From Nick Squires, The Telegraph, June 25, 2021
They were once thick with smoke from flickering oil lamps and the smell of sweating gladiators and the panic-stricken wild animals they were about to fight.
Now, the tangled labyrinth of tunnels and chambers that lay hidden beneath the Colosseum's sandy arena is being opened up to the public in its entirety for the first time.
From Saturday, visitors will be able to descend a metal stairway and wander between the brick and travertine walls where armour-clad gladiators and wild animals such as leopards, lions and bears were corralled.
Gathered in the subterranean gloom, they were hoisted into the arena in a series of wooden cage lifts that were operated with the muscle power of a legion of slaves, emerging via trap doors into the huge amphitheatre, the biggest in the Roman world.
Visitors will be able to see the original bronze fittings, sunk into travertine stone, that housed the capstans which enabled the cages to be raised and
With a year’s delay due to the pandemic, the Domus Aurea, emperor Nero’s opulent residence in the heart of ancient Rome, reopens with an exceptional immersive exhibition dedicated to the rediscovery of ancient painting and to Raphael, who helped uncover it, on the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance artist’s death, which fell on 2020.
Titled “Raphael and the Domus Aurea - the Invention of the Grotesque,” the interactive and multimedia exhibition opened on June 23 in the spectacular Octagonal Hall, Nero’s banquet room.
It is precisely through the dome of the Octagonal Hall that Raphael and other artists of the time, like Pinturicchio and Ghirlandaio, lowered themselves into the recesses of the forgotten ruins of Nero’s immense palace using ropes and, by torchlight, discovered long-lost ornate paintings of flora and fauna interwoven with fantastic human and animal forms, a style that later took the name of ‘grotesque,’ from the Italian word for cave, ‘grotta.’ These paintings first came to light in 1480. Raphael and other artists with him painstakingly copied the frescoes, and that style would influence the decoration of noble houses for three centuries.
Update on Cruise Ships in Venice
(CNN) — It's set to be one of the first cruises to take to the waters after things start back up this summer. Departing June 5, the sumptuous MSC Orchestra will take a week-long trip around the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, taking in Italy, Croatia and Greece. And its journey will begin and end with one of the world's most classic cruise experiences: gliding past the iconic center of Venice, Italy, as it passes St Mark's Square and continues up the Giudecca Canal. This might come as a surprise for those who heard the news, just 15 days ago, that the Italian government had ruled that cruise ships should be banned from the Venice lagoon. The site of the enormous ships looming over the floating city is set to be a thing of the past, if the government continues with its plans. But as a tender process to review plans for potential new ports outside the lagoon gears up, the temporary solution of docking at Marghera -- within the lagoon, but on the Italian mainland -- is not yet ready. Which means that ships taking off this summer look set to dock in the city as they always have.
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