OME is the repository of all that is grand in antiquity, beautiful in art, and rich in historical lore. To one who bears within his heart the love of the beautiful, or venerates the glory of the past, the Eternal City offers a never-ending source of pleasure, of research, and of information; for this reason we have selected Rome, as the city above all others, to present first to our readers; knowing that could they visit but one city in the world, they would decide, take it all in all, to go to Rome.
An immense gulf of time intervenes between that era when Romulus gathered around him the restless spirits of ancient Italy, and formed the nucleus of a community whose fame and renown were to fill the pages of the history of the world for twenty centuries, and the Rome of to-day. One by one the nations of the earth submitted to the arms of Rome. In the words of Niebuhr, "As the streams lose themselves in the mighty ocean, so the history of the peoples once distributed along the Mediterranean shore is absorbed in that of the mighty mistress of the world." One by one the customs of the conquered nations were adopted by the Romans.
One nation after another sought alliance with them, until the infant kingdom, in the course of time, held undisputed mastery over the whole world. Still, amidst the magnificence and luxury of imperial rule, the decay of the empire began to be visible: the stern virtues of ancient Rome gave place to a sensual luxury that debased the mind. Amidst magnificence which might have begot undying love of country and patriotic zeal in its defence, amidst all that art and literature gave forth to adorn and beautify, to elevate and refine, there sprang up the antagonistic powers of luxury and indolence, which, were ultimately to overthrow the proud city, and plunge her into the depths of national decay. For a time she feebly opposed the incursions of the barbarian hosts who hovered over the confines of her empire; but the Vandals, the Huns, and the Visigoths, frugal and brave, detached, one by one, the fairest provinces of the empire, and, finally, with one fell swoop crossed the Italian plains, and like an avalanche fell upon the gates of the city itself. Time passed on; Rome arose again from her ruins, and preserved a name amongst the nations; but she could no longer lay claim to her former title of "Mistress of the World." But, fallen though the imperial city was, it is a singular fact that she gave to her conquerors language and laws, and her tongue was made the basis of a common language.
To the artist, Rome of the present day offers the greatest attraction of any city in the world. When mistress of the world, she was the centre of contemporaneous culture. To her gates came the lowly artist and the lordly patron: by means fair or foul Rome gathered from external sources the rich art treasures in which she revelled; and these, with the rudiments of Christian art., the Renaissance, and her efforts in the realms of plastic art, made her the object of pilgrimage from the lover of art in every clime. And to-day the artist of the nineteenth century finds the realization of all that is beautiful and grand in her vast repository of picture galleries and halls of sculpture. Rome has not been, since the seventeenth century, the birthplace of art, nor has she fostered or nurtured any distinctive art life; but it is the city, above all others, where the lover of art can obtain the highest gratification. In the illustrations which we present of Rome, we have endeavored to select those which have artistic merit and picturesque beauty combined.
To the Christian the city of Rome offers abundant food to the reflecting and thinking mind. Its very stones are associated with the purity of life and simplicity of faith of the early Church. Treated with scorn and contempt, and sometimes martyred by the proud people among whom they lived, the early Christians increased in numbers, and exercised a great influence in their humble sphere. Imperial Rome rose against the followers of the Prince Peace, and poured forth her exterminating wrath upon the votaries of the new faith. But persecution and cruelty could not move them. The sword of the legionary, the agonizing fire, the sharp pangs of ingenious torture, did not weaken their faith in the cause which was of God. To-day the Christian, as he wanders through the streets of this city, and beholds the magnificent churches erected for the service of Christ, cannot but recall the lives of the Christians of the early centuries, and the lowly underground chapels where they performed their orisons. The despised religion of the lowly Nazarene has taken the place of the thousand gods of imperial Rome, and the most magnificent temples of the world attest reverence and love towards the Saviour of mankind. To the archeologist and the antiquary Rome is a study of never-failing interest. Here the relics of the regal, the republican, and the imperial city commingle in one, and the student is lost in the labyrinth of basilicas, temples, and monuments, which bespeak an ancient and past civilization. To all — artist, Christian, antiquary, and tourist — Rome is the centre of all that is beautiful in design, holy in thought, and interesting in history; and we have endeavored to portray, in the views which we present of the ancient city, an exact reproduction of Rome as it is to-day, in order that those who have never been there may experience in a measure, faint though it be, the glories that cluster around this, the greatest art city of the world.
