Friday, 31 January 2014

Palazzo Massimo Treasures

Palazzo Massimo can be found near Termini Station at Largo di Villa Peretti. It makes a refreshing change from the major sights as it is never mobbed by tourists and yet it contains many treasures just waiting to be discovered.Here are five of my favourites.

The statue of Emperor Augustus as Pontifex Maximus shows Augustus as head of the Roman priesthood. A rather good looking guy I think!

'The Boxer' may not be as handsome as Augustus but this bronze figure is strangely moving in its realism. The wounds that have been inflicted during many a match are easy to see as you move around the statue.

The bronze fittings from the Ships of Nemi give an indication of how splendid these ships must have been. Built by Emperor Caligula in the first century AD, they were believed to have been used as huge floating pleasure palaces. The figurehead of Medusa is quite scary!


This beautiful pavement mosaic of Dionysus demonstrates how wealthy Romans decorated their homes, as do the frescoes that also can be seen here. Indeed my fifth and absolute favourite treasure in this amazing museum are the frescoes from the garden room of the Prima Porta Villa. They are displayed in such a way that you feel that you could be in the actual villa which was a favourite retreat of Emperor Augustus and his wife Livia. The frescoes themselves contain more than two dozen kinds of birds and over twenty botanical species. Best of all it is quite likely that you will have this treasure all to yourself.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Animal Magic

Traditionally animals are blessed on the Festa di Sant'Antonio Abate (17th January)
Here are five of my favourite animals in Rome.

Piazza Mattei is a delightful area of Rome made all the more special by the fountain in the middle of this tiny square. The turtles, attributed to Bernini, are a later addition to this charming fountain.

One of my absolute favourite museums in Rome is Palazzo Massimo & it is here we find an exquisite depiction of a horse in mosaic.

This is no ordinary horse but a horse belonging to the charioteer. who is also pictured here. Both horse & owner would have achieved unimaginable fame as contestants in  chariot races of the third century AD.

Another tiny piazza also holds a surprise animal at the centre. Piazza della Minerva is the home of an obelisk mounted upon the back of a statue of an elephant designed by Bernini.

On to yet another piazza that holds a  positive menagerie of animals but I have chosen one in particular. Who would have thought that you could find an armadillo in Piazza Navona!

Actually this is Bernini's idea of what an armadillo would look like and it can be found in the Fountain of the Four Rivers where it represents the Americas. Other animal sculptures to be found in the fountain are a lion (Africa) and a snake (Asia).
Finally we come to what is possibly the most well known animal in Rome - the She Wolf, who played a major part in the story of the founding of the city. It is said that she suckled the twin boys Romulus & Remus. Romulus went on to establish a settlement on the Palatine Hill which became the city of Rome.

This beautiful Etruscan work of art dates from the 5th century BC and can be found in the Capitoline Museums. The twins were added in the 16th century.