On June 2nd we celebrate the anniversary of the creation of the Italian Republic, it is a national holiday.
On this date in 1946 we held a referendum to choose between republic and monarchy.
With 12.717.923 votes for and 10.719.284 against Italy become a republic and the reigning Savoy family had to go into exile.
Every year, on the morning of June 2nd, a great military parade occur along the via dei Fori Imperiali before the highest authorities of the State.
The firemen unroll a huge tricolor flag covering 5 arches of the coliseum.
The main attraction is the ‘Frecce Tricolore’ National Aerobatic Team of the Italian Air Force
A contrast originated between artists and tapestry workshops:
The artist provided the preparatory draft that was sized and painted either by the artist himself or by a workshop specialized artist.
Draft and models circulated. The workshops used the same models several times.
Clients chose their tapestry between these models whose details could be combined: like figures, backgrounds or floral motifs.
The workshops also took inspiration from major artists copying details or figures that were used out of their original contest.
The controversy between artists and tapestry workshops broke out in bruxelles in 1476. The result was the prohibition of intervening on the painted models from the weavers. Only background and decorative elements could be changed.
A period of crisis and rivalry between Flemish and English manufacture along the 1300 hundred produced a major change in French and Flemish tapestry production.
The workshop specialized in luxurious production. The ateliers were converted to use the techniques allowing the use of finest materials, fine details and artistic expression.
Refined tapestry production required big investment to purchase the costly raw material (linen, wool, silk, gold and silver) and the qualified technicians.
Entrepreneurs merchants anticipated the money needed for the tapestry production and to support the payment delays of the buyers.
Tapestry art developed mainly in northern Europe since its main function was to help with the warming of the rooms within the residences of kings and noblemen.
The technique was applied to create ornaments for chairs, bed, and other furnitures aside from the walls decoration. Nowadays the wall tapestries are the only ones preserved in museums.
The habit of transferring the ‘tapestry room’ and sets from one residence to the other was practical but damaged many manufactures. Cut were done to large tapesties to adjust them to the new locations.
Arazzi Room, Capitoline Museum, Rome
apestry has ancient origins; findings of weaven trheads were foud in ancient egypt and hellenistic greece.
In the odissey is remarked the endless weawing work of Penelope, ulysses wife.
The copto tapestries dating from the first centuries of christianity are considered the finest exemple from the past due to tecnhical skills and complexity.
The technique was introduced back in Europe by the Flemish after the crusade that placed Baldovino di Fiandra on Jerusalem’s throne in the 12th hundred.
COPTO TAPESTRY, Museo Alto Medioevo, Roma
Rome in ancient times had more than an hippodrome:
The most famous is surely the Circus Maximus together with the one built by the emperor Caligula in the area of the Vatican.
As we know well, Caligula circus, finished by the emperor Claudius, was the site of the execution of the early Christians including saint Peter, the first apostle, ordered by emperor Nero in 65AD.
Frequently in ancient roman times roman houses had no running water.
Private water was a privilege granted only to the wealthiest members of the society.
The most of the ordinary people lived in condominium with water supply granted along the street. Bath facilities were extremely common and every roman city had several bathhouses. The large ones built by the emperors were called Bath while the ones built by private citizens were named Balnea.
The entire religious and political life of ancient Rome was determined by the ‘Auspicia’.
This world means the ‘observation of the birds’ and derived from the Latin worlds ‘avis’ and ‘spicio’.
The ancient Romans were observing the number of birds, their way of flying and position in the sky: A square section of the sky was divided into 4 parts and the attitudes and number of birds entering this area and moving within it gave information about the God’s will.
In Western culture it exist a widespread difficulty to accept the presence of colours in ancient art.
The neoclassical period and Winckelmann ideas are still rooted and we keep believing ancient temple’s ornaments or statues were merely white or plan.
Of course this is not true.
Just think about the function of a temple aimed to worship a deity who was represented at the top of the temple front.