It was a custom among the ancients to erect churches upon a site consecrated by the blood of the early Christian martyrs, or rendered holy by having enshrined the bones of some distinguished saint. The spot where stands the Church of St. Peter, has the honor of possessing these advantages combined. In the first place, here the early Christians had suffered martyrdom, under the tyrant Nero; and here — so it is affirmed — St. Peter himself was buried after his crucifixion. The pious Anacletus, who is reported to have received ordination at the hands of St. Peter, here built, in the year 90 A. D., an oratory. In 306, the Emperor Constantine, standing on one of theights of Rome, beheld, in a vision, a cross in theavens. He immediately resolved to erect a church which should not only celebrate the triumph of Christianity over Paganism, but should be a building worthy of the attraction of the world throughout the ages. On an appointed day the emperor repaired to the Vatican Hill, and performed the ceremony of breaking ground, by bearing away twelve basketfuls of earth, one for each of the twelve apostles ; at the same time the body of St. Peter was exhumed, and re-buried in a silver shrine, enclosed in a sarcophagus of bronze. The building was completed and dedicated by Pope Sylvester, A. D. 324. Under the advice of the architect Bramante, this first church was destroyed, and in 1508 Julius II. confided the erection of the new building to Bramante, and laid the first stone. After passing through the hands of many architects, Paul III, gave it in charge to Michael Angelo, who said, "I will raise the Pantheon in the air;" and of whom the Romans said, "that he built in the air what Agrippa constructed on the earth;" which was quite true, for there is very little difference between the size of the Dome of St. Peter’s and the Pantheon, while the former is elevated three hundred feet from the ground. This most stupendous and magnificent church was completed in 1794, during the pontificate of Pius VI.
After crossing the Tiber by the Bridge of St. Angelo, the tourist turns to the left, and looking up a long, straight street, sees directly before him the Church of St. Peter’s . Entering the court, he finds himself encircled by two colonnades, which, supported by four rows of lofty pillars, reach out their arms to receive him; in the centre of the arena stands the Egyptian obelisk of granite, rising in the air one hundred and thirty feet, while on either side plays a fountain, the waters of which fall into a porphyry basin. The view which we present from the Janiculum shows the top of the obelisk. At the left of the picture we see St. Peter’s as it looms up against the horizon, the very embodiment of grandeur and sublimity; we see the single row of Corinthian pillars and pilasters that form the front. Above this rises an attic, and on this are the statues of Christ and the Twelve Apostles: over and above all this rises the magnificent Dome, which constitutes the chief charm of the picture.
"Lo! the Dome — the vast and wondrous Dome,
The interior of this magnificent edifice is best described in the words of Eustace, which we adopt.
Five lofty portals open into the portico or vestibule, a gallery equal in dimensions and decorations to the most spacious cathedrals. It is four hundred feet in length, seventy in height, and fifty in breadth, paved with variegated marble, covered with a gilt vault, adorned with pillars, pilasters, mosaics, and basso-relievos, and terminated by equestrian statues of Constantine and Charlemagne. A fountain at each extremity supplies a stream sufficient to keep a reservoir always full, in order to carry off every unseemly object, and perpetually refresh and purify the air and pavement. Opposite the five portals of the vestibule are the five doors of the church; three are adorned with pillars of the finest marble; the one in the middle has valves of bronze. Advancing up the nave, the spectator's attention is directed to the variegated marble pavement and the golden vault that rises above his head. But how great is his astonishment when he reaches the altar, and, standing in the centre of the church, contemplates the four superb vistas that open around him, and then raises his eyes to the dome resting on its four colossal piers, glowing with mosaics and extending like a firmament, at the prodigious elevation of four hundred feet! Around the dome rise four cupolas, small when compared with the vast concave they neighbor, and of boldness when separately. Three cupolas on each side of the nave cover the divisions of the aisles, and other six, of greater dimensions, canopy as many chapels. The whole of these inferior domes are lined with mosaics. The high altar stands under the great dome, beneath a canopy supported by four twisted pillars fifty feet in height. The entire height of the canopy, including the massive pedestal upon which the pillars rest, is one hundred and thirty-two feet. Behind the high altar stands the Cathedral, or Chair of St. Peter, an enormous structure of bronze, consisting of a group of four gigantic figures of so many fathers of the Greek and Latin churches, supporting the throne of the apostolical primate. This edifice is seventy feet in height, and is occupied on gala days by the Pope.
