Thursday, January 16, 2020

TRAIN STATION TO OSTIA LIDO

STAZIONE FERROVIA ROMA-LIDO
Piazzale Ostiense

1920/23 Marcello Piacentini (1881/1960)

He abandoned the secessionist influence of his previous works and he designed here a kind of rural architecture

“Piacentini was inspired by two main ideas: the sea and classical antiquity. Besides, at that time the area was still almost in the country: there were only some monuments such as the Pyramid and, beyond it, Aventine and Testaccio hills. From the outside the station looks like an archaic temple, with its four pillars to support the pediment. And then the false fragments of sarcophagi and bas-reliefs with heads of the Gorgons, embedded in the outer walls. But the new railway was leading to the sea and he had to quote, that starting from the palm trees, planted at the beginning of the tracks. And then the decorations: on the ceiling crabs and flowers with petals of shells. And at the entrance three panels as graffiti on lime imitate the ancient mosaics of Ostia and those of the Villa of Pliny in Castel Fusano and have as subject marine mythological scenes: in one of them, two men have just caught a mermaid weeping. And yet nymphs and seahorses, in addition to Neptune and Poseidon. A sister station in Ostia was destroyed by bombing of World War Two” (Esther Palma - Corriere della Sera of 25 October 2004)

VATICAN CITY TRAIN STATION

STAZIONE DEL VATICANO
Piazzale della Stazione del Vaticano - Città del Vaticano

1929/33 Giuseppe Momo (1875/1940), architect of the Reverenda Fabbrica di S. Pietro, the Reverend Factory of St. Peter

“Giuseppe Momo was a professional expert also in technical and structural issues, destined to become the architect of the dramatic transformation of Vatican City. (...) His approach to formal problems, after a brief period when he followed the Liberty style, was marked by a strong eclecticism. It's pretty amazing his ability to move competently in architectural repertoire inherited from past eras, choosing from time to time with ease and without privileging any period, the building type best suited to solving problems effectively present for the function and history of the sites, for the technical innovations and, not least, for the symbolic importance of these buildings” (Daniela Fonti)

Marble reliefs and sculptures “Thought” and “Action” by Edoardo Rubino (1871/1954)
The sumptuous marble decoration of the interior was designed for the meetings that the pope should have had welcoming his guests, but that actually never happened

Inside “Four huge black monolithic columns “ from the Apuan Alps

It was used for passenger traffic only on very few occasions and much more for freight traffic although now even that is reduced to zero

The first pope to use the station Vatican was John XXIII (1958/63), on October 4, 1962, for his pilgrimage to Loreto and Assisi, on the eve of the Ecumenical Council

John Paul II (1978/2005) despite having traveled by train many times around the world, used the Vatican station only once, on January 24, 2002 to reach Assisi in a special pilgrimage together with representatives of the various religions of the world for the Day of Prayer for world peace

It has been several years that the building has been divided into three floors and transformed in the DEPARTMENT STORE OF THE VATICAN where are sold apparel products and leather high fashion, expensive watches, perfumes, computers and even alcohol and cigarettes, all with prices at least 20% lower than in Italy, since there are no taxes to be paid in the Vatican
Only employees of the Vatican and members of the clergy can shop in this store and, a short distance, they can also get gas at the GAS PUMP OF THE VATICAN where they save about 25% compared to Italy

TALKING STATUES

STATUE PARLANTI

Also known as Congresso degli Arguti (Congress of the Smart People)

Common people used to hung on these statues messages known as pasquinate (lampoons), from Pasquino, the statue that started the tradition, a sort of today's “blog” that gave voice to the opposition to the regime

Abate Luigi

Abbot Luigi
Piazza Vidoni

“Man wearing a Toga” of the late Imperial period moved to Piazza Vidoni after the demolitions for the opening of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II

Babuino

Baboon
Via del Babuino 51

“Silenus” (or maybe the Sabine god Fidio Sanco) placed in 1576 on Via del Babuino (which took its name from the statue) at No. 51 for Pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni (1572/85)

Set in a rustic setting in 1738 for the Boncompagni Ludovisi family
In 1878 it was removed but it was reinstated in 1957
It was so famous that the “lampoons” hung here were called “babuinate”

Facchino

Porter
Via del Corso 307

“Water carrier with barrel” on the left side of Palazzo De Carolis
It dates from the time of Gregory XIII Boncompagni (1572/85), although it is erroneously attributed to Michelangelo by popular tradition