Santa Maria Antigua, is a tiny church located in the roman forum, at the foot of the Palatine hill just below the Domus Tiberiana.
It’s a sixth century A.D. church with remains of fresco decorations dating from the Byzantine time until the middle of the 9th century.
It is considered the Sistine Chapel of a thousand years ago being the place where to study the evolution of art along 2 centuries.
The emperors Constantine, ruling over the western empire, and Licinius ruling over the eastern roman empire in 313ad met in the city of Milan on occasion of the wedding of Licinius with Constantia, Constantine’s sister.
The meeting took place in the splendid imperial palace and in that occasion administrative instructions were sent to functionaries throughout the empire.
They were aimed to reinforce a decree issued by Galerius in 311 which gave the Christians the status of a legitimate religion. The two emperors ordered also that Christian communities were returned all their properties.
Later historians named it ‘Edict of Milan’.
I Iove Rome and constantly reflect on how, along the centuries the city has been modified by the the Emperors, the popes, the wealthy members of the aristocracy and of the church, and finally the Italian government.
I know when streets were opened and why, when squares were embellished, when church were built or remodelled.
Why and who decided and paid for all of this amazing urban ornament we can still enjoy now.
One of the oldest laws, dating back to the kingdom era, was the prohibition for soldiers to camp in town.
The flat area of ancient Rome next to the Tiber river is where the army settled.
This neighbourhood is still named ‘Campo Marzio’ – the field of the god of war Mars (Ares in Greek) now.
Rome is a city where we live with the awareness of our history and the name ‘Campo Marzio’ is an example of it: we still recall what happened there over 2000 years ago. When in imperial time the same area was given splendid public buildings and facilities the army moved across the river in the area known as Vatican.
Neither the army nor the military leaders were allowed in the city of Rome.
According to this law generals, who were also consuls or senators, couldn’t join the political meetings held in the senate house in the Roman Forum.
Santa Francesca Romana is the patron saint of drivers and Roman motorists.
She is also the patron saint of Rome, together with saint Peter and saint Paul. This popular tradition of invoking Francesca to protect motorists started as a consequence of the diffusion of cars in 1951.
Saint Francesca is one of the most venerated roman saint and the patroness of the Romans.
She lived in Rome at the beginning of the 14th hundreds.
Francesca Ponziani belonged to an aristocratic family and accepted to get married even if she wished to undertake the monastic life.
She was renewed for the care and asistence she paid to the sick and humble people.
She manage to accomplish her family duties and find time to assist the needy and pray.
After her husband passed away she finally took the votes.
This is a report of the main happenings occurring in the 5 years of the Jews rebellion that led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70ad.
The main information on this period comes from ancient reports, mainly the one of Josephus the priest (37-100ad), a Jewish general captured by Vespasian in 68ad who wrote ‘the Jewish war’.
In May 66ad the roman governor in Judea - Gessius Florius- sent his troops to Jerusalem’s upper market with instructions to kill everyone. The deaths were 3600: men, women and children.
The governor demanded the Jews to demonstrate their submission by greeting 2 cohorts entering Jerusalem, as the Jews rebelled the consequence was terrible.
At that time in Jerusalem there was a moderate party of the Jews led by Agrippa II (27-93ad), great grandson of Herod the great (73-4bc) appointed by the Romans. They attempted to cease the protest with no luck.
The Jews were divided into the war party and the peace party.
The priest Eleazar, captain of the temple, forbidden sacrifice paid by strangers thus impeding the longstanding custom of demonstrating loyalty by making offers to the temple on behalf of the emperor and Rome.
According to Josephus, our main source of information, 'this action laid the foundation of the war with Rome'.
I was walking to the subway from the Borghese Gallery today.
I had the beautiful memories of the masterpieces of the art gallery in my mind when I saw this remains of the first city walls of Rome built about 24 hundreds years ago.
The servian walls were built to defend the city after the Gaul invasion of 390bc. The circuit was 11 km long and, as you can see, was made of big blocks of vulcanic stone: the tufa.