The ascent to the roof of St. Peter’s is by a well-lighted staircase. When the spectator reaches the platform of the roof, he is astonished at the number of cupolas, domes, and pinnacles that rise around him, and the galleries that spread on all sides, and the many apartments and staircases that appear in every quarter. It is here only that the dimensions of the dome can be felt in all their force. The vast platform of stone on which it reposes as on a solid rock, the lofty colonnade that rises on this platform, and by its resistance counteracts, as a continued buttress, the horizontal pressure of the dome, — all of stone of such prodigious swell and circumference, the lantern, winch, like a lofty temple, sits on its towering summit; these are objects which must excite the astonishment of every beholder.
To the right of St. Peter’s we see the Vatican Palace. A palace! say, rather, an accumulation of palaces. It has probably been connected with St. Peter’s since the days of Constantine, and contains some of the most valuable records of antiquity. Here are halls and saloons filled with the masterpieces of Greek and Roman art; galleries and porticoes sweep around the magnificent structure in all directions. The galleries are all vaulted, and adorned with the most beautiful paintings, representing scenes both in sacred and profane history.
The ancient Constantinian basilica of St. Peter’s, or the Church of St. Peter’s that existed at the time of Constantine, in 326, has fortunately been preserved to us by a fresco now extant in the Church of San Martino di Monti. This ancient painting, with the assistance of some engravings by Falda, now extremely rare, enables us to reproduce this old basilica erected by Constantine in token of the wonderful appearance of the angel and the cross to him. The five aisles of the basilica were separated by Corinthian columns, which were higher by six steps than the main floor — an arrangement almost unprecedented in architecture. By the engravings of Falda, we are enabled to describe the exterior, and thus from the frescoes and the engravings we are enabled to see exactly how this early Christian church was built.
Few travellers visit the Gardens of the Vatican — the Pope’s Garden. One is so filled with ancient, art that it seems almost a waste of time to spend one’s hours in wandering amidst nicely trimmed shrubbery or festoons of verdure. But when the weary traveller is fatigued with sight-seeing, — and nothing is more fatiguing, — it is refreshing to leave galleries filled with paintings and statuary, to turn aside from the ancient inscriptions and antique busts, and pass an hour in the quiet Italian gardens, planned by men of the fifteenth century, and where they rested from the cares and troubles of state; pleasant to sit beneath the overarching trees, and enjoy the poetry of solitude; pleasant to lift one’s eyes to the thickets and brambles so luxuriously prepared by Nature, and turn aside for a time from the cares and vexations of the whirling world. The Garden of the Vatican must be a place of comfort to the Pope. Here the successor of St. Peter can throw off his pontifical robes, and lie at ease upon the grass, should his dignity permit. Here he can for a time forget the loss of his temporal power, and muse upon the long years during which he has held the keys of St. Peter. The enclosure before him is divided and subdivided by squares and fanciful figures, filled with choice and aromatic flowers; the sides are enclosed with hedges of orange trees, and fountains continually are cooling the atmosphere; numerous avenues cross and recross each other, and here is the only place where the Pope can ride on horseback, the etiquette of Rome not permitting him to ride outside his own grounds.
