Bocca della Verità

Rome - The legend of the Mouth of Truth

The Mouth of Truth is a huge, world-famous marble mask whose legend has it that it could bite the hand of anyone who places it in its mouth. The famous large sculpture has a diameter of 1.75 meters. And it is dedicated to the God of the Sea, depicted with a bearded face and with pierced eyes, nose and mouth.

The work was located in the Piazza della Bocca della Verità until 1632. That year it was decided to wall it up in one of the walls of the pronaos of the nearby Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. This is the place where it can still be admired today.

Now, there are many legends about the Bocca della Verità which, despite the passing of years and eras, continues to feed the curiosity of any visitor.

One of the most famous tells of an unfaithful woman who was led by her justifiably suspicious husband to the Mouth of Truth to be tested. And who managed to save her hand with a ruse. In fact, the indicted woman asked her lover to also show up on the day she was to be tested. She also asked him to pretend to be crazy and embrace him in front of everyone. The lover carried out her instructions perfectly. So the woman, upon slipping her hand into the Mouth, could quietly swear that she had only ever been embraced in her life by her husband and that man whom everyone had seen. Having told the truth, the woman was able to withdraw her hand from the tremendous Mouth unharmed, even though she was guilty of adultery.

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Rome - The oculus of the Pantheon

The Pantheon is a famous building of ancient Rome located in the Pigna district, erected as a temple dedicated to all the gods past, present and future. Built in 27 BC by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus, it was later rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian between 120 and 124 AD. In fact, the fires of 80 and 110 AD damaged the previous construction.

The building is composed of a circular structure joined to a portico of Corinthian columns supporting a pediment. Since the end of the 7th century it has been a Christian basilica dedicated to Santa Maria della Rotonda. This metamorphosis has allowed it to survive the spoliation inflicted by the popes over the centuries.

The Pantheon is famous for having a single oculus-shaped window on the dome of almost 9 meters in diameter. From a technical point of view, this opening to the outside allows the light to fall from above and therefore a clever play of chiaroscuro inside.

Around the oculus of the Pantheon many legends, astrological studies and curiosities have arisen over the centuries. According to a medieval legend it was created by the devil escaping from the temple of God. In ancient times it was said that the rain could not enter the temple because of the heat and smoke of the candles that illuminated the interior. Today this remains only a legend. In the Pantheon on rainy days still enters abundant water. For this reason, the floor has 22 holes. This is to allow the rain to filter through.

Thanks to the presence of the oculus, however, curious astronomical phenomena can be observed inside the building, so much so that someone called it "a solar temple". For example, on April 21st, Christmas of Rome, at noon, a ray of sunlight penetrates from the oculus inside and hits the access portal.

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Colonna Traiana

Rome - Trajan's Column

The Trajan Column is a monument erected in Rome in the Forum Trajan in the second century AD. It was erected to celebrate the conquest of Dacia (present-day Romania) by the Emperor Trajan, and commemorates all the salient moments of that territorial expansion.

It is possible that a closer view of the column could be obtained by climbing up onto the terraces covering the lateral nave of the Basilica Ulpia or onto those that probably also covered the porticoes in front of the two libraries. An "abbreviated" reading was also possible without the necessity of going around its shaft to follow the entire story. It was enough to follow the scenes in a vertical order, since their superimposition in the different coils seems to follow a coherent logic.

The narrative, which is articulated along the 200 meters of the frieze, is rigorously organized, with chronistic intentions. Following the tradition of triumphal painting, not only the "salient" scenes of the battles are represented. There are also scenes of marching, those regarding the transfer of troops (12 episodes) and those on the construction of camps and infrastructure (17 scenes, represented with extreme detail). In this scansion of the events appear then the significant events from the political point of view, to which are added some scenes more specifically propagandistic.

Some examples? The torture of Roman prisoners by the Dacians, the speech of Decebalus, the suicide of Dacian leaders with poison. But also the presentation of the head of Decebalus to Trajan and the removal of the royal treasure.

The Trajan Column was an absolute novelty in ancient art and became the most avant-garde point of arrival for the Roman historical relief. It is considered by most to be the most sublime work of the brilliant Apollodorus of Damascus, Trajan's favorite artist.

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Villa del Priorato di Malta

Villa of the Priory of Malta - The keyhole

The Villa of the Priory of Malta is a complex of buildings with a garden located in Rome, on the Aventine. The place, historical seat of the Grand Priory of Rome of the Knights of Malta, now the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, throughout the Middle Ages has been an important strategic point overlooking the Tiber emporium and already in the tenth century was occupied by a fortified Benedictine monastery. It then passed to the Templars and, after their suppression in 1312, to the Knights Hospitallers who established their priory.

The entrance to the priory was renovated in 1765 by the architect and engraver Giovanni Battista Piranesi. The result, the only architectural work of the author, was the extraordinary eighteenth-century square, an original example in Rome of Rococo urban setting, decorated with war trophies that allude to the exploits of the Knights of Malta and with the coats of arms of the Rezzonico, on which opens the entrance portal to the villa.

