Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Rome 365 - Appia Antica


Walk in the footsteps of Ancient Roman soldiers, merchants and saints on the Appia Antica. It makes a lovely trip out to the edge of the city, especially on a Sunday when part of the road is closed to cars.



The Appian Way was built in 312BC and connected Rome to some of its most distant settlements through the port of Brindisi.



Start at Porta San Sebastiano, one of the best preserved gates in the Aurelian Walls.



Just along the, road on the right hand side, is the church of Quo Vadis. Legend tells us that as St Peter was fleeing his persecutors he saw a vision of Christ and asked him where he was going ('Quo Vadis') Jesus replied that he was going to Rome to be crucified anew, prompting Peter to turn around and accept his fate. The church contains a replica of the stone said to be marked with the footsteps of Christ.


Close by is the Circus of Maxentius, the best preserved of Roman circuses, which could accomodate 18,000 spectators. it was here that the obelisk of Diocletian was found which now stands in Piazza Navona.


The Tomb of Cecilia Metella was built for the daughter in law of Marcus Licinius Crassus, perhaps the richest man in Roman history .He was Julius Caesar's financial backer.



A little further along is the excavated area of Capo di Bove where remains of a thermal bath complex belonging to a Roman Villa can be seen.



Beyond Capo di Bove the road is lined with cypresses and funerary monuments which, thanks to the sculptor Canova, remain in situ rather than placed in museums. 








Friday, 23 March 2018

Martket to Table Revisited


It was a lastminute decision to take the Market to Table class at Latteria Studio and what a good decision it was. There was no better way to spend our last few hours before leaving for the airport.


We met in the centre of Mercato Testaccio and got to know our fellow classmates over coffee and were delighted to discover that they were all from Canada. Rachel, as always, was a delightful hostess and introduced us to favourite stalls in the market. Of course we all felt we knew the stall owners through Rachel's writings in 'Five Quarters' and The Guardian.


Pizzette from Da Artenio staved off any hunger pangs whilst we picked up shopping for lunch.


On the way over to Latteria Studio Rachel explained how the area of Testaccio fitted into the culinary history of Rome.


Latteria Studio is the most delightful space filled with light and fitted out with retro furniture as well as Alice's collection of flatware.


The most delicious aroma of cinnamon buns, freshly baked by Carla, filled the air. These were enjoyed with juice squeezed from oranges from Carla's garden.


Pretty soon we were all tasked with preparing the raw ingredients including artichokes....


...and puntarelle with a nifty little tool.


The joy of a Market to Table class is that it doesn't matter what level of cooking skills you have you are made to feel like you are helping out in a friends kitchen


At this point Carla produced focaccia from the oven for a snack.




 Pasta making next - cavatelli must be the most satisfying pasta to create.


Simon opened bottles of prosecco which heralded lunch


The fruits of our labour were placed amongst the vases of fressia on the pretty table.





All to soon it was time to say goodbye to our new found friends, Trish, Brenda, Susan and Simon and of course, Rachel, Carla and Alice.
It was, as ever, the best of days.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Julius II - The Warrior Pope



Giuliano della Rovere became Pope Julius II on November 1503 with an immediate objective of regaining the lands that had been taken away from the papacy during the reigns of Innocent VIII and Alexander VI by the French, Germans and Spanish. To this end he started a series of wars and secret alliances. However this warrior pope also left a lasting legacy to the Eternal City.



Santa Maria del Popolo is the Della Rovere family church and their chapel is the first on the right as you enter. Above the chapel altar can be seen the charming Nativity scene 'Adoration of the Child' by Pinturicchio.



Via Giulia was laid out by the pope's favourite architect, Bramante, and was intended as a triumphal approach to the Vatican.

On the opposite side of the Tiber is Villa Farnesina, home to Agostini Chigi, treasurer of the Papal states.


The villa contains the work 'Galatea' by Raphael 


The Della Rovere symbol of the oak tree can also be glimpsed on the decorative ceiling.


Pope Julius also commissioned Bramante to build the Cortile del Belvedere in the Vatican.


The courtyard linked the Vatican with Julius's collection of classical statuary which was to become the the Vatican Museums that we know today.


Julius also spurred both Michelangelo and Raphael to produce their finest work - the former in the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel and the latter in the 'School of Athens'



San Pietro in Vincoli is the last resting place of Pope Julius. Michelangelo was asked to design his funeral monument which was to be the centrepiece of the new St Peter's Basilica but for various reasons it was referred to by the artist as the 'tragedy of the tomb'. The statue of Moses is one of the few that remain of the original grandiose plan. Other sculptures from the unfinished tomb are to be found in Florence and the Louvre.



I've no doubt that Julius would have thought his tomb a tragedy too if he had seen the comical effigy of himself by Tommaso Boscoli.



To complete the Julius experience you could stay at Hotel Colombus which is housed in Palazzo della Rovere. A well in the courtyard bears the family coat of arms.



Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Hadrian's Villa (Villa Adriana)


Villa Adriana was the largest and richest Imperial villa in the Roman Empire and Hadrian's chosen residence from 135 AD to his death three years later.
Hadrian was a great traveller and parts of the villa were inspired by buildings he had seen around the world.


The Canopus, a canal lined with statues was influenced by the Sanctuary of Serapis near Alexandria.



The Temple of Venus is a small Greek inspired temple.
Other buildings include  a theatre and bath complexes.



The Villa is an ideal place to bring a picnic as there are many olive trees to provide shade.



Getting to Hadrian's Villa from Rome isn't difficult. Take Metro line B to Ponte Mammolo and from there take the Rome - Tivoli (Via Prenestina) Cotral bus to Villa Adriana The stop is 300 metres from the entrance. Tickets to the site cost €8.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Treasure Hunt for Children

Rome lends itself so well to a children's treasure hunt especially if based around animals.



The crest of the Pamphilj family is the dove which can be seen all over the city including inside the church of Sant'Andrea al Quirinale. This church was designed by Bernini for Cardinal Camillo Pamphilj and doves play a major part in the decoration.



Yet more doves can be spotted in Piazza Navona on the facade of the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone





If you look upwards you will see a dove atop the obelisk in the centre of Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers. The fountain was commissioned by a Pamphilj Pope.



The fountain also contains more animals including a lion bending down to take a drink of water.....



.... a galloping horse......



....and what is thought to be an armadillo. It is more than likely that Bernini had never seen such an animal so used his imagination.



Bees form part of the Barberini family coat of arms and these too are easily spotted around the city, especially in Piazza Barberini where they not only appear on the Tritone Fountain but also on the Fountain of the Bees in the corner of the square. Here they appear to be taking flight.



Bees also appear in the church of San Ivo alla Sapienza where the spiral dome's shape is that of a bee sting.


Both doves and bees can be found in St Peter's Basilica.






 Other animals that are fun to spot are the elephant in Piazza di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva



The turtles in Piazza Mattei



The snake on Isola Tiburina



And, of course, the fishes in Piazza della Rotonda