The St’Helen Chapel: where gold and mysticism stay together

cappella di sant'elenaThere are many places in Rome rich of mystical and religious atmosphere, where mainly a Christian man could find the right location where pray and get in touch with the real sense of the religion. But the Chapel of St’Helen, the Costantino’s Mother, represents a special place for its relics and fot its history.

First of all, I shortly speak about Helen, a woman who strongly embraced the Christian religion. According to the tradition, she decided to go in the Holy Land, in Palestine, in order to find one of the central relic of the Christianity: the Truth Cross, where Jesus Christ died. She was a clever and proud woman, and when she met a man who knew the exact place of the Cross, she asked him where it is. But the poor and old man didn’t want to answer to that foreign person. This is the reason why she inflicted pain to him, until he decided to count everything. In this way St’Helen found the famous “Golgota”, the hill where Jesus Christ basilica santa croce in gerusalemmeand the two thiefs were murdered. But the story doesn’t end here, because she founds three crosses! What could be the real One? Helen imagined a ploy and ordered to bring there a dead body. It was touched by pieces of the three cross, and when it got in touch with a wooden splinter of the Real and Truth Cross, it resuscitated. So, Helen decided to bring in Rome that piece of Cross…and this is the reason why the basilica that contains it, built during the first period of the IV century, is named “Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme” (The Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem).

golgota groundToday we could admire that relics close to other important proofs of the sanctity of the Chstianity: inside the Chapel of St’Helen there’s also the ground of the Golgota that was brought in Rome from Helen.

But what we could see inside the chapel i salso its fantastic mosaic decoration. Try to take a glance just above you, and you will look something incredible and fine gilded background, where coloured tiles form the holy face of Jesus Christ, surrounded and surmounted by angels. It was realized during the XVI century, mosaico cappella sant elenawhen the basilica was totally restored. Imagine how it is special for the Christianity! Of course, there are other pieces of the Holy Cross in Rome and in the world. They usually belonged to a period, the Middle Ages, where were created false relics in order to gain something, especially money.

But that wooden splinter symbolizes St Helen’s, the mother of the man who change the history allowing to the Christian people to come out from the shadows to speak the language of Jesus.


An “arch” in Rome with a “damnatio memoriae”

Arco degli ArgentariThe “Arco degli Argentari” is a structure with architrave (so it isn’t a real arch), which stands just next to the portico of the Church of San Giorgio al Velabro. The area is plenty of remains which manage to bring our minds in very ancient times, when Rome was just born, when the kings tried to improve the city with many public services, as the market of Foro Boario. It was the symbol of a Rome which wanted to open new ways in the world.

For this reason it isn’t a case if the “Arco degli Argentari” is a gift of the “bankers and the merchants of Rome”, offered to the Imperial family of Settimio Severo, in the first years of the III century AD. The “Arco degli Argentari” in fact was used as one of the entrance of the Foro Boario, the place in which the donors worked. Monuments as arches or something similar were very common in Rome, mainly if the receiving was the Emperor: in this way it was easier received some favours

damnatio memorie arts in romeWhat is important to say it isn’t just the fine and rich marble decorations, with the figures and reliefs which completely cover the surface, but what there isn’t…in fact close to the figures of the Imperial family, as Caracalla or Settimio Severo, we could observe a sort of empty space, a relief not so well preserved that looks like to be destroyed. And in fact it was destroyed, in order to cancel the figure. This is a clear example of “damnatio memoriae“, a roman tradition which was used against the enemies of Rome or the men who wasn’t able to have civil behaviours. Nero, for

Ritratto di Caracalla, inv. S 464
Ritratto di Caracalla

example, was convicted, after his death, with the “damnatio memoriae”. For this reason today it’very difficult find something depicting the emperor. Moreover, that cancelled figure represents Geta, the Caracalla’s brother. Geta was the Settimio Severo’s heir, because it was his first son, while Caracalla was the secondo one. But in a period full of murdereds and blood, Carcalla killed his brother accusing him of treason. And the punishment for this crime was a “damnatio memoriae”.

But probably, Caracalla just wanted to eliminate an aspirant to the throne…

Pasquino: the statue which loves talk very much…

Statue Parlanti Roma - PasquinoWhen you stay in Piazza Navona you should go to the narrow street along the great palace which hosts the Brazilian Embassy. Go down that street until the final part of the huge building, and turn your eyes to the left: just above a basament you will find a not well preserved marble statue, with some little paper attached in its surface.
They are the words of the most famous “statua parlante” (talking staue), in Rome: its name is Pasquino

What is a “statua parlante”?