This square is known to the Romans, however, especially for the keyhole of the front door. In fact, if you approach the keyhole of the main door, you can see a wonderful shot of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. This is probably the most famous and suggestive Roman view of the building, framed by the hedges of the Priory gardens. A breathtaking view that leaves you stunned for its beauty.

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Torre della scimmia

Scapucci Palace - The legend of the monkey

There are places in Rome to which probably very few pay attention. These are streets, squares or buildings that seem trivial or irrelevant, but that actually have a lot to tell. Scapucci Palace is one of these places: an ancient building in the capital, which has become famous for a curious legend about a monkey.

The Palace is a building that stands in Via dei Portoghesi 18, near Piazza Navona. Attached to this palace there is the so called Tower of the Monkey (or Tower of the Scapucci, or of the Frangipane). Of medieval origin and perhaps owned by the Frangipane family, this tower then passed to the Scapucci family around the sixteenth century. It is characterized by a characteristic battlement dating back to the fifteenth century.

The Tower of the Monkey owes its particular name to a popular legend, immortalized by the American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne in his travel notes in Italy and in the more famous novel "The Marble Faun". In his pages, Hawthorne tells that the tower was inhabited by a nobleman, who had an only son and a monkey, a pet. One day, however, the unthinkable happened: in a moment of playfulness, the animal took the child in his arms, went out the window and climbed to the top of the tower.

Immediately, panic broke out. The nobleman, in desperation, went out into the street, among the shouting crowd, and without taking his eyes off the animal, with his heart in his throat, he entrusted all his prayers to the Madonna.
Legend has it that the monkey meekly descended and returned the child to his crib.

The crowd gathered shouted the miracle and the nobleman from that day, as a testimony of grace received, wanted that on top of the tower burned perpetually a lamp.
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la leggenda delle oche capitoline

Capitol - The legend of the Capitoline geese

The legend of the Capitol geese is part of Rome's history.

Tradition says that everything happened around 390 BC. At that time, the hill of the Capitol was occupied by a temple dedicated to the goddess Juno, which housed a series of geese. The geese were sacred animals to the goddess and for this reason considered untouchable.

The Gauls of the leader Brenno besieged Rome and sought a way to penetrate the hill. Here the Romans who had not fled to the cities of Veio and Caere when the attackers arrived had taken refuge. Their only hope was the Roman general Marcus Furius Camillus, who, however, was in exile in Ardea because of his anti-plebeian positions.

But one night, the conflict came to a turning point.

A messenger, who was sent by the Romans to Ardea to recall the general, managed to access the Capitol despite the siege. The Gauls then took the opportunity, followed him and at night they entered too.

Legend has it that the geese, the only animals surviving the hunger of the besieged because sacred to Juno, began to squawk noisily. By doing so, they warned of the danger the former consul Marcus Manlius and the besieged Romans, who repelled the enemy. For his heroic action, Marcus Manlius was later named Capitolinus.

As a result, the Gauls began to suffer the first defeats while the army of Marcus Furius Camillus advanced from Ardea. Therefore, Gauls tried a compromise: to forehead of a tribute equal to thousand gold pounds, they would have removed the siege.

However, the Romans, at the moment of paying, realized that the scales were rigged. As a result, Brenno, in a gesture of challenge, added his sword to the scales claiming a greater weight of gold. Then, he pronounced the phrase "Woe to the vanquished!"

Here the tradition tells a second legendary episode. While the Romans were asking for time to get the missing gold, Camillus reached Rome with his army. Once in front of Brenno, he showed him his sword and shouted in his face: "Not with gold, but with iron, you redeem your country".

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Fonte dell'Acqua Acetosa

Acqua Acetosa Fountain - The Prince and the Marchioness

The city of Rome, as is well known, has always been synonymous with romance. As a result, there are countless love stories, more or less known, linked to its streets, its squares, its unforgettable corners. Some have had a happy ending, while others unfortunately do not. Nevertheless, they have left an indelible trace of their intensity. It is a trace that by making a little effort you can still manage to find.

Therefore, today we are going to tell you one of these stories, set near the Fountain of Acqua Acetosa. The area where the Acqua Acetosa Fountain is located was in fact the scene of the romantic love story.

This love story was between Crown Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria and the beautiful marquise Marianna Florenzi. Here the two young people met secretly for months, looking for a place where they could hide from prying eyes and malicious tongues. It is said that the prince, madly in love with Rome and the young girl, did everything in his power to further sweeten the park. It even seems that he decided to donate several benches, to allow anyone who visited it, to find comfort.

Unfortunately, the romance between the prince and the marquise ended quickly. According to the tradition, it is said that it ended for reasons of state. But the most informed claim that a tender friendship survived between the two in the years that followed. It is said that they both cherished a sweet memory of those days forever.

However, the traces of this love have not disappeared completely. For instance, there is an engraving in German, visible under one of the benches on the outer wall. This recalls: "Ludwig, Crown Prince of Bavaria, had these seats and trees put here".

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