The legend of Michelangelo being a lonely painter taking care of the strenuous work of painting alone the 12.000 square feet of the Sistine chapel is not true.
When Michelangelo got the commission he was an extremely skilled sculptor but initially lacked familiarity with the complex fresco technique.
He also had still in mind the project of the tomb of Julius II and it’s believed he wanted to delegate a large part of the pictorial execution to assistants.
Michelangelo got a Florentine friend that he trusted: his name was Francesco Granacci.
The 2 artists had studied together in Ghirlandaio workshop and in the garden of San Marco, that Michelangelo eventually entered thanks to Granacci's advise. Granacci never begun a very renewed painter.
He was unambitious, an easy living man and had a relaxed temper. In fact he specialized in less important decoration as theatrical scenery, banners for churches and knights, triumphal arches for parades.
Granacci’s lack of desire for glory was engaging for Michelangelo. Granacci easily acknowledged his supremacy, there was not artistic competition.
He entrusted Francesco Granacci to recruit the assistant he needed in Florence.
The length of the structure was 620m and between 140-150 meters wide.
The seating surrounded the all of the arena with steps that were 1400m long.
Each row could house 3500 spectators. The seats were 40am wide, 50cm in dept and the height of the step was 33cm.
There were probably about 50 rows of seats summing up at least 150000 spectators.
The racetrack was 550-580m long and 80m wide, with a total surface of 44.000square meters (12 times more than the coliseum).
The track was covered with the finest sand, aimed to absorb easily the rain in case of bad weather and not to lift too much dust on the audience.
The ‘spina’ : the central path around which the chariots were turning was 340 m long.
In the Circus Maximus men and women sat together, it was an opportunity to start new love affairs…
The perimeter of the coliseum is 527 meters.
The axis are 188 m and 156 m
The arena's axis are 80m and 54m;
The arena covers a surface of 4000 square meters.
The high of the structure is 52 meters.
The Circus Maximus was 3 times larger.
The two painters had very distant personalities. Raphael was sociable and courtly while Michelangelo was a solitary man.
We know they once met in Saint Peter square: Michelangelo was alone, while Raphael was surrounded by many pupils and admirers.
Michelangelo said to Raphael: ' you, with your band, like a bravo'
Raphael replied: 'and you alone, like the hangman'.
It’s one of the most incredible places in Rome and often unfortunately seen just as a corridor, no matter how beautiful and long, to the Sistine Chapel.
In my opinion the Map Gallery is worth itself a visit to the Vatican museum.
First of all, it is over 400 years old.
Along the gallery there are 32 large maps depicting the different regions of Italy facing either the west coast, on the left inside, or the east coast, on the right end. From south leading north. The accuracy of the maps painted there is amazing if we consider the lack of technology of those days.
As you know in the circuses were large valleys, with seats all around, used in the ancient roman times for chariot races. The chariots were turning around a central line called ‘spina’.
The most famous hippodrome of the past is the Circus Maximus in Rome. Augustus in 10bc brought an obelisk from Egypt to decorate the ‘spina’.
The obelisks were considered, by both Egyptian and Romans, to represent the connection between the sky and the earth.
The hippodrome was a little model of the cosmos:
The obelisk was the sun, the ground represented the earth and the canal running in the middle of the spina was the sea.
The four factions of chariot raiders represented the 4 seasons.
Via di San Gregorio is a modern (1930s) road known by everyone being the main connection between the Circus Maximus and the triumphal Arch of Constantine and Coliseum. During the works to open the road the remains of a temple were unearthed and can be found now in the Capitoline museum.
It’s the temple of ‘Fortuna Respicens’ and let’s see the meaning it had.
It’s hard to imagine but this route was used since the extreme past. The triumphal processions were passing here.
Since the age of the roman republic the winning generals were awarded to enter the city together with the army, their booty and prisoners and to be welcomed and praised by all the roman citizens.
It was the only time when the army was welcomed in town and the most important happenings in the past.
This blog is aimed to share with you my Roman experiences, reflections and researches.