National Museum of Rome, Palazzo Massimo

After the long walk from the previous post, we needed lunch. Garmin says it’s a mile to L’Insalata Ricca and we want salad. Well,,,,we walk and walk. I’m sure it was closer to 3 miles. Ooo, my feet.

Bus and Metro back to the National Museum of Rome! We started with the coins. Who knew I would like them so much, but they contained little pix of Roman life. The early Roman coins were the “heavy” series – they were BIG. Before our sophisticated dating techniques, Roman coins could be accurately dated because a well was found into which coins were thrown for luck (think Trevi Fountain). 3 mugs

In the well they also found cups with itineraries engraved on the side. Convenience – a traveler knew where he was going, how far to each stop AND could get a drink. And sometimes a map was included. The picture of the cups have the map up top – note the long distances – and a facsimile of the engraving on the bottom.
1 doll 1 necklace
One of the more touching displays was of the contents of a child’s grave. She was a little girl, with a dolly and a necklace. I like groupings like this; it makes me think not just of the objects, but of the lives behind them. This was a much-loved child, buried by her parents with her treasures.

So that was just the basement. Three more floors awaited us, full of fresco murals and mosaics. 4 another room
The outstanding mosaic was of charioteers from the circus with their horses. Hard to believe the picture was made with bits of stone. circus mosaic2
old roomThe murals and mosaics were mostly discovered when modern Romans wanted to build something, such as a train station. Or fix the bank of the river. See the picture of what the dug into by the river and, in color, what they salvaged. Today’s Rome sits on ancient Rome which slows down development; every project has to have an archeologist advisor.
La Villa della Farnesina
One room, huge and mainly intact, had been situated partially underground, perhaps to provide a cool place to relax in the hot summers. Glorious color, filled with trees, bushes and flowers. The explanatory sign said each plant had a meaning, perhaps like the Victorian language of flowers, but my modern eyes saw only calm.




Another astonishing find: two ships, built by the emperor Caligula on Lake Nemi. There were many attempts too salvage the ships. Finally in the 1930’s the lake was drained, the ships raised and a museum built to house them. In WWII the museum burned. Only metal survived – decorative brass rings with the faces of wolves and lions and the ship’s railing.

I’ve saved until last my absolute favorite thing from the museum, perhaps from the entire trip: The Pugilist. It’s a 1st century B.C. statue of a boxer made in Greece. That it’s Greek surprised me; I think of their statues as ideals, while the Romans modeled warts and all (that’s what makes the Roman faces so interesting.) In any case, the weariness of the man is poignant. Look at his posture. As a ballet dancer, I’ve been there. My muscles were differently sculpted and I had toes shoes, not boxing gloves, but I know how this man of 2000 years ago feels. I think that’s a reason for art – to make us feel and perhaps empathize.

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  1. yer cuzzin Karen says:

    Thank you for taking us to Italy through your eyes. Magnifico! 🙂

  2. Wow is all I can think of when I look at the pugilist. So much emotion in that piece. It’s also so interesting about the boat burning up after so much effort to bring it up. I love the wolf heads. Thanks for sharing all of this. Happy holidays!

  3. Cat Lazaroff says:

    The Pugilist is magnificent. The detailing on those gloves! Wonderful. (And I LOVE the wolf heads. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing!

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