Imperial Rome’s Manhattan: the Insula of Ara Coeli

Skyscrapers seem to embody the very essence of modernity: we associate them with the hectic life of the great metropolises, the epicenter of business and pleasures. And this is the truth indeed, considering that, the idea of exploiting the space in height – rather than in width – in order to give accommodation to as many people as possible, was born right in the heart of a metropolis (1st century BC Rome), overcrowded (about a million inhabitants), center of an Empire (“Roma caput mundi” was not a brash nor a joke, but a matter of fact).

Filarete’s Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica

The facade of Sain Peter’s basilica displays five bronze doors matching the five gates of the atrium. Four of them have been molded by major contemporary sculptors: starting from the right we find the Holy Door by Vico Consorti, the Door of the Sacraments by Venanzo Crocetti; the Gate of Good and Evil by Luciano Minguzzi, the Gate of Death by Giacomo Manzù. The central gate is the only ancient one: it was built in the 15th century, when Pope Eugene IV commissioned it to the Florentine Antonio Verulino, known as the Filarete (i.e., the friend of virtue).

Art from another point of view: the anamorphosis of Trinità dei Monti.

In art, the term ‘anamorphosis’ refers to a strongly distorted image that acquires a ‘sense’ only when one poses in the correct point of view.

Two beautiful and surprising examples, although, unfortunately, little known, are found in the convent of Trinity of the Mountains, which houses the Institute of ladies of the Sacred Heart and the Monastic Fraternity of Jerusalem…

la casa di Lorenzo Manilio

Roman from Rome: the house of Lorenzo Manilius

Written sources give us no information about the life and activity of Lorenzo Manilio: we do not know who he was, nor what he did to live, nor how his family was composed. But one thing is certain: Lorenzo Manilio must have had a great consideration of himself, and an even greater affection for his city. This can be clearly evicted when admiring the small mansion built in 1468, in the very heart of what, in a little over eighty years, would have become the Jewish ghetto of Rome, right along Via del Portico d’Ottavia, at street numbers 1 and 2.

Antiquity and fast food: the thermopolium of Via Diana in Ostia Antica

If you believe that finger food, fast food restaurants, bistros and pubs are a prerogative of the modern era, then take a ride in the extraordinary archaeological area of Ostia – the harbor city of ancient Rome, which, during 2nd century AD, at the time of its greatest expansion, could count on a population of about 50,000 inhabitants – to personally find out that we have not invented anything. Along the via Diana, on the ground floor of the insula bearing the same name, an ancient thermopolium (literally ‘a place where something hot is sold’) of Hadrianic times (III century AD) still open its ancient doors.

Villa Torlonia, la Casa delle Civette

Between fairy tale and reality: The Owls’ Cottage in Villa Torlonia.

Prince Giovanni Torlonia Jr. was the scion of two of the most illustrious Italian families: the Borgheses, on his father’s side, and the Torlonias of the maternal branch. Born in Rome in 1873, founder of the Bank of Fucino, proponent of the recovery of the port of Trajan, and senator of the Kingdom of Italy in 1920, granted to Benito Mussolini, as an official residence, the beautiful Villa Torlonia on Via Nomentana.

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