Art General Italy Roma Rome

Raphael virtual tour

For English subtitles:
  • click on play
  • click on cc
  • click on settings
  • click on italian( auto-generated)
  • click on Auto-translate
  • select English

Italian phrase of the day
[table id=11 show_rows=”random” random_rows=”1″ /]

Coronavirus General Roma Rome Tourism Travel

Homage to Rome . . .The Eternal City

Homage to Rome during COVID-19
Carla Gambescia’s romantic view of Rome and the Tiber river

Throughout its rich and storied history, Rome has come back from invaders and setbacks of all descriptions. The Eternal City will surely do so once again.

Read Carla Gambescia’s article.

Italian phrase of the day
[table id=11 show_rows=”random” random_rows=”1″ /]

General Homelessness Italy Poverty Roma Rome Vatican

Pope Francis’s Palace Of The Poor

A noble palace, a few meters from San Pietro, made available by the Pope to the homeless.

It seemed destined to become a luxury hotel, but Francesco wanted to make it available to the homeless.
The Community of Sant’Egidio manages it.

The 19th century Palazzo Migliori (left) is situated on prime real estate near St. Peter’s Square. The colonnade encircling the square can be seen at right. Sylvia Poggioli/NPR

Read Silvia Poggioli’s article.

Read the article.

Read the CORRIERE DELLA SERA’s article.

Italian phrase of the day
[table id=11 show_rows=”random” random_rows=”1″ /]
General History Roma Romans Rome

The Roman aqueducts – an ancient marvel that humbles the modern world

Among the largest and most striking works left by the Romans, the aqueducts were designed in Rome in the 5th century. B.C. because the water supply of Rome, which until then had relied on the Tiber or the wells, was no longer sufficient. Rome was being transformed into the largest metropolis of all Antiquity and beyond, so it was decided to build an aqueduct that connected a source and brought fresh water to the city. The first aqueduct was the Aqua Appia, built in 312 BC. at the behest of the Consul Appio Claudio, the same who gave the name to the famous Via Appia. Over the years, other larger aqueducts were built. In total there were twenty-four aqueducts, which transported over 1 million cubic meters of water every day, covering a total of over 400 km of pipelines.

English Transcript

[responsivevoice responsivevoice_button buttontext=” ” voice=”UK English Female”]Trajan had contributed to making Rome the most sophisticated city in the world. There were all the comforts that a man could desire and, unique in the world, his network of aqueducts. The Roman aqueducts were unrivaled, they were able to bring pure water directly to the homes of a million citizens.

Every day something like 900 million liters of water arrived in the city traveling through the provinces of the empire along impressive arched buildings, some of which are still visible today, an absolutely avant-garde system, which would no longer be overcome for centuries and centuries.

Rome was a very hot city and this convinced its emperors to strive to equip it daily with an adequate supply of water. And for this reason it is so rich in fountains. In those days, every patrician house had one.

Many scientists of the time thoroughly analyzed the water. Vitruvius had the idea of ​​boiling it and analyzing its debris. He considered the contaminations of the different types of soil and studied with obstinate passion all the plants that lived in contact with water, from the joints to the reeds, from far away to the papyrus.

During the empire of Trajan a commission was set up that dealt exclusively with the water supply, led by the engineer Frontino. Frontino, Trajan’s engineer specialized in aqueducts, was a very meticulous man. He wrote a detailed work on his activity, and it is thanks to the written one that we now know everything about the Roman aqueducts.
Scholars have already discovered long ago that the Romans did not take water from the Tiber river, but from the hilly springs. Since the water came from above, it could be easily channeled and flow downstream.

Gradually the Roman engineers gained enormous experience which allowed them to overcome any obstacle. A water network of tunnels and aqueducts 416 km long was built.

The construction work began with an in-depth study of the slope, in order to determine the right inclination of the aqueduct. Before entering the pipes, the water passed through special purification tanks. Here the flow was slowed down so that impurities were deposited on the bottom. During its journey, several kilometers from the hills surrounding Rome to the center of the city, water could pass through tunnels like this.

There were many similar galleries dug almost everywhere around the capital. The aqueducts of the time were built so well that many of them are still in operation today.
Roman engineers used a particular technique: they dug a well every 32 meters as the conduit proceeded through the hill. This allowed them to keep under control the inclination of the tunnel by measuring it with the plumb line, but when the duct came out of the hill, in addition to making it maintain the right slope, it had to be supported.
For this reason, stone walls were built to support him during his long journey to the city.

There was another problem, however: the conduit often had to travel several meters above the ground. In that case, the construction of a retaining wall was too expensive.
The solution was the arch. This is a very classic semicircular Roman arch, it is more than 5 meters wide and is built with stone blocks. There are 27 of them along the arch.
The engineers used a formwork, a wooden structure on which they assembled the arch. Once the stones were placed, which were wedged together, they applied cement and continued construction to the top. When the central stone was in its place, the wooden frame could be removed.

The arch built with blocks of stone cut to size and wedged between them supported itself, unloading its weight on the base. At that point the bulk of the work was done.
Now the aqueducts could cross the wider valleys, however the arched structure still seemed rather fragile and a way was studied to make it more solid. The problem of stability had already arisen when the aqueduct had to cross a river, and had been solved with special stone blocks, which diverted the current, but too high an arch could become unstable.

That’s why the Romans set the maximum height of an arch on 21 meters. To build other taller aqueducts, orders of arches were superimposed on that which rested on the ground. One of them, built with three orders of arches, reached 55 meters.