During the sixteenth century, in the pontificate of Leo X., these gardens resounded with the good cheer of that witty and pleasure-loving Pope; and here, enlivened by the charms of female society, poets rehearsed their finest verses, and authors read their choicest productions. But a change was instituted in church policy, and the popes of later days have not invited ladies to join them in their festivities in this beautiful retreat.
The Sistine Chapel, so called in honor of Sixtus IV., aside from its beautifully-decorated marble screens, is rendered famous by the decoration of its ceiling. This ceiling is said to be the most magnificent example of pictorial art ever produced. It was painted by Michael Angelo, between the years 1508 and 1511. The following fine description is taken from Kugler: —
"The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel contains the most perfect work done by Michael Angelo in his long and active life. Here his great spirit appears in its noblest dignity, in its highest purity; here the attention is not disturbed by that arbitrary display, to which his great powers not unfrequently seduced him in other works. The ceiling forms a flattened arch in its section; the central portion, which is a plain surface, contains a series of large and small pictures, representing the most important events recorded in the Book of Genesis —the Creation and Fall of Man, with its immediate consequences. In the large triangular compartments, at the springing of the vault, are sitting figures of the prophets and sibyls, as the foretellers of the coming of the Saviour. In the soffits of the recesses, between these compartments and the arches underneath, immediately above the windows, are the ancestors of the Virgin, — the series leading the mind directly to the Saviour. The external connection of these numerous representations is formed by an architectural framework of peculiar composition, which encloses the single subjects, tends to make the principal masses conspicuous, and gives to the whole an appearance of that solidity and support so necessary, but so seldom attended to, in soffit decorations, which may be considered as if suspended. A great number of figures are also connected with the framework; those in unimportant situations are executed in the color of stone or bronze; in the more important, in natural colors. These serve to support the architectural forms, to fill up and to connect the whole. They may be best described as the living and embodied genii of architecture. It required the unlimited power of an architect, sculptor, and painter to conceive a structural whole of so much grandeur; to design the decotative figures with the significant repose required by the sculpturesque character, and yet to preserve their subordination to the principal subjects, and to keep the latter in the proportions and relations best adapted to the space to be filled ."
"The prophets and sibyls, in the triangular compartments of the curved portion of the ceiling, are the largest figures in the whole work. These are the most wonderful forms that modern art has called into life. They are all represented seated, employed with books or rolled manuscripts; genii stand near or behind them. These mighty beings sit before us, pensive, meditative, inquiring, or looking upwards with inspired countenances. Their forms and movements, indicated by the grand lines and masses of the drapery, are majestic and dignified."
The Erythrean Sibyl, of which we present a picture, is "full of power, like the warrior goddess of Wisdom." Lady East lake calls her "a grand bareheaded creature;" and a truthful and realistic description it is. The belief that the sibyl foretold the coming of the Saviour is best shown by the well-known hymn, beginning, —
"Dies iræ, dies illa,
The most massive, and consequently the most imposing of all the edifices of ancient Rome, is the Coliseum. It is pre-eminently the building of all others which is the most intimately connected with our past thoughts. Pictures of it have been familiar to most of us from our earliest childhood, and, with the exception of its size, convey an accurate impression of its appearance. This vast amphitheatre was begun by the Emperor Flavius Vespasian, upon the site of Stagnum Neronis, and was finished by his son Titus, who dedicated it in the year 80. Subsequent emperors altered, repaired, and adorned it. It is built in the form of an ellipse, and is nearly one third of a mile in circumference. Tier after tier of seats arise above the arena, affording in its palmy days, room for eighty-seven thousand spectators. Around the arena a wall, adorned with rich carvings and incrusted with costly marbles, served to protect the pleasure-seekers from the savage beasts, which, except in combat, were confined in underground dungeons beneath. One part of the edifice was reserved for the emperor and his satellites, and called the Podium. From these elevated seats the emperors eagerly watched the conflicts between wild beasts, the martyrdom of the early Christians, and the combats of gladiators. What horrible memories cling around this spot! Here, by command of Hadrian, the patrician Placidus, his wife, and two Sons, were exposed to wild beasts, and when they refused to tear them to pieces, the terrified family were enclosed in a brazen bull, and roasted to death; sometimes the martyrs were despatched by the swords of gladiators, or burned at the stake. On the spot where the Christians were martyred has been erected a cross, and once a week religious services are now held on the ground hallowed by the blood of the early martyrs; around the arena are also seen the stations used in the ceremonials of the church of Rome. The Coliseum has been put to various uses during its long existence. Originally built to serve national and political ends, and for the use of the people, it has been used as a fortress, a hospital, a stone quarry, a woollen manufactory, and a storehouse for saltpetre; but during the last century every care has been taken to preserve it as a ruin; the religious sentiment of the Romans revolted against its use for sacrilegious purposes, and now, clean and well taken care of, the Christian church holds its services upon the very spot which is so intimately and peculiarly associated with the early history of our common faith.
