Jewish Catacomb Tour

Jewish Catacomb Tour

Jewish Catacombs – Vigna Randanini

Beneath the city streets that travellers walk on each day, dark labyrinths of underground tunnels transport travellers to a time when millions of people were buried underground.

The catacombs of Rome Vigna Randanini, which date back to the II century AD, were constructed as underground tombs by the Jewish community.

Explore with me this fascinating site, discoverd in 1859 below a private property.

All the tombs are decorated with Jewish faith subjects such as the Ark of the Covenant, the seven-branch candelabrum, the casket with the roll of the law, the fruit of the cedar, the sacred knife for circumcision, the pomegranade, the mandrake, the horn of meetings.

On many tombs inscriptions you will read the typical phrase: Rest in peace in Hebrew… ejn ijrhvnh hj koivmhsivς sou.

Open to the public by appointment.

Baths of Diocletian Tour

Baths of Diocletian Tour

Bathing played a major part in ancient Roman culture and society. Bathing was one of the most common daily activities in Roman culture, and was practiced across a wide variety of social classes. Though many contemporary cultures see bathing as a very private activity conducted in the home, bathing in Rome was a communal activity.

Once the largest ancient baths complex in the world, the Baths of Diocletian – or Terme di Diocleziano – was built between 298AD and 306AD in honour of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

Set out along the traditional model of a Roman baths complex, the Baths of Diocletian contained a frigidarium (cold room), tepidarium (warm room) and caldarium (hot room or steam room) as well as additional large bathing chambers, gymnasiums and even a library. The baths themselves were a hugely impressive building project, particularly given how swiftly they were constructed. The majority of the water for the baths was supplied by the Acqua Marcia.

The key difference with other contemporary baths was simply a question of scale – it is believed that at their height the Baths of Diocletian could hold up to 3,000 people at a time.

After 30 years of restoration the Baths opened to the public in 2008 and became part of the National Museum of Rome. At present we will be able to visit some remaining parts of the remarkable structure. It will be  even possible to walk through a cloister garden projected by Michelangelo where nearly 400 works of art, including statues, sarcophagi and reliefs, are on display.

Look at this video with a gorgeous rendering about the old Bath:

Terme di Diocleziano | Ricostruzione Virtuale CAPWARE from Capware on Vimeo

Photo reference: Folegandros, Stilko, Antmoose / Anthony M, G.dallorto et al., Wikimedia Commons

Eat with locals

Eat with locals

Get a real taste of local culture by dining with a local family in their home, which means you can enjoy an intimate setting and relaxed vibe.

Enjoy memorable experiences you won’t find in any restaurant. The host cooks with her personality serving up customized menus.

Not only will you enjoy home-cooking at its best and get to taste local delicacies but you’ll also have a unique chance to experience the local culture and to get to know the people by sharing a meal in a family home.

The host, Mrs. Allegra, English mother tongue, will be happy to cook and share with you her Roman recipies and secrets, welcoming you in her appartment, plenty of Art masterpieces, located on the top floor of a Art Deco building in the Ghetto Area. From her windows you will see the island of the Tiber and the Synagogue.

Ancient Ostia Tour

Ancient Ostia Tour

This magical site will bring you back in time to wander its Roman streets, watch a play in a Roman theatre, visit one of its many Roman baths complexes.

Ostia was the commercial port of Ancient Rome. It would have been a busy port town, exotic and lively, brimming with people from all over the Roman empire: Greeks, Egyptians, Nubians, Jews, Syrians and Gauls. In the first century AD, Ostia’s main function was to receive grain from Egypt and Sicily and to ship it on to Rome and its one million inhabitants. This grain was stored in Ostia’s many warehouses and sometimes made into bread before being transported by barge along the winding Tiber to the capital city, fourteen miles away.
In addition to the usual residents of a first century Roman town there would have been sailors, stevedores, ship-owners, storehouse managers, customs officers, rope-makers, sail-makers, and plenty of unsavoury types.

Today, Ostia is no longer bustling and dangerous, but quiet and peaceful. Over the past two thousand years the mouth of the Tiber has silted up, pushing the coastline away from Ostia. The site is landlocked and long deserted. Wandering around its ruins, you will find the remains of baths, temples, houses, shops, taverns, latrines and even a theatre. You can see traces of frescoes on the walls, half standing columns, marble thresholds and millstones from bakeries. One of the most distinctive features of Ostia are its black-and-white mosaics. They are everywhere…

Photo reference: Sailko, Marie-Lan Nguyen, FoekeNoppert, Kalajoki et al., Wikimedia Commons



Hadrian’s Villa

The astonishingly grand 2nd-century AD Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa), 6 km (4 mi) south of Tivoli, was an emperor’s theme park, an exclusive retreat below the ancient settlement of Tibur where the marvels of the classical world were reproduced for a ruler’s pleasure.