Madama Lucrezia

Madame Lucretia
Piazza S. Marco

The name may come from Lucrezia d'Alagno, friend of Alfonso of Aragon and Paul II Barbo (1464/71) who commissioned the nearby Palazzo Venezia
It's actually a giant statue of “Goddess Isis” found in the Isei Campensis, the ancient temple dedicated to Isis and placed in Piazza Venezia in about 1500 by the Cardinal Lorenzo Cybo

Marforio

Piazza del Campidoglio

Colossal reclining statue of “Ocean” of the first century AD found in the Forum and now in the courtyard of the Palazzo Nuovo of the Capitoline Museums

Pasquino

Piazza di Paquino

Maybe “Menelaus with the body of Patroclus” or “Ajax with the body of Achilles” Roman copy from the original of about 200 BC found on Via del Parione in 1501
It was perhaps part of the decoration of the Stadium of Domitian, and it was placed in Piazza Pasquino by Cardinal Oliviero Carafa

It took its name from that of a judgmental and talker tailor who lived nearby and who had recently died
It is the only one of the talking statues that continues to speak today

Among the many lampoons, whose authors were authoritative intellectuals, there was the one on the occasion of the excommunication by Pope Innocent X Pamphili (1644/55) for anyone who had smoked tobacco, a novelty recently imported from the New World, in the Basilica of St. Peter

“On the neck of the famous statue was hung a sign with Latin verses saying: 'You exercise your power against a leaf blown away by the wind and you pursue a dry straw’. The pope wanted to know the author, and Pasquino 'said': 'Job, 13, 24'; it was indeed verses from the Holy Scriptures. Even the pope promised a prize to the author, but since some time before the person responsable for a reckless lampoon against the sister of Pope Sixtus V had a bad end, this time the author was careful not to be discovered and made Pasquino answer : 'Free of charge. Don’t worry about it…’'“ (Italo De Tuddo)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

OLYMPIC STADIUM

STADIO OLIMPICO
Via dello Stadio Olimpico

In the years 1928/32 Enrico Del Debbio (1891/1973) prepared the project with the name of Stadio dei Cipressi (Stadium of the Cypresses) for mass demonstrations

In 1937 Angelo Frisa and Achille Pintonello (1902/?) took up the design but the stadium was never finished

In 1952 Annibale Vitellozzi (1902/90), Carlo Roccatelli and Cesare Valle (1902/2000) designed it again on the basis of the Stadium of the Cypresses and finally built it

It is used for athletics and football
Currently the capacity is 72,698 seats
It was restructured in 1990 with the addition of the roof

FLAMINIUM STADIUM

STADIO FLAMINIO
Viale Maresciallo Pilsudski/Viale Tiziano/Via Dorando Petri

 1957/59 Pier Luigi Nervi (1891/1979) and his son Antonio Nervi (1925/79) on the area of the destroyed Stadio Nazionale (National Stadium), later known as Stadio del Partito Nazionale Fascista (Stadium of the National Fascist Party) and finally Stadio Torino (Turin Stadium), which had been designed by Piacentini, Pardo and Guazzaroni in 1911

24,000 places of which 8,000 are covered

The shelter of the grandstand juts of about 14 m (46 feet)
Here were held many pop and rock concerts including those of Michael Jackson (two dates in 1988 and one in 1992) and U2 in 1987

STADIUM OF DOMITIAN

STADIO DI DOMIZIANO
Piazza Navona

About 85 AD, 275 x 106 m (902 x 348 feet)

There were two superimposed sectors (maeniana) and four entrances
It used to contain about 30,000 spectators

No documents proves the use of this stadium for naval battles that were instead held in the Naumachiae, stadiums specifically built for those kind of shows

However, from 1600s until the end of 1800s Piazza Navona was sometimes flooded with about 60 cm (2 feet) of water in the summer months to bring freshness to the Romans

Here maybe was found the sculptural group “Ajax with the body of Achilles” (or “Menelaus with the body of Patroclus”), today known as Pasquino

It was the seat of the market from mid-1400s until 1869 with the brief exception of the papacy of Innocent X Pamphili (1644/55) when the market was moved to Campo de' Fiori to give more nobility to the square where the Palace of the Pamphilj family stood