Beneath the floor of the arena, which was supported by walls, were the cells in which the wild beasts, and possibly the early Christian martyrs, were confined. The place is full of historic meaning; it is pregnant with the deeds of the world’s mightiest conquerors. Here the shouts of lordly triumph once mingled with the screams of the dying; the memory of the gorgeous pageants which have taken place here cannot be eradicated from our minds; and the Christian can never visit this, the most imposing ruin in the world, without a heavy feeling in his heart for the good, the beautiful, and the holy, who here offered up their lives a willing sacrifice for the faith they bore. But to us who see it to-day, it bears the look of a ruin, — a ruin so vast and grand that none in the world can compare with it; but even in its ruin we distinctly realize the immensity of its size, when, in the days of its pristine glory, it stood unrivalled as the pleasure-house of a great but luxurious people.
Famous among the mouldering monuments of ancient Rome that have attracted the attention of the traveller and the antiquary through all generations, stands the Arch of Septimius Severus. It stands in the north-west corner of that repository of all that is magnificent and grand in art and architecture, the Forum. It at once attracts the eye by the beauty of its design and the symmetry of its proportions. Erected A. D. 203, to commemorate the victories achieved by Septimius Severus over the Arabians, Parthians, and Adiabeni, it originally bore upon its summit, as the ancient coins inform us, the figure of the emperor, crowned with victory, seateded in a bronze chariot, drawn by six horses. The bass-reliefs upon the side represent scenes connected with the various conquests which the arch perpetuates.
For many years this arch was imbedded in rubbish, and Partially covered by the debris of ages; but in 1803, by the order of Pius VII., it was disinterred, and now remains plainly visible, although several feet below the modern street. Severus was the emperor who caused the wall to be erected across Britain, to defend the Roman possessions from the incursions of the Caledonians, and who, surfeited with conquest, and worn out by a complication of diseases, died at York, in England, A. D. 211.
Well might Rome be called the City of Fountains. Wherever the visitor journeys he sees an abundance of water. The ruins of superannuated aqueducts stretch in long lines over the Campagna, and recall the exertions of the ancients to give to the Queen of the World a liberal supply of pure and wholesome water. "The love of God is clean", and the devout denizens of the modern city may lave in the bright waters their ancestors bequeathed to them.
Among the most notable of the Roman fountains ranks the Fountain of Trevi. The effect of this fountain is somewhat diminished by its situation. It is so surrounded by narrow streets that the grandeur of its proportions is lost. When once in front of it the stranger gazes upon what at first appears a palace, in the centre of which, his feet resting upon a shell, stands Neptune, while, on either side, Health and Fertility stand in opposing niches: beneath all is a large stone basin, into which the water rushes with a pleasing murmur. The chaste bass-reliefs represent the discovery of the Aqua Vergine. We see depicted the young virgin pointing out to the soldiers of Agrippa a spring of refreshing water. The water of Trevi, as it rushes with force over the mixture of rockwork and ancient sculpture, seems hardly the same limpid stream, which, starting at the Terre Solona, runs for seven or eight miles under ground, and furnishes the supply to some dozen fountains; but here, broken and scattered, it flashes in the sunlight, and renders cool and delicious the surrounding atmosphere.