The need arose to give a watertight seal to the aqueduct. Thus a waterproof cement was discovered with which the walls of the duct were coated, a material composed of a particular volcanic sand mixed with lime, which guaranteed a perfect seal.

This is the conduit that transported water to ancient Rome. It had an extraordinary flow, in its time it sent hundreds of millions of liters of water into the city every day, and the special material with which it was coated made it waterproof throughout its length.

But why build these colossal architectures instead of using a simple pipe? Of course the Romans could have transported the water to the city through a system of pipes, which unraveled on the surface, but the pressure inside the pipes would have been a big problem. For this reason, they went down to gently lower the water downstream into aqueducts like this. It’s a brilliant idea, a brilliant way of solving the problem. However the conduit was covered and this prevented the water from evaporating and being contaminated.

In any case, passing an aqueduct through a deep valley, a crevasse, was expensive. That is why many cisterns were built. The water was channeled into special pipes and came out on the other side thanks to the pressure. This is the pipe that comes from the first part of the aqueduct. The water descends into the valley and then rises towards a cistern, from where it is conveyed to the next branch of the aqueduct.

Once in Rome the water ended up in three different tanks. The first was reserved for ordinary needs, the second for public toilets, and the third for private houses that paid a special tax. The money from that tax was used to finance the public water supply.

The control of the water supply gave each emperor confirmation that the life of its citizens was in his hands. Trajan had given his subjects an arena a new forum, a shopping center and a regular supply of water.[/responsivevoice]

See also “Amazing Ancient Roman Concrete”.

Compare to today’s water infrastructure.

Italian phrase of the day
[table id=11 show_rows=”random” random_rows=”1″ /]
Art Catholic traditions Christmas General Italy Roma Vatican

Rome Treasures – The Neapolitan Nativity in San Peter Square and the Arnolfo Nativity in Santa Maggiore

Citta' del Vaticano, piazza San Pietro. Nella foto il Presepe Napoletano realizzato dal maestro Antonio Cantone e dalla bottega Cantone & Costabile - 23/12/2013 - fotografa: Maria Laura Antonelli

Image 1 of 7

The Neapolitan Nativity of St. Peter’s Square arrived for the first time in 2013 from the Abbey of Montevergine in the province of Benevento. It is 7 meters high with an area of ​​almost eighty square meters; it is in eighteenth-century style and is inspired by works of mercy. There are about twenty polychrome terracotta figures about two meters high.

Two delegations participated in the inauguration, one from Campania and the other from Poland, received by the Pope together with the children who made the decorations. As in previous years, these are small patients undergoing treatment at the oncology wards of some Italian hospitals that have participated in a program of recreational ceramic therapy organized and managed by the Countess Lene Thun Foundation.

In 2017, children from the earthquake-stricken areas of Central Italy, belonging to the archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, were also involved. The tree and the nativity remained illuminated until 7 January 2018, feast of the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated on the Sunday after the Epiphany.

But where is the oldest Nativity in the world? After the living Nativity of Greccio invented San Francesco, the oldest Nativity in the world seems to be that of Arnolfo di Cambio (Colle val d’Elsa 1240- Florence 1310) in Santa Maria Maggiore, the Roman Basilica dedicated to the cult of the Virgin and to children of Jesus.

Presepio di Arnolfo Di Cambio - Ⓒ Bruno Brunelli

Image 1 of 9

It is also the most touching and expressing sculpture in the history of sculpture. It is enough to look at the eyes of the ox and the donkey, present to the great event and looking at us with so much gentleness and humanity, or the massive figures of the shepherds, the humble people to whom the newly born son of God first revealed himself, to understand the greatness of this architect and sculptor (his is the project for Palazzo Vecchio and the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence).

The first sculptural representation of the Nativity in history, the Nativity would have been commissioned to the famous architect by Pope Niccolò IV, who was also the first Franciscan friar to become Pope. The eight statues of the Nativity, the Madonna with Child in the center, St. Joseph leaning on the stick, the heads of the ox and of the donkey and the Magi, one of which kneeling, seem to be full-relief sculptures , in reality they are high-reliefs on a marble surface.

The Madonna and Child is an addition of 1500 (the original would have been lost). Elegant and refined in the carvings, the sculpture recalls in some aspects the French Gothic of the same period with in addition the realistic-Romanic influence of the of the school of Nicola Pisano, with whom the artist trained. However, a unique style distinguishes the solemnity of the figures and the scenic layout. Inspired by the Greccio nativity, Arnolfo created a sculptural apparatus capable of celebrating the Nativity in all its sacredness, combining stylistic beauty and realistic research initiated in those years, the same ones that will mark the passage from the medieval to the modern age.

The Basilica, located on the summit of Mount Esquilino, is also known as “Sancta Maria ad Praesepem”, because according to tradition it would preserve in the crypt the remains of the manger, where the Infant Jesus was laid down the night of the birth. Arnolfo di Cambio, one of the most complex and original personalities of Italian Gothic, was trained in the workshop of Nicola Pisano, with whom he worked at the Arca di San Domenico in the church of the same name in Bologna (1264-67), and at the pulpit of the cathedral of Siena (1265-1269). Undisputed protagonist of the Roman art scene, he created in the eternal city the ciboria of the churches of San Paolo fuori le Mura, and of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, as well as the famous bronze statue of St. Peter Enthroned, object of great veneration in the Vatican Basilica.

Source: L’Italo-Americano

Source: Italian Ways

Italian phrase of the day
[table id=11 show_rows=”random” random_rows=”1″ /]