Friday, March 13, 2009

Museo della civilta` romana

Before the Republic and before Julius Caesar, and before Augustus turned it from brick to marble and into an Empire, Rome was once just a village with cow paddocks and stick huts. Propertius reminds us in his poem of Aeneas, the mythical founder of Rome, that: Whatever you see here stranger, which is mighty Rome/ Was hill and grass before Phrygian Aeneas. And then time and the Barbarian invasions turned it back to cow paddocks again. To see Rome in its humble origins, and then in its greatest moments, you can go to EUR, the mock-city of the future that Mussolini had built just out of Rome, to see Rome’s Archaeological Museum, the Museo della civilta` romana, the Museum of Roman Civilisation. Few tourists bother.

It is a treasure. It houses models of Rome in all her phases, and in particular, a gigantic sixty foot-long scale-model of Imperial Rome. The diorama is housed beneath a viewing platform which allows you to follow every street and alley of the city, and to feel the layout that still lies beneath our feet. The museum was finally inaugurated in 1955 though its origins lie in the archaeological exhibition of 1911 held in the Baths of Diocletian and organized by the archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the unification of Italy.

The models and dioramas were made for the exhibition but they were so well received that it was decided to exhibit them permanently. In 1929 they were displayed in the new Palazzo dei Musei, originally an old pastry-shop which became the Museo dell’Impero romano, Museum of the Roman Empire, and served also as an archive and study centre for ancient Roman history. Mussolini had proposed to find the exhibition a permanent and more impressive home for the collection, in his ideal city, but the war intervened and so it was not until 1955 that FIAT donated the funds to have the building at EUR completed and the Museo della civilta` romana was born.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Castel Sant'Angelo

Built as a cylindrical mausoleum by Rome's Emperor Hadrian on the Tiber near what is now the Vatican, Castel Sant Angelo was converted into a military fortress before the Pope fortified it in the 14th century, and connected it to The Vatican by a secret passage so that Popes could take refuge there when under siege. Castel Sant'Angelo is named after the statue of Archangel Michele (Michael) on top. It is now a museum, the Museo Nazionale de Castel Sant'Angelo, and a visit there is rendered even more interesting by having a coffee on the terrace, with its stunning view of Rome, particularly at sunset.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Museums of Rome


Sunday, September 28, 2008

National Museum of Rome

The National Museum of Rome
is one of the city's lesser-known treasures. Housed in Palazzo Massimo in Largo Peretti, it is a recently restored 18th century building which was a copy of the baroque style. The building itself is worth a visit.

The collection of Greek & Roman antiquities which it houses is almost as important as the collection of the Vatican. There are busts and statues from the Age of the Flavian Emperors, frescoes and mosaics from early Roman villas and palaces, life-size bronzes to take your breath away, and best of all, a vault deep in the bowels of the building which holds the numismatic history of the Roman coinage.
In 312 AD, Emperor Constantine set the gold-standard which in one form or another prevails to this day, and the collection of every coin minted, is stunning. It is hardly ever crowded and you can roam to your heart's content.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

July in Rome

The summer initiative “Musei d’estate. Quando l’arte diventa spettacolo” (Summer Museums. When Art becomes a Show) kicks off in July for its second year of culture, entertainment and novelties. Promoted by the Cultural Local Authority of the Municipality of Rome, in collaboration with Z├Ętema Culture Project, the initiative presents visits, readings and exclusive shows such as classical concerts, the opening of restricted monuments and museums, and guided visits around the town.

3-6 Jul: Invisible Markets- Guided evening visits within the Trajan Markets, with a live music show to close each tour.
Admission: €7 (first round: 20.45, second round 22.30)
Trajan Markets, Via IV Novembre 94 (M Colosseo ‘B’ line)

10-20 Jul: Summer in Show – Concerts by Cellodouble and the “Visioni” ensemble; readings of “Le Elettra” and Caesar’s homicide in “15 marzo 44 a.C.”
Admission: free, booking required (21.30)
Trajan Markets, Via IV Novembre 94 (M Colosseo ‘B’ line)

9 Jul: Germano Mazzocchetti Ensemble- popular music concert featuring accordions, saxophones, clarinets, violas, guitars, double-bass, drums and percussions, all ready to improvise.
Admission: free, until available seating (21.00)
Museo di Roma in Trastevere, Piazza Sant'Egidio 1/b (Trastevere)

15 Jul: Whim’n Rhythm in Concert- in collaboration with the American embassy, one of USA’s most appreciated ‘a cappella’ groups from Yale University singing jazz and popular pop songs.
Admission: free, until available seating (21.00)
Museo di Roma in Trastevere, Piazza Sant'Egidio 1/b (Trastevere)

25 Jul: Lyricamerica Concert- The PianoFortissimoPercussionEnsemble group will perform music by Ravel, Dukas, Gershwin and Bernstein, with participations by Arianna Miceli and Massimo Simboli.
Admission: free, until available seating (21.00)
Museo di Roma in Trastevere, Piazza Sant'Egidio 1/b (Trastevere)

29-30 Jul, 5 Aug: Concerti di musica da camera- in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, in the Capitoline Museums, the Keplero Ensemble performs Blatti, Schumann, Brahms, Giandomenico, Vivaldi, Rossini and Berwald.
Admission: free, until available seating (21.30)
Musei Capitolini, Piazza del Campidoglio 1 (M Colosseo ‘B’ line)

This article comes from the publication, The Roma Forum.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Ineffable Rome. Rome is not a real city. It is one of Italo Calvino’s ‘invisible cities’—invented, created, dreamt. It stands as a cipher for everything that ever existed, and everything that ever existed still survives in Rome—in ruins, or memory, or myth, or shadows and reflections. Rome is the image of Piazza Navona spied in the rear-vision mirror of a Vespa. Rome is the dream of Popes and Potentates, inhabited clandestinely by operatic characters from every drama and comedy ever written. Rome is etched in blood and ink and Lapis lazuli and molten gold. Every despicable emotion has held sway in this city, every desire has found fulfilment. Every filament of beauty and greatness and glory has glowed here. Emperors transported hundreds of thousands of wild animals from every corner of the known world to die in its Games. They built marble-clad monuments to their ambitions and their passions, and then they evaporated, leaving only their breath on the air, and the stone reminders of their hopes. ‘All the dreams of my youth have come to life’, said Goethe on reaching Rome. Historical characters from all of the epochs still lurk in the folds of its hills, and stone valleys, emerging in a confusion of unheard sounds and unseeable images, and we feel the rustling of their capes as they swirl by. In Rome, history and geography collapse inward on themselves and we can be anything we ever dreamt of being. (Copyright J. Dickinson)