Ancient Ruins, Virtual Reality: Archaeological Sites Embrace VR For Enhanced Experiences

Last weekend the Domus Aurea, also known as Nero’s Golden Palace, became the latest attraction to offer visitors the chance to wear virtual reality headsets while touring the site. Continue reading Ancient Ruins, Virtual Reality: Archaeological Sites Embrace VR For Enhanced Experiences

The Atlas of Ancient Rome: Your New Favorite Coffee Table Book

The Atlas of Ancient Rome, a gorgeous, new two-volume set edited by Andrea Carandini, promises to be an “authoritative archeological survey of Rome from prehistory to the early medieval period.” The slip-cased set is available now. Continue reading The Atlas of Ancient Rome: Your New Favorite Coffee Table Book

Rome’s Ancient Pantheon to Begin Charging Admission

The Pantheon, one of the last major landmarks in Rome with free entry, will soon begin to charge admission.

Continue reading Rome’s Ancient Pantheon to Begin Charging Admission

You Now Have to Pay to See Rome’s “Mouth of Truth”

Truth is, it was bound to happen.

Church officials at Santa Maria in Cosmedin, site of Rome’s “Mouth of Truth” (Bocca della Verita), have decided to charge visitors €2 for the pleasure of taking one (just one!) photo with the ancient sewer cover. Continue reading You Now Have to Pay to See Rome’s “Mouth of Truth”

Natale di Roma: Rome Celebrates Its Birthday

This post is about the birth of Rome, not about the birth of Christ. Both occasions use the word “Natale” in Italian. For posts about Christmas in Rome and Italy, click here.

Most city foundation stories are pretty straightforward. But the origin story of the city of Rome is more akin to something you would read in a comic book about superheroes.

According to city legend, Rome was founded on April 21, 753 B.C. by Romulus and named after him. The Natale di Roma, the birthday of Rome, is quite a complicated story.

Continue reading Natale di Roma: Rome Celebrates Its Birthday

A Show of Hands

The hand of Michelangelo's David, © Accademia

It all started with David.

Michelangelo’s statue of David was one of the first pieces of sculpture that I knew I had to see in person. Recognized worldwide as a symbol of Florence, David is marble come to life especially when you look at his hands. My European Art History professor many years ago urged us to study David’s hands — tense, veiny, and with visible knuckles and creases.

Ever since falling in love with David, I have developed a mini-obsession with men’s hands (of the marble and human variety). Are you a male sitting across from me on the tram idly glancing at your phone or reading a book? I’ve probably admired your hands (or found fault with them — sorry, but your cuticles are a wreck!).

Luckily, Rome has given me other opportunities to observe men’s hands without feeling like a creep. The Vatican Museums and the Capitoline Museums both house countless classical statues from Ancient Rome and Greece. It’s in fact likely that the artists who taught Michelangelo how to sculpt were familiar with and inspired by some of the ancient statuary now housed in these museums. Continue reading A Show of Hands

Ancients Doing Modern Things

I posted this silly tweet on my personal account one week ago and people are still retweeting it. Some replied with suggestions that it was Marcus Aurelius attempting a selfie. While quite a few suggested photos like this could become a trend. Is this a meme in search of a hashtag?

Either way, I hope to be doing more of these while I’m in Rome. Stay tuned for photos and musings posted on my personal and italofile twitter accounts. I’ll also be posting more Italy stories, how-tos, and travel news as I get settled.

Writer’s Block, Italian Style

The promise of “another day” is the key to the word’s origin. It derives from the Latin verb procrastinare, combining the prefix pro- “forward” with crastinus “of tomorrow”—hence, moving something forward from one day until the next. [source]

I frequently like to joke. I love a good play on words. And a chance to match wits with someone, in person — or, more commonly, online — is great fun to me.