The Conti Palace, which forms the background to the fountain, is supported by Corinthian columns and pilasters. On the attic is an inscription to Pope Clement XII., on each side of which are two statues, while the attic is in turn surmounted by the papal arms. The effect of a fountain pouring out from an immense palace is novel and peculiar, and though the tourist must pass and repass it many times while sojourning in Rome, he never fails to look at it, each time he passes. One does not weary of fountains as of statues; there is an appearance of life and animation in the former, which we look for in vain in the latter.
When the visitor at Rome stands for the first time in the ancient forum, now called the Campo Vaccino, a thousand memories of the dead past oppress him, and in silent wonder he gazes upon the magnificent ruins which surround him, emblems of all that was once grand in art and architecture. The long procession of the silent past unfolds before him, — the lordly pomp of conquering emperors, the triumphal marches, the mournful procession of martyrs, the sturdy bands of gladiators, the soldiers of the imperial guard, crowned with olive and bearing trophies, all seem to pass in silent review before him. The remains of temples, arches, columns, basilicas, and churches rise before him, crumbled by the all-devouring hand of time. The forms of St. Paul and of Cicero have rendered sacred the ground on which the pilgrim gazes, and the very stones before him have been worn by pious and holy men. Alas, how changed! Fire and flood, tempest and war, and the silent hand of time, have broken down these valuable monuments of antiquity. The forum still remains, but it is not the Forum of imperial Rome. One gazes in vain for the Council Hall of Tullus Hostilius, or the Temple of Vesta, with its never-dying fire: the dwelling of Pontifex Maximus has long since disappeared, and the populace who resorted to the Comitium; lie covered with the dust of centuries; for more than two thousand years continual changes have been going on, and even the excavations of modern days are continually revealing facts hitherto unknown.
But our task lies not in delineating the past glories of the Roman Forum, but in conducting the reader to the modern Forum, and, throwing aside the feelings and sentiments of the past, see it as it is in the nineteenth century. One by one, through the exertions of antiquaries and the liberality of governments, the momiments of ancient days have been uncovered, and stand boldly revealed to us of to-day.
From the Capitol, where the artist stood who drew the accompanying illustration, we obtain the most comprehensive view of the Forum. It is of an irregular quadrilateral form, and occupies the ground between the Capitoline and Palatine Hills. On the immediate foreground the pillars of the Temple of Saturn, sometimes called the Temple of Concord. appear; between its columns of granite we catch a glimpse of the column of the Emperor Phocas, called by Byron, before excavations had revealed its inscription, —
"The nameless column with a buried base."
To the right we see the ruins of Cæsar's Palace, a vast mound of red bricks, crowned with trees, and high in air rises the elegant Campanile of Santa Frencesca.
In the distance, the circular and familiar walls of the Coliseum rise, high on the right its massive walls appear gilded with sunshine, while above the trees of the modern street the dismantled walls of the southerly side are seen. To the right of the Coliseum the Arch of Titus crowns the road, and at the extreme right of the picture we see the three columns which once belonged to the Temple of Castor and Pollux, said to be unsurpassed as specimens of Corinthian architecture. Beyond are the ruins of ancient temples, mingled with modern churches, while the open space in front is occupied by the disinterred remains of the Basilica Julia.
A modern road, lined with trees, leads from the foot of the Capitol towards the Coliseum, and furnishes a cool and shady walk from theat of the Italian sun; and one may, in the cool of the evening, wander over this deserted forum, and study at leisure the beauty of its architectural ruins, or, ascending some high point, take in at a glance the most celebrated gathering-place of the ancient Romans.