It’s a statue in which, over the centuries, were attached papers with satirical writings, mainly used against powerful men or women.
Bankers, Popes, Senators and other important people in Rome were put under the fire of that writings.

Why did they attache here? What is this statue?

It was discover at the final part of the XV century, during some excavations occured in that area to build a palace for a powerful cardinal: Oliviero Carafa.
Carafa family started to be very important in Rome, and this is the reason why a member of the family became Pope during the XVI with the name of Paolo IV.
Statue Parlanti Roma - PasquinoThe archeologists think that this sculpted group represents Patroclo and Menelao, two characters of the Iliade, the Homer’s epic poem.
You should know how in that period many schools stood in the area, and probably this is the origin of the legend of the “statua parlante”. Some nights strange papers started to appear above the face or the bust of the statue… but Oliviero Carafa, who was a clever man, knew that the Pasquino was very famous and popular in Rome, mainly in the poor part of the population.
For this reason he didnt’ destroy it and used it in a particular way. In fact, the cardinal decided to organize a sort of literary challenge: the students of the nearest school had to write whatever they want (histories, poems etc.) and the winner could have the privilege to see his work attached on the surface of the Pasquino!
So, the statue bacame more famous, while the satirical writings named “Pasquinate”, continue to “embellish” it. This is the origin of a real icon of Rome: it belongs to the Romans, that people who can’t stay in high social classes. That people who decided to use their voice in a very particularly way.
But there’s just a last question.

Why has Pasquino this name?

There’s a legend which claims how the student of a school not so far from the basament of the statue, had a laugh to a teacher. He probably had some phisical problem and for this reason he looks like the not well preserved sculpted group. “Pasquino” was a sort of insult…and the insults became the main peculiarity of this statue, the first “statua parlante” in the city (in Rome there are other five ones).

The Borromini’s lantern: the fire of the Knowledge

Imagine to walk peacefully throught the fine streets in the city centre of Rome.
Now, imagine to have to the right an open door.
Passing the entrance, you will stay just in the centre of a courtyard, surrounded by columns. But what is majestic and truly beautiful is a white and brilliant lantern set above a church in front of you.

That lantern, the architectural final part of a dome in a church, has a spiral shape, recalling movements and virtuosism. It isn’t a dream, but a true church which stands not far from Piazza Navona. This is the church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, and the genius who created it and its wonderful lantern was one of the most important artists in Rome: Borromini

The Borromini’s lantern

Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza

It was a church projected during the XVI century, when all the area was under restoration.
What is foundamental to say is that this place was famous in Rome, just because it was the first headquarter of the La Sapienza University.
It was inaugurated during the first years of the XIV century by the Pope Bonifacio VIII, who wanted to show how the city could be the birthplace and the core of the Knowledge.
But over the centuries it was quite destroyed and abandoned.
This is the reason why in the Renaissance, a time in which whatever you want in Rome was restored and built, La Sapienza University was one of the palaces chosen for some restorations.

Cupola - Chiesa Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza

After many years the construction site wasn’t finish.
It was a huge problem, due to the image of Rome which had to indicate the city not only as the place of the Church, but also the refuge of Arts and Wisdow.

They could be created thanks to the deeds of the Christian Church and for this reason the sacred building was essential. Borromini started to work there with a simple aim: he had to built something that could remember to everybody the real symbols of the place.

The Lantern

We could speak a lot about the great project created by the master. How he was able to use geometrical shapes in order to produce a star map, how the inside of the church was so brilliant… but we have to put our attention to the fantastic lantern! An architectural element which connects the ground with the sky, with its curved lines and decorations.

What do it represents?

The lantern is the Fire of the Wisdow, but not only…it symbollically regains the Babele Tower, which was also a symbol of the human Knowledge. Moreover, the lantern regains also the Headlight of Alessandria, other human masterpiece.
So, in this way we could understand how Borromini played with the history and the traditions, in order to obtain something that managed to represent some of the most important human discretions.

Then, he was able to create something more: a new must see monument in Rome!