In 86 AD Domitian (81/96) established here the Certamen Capitolinum:
They were athletic games coupled with musical competitions that were held in the almost contemporary ODEON OF DOMITIAN on the area of today's Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne which was built on the curve of the auditorium

According to the Regional Catalogues the Odeon contained 10,600 spectators
The only visible remain is the “Monolithic column in cipolin marble” on Piazza dei Massimi

Sunday, January 12, 2020

SYNAGOGUE

SINAGOGA
Lungotevere de’ Cenci

1901/04 Osvaldo Armanni (1855/1929) and Vincenzo Costa (active 1899/1904) in a style described as Assyrian-Babylonian

Services are celebrated with the Roman Rite and, in a room in the basement, with the Iberian rite

Interior decoration in purist style by Annibale Brugnoli (1843/1915) and Domenico Bruschi (1840/1910)

“The architects, in the absence of a established type of building for Jewish places of worship, borrowed the articulation of the architecture of the centrally planned churches, while referring to the Assyrian-Babylonian figurative tradition for the decoration (...). The elements of ancient Mesopotamia are reviewed in the light of a renewed sensitivity in ‘liberty’ style” (Giorgio Muratore)

JEWISH MUSEUM
Permanent exhibition of objects continuously used by the Roman Jewish community
Six rooms divided into three sections: historical, ceremonial objects and fabrics
Among the objects visible here there are about 400 silver pieces, 900 pieces of fabric, 100 marble pieces, as well as casts, documents and scrolls

Jewish people were living in Rome since at least the second century BC
Paul IV (1555/59) established the ROME GHETTO called “Serraglio degli Ebrei” (Menagerie of Jews) in 1555 with the bull Cum Nimis absurdum and revoked all the rights granted to the Jewish of Rome
This area was chosen because the Jewish community, who lived in antiquity in the area of the Aventine Hill, and especially in the Trastevere neighborhood, lived here at the time and it was the majority of the population of the area itself
It was built 40 years after the Venice Ghetto, which was the world's first

In the ghetto there were five synagogues or “scole”, according to the place of origin and the rite of visitors:

The Scola Tempio (Temple School) for local Jews

The Scola Nuova (New School) for those who came from small towns in Lazio

The Scola Siciliana (Sicilian School) for the Jewish refugees from southern Italy

The Scola Catalana (Catalan School) and the Scola Castigliana (Castilian School) for the Spanish

In 1848, finally, Pius IX Mastai-Ferretti (1846/78) tore down the wall, but the Jews, however, remained segregated until 1870 when they were declared equal to other citizens by King Victor Emmanuel II
The first cannon shot during the assault on the breach of Porta Pia was shot by a Jewish officer from Turin

The Roman Jewish are about 16,000, nearly half of the population of Jewish in all of Italy consisting of about 36,000 people
When the state of Israel was proclaimed in 1948 some Roman Jewish symbolically passed under the Arch of Titus, the destroyer of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD, something Jewish people had not done for many centuries

Saturday, January 11, 2020

"THE MUSHROOM" RESERVOIR

SERBATOIO IDRICO “IL FUNGO”
Piazza Pakistan - EUR

1957/59 Roberto Colosimo (1934) e Aldo Capozza (1923)

It provides the necessary pressure to the fire prevention and watering system of the EUR district

In the upper perimeter there is a BELVEDERE RESTAURANT designed by Lorenzo Monardo (1929) and renovated in 1989

FAMILY GRAVE OF THE SCIPIOS

SEPOLCRO DEGLI SCIPIONI
Via di Porta S. Sebastiano 9

Beginning of the third century BC for Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbato, consul in 298 BC, whose sarcophagus, the only one of this family grave to remain intact, occupied the place of honor and it is now in the Vatican Museums together with the original inscriptions

Thanks to the numerous ancient citations, and especially thanks to Cicero’s writings, we know that it was in use until the beginning of the first century BC and that the main body of the structure was virtually complete by the first half of the second century BC

Rediscovered, even though the approximate location was known thanks to the sources, on two occasions, in 1616 and in 1780, during works for the construction of a cellar
It was devastated by the excavations conducted with the destructive methods of those times and it was fully restored in 1926

It is known that here were also the remains of a stranger to the family: the poet Ennius, of which Cicero says there was also a marble statue