Hadrian, who succeeded Trajan as emperor in AD 117, was a man of genius and intellectual curiosity, fascinated by the accomplishments of the Hellenistic world. From AD 125 to 134, architects, laborers, and artists worked on the villa, periodically spurred on by the emperor himself when he returned from another voyage full of ideas for even more daring constructions (he also gets credit for Rome’s Pantheon).

After his death, the fortunes of his villa declined. It was sacked by barbarians and Romans alike; many of his statues and decorations ended up in the Musei Vaticani, but the expansive ruins are nonetheless compelling.

It’s not the single elements but the peaceful and harmonious effect of the whole that makes Hadrian’s Villa such a treat. The vast estate is a fascinating succession of baths, theaters, temples, libraries, guest pavilions, nymphaeums, and open-air gymnasiums. The most famous “sight” in the Villa is the Canopus, an artificial valley with a long pool modeled after an Egyptian canal on the Nile, surrounded by colonnades and sculptures. Hadrian did not live long enough to enjoy his creation. He fell ill and retired to Baia near Naples, where he died in AD 138.

Oleanders, pines, and cypresses growing among the ruins heighten the visual impact.

Villa d’Este

Villa d’Este, created by cardinal Ippolito d’Este in the 16th century, was the most amazing pleasure garden of its day and still stuns visitors with its beauty.

Inspired by the recent excavation of Villa Adriana and a devotee of the Renaissance celebration of human ingenuity over nature, Este (1509-72) paid architect Pirro Ligorrio an astronomical sum to create a mythical garden with water as its artistic centerpiece. To console himself for his seesawing fortunes in the political intrigues of his time (he happened to be cousin to Pope Alexander VI), he had his builders tear down part of a Franciscan convent, then divert the Aniene River to water the garden and feed the fountains – and what fountains: big, small, noisy, quiet, rushing, running, in which sunlight, shade, water, gardens, and carved stone create an unforgettable experience

There are fountains of all shapes and sizes, from the tiny cascades that line the stone staircases leading down to the fish ponds at the bottom of the garden to the massive organ fountain that once played music. To this day, several hundred fountains cascade, shoot skyward, imitate bird songs, and simulate rain. The villa is listed as a Unesco world Heritage site.

Suggestions: Confortable shoes, a hat, sun cream in Summer. It can get very hot in Summer, it is better to visit Hadrian’s villa early or in the afternoon.

Photo reference: Paliano, Jastrow, Szilas et al., Wikimedia Commons and Jean-Pierre Dalbéra via flickr

Food & Wine Roman Countryside

Food & Wine Roman Countryside

If you love Italian food and wine, then come with me to discover historic farms in the countryside, outside Rome. We will spend a lovely day visiting quaint villages, rich with history, located to the south of Rome.

The Roman countryside has drawn tourists since the time of the ancient Romans who came here to spend their vacations. Only 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Rome, these hillside villages and their splendid lakes punctuate endless fields of olives and grapes. The volcanically formed earth and the mild climate are ideal for the production of wines, such as the Frascati Superiore and the red I quattro Mori, as well as extravergine olive oil.

During the tour, you will visit family vineyards and see the cantines where the wine is produced. You will be invited to taste the wines, which will also be accompanied by local specialities, such as porchetta, salami and bread cooked in a wood-burning oven. These farms also provide and unparalleled panoramic view of the city of Rome and its environment.

The first village to visit is Castelgandolfo and its palace (Pope’s summer residence) and the lovely lake of Albano, a former ancient volcano. Driving along the Tuscolana road we reach Grottaferrata that is very famous for its important 15th century monastery and church decorated with 16th century frescos of saint Nilus’ life.
We continue visiting Nemi village built on the slope of a hill, overviewing Nemi lake, another former volcano. This village is very famous because in Spring you can sit in a bar tasting wild strawberries with fresh cream and looking at the panorama over the lake.

Be prepared for an unforgetable trip back to the times and flavours of the past.

Photo reference: Wikimedia Commons