A prehistoric elephant in Rome

arts in rome study abroad roman history rome historyRome hosts many places from museums to archeological areas in which we can observe its huge history, from the first King to the last emperor, or from the building of the first church to the great construction sites like St Peter’s Basilica. Moreover, we can find in Rome many hidden places visited by people who have the fortune to know them. One of them is the Museum of the Origins, set inside one of the majestic palaces of La Sapienza University. The modern headquarter was totally built during the Fascism, but it is so important when we could entry in this museum. In fact, there is a wonderful surprise…

villaggioRomaLa Sapienza University, the main and the most ancient university in Rome, was founded by the Pope Bonifacio VIII during the first part of the XIV century. His will was to provide Rome with a university, so a place in which all the most clever human minds in that period could stay and study, as the other italian and european example. Today, La Sapienza University doesn’t host just classroom or auditoriums, but also many little museums linked to the departments. One of them is this museum, in which we can learn something about the ancient origin of the land of Rome, when the city was just a dream, and when volcanos, waters and earthquakes changed a lot the place in which, after many centuries, will bring to light the powerful of the “Caput Mundi”.

Amid the relief maps of the first huts used by the men of the Neolitic, and some Skulls and Skeletons belonged to people lived here thousand of year ago, you will find a curious and large Cranium.

What is it? Why is so special?

arts in rome la sapienza university rome history

It belonged to an ancient elephant which looks like to a Mammuth. What is curious in this history is the place of the discovering: the Roman Forum! It was bring to light during the excavations which took place in the area during the first years of the XX century, when Benito Mussolini decided to bring new stability in his Rome, changing its profile in order to create a sort of bridge between the modern Rome with the ancient one. Try to imagine how strange and wonderful is this discover: in the Roman Forum, when Rome created his new world, when the Roman society managed to develop with marble temples, columns and architraves, when Julius Caesar celebrated himself, as other powerful men and emperors…there, many years ago, an Elephant walked through the virgin lands of the seven hills and the little mountains, where the two volcanos, Sabatino and Laziale, shape with their fires and lavas the place in which a little village will become the centre of the ancient world.

San Bernardo alle Terme: a little Pantheon in Rome

Pantheon of RomeThe Pantheon is one of the symbol of the ancient Rome, despite of its transformation in a Basilica, since the beginning of the VII century.
This wonderful and impressive monument has inspired many artists over the centuries, due to its beauty and its huge dome.
This is the reason why in Rome, on canvas or walls, we could observe decorations very similar to the ones who covered the dome of the Pantheon.

Moreover, in Rome there’s also a XVI century church, erected for the order of the Cistercensi, in which we could find a copy of the Pantheon dome.

Facciata San Bernardo alle Terme

I’m speaking about the

Church of San Bernando alle Terme

which stands not far from Via Nazionale and Piazza della Repubblica, so in the real city centre.
This sacred place has a round shape because it was built just above the remains of one of the ancient angular tower of the majestic Diocleziano’s Baths, which stood in there.
That enormous building, plenty of marble decorations, vaulted rooms and swimming pool, covered a large area, was used over the centuries for many things and aims: first of all, it became the perfect place to take materials, as marble or rock. Then, inside its rooms, was created a basilica (Santa Maria degli Angeli), and a museum (Museum of the Terme di Diocleziano). Moreover, the beautiful Church of San Bernardo alle Terme, which means Bath in italian, is the result of hard works on the ancient walls.

What do the church hosts?

Cupola - San Bernardo alle TermeA wonderful reproduction of the Pantheon dome, with its coffered ceiling and its oculus, the hole set in the centre which create a connection between the ground and the sky, the home of the Gods.
Getting into the church of San Bernardo alle Terme means to do a time travel, where we can observe how the model of the Pantheon was so famous that in Rome, after many centuries, wanted to reproduce it.
The relaxing and calm atmosphere which we could breathe here, without the crowd that each day fills the Pantheon, is a wonderful experience.

Sometimes in Rome what could seem normal or without importance can hide something special.
How it’s amazing!

