Communion Of Dreams

Italy, 2012: A villa by the sea.
August 2, 2012, 1:22 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Art, Italy, Religion, Society, Travel | Tags: , , , ,

Sunday, July 15.

A travel day. But that didn’t mean we missed a couple of opportunities to be hot & miserable.

We left Rome, heading south. Our first stop was at the The Archeological Museum Lavinium. Here’s an excerpt from their website:

The opening of the town council Museum and of the archaeological area of the “Thirteen Are and the Enea’s Heroon”, made under the aegis of the Soprintendenza for the Archaeological Assets of the Lazio, constitutes the start for an integrated program of initiatives that will concur ahead from now in the insertion of Lavinium in the national cultural panorama not more restricted to the scecialist of this branch.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Well, OK, perhaps I could. But let’s look at a couple of pics first.


The museum is at the old location of Lavinium, which according to legend was named/founded by Aeneas and dates back to the 10th century BC. Hence our interest in stopping there, since the workshop I was tagging along with was focused on “The Italy of Caesar and Vergil.”

This was also the location of the sanctuary of Minerva and the XIII Altars  as well as the tomb of Aeneas (see the Aeneid  for full details). It’s an interesting little museum which mostly seems geared for Italian school groups, and has a number of great terracotta and other statues.



And here are a couple of images for my friend Carla, which tie into Minerva’s aspect of being the goddess of weaving:




* * * * * * *

We walked from the museum back to a delightful little hamlet dating back to the middle ages. Here we relaxed in the shade of huge sycamore trees and enjoyed a picnic lunch.





I particularly enjoyed this flower circle, typical of much I saw in the areas south of Rome:



* * * * * * *

We continued south, winding along the coast. Our next stop was ancient Sperlonga, where the Emperor Tiberius had a substantial villa. Here’s a glimpse of the ruins as you descend from the museum there down to the sea:




But what’s really cool (literally) is that there’s a substantial cave/grotto which was a major part of the villa complex. You can see the entryway off to left:



And here’s standing in front of the grotto.



Note the platform with the grass growing up in the center of the image. This was part of the dining platform, which was originally partially or fully within the grotto entrance (the cliff face having collapsed back further into the hill over the millennia). The water around the platform, and the water outside the short wall in the foreground, were probably stocked with fish both for farming and amusement of the diners.

Here’s a shot from inside the grotto looking out:



And one which shows somewhat how the interior had been finished off:



* * * * * * *

Above the site of the villa there is now a museum, which holds a fair number of the statues and artifacts found at the villa/grotto. Here are a couple:





Image of what the actual sculpture probably looked like.


Tile pieces from mosiacs:



And ceramic items (including a very nice platter similar to the work of Jim Kasper at Prairie Dog Pottery):




One thing I want to point out: once again, this museum wasn’t worried about climate control. It was stifling, as you can see from the wetness of Steve’s shirt as he was lecturing about some of the sculpture:



I took it upon myself to open more windows to let a bit of air into the place. The guards didn’t seem to care in the slightest.

And curiously, in addition to the artifacts from Tiberius’ villa, there were also some modern paintings interspersed throughout the museum. Which provided an interesting counterpoint. Here are a couple of images:




* * * * * * *

The further south we went, the more we ran into beach traffic. The Italians love to go to their beautiful beaches, and there were snarls of cars and motorcycles everywhere. And I do mean snarls – the general attitude about driving rules seems to be that they only apply to ‘the other guy’. So you get several cars and a motorcycle or two all trying to fit into one lane, weaving in and out into oncoming traffic (which is also likely to be spilling over into your lane), using whatever shoulder or sidewalk exists, et cetera. It’s almost complete chaos, and I sure as hell wouldn’t want to drive in it.

But eventually we made it to the Villa Vergiliana, the overseas Study Center of the Vergilian Society in Italy. Here it is:


Looks like a wonderful 16th or 17th century villa, doesn’t it? Well, in actuality it’s just 100 years old, having been built in 1912 as a facility for a German archeology team which was investigating this Roman colosseum:



That’s taken from the balcony on the first story, with the Tyrrhenian Sea in the background . Here’s a little bit closer shot:



Our home for the next week.

Jim Downey


8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

If I were in the grotto, would not leave the coolness of it at all..!!! Looks beautiful.

Comment by Susan and Wade

Believe me, it was tempting to stay in there – the coolest place on the whole damned trip.

Comment by James Downey

I am guessing that the “home for the next week” is the Villa Vergiliana and not the ruined coliseum, although the grammar is a tich unclear. y;) But also unclear are the steps going up in front – or rather, whether there are any doors at the top for entry? or do you just enter below them and the stairs merely lead to a lanai?

Comment by ML

Doors in both locations, actually. The ones at the top of the steps were the more ‘formal’ ones – after we’d been there a bit, we all used the lower ones, which led down into the dinning area.

Comment by James Downey

Re: your opening sentence: ouch!

Comment by Steven Tuck

“A travel day”???

Comment by James Downey

Thanks for sharing…think I have a new travel destination.

Comment by eisyc

[…] had mentioned previously that there “just happened” to be a major Roman coloseum behind our […]

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