Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Magic Hour at The Roman Forum and the House of the Vestals

Confine yourself to the present.
~Marcus Aurelius

After spending the afternoon on the Palatine Hill, the tourists like me, who were hanging on to every last moment, were herded out through the Roman Forum. It too, was bathed in the beautiful  light of magic hour. What a lovely exit!

When you arise in the morning,
think of what a privilege it is to be alive:
to breathe,
to think,
to enjoy, 
to love.
~Marcus Aurelius

Temple of Antonius and Faustina, later the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda

I turned to my left and noticed something. The House of the Vestals was open. It had been closed off, when I'd been there two years before. I had leaned over a fence, to take a photo, but hadn't been able to get in there! Now it was open, and I took my shot!

I hurried in and began taking in the space. What an unexpected score!

Vestals, were priestesses of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth, in ancient Roman religion. There were 6 priestesses and if you were going to become one, you entered into the house between the age of 6 and 10, and you had to be cute ... and committed.

The Vestal Virgins had a huge responsibility to keep the fire burning, in the Temple of Vesta (Otherwise things could go very wrong for the Republic, and later, the Empire. Rome's security depended on it!) 

They were involved in all sorts of state rituals, off limits to the male priests. If you were a Vestal and the fire at the Temple went out, you would be scourged, and if you had sex, you'd be buried alive. Being a Vestal was serious business, in Ancient Rome. 

But really, what a beautiful spot! 

Excavated in the late 1800s, the palace had had 50 rooms and had been a 3 story structure.

There is something so peaceful and lovely about this space. With its lovely feminine sculptures of the priestesses, and its pink roses and lovely ponds ... if I could have stayed for hours, I would have. Fortunately, I didn't have to keep any fires burning.

Dwell on the beauty
of life.
Watch the stars,
and see yourself
running with them.
~Marcus Aurelius

At the present day, too, it is a general belief, 
that our Vestal virgins have the power, by uttering a certain prayer, 
to arrest the, flight of runaway slaves, and to rivet them to the spot, 
provided they have not gone beyond the precincts of the City. 

If then these opinions be once received as truth, 
and if it be admitted that the gods do listen to certain prayers, 
or are influenced by set forms of words, 
we are bound to conclude in the affirmative upon the whole question.
~ Pliny the Elder
Book 28, Natural History

If you have a garden
and a library,
you have everything you need.

After about 15 minutes, I was spotted by the Forum workers. I feigned surprise that it was time to leave. "Oh, really? Oh ... O.K. ... " I, very slowly, made my way out ... as if walking in molassas. 

I was so happy, I'd had finally had my moment, in the House of the Vestals. I felt so lucky. I was there, with maybe only 2 other people around, doing as I was ... soaking up every last second! 

I felt strangely connected to that space, in a way that I haven't, in other ancient Roman sites. 

The Happiness of your life
depends upon the quality
of your thoughts.
~Marcus Aurelius

I watched my step, as I made my way across the very uneven Via Sacra, with it's rather large stones ... booby traps, really.

A last look at the Roman Forum ....

And an interesting display, outside the gates...

As I go through my photos, to upload onto this blog, I start really missing Rome. At the same time, I remember certain things, and the feeling of being there, like it was only weeks ago. It's been 5 months! I can't believe it.

For more info about the House of the Vestals, click here and here.

Here is a 2 minute video on the House of Vestals ...

And here is a 6 1/2 minute video with great shots of the Roman Forum.

Hope you enjoyed a little moment at the Forum and House of the Vestals. If you haven't been there, it's a site to behold, and I feel so blessed to have been there.

I did this pastel/watercolor last year, from a photo I had taken, at the Roman Forum, on the previous trip. In what was the old Senate building, they had all these marvelous sculptures from antiquity. I was particularly taken with this one.

Watercolor and Pastel on Wallace Paper, 2012

Hope you have enjoyed a lovely May, my friends!
Blessings and light,

Nothing is more honorable 
than a grateful heart.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Afternoon on the Palatine Hill

I found Rome a city of bricks
and left it a city of marble.
~ Augustus Caesar (63 BC - AD 14)

It was a big day, but I was bound and determined to take advantage of the weather. On my first trip to Rome, I went to the Colosseum, just as it had stopped raining. On the second trip, I went to the Roman Forum, and it started raining. This time? Blue skies at the Palatine Hill! I cabbed it there, after my visit to the Protestant Cemetery and Baths of Caracalla. 

You may remember that it was a very rainy November and December, last year in Italy. (Unfortunately, a lot of flooding.) The rainy weather, is evidenced, in the following photos. Lots of reflections from the pooling water, on the very uneven, ancient grounds. It made for some great effects, but I had to watch my step!

Entering the Palatine ...

After entering on the path above, you can see the Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum behind it. (See below) I'm thinking ... a nice ink drawing or watercolor painting?

Another place to fill up my water bottle! Water is everywhere and tastes so good!