I write this “grab bag” post for the Italy Blogging Roundtable as a bit of an inside joke, as I am frequently the late-comer when it comes to posting my thoughts on the month’s topic. The Roundtable is a labor of love, one that we all put time into when we can. But life sometimes get in the way. We have all had to take a break at some point, whether for career, children, traveling, or something else. Still, Rebecca, Alexandra, Jessica, Gloria, Kate, and I all depend on one another each month to get our “work” done, so I hate the feeling I get each month when I inevitably have to tell the group, “I’m going to be a little bit late.”

The guilt that is hanging over me as I write this post at the eleventh hour is what has led me to write, in tongue-in-cheek fashion, about the thing I know best: writer’s block (blocco dello scrittore). Only, instead of writing a piece on how to cope with it, I’ve decided I’d provide some photos of actual blocks with writing on them. Call me lazy. Call me crazy. I call it delivering what I promised.


pantheon rome

The Pantheon in Rome has one of the most famous inscriptions from ancient times. Translated, it means “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, Consul for the third time, built this.” What he should have had inscribed was, “Ego M. Agrippa, non ipsa struit – puerorum aedificaverat” – “I, M. Agrippa, didn’t build this – my slaves did.” (Thanks, Google Translate!)


Arch of Titus in Rome

Another well-known ancient ruin in Rome is the Arch of Titus, located near the Roman Forum. The inscription is dedicated to Emperor Titus (of course): “The Roman Senate and People to the Divine Titus Vespasianus Augustus, son of the divine Vespasian.” The Romans considered Titus a “good” emperor. But if you look closely at the carvings on this triumphal arch, you’ll see it depicts Titus’ role in the destruction of Jerusalem. The Arch of Titus is a good lesson in how history looks different from the eyes of the conquerors versus the conquered.


Pompeii Caricature

Emperor Titus ruled during the time Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. But before that event, a Pompeii resident scrawled this graffiti on a wall in what is now known as the Villa of Mysteries. Odds are, the graffiti artist was illiterate. But I like to think this was his (or her!) version of writer’s block (worth 1,000 words, right?). If you’re into this kind of thing, 10 Pieces of Crazy Ancient Graffiti is a fun glimpse into the past.


Venice Lion

The winged lion is the symbol of Venice. It is an icon you will see everywhere, but nowhere more prominently (and beautifully) than on the facade of St. Mark’s Basilica. The lion is resting his paw on the so-called “Motto of Venice,” which has been shortened. “Pax – Evan, Tibi – Geli, Mar – Sta, Ce – Meus” is short for “Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus. Hic requiescet corpus tuum” which means “Peace to you, Mark, my Evangelist. Here your body shall rest.”

And now I shall rest, too.


Read more from the Roundtable:


Photos: cogito ergo imago, esme, john mcl, monkeypuzzle

The Seven Hills of Rome: What Are They and What Can You See?

The Seven Hills of Rome mark the traditional boundaries of the city. It was on these seven hills – Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, Palatine, Quirinal, and Viminal – that the first settlements of Rome began and these seven hills were the ones protected within the Servian Walls.

The foundations, gates, and ruins of these 4th century-BC walls can still be seen in some parts of the city. Subsequent builds of fortifications in Rome, such as the Aurelian Walls (3rd century AD) and the Leonine City (9th century AD) included other hills (Janiculum, Vatican, Pincian), but the original Seven Hills are the ones in bold above and included within the red border in the map to the right.

Now that you’ve had a short history lesson, you may be wondering what you can see today on Rome’s Seven Hills. Rather than tell you, I thought I would use the power of Google’s Street View to show you.

Continue reading The Seven Hills of Rome: What Are They and What Can You See?

Roman Forum: No Longer Free

Well, it was fun while it lasted. According to the folks at Dream of Italy and Tony Polzer from 3 Milennia Tours, the Roman Forum will begin to charge admission as of March 9th. Tony lays out the facts, including admission and access, on the Slow Travel forum.

We have not been able to independently confirm this development from a press release. But we hope to find info about this on the Comune di Roma or Romaturismo sites soon. In the meantime, you can read our post Saving Money with Combined Tickets, which has details about the Roma Archeologia card.