325 – 328: Architecture from the Romans to Mussolini

325 – Thursday 10th March 2016: Roman Architecure

Now then ! Sylvie says my blogging style is unique ! Should I take that as a compliment – to my mangling of the odd word – or 3?  As she is a friend, I will defer to her judgement…..

Off to see Ben Hur today!  I expected to meet Charlton Heston in his chariot…but he’s too busy being Chair of the NRA (National Rifle Association) – I will reserve my views on USA gun laws (at least in this blog).   The Circus Maximus is immense – see photos – being worked on just now – so I couldn’t practise my 400 metres speedwork.  Entry to the Palatine Hill and Forums didn’t give proper recognition to us senior folk – didn’t they have 68-year-old mangliators ?  

Palatine Hill… we all know about Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome – the area is awash with this significance and the accompanying mythology.  Palazzo after palazzo – the wealthy Romans knew how to live – and how to build.  The Forum, or forums – were the centre of Rome – social, business interaction – and laws implemented – justice handed down.  Picnic lunch – and off to Il Colloseo!  Again, staggering dimensions – the games – a day out for the local populace… if you happened to be a defeated (but still alive) gladiator – you could appeal to the Emperor to spare you – and if the appeal was successful, you lived to be cut into pieces on another occasion !  Onwards…..



IMG 4808The modern station near our campsite, built adjacent to the old one.  And yes … it is a year since my last hair cut!

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The old station … just fenced off.  More crumbling concrete.  Sicily does NOT have the monopoly on it. 

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Palatine Hill which is the posh residential area of the Roman city.  Myth says this is where Romulus and Remus founded the city.

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View down to the Circus Maximus.  They are still excavating some of the remaining seat area.  Big FACTS:  1)  It was the biggest of all of Rome’s circuses.  2)  It was laid out in the 6th century BC!  3) It seated 250,000.

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Looking across to St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. 

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Looking down to the Forum – a series of public squares, meeting places, shops and Temples.

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View across to the Colosseum.  The largest … Verona is the third largest, which we saw on our way down Italy.

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And inside the Colosseum.

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A few more Big Facts:  1) Construction began in 72AD.  2) 100,000 cubic metres of stone held in place with iron chevrons  3) 50,000 spectators


326 – Friday 11th March 2016:  Sunshine!

Regulation running, Pilates (for K) – and breakfast.  Simple – and then the days planning…..but we noticed the sun was shining very brightly – when did we last brekkie outside? So – one of us said – “why not spend the day here in the sun?” – we both agreed with whoever it was that said that.  Nobody had yet mentioned ‘jobs’.  The bikini top came out (for K !) and shorts akimbo !   What is akimbo ? Is it akin to Limbo but undressed?  Anyway, we sunned – and actually did some jobs (no Gusto in sight).  Late afternoon dawned (how can afternoon dawn?) and the BBQ made an appearance – BBQ chicken – and after – a firelog…  For the uninitiated – a firelog is a 1-2 foot long lump of compressed charcoal material – impregnated with combustible stuff!  Does it burn ? Does K love it ?  Sparks akimbo, when it gets poked… a true (WMD) – weapon of mass discombubulation !    

IMG 4882Check out that blue sky.  Awning out ….

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…. and the shorts were not far behind … for both of us!

327 – Saturday 12th March 2016:  Mussolini’s EUR Project (Esposizione Universale Roma)

We have both found the ‘Fascist’ style of architecture has grown on us a bit… no, we will not be voting right of Gengis Khan in the next election!  The style is very simple, direct – uncomplicated – and sends a clear message – the State is in charge of everything.  We may disagree with the message, but the simplicity is appealing.  Many of these structures are aesthetically better than UK 1960/1970s concrete – in our view…  The first photo is a clever piece of post-Mussolini design – trees growing from the heads of St Peter/Paul…

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St Peter and Paul Basilica (post- Mussolini).  Mussolini intended it to be his mausoleum … looking over his EUR project of perfectly created suburbia – his monument to Fascism.

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The Palazzo della Civita Italiana, also known as the Square colosseum, was intended as the centre piece for the 1942 world fair.  Not sure what is inside as you can see through the windows to daylight the far end.

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Statues are all poets, artists, philosophers etc … all highlighting Italian supremacy!

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All about form and balance.

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Columns and height taken from Ancient Roman architecture.

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Like it or not, the area is an impressive attempt at new town planning – wide squares and boulevards – lots of open space – Milton Keyes and Basingstoke, please take note!


328 – Sunday 13th March 2016:  Museo Centrale Montemartini and Facist Garbatella

What do you get if you put some statues inside a disused power station?  No – it’s not Sellafield meets Stonehenge!  It’s more Tate Modern – actually, it’d less Tate… But, in an odd way, it works. Maybe not entirely worth the Euro 7.50 per person entry – but quite different. Was I the only one who spent more time checking the horsepower of the diesel engines than looking at the sculptures?  The truly Herculean statue – with separate feet and arm – is gargantuan !  As for the satyr playing with the nymph… the National Anthem was obviously playing at the time – standing to attention!  A bit like an English 6 Nations Championship 2016 winner (no sore losers here….and the `Grand Slam to come…).


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The Centrale Montemartini Museum – a 1920’s coal and diesel power station.  Only converted into a museum in the last few years as an overflow to the Capotine Museum.

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The power plant is still all in situ and makes a really unusual setting for Roman sculptures.

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And a bit more art deco … what’s not to appreciate?

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A massive statue … but is Hercules giving us the finger?

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Not such a massive statue … but certainly an erect member!

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Garbatella was created in 1920s for the working classes, but is now ‘one of the most charming, intriguing, hippest and appealing neighbourhoods’.  Know where I want to live if I ever moved here.  The apartment blocks were modelled on English garden suburbs … apparently!  They are certainly around greed squares.  But in the 20’s we were pulling all this sort of housing down.

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Gotta love a a bit of art deco.  The Palladium Theatre.

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Garbatella will be K’s home in the future, when she grows old, wears purple – and learns to spit!   Nuff said….