Let me just say, if you go to Rome, get yourself one of these collapsable "vapur" water bottles. When they are empty, they weigh nothing and they take up no space! There is no excuse to by bottled water in Rome, when water spouts are everywhere and the Roman water tastes so delicious! 

The Palatine Hill, was covered in Roman palaces. Palatino, is where we get the word palace, if you were curious. The Palatine has a very long history and it seems like there have always been excavations. During the reign of Augustus (27 BC -14 AD,) there was an area roped off where artifacts were excavated from the Bronze Age! 

Another excavation going on, in Rome ...

This is what the sign said, about the above excavations, if you're interested ...

Wealthy Romans lived on the Palatine Hill during the Republican period (509 BC - 44BC.) Much of the remnants of palaces, that you see now, are from the Empire (27 BC-476 AD,) ... the palaces of Augustus, Tiberius, Domitian, House of Livia etc ....

I think this, below, is part of the palace of Domitian (Emperor 81-96AD).

Once and a while, you look down to find the palace floors are still there. I imagine this floor and how beautiful it must have been, covering that whole area, in the above photo.

Below, was apparently a stadium, a garden, or both. The track around the outside was added later.
Stadium of Dolmitian's Palace

The structure behind the lovely couple, below, is where the emperor hung out, and watched the track or whatever was going on down below.

There is a little museum on the hill as well. It's not huge, considering the other rather large museums in town but it does have some beautiful pieces from the Palatine ("dal Palatino.") And, it was the perfect place to thaw out, and sit down and take a load off. I can't tell you how happy I was to find a bench by this point!

Divinità fluviale (River God)
Età severiana (Severian)
Dal Palatino. Settizodio

There are some very old artifacts and a lot of information, in the museum, about some of the pre-Roman era. Archaeologists believe the area was inhabited back to 1000 BC!!!

Beautiful remnants of a palace wall ...

Decorazione piccorica di IV stile
Eta' neroniana (54 - d. C.) (age of Nero)
Intonaco e stucco dipinti  (stucco and painted juice?) Dal Palatino
Domus Transitoria

Love this! Definitely going to do a drawing of it.

The sign said ...
C. d. Hera   Borghese
 Roman Copy of Greek Original
Dal Palatino, Stadio

Apollo Citaredo
Eta' augustea (from augustan era)
Intonaco dipinto  (painted plaster)  Dal Palatino. Scalae Caci

More haste, less speed.
~Augustus Caesar

Below, was a beautiful fountain. I wish I could have gotten closer. ... all that blue was so beautiful.

The Octagonal Fountain
of the Domus Flavia

The Flavian Palace

This area was so lovely, and the imagination is definitely sparked by looking at all the pink stone and lovely design of the floors, above!

Below, the Amazon's Fountain

From the Palatine, you get great views down onto the Roman Forum and beyond. You can see by the beautiful light, it was now very late in the afternoon.


The Farnese Gardens
I came around a corner, from all the brick and stone, to see this lovely green space. So green and lush, that first week of December. If you look closely you can see all the orange trees bearing fruit!

The land was acquired in 1550, by Cardinal Allessandro Farnese, he filled in what was the Palace of Tiberius, (Palace of Caligula) 1st Century AD. Love the Renaissance Garden but a bummer about the Palace. On the upside, it was one of the first botanical gardens in Europe, and a really peaceful, lovely spot.

No risk attends the meed
that silence brings.
~ Augustus Caesar

About this time, they started closing off certain areas. To the right (below) was the entrance to the palace of Emperor Augustus. They shut the gate just before I got there.

We started being directed out of the Palatine. They close about an hour before sunset. I have no idea what time it was, but I was hoping to be shuffled out through the Roman Forum, below. Even though I'd only have a couple of minutes, it would be so great to walk through it, on this lovely evening (and take a few more photos!)

Heading out ... I looked down and wondered, who created this little masterpiece ... and why wasn't it more protected?

Below the hill, there is gate, and you can hear the rush of water ... not sure if it was spring or aqueduct water ... but as I said, water is everywhere in Rome! The photo was taken through an iron gate and it was very dark in there. 

Oh, and after taking a picture for a nice couple, they got a shot of me too.

So, I'm not one to go on a tour, (I like to do research on my own, and take in the surroundings, without someone rushing me along,) but like the Baths of Caracalla, it would have been nice to have someone tell me what I was looking at. There were more signs, at the Palatine Hill, than there were at the Baths, but it still took a lot of effort, just to figure out where I was on the map!

On the upside, I ended up with lots of photos to paint! And, it was an absolutely gorgeous day! With the afternoon light, I got a lot of shots with that beautiful orange glow on the palace ruins. 

Last night, I ended up watching this BBC video, on Youtube ... at midnight. It's so interesting and it has fantastic shots of Ancient Roman Art, as well as great shots of Italy and Pompeii, if you want to check it out.

I also found a very short video, showing how beautiful it is in the spring, with petunias and poppies around the different Roman gardens ... 

The play is over 
Acta est fabula
~Augustus Caesar 

Have an amazing weekend!!!
Blessings and light!