None of the Scipios more familiar to us, the African, the Asian and Hispanic were buried here, but, according to Livy and Seneca, they were buried in their villa in Liternum

The inscriptions on the sarcophagi (only on seven) allow us to date the use of the hypogeum until the year 150 BC, when the structure was complete and was joined by another room, of square shape but not in axis with the first, where a few other family members were buried

In that same period a solemn “rocky” FAÇADE was built, when the tomb became a sort of family museum
The decoration is attributed to the initiative of Scipio Aemilianus, and it is a prime example of the Hellenization of Roman culture during in the second century BC

The last known use of the tomb took place in the period of Claudius and Nero (41/68), when were buried here the daughter and granddaughter of Cornelius Lentulus Getelicus determined by ideological reasons related to their descent from the Scipios

It is divided into two distinct parts:

1) The main body dug in tufa stone with a plan more or less square

2) A connecting tunnel of a later period, built of brick, with a separate entrance

The regularity of the system leads to believe that the excavation was done specifically for the tomb and the possibility that it could have been the recycling of an old tufa quarry does not seem plausible
By the third century AD the tomb was obliterated and embedded in other buildings

REPUBLICAN TOMBS ON VIA STATILIA

SEPOLCRI REPUBBLICANI DI VIA STATILIA
Incrocio Via Statilia/Via S. Croce in Gerusalemme

Discovered in 1916 and now protected by a roof

The FIRST on the left is possibly the oldest, dating from about 100 BC, with a very small burial chamber: here was buried one Publius Quinctius a freedman bookseller, his wife and a concubine

The SECOND on the left is the beginning of the first century BC. There are two cells with adjacent doors decorated with busts of the dead: it is one of the oldest surviving examples of the custom of putting portraits on the façades of tombs

The THIRD is a columbarium almost destroyed

The FOURTH is a monument built as an altar of two Auli Caesoni and one Telgennia, the more recent of the four

Friday, January 10, 2020

BURIAL AREA ON VIA OSTIENSE

SEPOLCRETO OSTIENSE
Via Ostiense 190

Cemetery used between the second century BC and the fourth century AD

Dug in the years 1918/19 by Giuseppe Lugli

Now it's visible in an area under a roof and some remains are on the so-called ROCCIA DI S. PAOLO (Rock of St. Paul)

It developed on three main levels as indicated by the most ancient tombs located in the north section, where it remains only the façade of a cell built with tufa stone blocks with a door framed by jambs and lintel in travertine stone

On this tomb dated to the second century BC overlapped in the imperial era two tombs built in bricks: the first is preserved only in small part, and the second looks like a typical columbarium

AREA WITH NICHES ON THE WALLS
It is made with reticulated masonry and it was originally uncovered, as it seems to indicate the well clad in bricks and outcropping on the original floor

AREA UNDER THE ROOF
In the southern part thre is the Tomb of the Pontii family of the first century AD

The building type most represented in the cemetery is the columbarium
In nearby Centrale Montemartini are kept portraits of the dead, funerary altars, urns, and sarcophagi found here

CHAIR OF THE DEVIL

SEDIA DEL DIAVOLO
Piazza Elio Callisto - Nomentano

 First half of the second century AD

It was the tomb of one Helium Callistius, a freedman of Hadrian (117/138)

The common name Sedia del Diavolo (Chair of the Devil) with which this tomb is known is because of its shape: with the collapse of the façade it took the unusual shape of a monumental chair of a bishop, and that turned on the popular imagination
In the area a PREHISTORIC SITE was found dating back to more than 200,000 years ago

NICOLÒ TOMMASEO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

SCUOLA ELEMENTARE NICOLÒ TOMMASEO
Via Ostiense 139

 1927 Vincenzo Fasolo (1885/1969)

It was enlarged in 1936

Now it is one of the branches of the UNIVERSITÀ ROMA TRE (University Rome Three)

“From the point of view of style, the building (which is implemented by Fasolo at the same time of the nearby barracks of the Fire Department on Via Marmorata) offer some formal details that the architect had applied to other school buildings, such as the High School Terenzio Mamiani on Viale delle Milizie active since 1924. Stylistic modes (inspired by ‘Renaissance modernly felt') that reflect the influence on the projects of Gustavo Giovannoni, director of the district Garbatella and Fasolo’s master. Fasolo worked with Giovannoni on several occasions, making many drawings for various projects” (Enrica Torelli Landini)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

