BY TOM FRASCELLA                                                                                                                                         MAY 2011






We proceeded from Sorrento to Rome on Day Six of our tour. Rome can’t be seen in two days, the time allotted on our tour, or in two months for that matter. No where else on earth is twenty-five hundred years of human history accumulated in one place and yet the City is also vibrant and active with three million inhabitants. It is in a real sense overpowering and you can not help feeling that you missed most of what the city has to offer regardless of how much time you had to spend there.


We did manage to miss one million religious tourists there the day before our arrival for the beatification of Pope John Paul II. On our arrival at the Vatican Square the large Banner of John Paul was still up and inside St. Peter’s the tomb of John Paul was attracting at number of people.


                                     Large Banner of John Paul                                                                      The tomb of John Paul
                                            Photo by Rich Steo                                                                                          Photo by Rich Steo


Without getting into too much detail I am providing some photographs from around Rome:



                                                                    View from our Hotel




                                                                                           Remnant of ancient wall of Rome



                                                                                                                                            Government Building




                            Interior of Pantheon built around 300 Ad



                                                                                    Interior view of Dome of the Pantheon



                                                                                                                                                          Trevi Fountain



                                                                                   Roof garden 
                                                                               Photo by Rich Steo



 There are a series of maps near the Forum that depict the development and extent of the Roman Empire during its history. The extent of its reach is depicted in lighter white stone. A, below,  shows Rome as a small city state. B shows Rome’s early expansion throughout Italy, Greece, most of Spain and a small piece of North Africa. C shows Further expansion and finally D the largest expanse of the Empire.



                A          Rome as a small city state                                                                           B        Rome’s early expansion



                        C           Further expansion                                                                      D            Largest expanse of the Empire





We were taken on a guided tour of the Roman Forum: Obviously, much of the Forum has been dismantled and removed. Like much of the rest of Italy some of the building material was recycled into newer construction. It is my understanding that a significant amount of the marble that once faced the buildings of the Forum found its way to St. Peter’s basilica.




                                                                                                   Roman Senate building 
                                                                                                          Photo by Rich Steo



                                          Floor of the Forum looking back toward what was the Roman Treasury 



                                                                                 Remnant of Nero’s Imperial Palace




                                                                                                         Triumphal Arches




                                                                 Relief on Titus’ Arch showing sack of Temple in Jerusalem



We also saw the Colosseum which the Romans knew as the Amphitheater Flavium. The name Colossuem is believed to derive from a colossal statue of Emperor Nero which stood nearby dwarfing the structure. Nero’s statue was designed to rival in size the Colossus of Rhodes one of the ancient “wonders of the world”.









 Below is a picture of the "Piazza del Popolo" in Rome. In the center of the piazza is the Eygptian obelisk dating back to 1200-1300BC.
It was brought to Rome in 10 BC by order of Augustus who originally set it up in the Circus Maximus. It was re-erected here in the piazza in 1589.



                                                                                                              Piazza del Popolo
                                                                                                                Photo by Rich Steo




No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Vatican, Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to photograph in the Sistine Chapel and in some areas of the museum however we did take many photographs where we could.



                Exterior Wall of Vatican City   A reminder that both Rome and the Vatican have been the object of many invading forces.



                                                                                                   Exterior of St. Peter’s
                                                                                                        Photo by Rich Steo





                          Interior St. Peter’s Basilica                                                                               Pieta St. Peter’s Basilica
                                  Photo by P. Frascella                                                                                                Photo by P. Frascella



                                                                                                   “ The Transfiguration”   
                                                                                                         Photo by Rich Steo



“ The Transfiguration” by Raphael 1516 copy of exact copy of painting done as mosaic in stone and hanging in St. Peter’s. All of the large paintings presently hanging in St. Peter’s basilica are copies of the original paintings done by the great masters of the 15th and 16th century Photo #86 . The copies are made by masters of a mosaic technique practiced only in the Vatican. Very thin slivers of naturally colored stone are placed seamlessly together to follow the colors, textures and even brush strokes of the original painting but now in stone. You can walk up to the art without realizing that it is a mosaic not a painting. The craft is so precise and labor intensive that one of these copies takes several lifetimes of masters to complete.

                                                                                                      Painting inside St. Peter’s



Courtyard of the Vatican museum twelve foot high bronze Pine Cone fountainhead cast two thousand years ago originally installed at the  Baths built by Roman general Agrippa around 30 BCE. Agrippa was a close friend and political ally of Octavius.  Agrippa’s public bath was located near where the Pantheon was built three hundred years later. Parts of the walls of the bath are visible today. The fountainhead was moved to the old St. .Peter’s Basilica around 700 AD  and placed in an exterior fountain there where it served  as the main supply of water for Church use for the next seven hundred years. At its peek Rome was the largest city in the ancient world with over one and a half million people. The barbarian invasions eventually destroyed the aqueduct system which supplied Rome with clean drinking water. Thereafter the citizens were forced to drink from the Tiber which was heavily polluted or to dig for natural springs. The population of Rome shrank from 1 ½ million in 300AD to 50,000 by 1,000 AD. One of the reasons that the former buildings of Rome standing long abandoned could be mined for materials in the later ages was because the city was largely deserted by the later period. The Pine cone fountainhead was removed during the building of the modern St. Peter’s in the 15th century.  

                                                                                                             Bronze Pine Cone
                                                                                                               Photo by Rich Steo




        The following are scenes from Vatican Museum corridors and galleries.





















    Large ossuary believed made for the Emperor Constantine                                   Ossuary carved for his wife



Above is a large ossuary with carved military scenes made of rare, very hard Egyptian marble believed made for the Emperor Constantine. Also above a ossuary carved for his wife. It is believed that these were commissioned before Constantine moved his capital to Constantinople. The ossuaries did not go with him to Constantinople and are believed to have been used by family members in Rome instead.



                                                                                                  Vatican Museum corridor


Above is a Vatican Museum corridor with richly decorated ceilings and 15th century mosaic maps to the sides. One of the maps depicts Southern Italy and includes San Fele spelled San Felle on the map.



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