The accompanying drawing represents the Temple, or, properly speaking, the Portico of the Temple, dedicated to Minerva. It is one of the most beautiful of the monuments of Rome; it is, however, merely a fragment, the temple to which it was a portico having long since gone to decay, or been used in the construction of the modern edifices by the Roman Popes. This portico is supported in front by two exquisite Corinthian columns, half buried in the debris of the the Eternal City; above these columns the entablature is richly ornamented with a sculptured frieze, upon which are represented in bass-relief females engaged in the occupation of weaving. In the centre of the attica stands the figure of Minerva in alto-rilievo, with spear, helmet, and shield. The hand of time has sadly despoiled this portico, once so rich in archetectural beauty, and one gazes with sadness upon the ruin of a structure, the adjacent temple of which must have been so magnificent.
It was an ancient custom among the Romans, and peculiar to that nation, to erect Arches of Triumph, to perpetuate the noble deeds of their greatest men. The most celebrated, because the most harmoinous in its proportions, the best preserved, and, over and above all, renowned as having been erected to perpetuate the deeds and the memory of the first Christian sovereign, is the Arch of Constantine.
As we leave the Coliseum and approach the Appian Way, we pass along the Via Triumphalis, now called Via di San Gregorio. Directly in our way, and crowning the street, stands the Arch of Constantine. It consists of one central arch, flanked on either side by two smaller arches. The bass-reliefs are exquisitely rendered, and the grouping of the flgures shows a high appreciation of the beautiful in art.
Although the Arch is dedicated to Constantine, it is well settled among antiquaries and students, that the arch itself, and many of its adornments, relate to an earlier period than that of the first Christian Emperor. It was probably erected two centuries before the time of Constantine, and is usually attributed to the time of Trajan, as the circular medallions over the smaller arches have no connection with the reign of Constantine, but represent scenes in the life of Trajan. It is, however, a matter of dispute, whether this arch was erected by Trajan, and remodelled at the time of Constantine, or whether it was erected by the latter, and ornamented with the spoils of an earlier arch dedicated to Trajan.
Near the Baths of Titus, and behind the Convent of S. Pietro in Vinculo, is a ruin, which, for its picturesque beauty, will bear frequent visitations from the stranger in Rome. It is called the Sette Sale, and consists of a brick building of two stories, the lower of which is completely buried. Originally a portion of the reservoirs for the baths, it has fallen into decay; its ancient arches are covered with the rich foliage so abundant upon all Roman ruins, and the arrangement of its arches, with their variety of light and shadow, has served to delight the painter and the artist in all ages. Upon the mass of brick-work there are visible incrustations made by the deposits from water. Near this ruin was found, in 1506, that group of statuary, called by Michael Angelo "a marvel of art," the far-famed Laocoon, now in the Vatican. It is probable that the Sette Sale belonged to the Domus Aurea, and not to the Thermæ of Titus, although in due course of time it might have been used in connection with the latter: possibly it might. have been saved for that purpose, while the rest of the palace was allowed to go to decay, or be carried away to construct new buildings. The interior is composed of nine compartments, all of which connect with each other by openings, which are so arranged that no two shall be opposite each other. They are placed in a slanting direction in order to obviate the immense pressure of water. The Sette Sale is, taken altogether, one of the most picturesque ruins of Rome.
The Villa Medici was built for Cardinal Ricci, of Montepulciano, from designs furnished by Annibale Lippi, in 1540, when the property came into the possession of Alessandro de’ Medici. The plans of Lippi were modified, and the villa has since been known as the Villa Medici. In 1666, Louis XIV. founded the French Academy, and at the beginning of the present century this beautifully-situated villa, with its extensive gardens, was secured for the use of that illustrious society.
Although the design of the building was by Lippi, the garden front, of which we present a view, is, by most familiar with architecture, ascribed to Michael Angelo. The façade is adorned with fine sculptures and bass-reliefs, and from the garden of well-trimmed shrubs looks the very beau ideal of an Italian villa. The garden is very beautiful, and is open to all strangers, who can wander at will among its green avenues, shaded by ilex trees, or sit down by the side of fountains and flowerbeds. The best place to see this garden is from the portico of the Academy; there, standing under the portico between the two lions, one obtains a fine view, not only of the garden itself, but of one of the choicest, bits of Roman landscape beyond.
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