GIACOMO LEOPARDI ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

SCUOLA ELEMENTARE GIACOMO LEOPARDI
Via del Parco della Vittoria 30 - Monte Mario

 1929 Ignazio Guidi (1904/78)

Originally called Scuola Rosa Maltoni Mussolini (Rosa Maltoni Mussolini School), the mother of Benito Musssolini

It is inserted in the beautiful PARCO DELLA VITTORIA (Park of Victory) and it is composed of five pavilions with two classrooms in each one

“Part of the area of former Monte Mario Fort was transferred from the War Department to the City of Rome in order to be transformed into a public park. (...) The school is made out of a series of pavilions (...) according to the principles of outdoor schooling. This type of school was concocted in the twenties with the aim of preventively strengthening frail children through physical activity, contact with nature and heliotherapy. The Rosa Maltoni Mussolini School was presented on Capitolium magazine: 'The design of this school with pavilions is original, the children will gather in designated terraces for outdoors lesson with great hygienic and perhaps cultural gain’. (...) In addition to the fact that it was an important historical example of an innovative teaching method, several factors make the school quality architecture. The high environmental quality derived by the inclusion in the park of Monte Mario and the architectural quality of original masonry artifacts designed in the style of Roman Baroque by Ignazio Guidi, make the complex one of the best examples of Roman School” (University “ La Sapienza” - Observatory on modern Rome - Conservatory of the City of Rome - Research “ Schools” – arch. form M. T. Cutrì, V. Lupo)

ARMANDO DIAZ ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

SCUOLA ELEMENTARE ARMANDO DIAZ
Piazza Lodi 10

 1928/30 Vincenzo Fasolo (1885/1969)

“Vincenzo Fasolo had as teachers (...) G.B. Milani and G. Giovannoni, with whom he later collaborated, and from whom he learned (...) a visionary way of design, romantically inventive, based on traditional stylistic materials, emphasized by his spectacular and graphical skills. (...) He followed the cultural design of Giovannoni, sharing (...) with him the technique of 'thinning' rather than the 'gutting' of the buildings, as well as a taste for the local environment and for Roman traditions in a romantic way, of free and syncretic revisiting” (Antonino Terranova - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)

ALBERTO CADLOLO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

SCUOLA ELEMENTARE ALBERTO CADLOLO
Via della Rondinella 2 - Lungotevere Tordinona

 1932 Vincenzo Fasolo (1885/1969)

“He started his career as an architect in the beginning of the first decade of the twentieth century, when the Roman architectural scene, away from the radical innovations proposed by the historical avant-garde and characterized by professional classicism as well as stately monumentality, tried some updating in a 'romantic' reinterpretation of traditional styling: in terms of vitality, spontaneity, individuality in the imitation of academic models, or in terms of a wider range of models even to include the homely style of 'minor architectures' or the glorification of ‘ruinism’ and anything picturesque” (Antonino Terranova - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)

Alberto Cadlolo was a second lieutenant of infantry who died heroically in 1918 during the First World War. In the entrance hall of the school there is his bust

ALESSANDRO MANZONI ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

SCUOLA ELEMENTARE ALESSANDRO MANZONI
Via Lusitania 18 - Porta Latina

 1932 Ignazio Guidi (1904/78)

Originally called Scuola Guglielmotti

The plan of the building is symmetrical even if the entrance is on one corner

“The two elementary schools, Guglielmotti at Porta Latina and Garroni in Ostia, are undoubtedly the first who reported Guidi’s works to the attention of the scholars of the time. Highly innovative for the floor plans and for the materials used and characterized by large windows, these two schools express with confidence and skill the strong adhesion of Guidi to European Rationalism, practically non-existent in Rome at that time” (Filippo Spaini - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

SPANISH STEPS

SCALINATA DI TRINITÀ DEI MONTI
Piazza di Spagna

1723/26 Francesco De Sanctis (1693/1740) for Innocent XIII Conti (1721/24) and for the French King Louis XV (king from 1715 until 1774) who financed the project

It was obviously inspired from the now disappeared Port of Ripetta designed in 1705 by the brilliant Alessandro Specchi

“It replicates the main theme of the Port of Ripetta, but doubling it and complicating it. A scheme less concise and simple than that of Specchi, but that complies the natural slope with the undulating rhythm of the profile and calls for a peaceful stroll, never monotonous” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