.. before ending this story

Cupola 2 - San Bernardo alle TermeInside the church try to search the tomb of Johan Friedrich Overbeck.
Who was he?
He was an artist lived during the XIX century who found the artistic movement of the “Nazareni”, a sort of group of dandy who loved so much the Renaissance.
For this reason he wanted to depict in their paintings the pure figures and profiles of the Italian art of the XV century, when the R
enaissance was going to bring to the light.
A man who was inspired by the beauty of Rome, as the architect of the Church of San Bernardo alle Terme was inspired by the enormous heritage of the Ancient Rome…

Interno circolare - San Bernardo alle Terme

A marble intruder at Trevi Fountain

Fontana di Trevi Roma


Walking around the famous Trevi Fountain, while your look is totally catched for the great beauty of the majestic Baroque masterpiece, you could find an odd object which seems stand here just for a mistake.
But what is looks like a giant marble vase, it’s the main character of a curious story.
This is the tale of the Ace of Cup



During the construction site of the gorgeous fountain, the architect Nicola Salvi had some troubles with a picturesque man who lived and worked just close to the place in which would be set the Trevi Fountain. He was, according to the history, a little and fat barber who stood inside his shop, in order to cut the hairs of his customers.
Ace of Cup Trevi FountainThe problem was just one: each day and for many times, this man managed to criticize the Nicola Salvi’s project.
How was annoying it!
Imagine how was terrible for the architect stay here while that man found everytime an excuse for disapprove the construction site!
So, for this reason, Salvi decided to put something which could impede the look at the barber.

And the great solution imagined from the architect was this big marble vase which at the beginning was named as the Ace of the playing card.
And today the name is still the same!

Ace of Cup Trevi Fountain

When you are in front of Trevi Fountain, with its huge sculpted groups which symbolize the real dynamism of the water, try to take a glance at the right.
Very close to the false rock which creates the impressive scenic design of the Fountain, stands this marble vase decorated with naturalistc reliefs.
It’s an example of the Roman tradition

But would you know what is the strange thing?
It is that this story it isn’t just an invention or something similar.
This is the truth!

Sketch at Musei Capitolini

[:en]All the photos of Sketch at Musei Capitolini, Rome!

It is the most amazing Museum that I never seen in my life…and the views overlookings Fori Imperiali are very stunning. I, Giampiero, Antonella, Federica and Janine for Sketch the Sculpture in the Galate Room.

Start to visit the Gallery and come with us the next event.

Balcony of Musei Capitolini that overlookings Fori Imperiali

We start to visit the Museo…

arts in rome event
visiting Musei Capitolini with Arts in Rome

and the simbol of Rome, The Wolf

arts in rome event
The simble of Rome

and after one hour and half visiting all the Masterpieces, we finally start to draw at the Galate Room

Drawing the Galate Sculpture

other exercises

drawing at museum
drawing at museum

and don’t forget to smile! It is Art, of course…

Sketch at Musei Capitolini


Sketch at Musei Capitolini
Sketch at Musei Capitolini

See you the Next Event of Arts in Rome!


Sketch at Musei Capitolini

Sketch at Musei Capitolini

25 Ottobre 2015 ai Musei Capitolini, piazza del Campidoglio, Roma

Siamo al terzo appuntamento di “Sketch at…” dell’Associazione Arts in Rome, con l’obiettivo di avvicinare gli amanti dell’arte ai Musei, Gallerie, Chiese, studiandone i capolavori, la loro storia grazie agli Storici dell’Arte dell’Associazione [sg_popup id=”2″]Flumen[/sg_popup] e disegnando con l’aiuto del Maestro [sg_popup id=”4″]Antonio Finelli[/sg_popup]

Accanto alla meravigliosa piazza del Campidoglio, disegnata da Michelangelo Buonarroti, esiste il museo pubblico piu’ antico al mondo (1471), voluto da Papa Sisto IV Della Rovere, lo stesso che ha dato precedentemente incarico a Michelangelo di dipingere la Cappella Sistina al Vaticano.

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”curled” width=”200px” height=”” background_color=”#dde5ff” border_width=”2″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]


Già con Papa Sisto IV, molte opere sono state spostate dal Vaticano o dal Quirinale verso il nuovo museo, come ad esempio la [sg_popup id=”10″]Lupa Capitolina[/sg_popup] o il Marc’Aurelio (la cui copia è nel piazzale esterno), ma, a seguito di scavi e acquisizioni, la collezione è diventata una delle più importanti di Roma e del mondo, che annovera sculture romane, egizie, del Bernini, opere pittoriche di Guido Reni, Caravaggio, Carracci, Guercino, Rubens, Pietro da Cortona, ecc..
Vedi la collezione intera dal sito Istituzionale dei Musei Capitolini

