fourth century, maybe also part of the Pago Triopio of Herodes Atticus

Remarkable remains of mosaic floors are still visible

On the sides of the road


Including the so called “Tomb of Seneca” and the “Tomb of the Rabirii” with copies of three portraits in relief including Usia with attributes of the cult of Isis (the original is in the Roman Archaeological Museum of Palazzo Massimo)

Villa dei Quintili

Quintilis’ Villa

It dates back to the peiood of Hadrian (117/138)

It later became the property of two Quintili brothers as evidenced by the fistule acquarie (water pipes) found here: Sixtus Condianus Maximus Quintilius and Sixtus Valerianus Maximus Quintilius were consuls together in the year 151 and the son of one of them was consul in 172
Falsely accused of a conspiracy, were executed in 182 by Commodus (180/192) who confiscated the villa
It remained imperial property for a long time later and restorations were carried up to the sixth century

The area in 1797 passed to Giovanni Torlonia who promoted excavations in the years 1827/29 taken care of by Antonio Nibby
It was purchased by the Archaeological Superintendence of Rome in 1985

It was the largest among the villas of the Roman suburbs so that in the eighteenth century its ruins were called Roma Vecchia, Old Rome

It was supplied with water from the aqueduct Anio Novus

Two phases of construction:

1) In bricks in about 135

2) In Opus Vittatum or Opus Listatum made by parallel horizontal courses of tuff blocks alternated with bricks dating back to the time of Commodus or to the late third century

Five areas:

1) Group of buildings to the west

2) Large peristyle-garden with nymphaeum (fountain) built as hemicycle on the Appian Way transformed, maybe in the third century, in thermal baths known as Small Baths

3) Main housing estate with two halls 14 m (46 feet) high, a large circular room of 36 m (118 feet) in diameter that was probably not covered with any roof and the Great Baths with frigidarium (for cold baths) and caldarium (for hot baths)

4) Garden-Racecourse 300 x 90 m (985 x 300 feet) with some buildings connected

5) Small buildings to the north

“Statue of Zeus sitting on a rock” of the first half of the second century AD
Displays with statuettes from the area of a sanctuary dedicated to oriental gods and to Zeus Bronton (thunder)
Statues of “Hercules”, “Niobe” and portraits, herms, reliefs, coins, fragments of wall paintings and architectural decorations

Other monuments on the Appian Way

On the sixth mile CASAL ROTONDO (Round Country House)

Circular tomb rebuilt in part by the archaeologist Luigi Canina (1795/1856)

Further on the left TORRE SELCE (Silt Tower)

Tower of the twelfth century built with ancient materials on a mound originally similar to that of Cecilia Metella

Halfway through the eighth mile on the left BERRETTA DI PRETE (Priest’s Hat)

So called for the particular shape. Circular building with dome of the fourth century AD

Shortly before the ninth mile there is the so called TOMB OF GALLIENUS (253/268)

Round brick mausoleum originally covered with a dome and surrounded by a colonnade of marble to which maybe belonged also the large villa behind the mausoleum itself

On the tenth mile there is the MAUSOLEUM OF FRATTOCCHIE

Concrete core of a tomb with square tower built over it in 1855 by the astronomer Angelo Secchi as a cornerstone of the trigonometric measurements experimented at the time along the Appian Way

EIGHT ANCIENT BRIDGES part of the Appian Way were destroyed during the Second World War:
Seven by the retreating Germans in 1943 (Ariccia Bridge, High Bridge before Terracina, Bridge over the Garigliano River, Bridge over the Volturno River at the entrance of Capua, Tufara Bridge, Apollosa Bridge, Corvo Bridge before Benevento) and one by Allied Forces bombing (St. Valentine Bridge after Benevento)