At the base reliefs with the French lilies of King Louis XV and eagles of Pope Innocent XIII

136 steps divided into eleven dozen plus four and into three parts to evoke the Trinity and celebrate the peace between the crowns of Spain and France

It corresponds to the main body with the steps of the Horti Luculliani, the gardens of Lucullus, the villa built by Lucullus immediately after the triumph over Mithridates celebrated in the year 63 BC, one of the grandest villas in Rome

The square is named after the Palazzo di Spagna (Palace of Spain), Spanish Embassy to the Holy See and in English the steps are known as Spanish Steps though, actually, it is a French staircase and should more properly be called French Steps

It is defined as cristianissima piazza (the most Christian square) for the shape that would remind the monogram of Christ and references to Christian worship: the Trinity Church, the Palace of the Propagation of the Faith, the Column of the Immaculate Conception and the Barcaccia (ugly boat) Fountain reminiscent of the ship of St. Peter
It was always a place for meetings and socializing, so much so that already in 1737 were forbidden the “scandalous dances between men and women” that took place here in the summer nights

HOLY STAIRS

SCALA SANTA
Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano

1587/89 Domenico Fontana (1543/1607) for Sixtus V Peretti (1585/90)

Arches closed in 1853 by Francesco Azzurri (1831/1901)

Built to preserve the chapel of S. Lorenzo in Palatio ad Sancta Sanctorum (S. Lawrence in the Palace of the Holy of Holies) originally built for Nicholas III Orsini (1277/80) but already mentioned in the sources of the end of the sixth century

“The experience of the construction of the transept of the Upper Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, and, according to Marina Righetti Tosti-Croce, also Cistercian constructions through which came the influence of French Gothic, were clearly an inspiration for the architecture of the ‘Sancta Sanctorum’, the Holy of Holies. Here the model of Assisi appears, however, proposed to a lesser extent and measured, as exemplified in the fake tunnel with trefoil arches, with more direct references to the classical Roman tradition, reaching a result that combines tradition and innovation” (Emanuela Marino)

SCULPTURES IN THE ATRIUM
From right “Pius IX in prayer” 1877 by Tomasz Oscar Sosnowski (1810/86)
“Jesus praying in the Garden” 1915/17 by Giulio Aristide Sartorio (1860/1932)
At the center marble groups “Kiss of Judas” 1855 and “Ecce Homo” 1857 by Ignazio Jacometti (1819/83)
On the left “Pietà” 1875 by Tomasz Oscar Sosnowski and “Jesus at the column” 1874 by Giuseppe Meli

STAIRS
28 marble steps of Proconnesio marble from the Marmara Sea covered in wood in 1723 to prevent the wear and tear

It is believed they are the ones that Jesus went up three times in the Palace of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem (Scala Pylati)
It is also believed that the steps were brought here by St. Helena, the mother of Constantine in the year 326

Originally the steps made up the stairway entrance to the Patriarchìo (Patriarchate), the old papal palace

The stairs can only be climbed up by the faithful kneeling and red spots are visible on the steps, tracks, according to an extremely improbable belief, of the blood of Christ
The first information of any devotion for the stairs dates back, however, only to 1450, while before that date they are not even called holy and it appears they didn’t have any kind of devotional consideration

The stairs were moved from the old location in the old, now destroyed, papal palace to the new papal palace in a single night in 1589. They were reassembled in reverse, with the original first step which is the last one now, so that the workers who carried out the displacement would not have walked on the steps

“It was the seat of an actual law court and a stage at the same time to perform punishment and even death sentences” (Cesare D'Onofrio)

VAULT AND WALLS OF THE STAIRS
“Stories of the Old Testament” and “Stories of Christ” 1586/90 iconography designed by Giovanni Guerra (1544/1618) mainly executed by G.B. Ricci (about 1550/1624), Giacomo Stella (1545/about 1630), Paris Nogari (about 1536/1601), Andrea Lilio (about 1555/1632), Paul Brill (1554/1626), Giovanni Baglione (1566/1643), Ferraù Fenzone (1562/1645)

“Andrea Lilio painted on the walls of the Holy Stairs various scenes of the Legend of Moses and among them the fresco with the Miracle of the Source deserves special attention. The style of Lilio is not always uniform: among his works carried out quickly and often superficially, there are works of great quality made with great precision. What sets him apart is the unusually irregular and broken character of the design and the iridescent coloring” (Hermann Voss)

