Writing Tips       Medieval History       Ancient Rome       Architecture       Old West                                                 

Review - Video - Cities of the Underworld - Beneath Vesuvius

Cities of the Underworld is a video series that goes beyond the normal touristy spots of a city to the foundations (under ground) and explores catacombs, crypts and other fascinating secrets. In Season 1, we are shown places such as Scotland's Sin City (Edinburgh), Hitler's Underground Lair (Berlin), Rome's Catacombs, London's Lost Cities, Dracula's Underground (Bucharest), Beneath Vesuvius (Naples, Italy) and lot others. In 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted, sending ash miles away and completely covering Pompeii. The eruption lasted over 24 hours reaching temperatures up to 1300 degrees Fahrenheit. Gas or smoke suffocated most of the people. In a lot of places, the volcanic ash got rained upon and created massive mudslides. One marketplace was found twenty feet below Naples because of the mudslide. The ash-mud preserved a lot of historical sites, which is great for archaeologists today because they can dig into the layers and see what life was like during that time. Pompeii is famous for the people frozen in time by ash. Tufa bricks (made of volcanic rock-ash) were strong enough to cut and be used for building projects. People built over the previous sites (covered by mud/ash). One example was San Gudioso. Underneath the ground were fourth century catacombs carved out of the tufa and niches carved into the walls for the crypts. On top of this, a church was built in the 16th century.

Research - Ancient Rome - The City of Rome - Aventine Hill

Aventine (Aventino) Hill is the southern most hill of the Roman seven (and it's the fifth hill of the seven in our blog series). Between the Aventine Hill and Palatine Hill is the Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo), the ancient stadium used for chariot races and ludi (public games during religious festivals). Days of ludi increased from 57 to 135 by the 1st century AD. The Circus Maximus was the largest at the time at 2037 ft long by 387 ft wide and held over 150,000 people. In the 1st century AD, the Colliseum was built for other forms of public entertainment - gladiatorial games.
The Baths of Decius, the big building near the Tiber River in the front, was built around 242 by the emperor Decius.
Basilica of Saint Sabina at the Aventine was built in the 5th century (between 422 and 432) by Priest Petrus and was later given to the Roman Catholic Dominican order. Interestingly, the windows are not made of glass but are made of selenite. The campanile or bell tower was added in the 10th century.
A real find is the municipal Garden of Roses (Roseto Comunale), which had previously been a Jewish cemetary.
There is also the Garden of Oranges(Giardino degli Aranci or Parco Savello) beside the remains of the Savelli Castle built by Alberico II and later given to the Dominican Order as a monastery. Legend says Saint Dominic planted the infamous orange tree that still grows there today and Saint Catherine of Siena used one of its oranges to make candied fruit for Pope Urban VI.
Another popular find is the picturesque keyhole-view of St. Peter's in door number 3.
In the 6th century BC, the king of Rome, Servius Tullius, became enamored with the Temple of Ephesus, so he decided to build a similar community project, the Temple of Diana, with the help of the Romans and the Latins. The temple became the center of the Latin League (a group of city-states) and Diana became its patron goddess.
During the middle ages it was occupied by churches or monasteries.

References: Excellent Site for Views of the Hill Wikipedia - Seven Hills of Rome Wikipedia - Aventine Hill Rome Tour - Walks around Aventine Rome Art Lover Delicious Italy Italy Heaven - Garden of Roses Italy Guides - Garden of Oranges Temple of Diana Temple of Diana Servius Tullius

Image Credits: RomeTour - Aventine Hill Wikipedia - Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta Wikipedia - Circus Maximus Explore Italian Culture - Garden of Roses Diana Aventine Overview Decius Bust Hercules