The DOMUS AUREA
The archaeological sites we will be visiting as a group. This is a special, small-group tour, allowed only during some weekends in the summer months. We are lucky to be able to partake in it! Below is the history of Emperor Nero's Domus Aurea.
"The Domus Aurea was the urban villa commissioned by emperor Nero after the great fire of Rome in 64 AD, which destroyed a considerable part of the urban center and affected his first imperial residence on the Palatine Hill. The sumptuous villa covered a huge area of about 80 hectares, extending on the slopes of the Palatine Hill, Oppian hill, part of the Caelian Hill and Esquiline Hill. This opulent residence was profusely adorned with refined materials such as marbles, gems, shells and precious artworks, like sculptures, mural paintings, mosaics and other gilded stucco decorations. The architectural complex was spaced out on green and luxuriant spaces, including vineyards, grazing lands, gardens, woods and an artificial lake. A side of the villa was opened through a long colonnade, oriented towards the South to benefit the most from the sunshine, so that the play of lights brightened up the interiors and accentuated the preciousness of the decorations."
"After emperor Nero’s death in 68 AD, the residence was ruined by a fire in 104 AD. Following emperors preferred to return the territory to the citizens of Rome, so the Colosseum was built in place of the artificial lake and the Baths of Titus and the Baths of Trajan (Thermae Titi and Thermae Traiani) were later built above the structures of the Domus Aurea (at the base of the Esquiline Hill and on the Oppian Hill, respectively), so they were partly destroyed, altered or buried and survived underground until the “discovery” during the Renaissance. Artists such as Raphael and humanists climbed down into the rooms of the complex, closely resembling gloomy caves, to admire the remains of the marvelous frescoes by candlelight and they left inscriptions on the walls as a sign of their passage. Thanks to the elegance and the lively creativity that characterized the Roman originals, those paintings became the highest source of inspiration for the mural decorations throughout the Renaissance, which were called “grottesche” (deriving from “grotte”, the Italian word for “grottoes”). The Domus Aurea survived as the meaningful, extreme and legendary example of the Roman art and architecture mastery in the history of Italian culture.