“Paul Brill in the History of Jonah shows a lively and exciting fantasy that seeks to unify the wealth of ideas of the Nordic peoples with Italian clarity” (Hermann Voss)

Among the ones who also collaborated:
Avanzino Nucci (1552/1629), Antonio Viviani aka il Sordo (1560/1620), Cesare Torelli, Paolo Guidotti aka il Cavalier Borghese (1560/1629), Baldassarre Croce (about 1553/1628), Antonio Scalvati (1557/1622), Girolamo Nanni (about 1569/about 1642), Vincenzo Conti (second half of the 1500s/about 1620), Prospero Orsi, Giuseppe Franco aka Giuseppe Monti or “delle Lodole” (1565/1628), Ventura Salimbeni (1568/1613), Giovanni Alberti (1558/1601) and Cherubino Alberti (1553/1615) (as many as 21 artists in total!)

Unknown Flemish artists also collaborated for inserts with landscapes and topographical details
“Three ancient lintels” recycled here above the gaps in the upper part of the stairs

SANCTA SANCTORUM (Holy of Holies)
Remade in 1278 by members of the Cosmati family
“Bronze door” of the third or fourth century AD perhaps from the ancient Patriarchìo (Patriarchate)

Important frescoes on the VAULT “Four Evangelists” and on the WALLS “Sts. Peter, Paul, Lawrence, Stephen, Nicholas and Agnes”, “Nicholas III presents the Holy of Holies to the Saviour between Sts. Peter and Paul” about 1280 maybe by Jacopo Torriti (active 1270/1300) and Pietro de' Cerroni aka Pietro Cavallini (about 1240/about 1325) (according to Serena Romano) or by Cenni di Pepo aka Cimabue (about 1240/1302) (according to Pietro Longhi)

“The face of Nicholas III is the first real portrait in the painting Gothic civilization in central Italy” (Serena Romano)

“These frescos for the excellent condition and high quality style can reasonably be estimated as the most significant text of artistic Roman culture of the end of the thirteenth century, also considering the possibility to date them accurately. Recent studies are therefore reassessing their central role in relation to the parallel and important site of Assisi” (Emanuela Marino)

VAULT OF THE PRESBYTERY
Mosaic “Christ Pantocrator blessing” in a medallion supported by four angels about 1280

“The mosaic, which shows significant technical similarities with the paintings, as revealed by the restoration of 1994, it differs, however, from the paintings for modes more similar to Byzantine prototypes” (Emanuela Marino)

FAKE GALLERY
“Madonna and Child, saints and prophets” 1590 maybe by Girolamo Nanni (about 1569/about 1642), Ventura Salimbeni (1568/1613), Baldassare Croce (about 1553/1628), Andrea Lilio (about 1555/1632) and Paris Nogari (about 1536/1601)

MAIN ALTAR
Painting on board “Redeemer” acheropita (believed not to be painted by human hands) dating back to about fifth or sixth century, on which it is superimposed a copy of silk of the beginning of the thirteenth century

In the altar were kept SOME OF THE MOST PRECIOUS CHRISTIAN RELICS many of which stolen:
A piece of the Cross of Jesus, the heads of Sts. Peter and Paul, the sandals of Jesus, the sofa of the Last Supper, the rod of Moses, the manna descended from heaven, the bread of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, two ampoules with the blood spilled by the side of Jesus, the bread of the Last Supper, the sponge that was offered on the cross, the navel of Jesus and, incredibly, the foreskin of the Child Jesus

The holy foreskin was stolen, according to tradition, by a lansquenet in 1527 during the sack of Rome and ended up, somehow, in a church in the village called Calcata, 47 km (29 miles) north of Rome, where it was venerated until 1985 when it mysteriously disappeared

CHAPEL OF St. LAWRENCE
1587/89 Domenico Fontana (1543/1607)
Above the altar fresco “St. Lawrence venerated by the faithful underneath God the Father and the Son” by Baldassare Croce (about 1553/1628)
Four lunettes with “Landscapes” by Paul Brill (1554/1626)
Ceiling and pediments “Trinity in glory, saints and prophets” maybe by Giovanni Guerra (1544/1618) and Cesare Nebbia (1536/1614)

