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Seven days across the Italy with the historical books best seller writers Ben Kane, Anthony Riches and Russell Whitfield. This 3 British guys are marching dressed in legionaries kit from the amphitheater of Capua to the Colosseum in Rome, to raise money for Combat Stress and Medicines sans Frontier. I’m guiding them through the villages and the historical sites located along the route.
The Baptistery of St. Giovanni in Fonte next to the Church of St. Restituta is considered the most ancient Baptistery of the western Mediterranean.
The building, probably founded in the second half of the fourth century by Severo, Bishop of Naples, is characterized by a squared-plan whose edges create an octagonal drum culminating in a dome. This unique structure has oriental architectural elements and wonderful mosaics.
They are among the most precious ones, certainly more ancient than the ones in Rome and Ravenna.
Under the dome there is a baptismal font, dug out of the floor, where the Catechumen knelt and were baptized with ablutions of water. The newly baptized could have risen up their faces and admire the extraordinary mosaics which introduced them to a mystic and holy world.
The mosaic represents an allegorical and symbolic philosophical theme of the transience of life and death that eliminates disparities in social class and wealth. The summit of the composition is a level with his plumb line, a tool that was used by masons to control the levelling in construction.
The axis of the lead is the death (the skull), under a butterfly (the soul) balanced on a wheel (Fortune).
Under the arms of the level, and opposed in perfect balance, are the symbols of poverty on the right (a stick a beggar and a cape), and wealth to the left (the sceptre a purple cloth and the ribbon).
Popular belief says the phrase “Memento mori” originated in ancient Rome: as a Roman general was parading through the streets during a victory triumph, standing behind him was his slave, tasked with reminding the general that although at his peak today tomorrow he could fall or be brought down. The servant is thought to have conveyed this with the warning “Memento mori” that means “Remember that you will die”.
This moseic have been also used for the cover of the Pink Floids’ album “Live at Pompeii” recorded in the Amphitheatre of the city in the year 1971.
The first scholar to classify the Pompeian painting was the German archaeologist August Mau that stood out in four styles.
The FIRST STYLE, referring to the period from III to I century BC, of Greek origin, structural style or fouling, was an imitation of stucco, often in relief, a technique called opus quadratum, used to coat the marbles exterior walls of public buildings and religious in the Doric style. In the House of the Faun in Pompeii and in the Samnite House in Herculaneum are significant examples of this style.
The SECOND STYLE, called architectural style and described in detail by Vitruvius, was introduced in the I century BC, and reworking some elements of the earlier style. Inspired by the scenery of the Hellenistic-Roman theater, distributed in a bottom-shaped podium, on which rested in the middle of the faux wall structures, columns, niches, with characters represented megalografie-size or scale to a slightly more small, floral elements and animals, and seen in perspective with illusionistic realism final effect of a trompe l’oeil. Examples of the second style is found in the triclinium of the Villa Oplonti, in the Villa of the Mysteries, and in the frescoes from the Villa of Boscoreale, now housed at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Archaeological Museum of Naples.
Over the last years of the century B.C. under the principate of Augustus with the THIRD STYLE, called Pompeian style or ornamentation, takes over the decorative. The optical illusion disappears, replaced by solid funding, usually in black, red or white, with a central miniature paintings depicting scenes of various kinds, mostly mythological, enclosed in kiosks or squares said pinakes. The walls were designed as split levels a lower base, divided by the median, through a dais decorated various ornaments. Typical were the candlesticks, the plant shoots and thyrsus. Some of the finest examples of the third style can be seen in the House of the Vetti and in the House of Lucretius Fronto.
From the age Claudia develops the FOURTH STYLE, defined fantastic style, in its first phase sees the return of the architectural elements of the second style, recreated amazing sleight of type. Scenes of heroic character-mythological and allegorical figures, painted with warmer colors representing the elements and accessories in yellow gold. In the Flavian period, so in the last years of the city of Pompeii, appear real scenes and great landscapes. It ‘s the most popular decoration in the Vesuvius area, since many houses were redecorated after the violent earthquake of 62 AD. C. The House of the Tragic Poet, one of the Vetti and Menander in Pompeii, Shrine of the Augustans and the House of the Stags at Herculaneum have some of the finest examples of decorations in the fourth style.
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When around the year 80BC Pompeii became a Roman colony grew both in terms of population and economy, and there was was a big boost in trade . The port guaranteed great wealth to the entire city, allowing the export of food products, textiles, cosmetics and more.
Economic activities of every kind were scattered throughout the city, especially along the “Via dell Abbondanza”, the main artery of the city so named for the relief of a cornucopia (horn symbol of abundance) on fountain near the Forum.
Often, thanks to the frescoes, the inscriptions, and the signs was possible to trace the names of the owners of the businesses located throughout the city, such us the termopolia (restaurants) of Vetutius Placidus and Asellina, and the fullonica of Sthephanus.
The professionals were usually grouped in corporations with a significant impact on the administration and policy of the city especially at the election time.
The most common occupations were those that took place within manufacturing plants and laboratories. There were bakers (pistores), the washers (fullones), numerous taverns (thermopolia), and textile and leather factories (officinae coriarorium). Some were itinerant traders or owners of shops, such as the greengrocers (pomarii). There were the owners of taverns (cauponae), the smiths (faber), barbers (tonsor), carpenters (lignarius), marble workers (marmorarius), goldsmiths (aurifex), the mosaicists (museiarii), peinters (pictores imaginarii or parietarii). Seems that the porters were powerful corporations (saccarii), the tenants (vindemiatores) and carters (cisiarii).
A well paid job, of which today we see the traces on the walls of ancient Pompeii, was the one of the scriptor, who painted on the walls in bright red letters posters announcing performances, sales, leases, or elections.
Considerable importance was covered by the agrimensores, highly skilled technicians able to measure and divide lands thanks to the use of theodolites very similar to those used by modern surveyors.
We should not forget the Lupae, who practiced in the Lupanares “the oldest profession in the world,” and their owners said Lenones.
Contact me for your tour at Pompeii.
Of all the ancient Rome tours, a visit to is a must while staying in . Nowhere else will you see history so well preserved. The story behind this famous place is laid bare as you wander around the streets between former houses and brothels. You will see the last moments in the lives of the people of Pompeii that were captured by the erupting volcano.
From Rome tourists can take two modern and comfortable Naples in 1h:10min. The trains are called “Italo” and “Frecciarossa“; return tickets cost between 80 and 100 euros. Sometimes there’s the possibility to get discounts booking a couple of months in advance.
From Naples the best way to get Pompeii or Herculaneum is by Circumvesuviana . The trip lasts 30 minutes; stop at “Pompei Villa dei Misteri” 100 meters away from the main gate of the excavations called “Porta Marina Superiore”. The return ticket cost 4, 50 euro.
Contact me to arrange a great walking tour!