Quando e Come

Piazza del Campidoglio or Campidoglio square. Rome, Italy

Ci vediamo domenica 25 Ottobre 2015 alle 14.30 sotto la Statua di Marc’Aurelio al centro di Piazza del Campidoglio, ognuno equipaggiato con album da disegno, matite e gomma.
Iniziamo subito il percorso di visita dentro le Sale del Museo con la Guida che ne spiegherà la storia e le Opere esposte e sarà a disposizione per qualsiasi domanda.
Finita la visita che durerà circa 2 ore, prenderemo posto di fronte ad alcune opere scelte da Antonio Finelli ( e iniziermo la nostra sessione di Disegno. Antonio vi darà alcuni suggerimenti sulla prospettiva e sulle proporzioni.
Alle 19.30 finiremo il lavoro

Quick info

Data: 25 Ottobre 2015 alle 14.30
Luogo: Piazza del Campidoglio
Info:[email protected]
Telefono: +39 393 9433 952
Difficoltà: media
Durata: circa 5h
Ingressi: Musei Capitolini
Come arrivare:


La partecipazione a Sketch at Musei Capitolini è di Euro 35 e comprende:

  • Blocco da Disegno
  • una Matita 2b
  • Iscrizione all’Associazione
  • L’assistenza del Tutor di Disegno
  • La Visita Guidata del Museo

E’ escluso il biglietto d’ingresso al Museo, che deve essere acquistato direttamente alla Biglietteria


Grazie a  2C Arte  Partner Tecnico, i partecipanti avranno in REGALO:
+ Un Sketchbook
+ Una matita 2B

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”300px” height=”” background_color=”#dde5ff” border_width=”2″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

Quota di partecipazione
35 Euro + Ingresso al Museo

Pagamento anticipato obbligatorio, non rimborsabile, via Paypal o Bonifico Bancario (non contanti)
In caso di disdetta la prenotazione sarà valida per lo “Sketch At” successivo oppure è valido per un’altra persona, il cui nominativo deve essere comunicato via email a:  [email protected]

[qcf id=”SketchCapitolini”]


Campidoglio Square and the Perspective

The PERSPECTIVE of Capitoline Hill (Il Campidoglio), Rome.

When we find ourselves in front of a building or architecture it is difficult to understand the rules of construction unless it is studied previously. Today we look at the structure of Capitoline Hill, and we talk about the Anti-perspective.

Campidoglio Sqare – Map view

The Capitoline Hill, between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the seven hills of Rome. It was the citadel of the earliest Romans. The name capitol seems to have meant “dominant height”. The Capitoline contains few ancient ground-level ruins, as they are almost entirely covered up by Medieval and Renaissance palaces (now housing the Capitoline Museums) that surround a piazza, a significant urban plan designed by Michelangelo.

The existing design of the Piazza del Campidoglio and the surrounding buildings was created by Renaissance artist and architect Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1536–1546.

Campidoglio Hill
Capitoline Hill – original structure

Michelangelo’s solution to the problems of the space in the Piazza del Campidoglio:

Even with their new facades centering them on the new palazzo at the rear, the space was a trapezoid, and the facades did not face each other squarely. Worse still, the whole site sloped. Michelangelo’s solution was radical. The three remodelled buildings enclose a harmonious trapezoidal space, approached by the ramped staircase called the “Cordonata“. The stepped ramp of the cordonata was intended, like a slow-moving escalator, to lift its visitors toward the sky and deposit them on the threshold of municipal authority.

He also used the

Slow-Perspective Rule

As Emanuela Pulvirenti as well explains in her blog, Michelangelo kept the oblique orientation of pre-existing buildings, getting an open -plan slightly trapezoidal ( the Senators Palace and that of the Conservatives form an angle of 80 ° ) , on which lined the new facades , in order to expand the perspective to the visual focus consisting of the Senatorial Palace.

Simple slow-perspective scheme:antiprospettivaThe slow perspective (or antiperspective), provides the sides of a place is divergent to compensate the convergence of the prospective flights. The end is the effect of an atmosphere less deep than it is really.

mappa 2 campidoglio

The antiprospettiva makes the square appear wider and shorter when viewed from the side porch and the Church most majestic and looming .

campidoglio view
Campidoglio front view