When in Rome… Journey through Ancient Rome (Caesar’s Forum)

The visit begins in Trajan’s forum. This is the view from Via dei Fori Imperiali
Visitors gather in Trajan’s forum.
Another view of Trajan’s forum, with the monumental column built by Apollodorus to celebrate the triumph of Trajan in Dacia. The column is as high as the hill that was demolished to make room for the forum.
View of Trajan’s market from the forum. The semicircular form of market and its buildings was created as a buttress to sustain the part of the hill that was not demolished for the forum
After crossing via Dei Fori Imperiali through a subterranean passage open only recently to the public, the interactive visit begin. The remaining wall of Venus Genitrix’s temple opens and offers the visitors a glance to Ceasar’s forum as it was.
The forum’s colonnade hosted many different activities. This is a recreation of the “argentarius” (money lender) shop
Not only money lenders, but also school lessons were held under this portico. These are the reproductions of several graffities discovered in the walls made by students. Some are in cursive latin. Checking my notes I have identified the abecedary and… a sentence upside down..
a b c d e f g i
I am able to read this fragment only upside down: aeneas et aaa (?)
Thanks to the lights and 3D projections, a fountain comes to life
The colonnades of the forum. These are the actual remains in one side…


… and in the other, the projection of how it looked… During a rainy day. The spots on the ground were raindrops, such a pity that the camera has not captured this perfectly
The walks ends in front of the curia, the old Senate. As all the remaining Roman buildings it stands still because it was used as a church. A projection of the empire under Caesar.
How the curia was during the empire.
After the visit, a walk up to the colosseum. Still magnificent.


Real life

The crest of a centurion’s helmet. The only one that has survived until our days. It was found in the Vindolanda site and is currently exhibited in the Roman Army Museum

What thrills me more when visiting museums exihibiting pieces coming from the Roman Empire times are the everyday objects.

A female slipper and a soldier boot. Vindolanda.

For instance that beautiful woman’s slipper, belonging probably to the wife of the prefect of Vindolanda’s camp.

Boots and shoes found in Vindolanda
Fragment of a crystal cup decorated with a gladiator’s scene

How many nights the commander of the fort held this cup in his hands while yearning for the sun of his native land during the cold northern winter nights?


And how dissapointed his wife was when opening the wooden boxes containing this pottery service from Gaul that arrived to destination broken to pieces?


Who combed their hair with these?


How many wounds were healed with these surgical instruments?

IMG_1733The particular chemical composition of Vindolanda’s soil, very poor in oxigen, has allowed the conservation of objects in leather and wood. I am sorry that the picture does not render the idea, but the leather bag above has a very modern design and is quite functional. You can see also an absolute up-to-date backpack below.

IMG_2116Maybe one of the Vindolanda letters were written with one of these. You can read them here

For instance, the famous letter of Claudia Severa to Sulpicia Lepidina

“Claudia Severa to her Lepidina greetings. On 11 September, sister, for the day of the celebration of my birthday, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, to make the day more enjoyable for me by your arrival, if you are present (?). Give my greetings to your Cerialis. My Aelius and my little son send him (?) their greetings. (2nd hand) I shall expect you, sister. Farewell, sister, my dearest soul, as I hope to prosper, and hail. (Back, 1st hand) To Sulpicia Lepidina, wife of Cerialis, from Severa.”

Pumping up Stendhal’s Syndrome

Antinous as God Bacchus - Vatican Museum
Antinous as God Bacchus – Vatican Museum
Raffaello Sanzio -the School of Athens - Vatican Museums
Raffaello Sanzio -the School of Athens – Vatican Museums
Laocoonte - Vatican Museum
Laocoonte – Vatican Museum
The Apollo Belvedere - Vatican Museum
The Apollo Belvedere – Vatican Museum
The Sixtine Chapel - Michelangelo
The Sixtine Chapel – Michelangelo

A few pictures of my visit Friday night to the Vatican’s Museums.

When in Rome…


Via Prenestina 1

Rome's hidden treasures
Rome’s hidden treasures

I have been asked many times by Italian friends why on earth do I live work in Rome. When I’m in a particularly bad mood I answer: “Stendhal’s syndrome screwed me”. When I feel poetic I put examples like this. My husband has sent me by whatsapp these pictures of an old Roman road that has appeared during some works. As usual, here in Rome, when you dig a few meters Ancient Rome pops up and reminds us that the new city is built using the old one as foundation.

The North entrance of the ancient Domitian's Stadium, under Piazza Navona
The North entrance of the ancient Domitian’s Stadium, under Piazza Navona

 I guess that what differenciates normal people of me, Ancient-Rome-Nerd, is that when they see a disorganized pile of old bricks, I observe old Romans, as through a viewfinder. To me the remains of the old consular road (I presume Via Prenestina, this site is just a few meters away of the modern one) are not just stones. I can see as clear as they were in the picture the farmers transporting in their carts the vegetables they are to sell in the city, a messenger of the Imperial post service hurrying to deliver on time the letters he carries to the Palatine Hill, some slaves buying groceries in the shops in one side of the road.

This reminds me that, some years ago, a very famous Italian stylist (Valentino) got the necessary authorisations to make some kind of super-huge party near the Colosseum, and he had the “brilliant” idea (authorised by someone as bright as he) to “complete” the columns in the Via Sacra with new, white, plastic-polyurethane ones. Fortunately I have not found pictures of what they did (the kitsch effect was completed by night as the columns were iluminated inside). Anyway, the plastic shining bright white columns remained for months, as “tourists liked them”. I  found that simply disgusting.

via sacra Tito
A view of the Via Sacra with the remaining columns of the temple of Venus and Rome at the right side and the Arc of Titus as background

Because, when you don’t have enough imagination as to see those columns forming part of the temple of Venus and Rome you can always watch this video, or buy a ticket to Cinecittà and admire the spectacular reconstruction of the city which was used as set for my admired HBO’s “Rome”, without disturbing the archeological area.

The calendar and the foro seen from the Subura area
The calendar and the foro seen from the Subura area
The Temple of Saturn
The Temple of Saturn

But I was talking about my Stendhal’s Syndrome. The modern city of Rome stresses so much that I have to pump it up continually and repeatedly. Tonight I will have an extra dosis, and I will endure and resist the next public transportation strikes or the disastrous state of modern roads and sidewalks for several months. I have booked a night visit to the Vatican Museums. Which reminds me that I have to take as many notes and pictures as I can of the Borgia apartments.