CHAPEL OF THE CROSS
1936/37 by Vincenzo Mannucci
“Wooden crucifix” by an anonymous artist of the fifteenth century

CHAPEL OF St. SYLVESTER
1587/89 Domenico Fontana. It is used as choir
Vault “Triumph of Sixtus V” maybe by Giovanni Alberti (1558/1601) and Cherubino Alberti (1553/1615)
Lunettes with “Landscapes” by Paul Brill (1554/1626)
“Mary Magdalene at the foot of the Cross” of the second half of the eighteenth century by Tommaso Maria Conca (1734/1822)

SYRIAN SANCTUARY

SANTUARIO SIRIACO
Via Dandolo 47

It had three phases of construction:
1)       First century AD
2)       Second half of the second century AD for the rich Syrian merchant Marcus Antonius Gaionas
3)       The last one, maybe after a fire, in the fourth century AD

It was discovered in 1906 during the works for the construction of a building in medieval style called CASTELLETTO inserted in the area of Villa Sciarra owned at the time by the American diplomat George Wurts

It is a unique building for the plan and for the technique of construction employed, consisting mainly of walls in blocks of tufa
Two opposing sides separated by a central courtyard evidently intended to accommodate the faithful, on the south side of which the entrance to the temple opened

SECTOR TO THE WEST OF THE COURTYARD
Better preserved and most probably intented for the worship
Hall with an apse at the bottom, preceded by a sort of vestibule flanked by two long narrow rooms
In this room a “marble statue” representing Jupiter without attributes was found (maybe Hadad the Jupiter of Heliopolis, the chief god of the Heliopolitan triad or Osiris) sitting on a throne

SECTOR TO THE EAST OF THE COURTYARD
Diamond-shaped room with a triangular altar in the center, preceded by a small room with an apse and flanked by two more rooms with a pentagonal plan
In this area of the temple probably reserved for priests and practices of initiation was found the most important piece of the entire excavation:

A “Bronze statuette” 50 cm (20 inches) high, (now in the Museo delle Terme) representing a male character mummy-looking, whose body is wrapped in the coils of a snake
The small idol, probably to be identified with Osiris, was buried inside the triangular altar, apparently in connection with a ritual of death and symbolic resurrection

Monday, January 6, 2020

POLLING STATION OF JULIUS CAESAR

SAEPTA IULIA
Via dei Cestari/Via del Gesù

26 BC. Giant square of 310 x 120 m (1,017 x 394 feet)

Designed by Julius Caesar (100/44 BC) but finished by his son-in-law Agrippa (about 63/12 BC) and dedicated to the memory of the dictator

It was the place for the elections with the south appendix, DIRIBITORIUM, used for counting. It was divided by wooden partitions to facilitate the electoral process

Here ended the arches of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct

On the long sides of the square, two porticos were named from the works of art kept in them:
To the west (side of the Pantheon, corresponding to Via dei Cestari) the PORTICO OF THE ARGONAUTS
To the east (side of the Temple of Isis, corresponding to Via del Gesù) the PORTICO OF MELEAGER

Roman citizens were divided into groups and the majority was figured out not per heads but per groups which could be small groups if consisting of rich people and very large groups if consisting of poor people

For the COMIZI TRIBUTI which elected the tribunes of the people, and promulgated almost all laws, citizens were divided into 35 groups called tribes, 4 inside and 31 outside of Rome

For the COMIZI CENTURIATI which elected the magistrates, decide on matters of war and peace and of death sentences, the citizens were divided into 193 groups called centurias from five different classes differentiated by wealth

80 centurias belonged to the first class and 20 centurias to the second class representing together the absolute majority (at least 97), making useless the vote of the other three classes that often then didn’t even bother to vote, as the first class was the first to cast its vote, followed by the second and so on

Therefore the Roman Republic, as well as Sparta and Athens and the Greek cities, rather than being a democracy was a TIMOCRACY, which is a republic formally participatory, but where the political class became such in virtue of the wealth of its members. The situation is actually not much different to the majority of so-called Western “democracies” today

“Military service was exclusively for the richest, who also obtained the largest political rights; (...) The vote was no longer per head, as had been established by Romulus; rather the differences were established so that no one seemed to have been excluded from the vote, but also so that all authority resided in wealthier citizens” (Livy)
From August onwards the Saepta Iulia were only a monumental square, which was used primarily as a place for shows or as a market for antiques and works of art