Colosseum reveals secret hues

(ANSA) – Rome – The Colosseum is usually thought of as a blinding arena clad in shimmering white marble that set off the crimson-flecked violence of the killing floor.

Only one locale, the gallery of the mad emperor Commodus – memorably played in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator by Joaquin Phoenix – was known to have been decked in other colours.

Until now, that is.

Restorers at a mid-level tier of the ancient amphitheatre say they’ve found “a riot of colour” in many other niches and galleries.

“They’ve uncovered complex decorations, floral patterns in polychrome glory including azure, ochre, pink and green,” said the superintendent of the iconic Rome monument, Rossella Rea.

“We’ve known since the 19th century that the Colosseum’s white splendour was punctuated by square red plaster tiles, but we never expected to find such multi-hued decorations, a veritable riot of colour,” she said.

Alongside this “technicolour surprise,” Rea went on, the restoration team also uncovered, underneath centuries of graffiti and visitors’ signatures inscribed in the ancient stonework, “symbols of ancient machismo and blood lust as well as erotica including phalluses.

“The Colosseum was full of colour, covered in frescoes,” Rea said.

Rea said the new decorations would ‘hopefully be on view from next summer, joining the other new features the Colosseum has added, enhancing its timeless lustre’.

The 2,000-year-old symbol of Rome, set for a 20-million-euro clean-up and restoration starting this year, recently expanded its range of tourist attractions when it opened up the underground pits where gladiators and wild beasts waited before being winched from darkness into the arena’s cruel glare.

The so-called ‘hypogeum’ (literally, ‘under ground’) was restored in a multi-million-euro project that also installed new, muted lighting effects.

Rea said the hope was to have recaptured ‘some of the atmosphere’ of the breathless moments before the games commenced, when the armoured or naked fighters and the wild animals were hauled up through 80 trap-doors.

The Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre (its proper name) attracts some four million visitors a year.

Construction on the arena started between 70 and 72 AD under the Emperor Vespasian.

It was completed in 80 AD by his son Titus, who financed the project from the booty his armies seized in the war against the Jews in 66-70 AD.

Titus inaugurated it with 100 days of games including the recreation of a sea battle between Romans and Greeks.

The father-and-son team – the so-called Flavian emperors – built their monument to Rome’s grandeur in travertine stone before giving it the marble cladding that amazed contemporaries – and was still its crowning glory until generations of popes picked away at it for their own architectural testaments.

“Hardly any of the marble is left now,” Rea said, “but that loss has been partly compensated by the discovery of these stunning pictorial remnants, a secret trove of colour we never knew existed”.

Colosseum reveals secret hues

Icons of Italy – IOL Travel Europe | IOL

Think of Italy and what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the food, the fashion or the fabulous works of art? Could it be the epitome of motor vehicles, the Ferrari or perhaps the beautiful city of Florence?

Whatever first springs to mind you cannot ignore that Italy is a country filled to the brim with must-sees and must-dos. At Trafalgar they’ve rounded up their top ten icons of Italy:


Pizza, pasta, pecorino, parmigianna, provolone, risotto, casatta, espresso, cappuccino, gelati and mozzarella. Their very names have the ability to make your mouth water while you search for the closest Italian restaurant to satisfy any cravings.

Italian food is very regional. There are special dishes that are unique to one town or a small collection of nearby towns, and there are twenty regions to choose from. Campania is best known for pizza, salty capers, fresh farmhouse cheese and dried pasta while the Liguria region is famous for basil Pesto sauce.

Fabulous works of art

Leonardo da Vinci is perhaps Italy’s finest painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer.

He was a man before his time having conceptualized the helicopter, the tank, plate tectonics and solar power but he will no doubt be remembered for two of his iconic paintings – the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. And perhaps for inspiring Dan Brown’s novel – The Da Vinci Code.


If it’s red, sports a throaty, growling engine and has a prancing horse on the hood then it can only be one thing. A Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari’s dream of building the ultimate race car became a reality when he left Alfa in 1929 to open Scuderia Ferrari in Modena. The factory was moved to its present home in Maranello during WW2.

The prancing horse is called a cavillino rampante and was the symbol Enzo Ferrari used on his racing cars and is the iconic symbol of Ferrari today.


There are four fashion capitals of the world – and Milan is one of them. To be considered a fashion capital a city needs a strong fashion industry, be home to many fashion professionals and have very unique street fashion. Milan fits the bill and is our answer to Italy’s fashionistas. Many of the trends you see on the runways and catwalks today were born in Milan.


Florence is in the heart of Tuscany and home to Italy’s Renaissance where art, philosophy, music, science, religion, literature and all the aspects of intellectual inquiry collided into a cultural movement that had an incredible effect on the whole of Europe. Florence is also home to fine food and wine and has the famed Chianti wine region on its doorstep.

Fantastic buildings

Choose from a long list of iconic Italian architecture including the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum, the Doges Palace in Venice and St Peter’s Basilica (not strictly speaking in Italy as The Vatican is a separate country).

The Leaning Tower of Pisa must be one of the most photographed buildings in the world. By building on marshy ground and not properly securing the foundations the Tower has taken on its traditional lean.

The Colosseum was known as the arena of death due to the thousands of animals and people who died there in the name of entertainment. But it remains an iconic structure almost as old as Rome herself.

Famous festivals

Venice Carnevale is Italy’s top carnival or mardi gras celebration. Carnevale season lasts several weeks, culminating on Shrove Tuesday. During carnival season, Venice is filled with costumed characters, entertainment, and food stalls. It is definitely one of the most famous and must-see Italian festivals.


Toss a coin in the fountain or to be precise throw the coin over your left should while standing with your back to the Trevi Fountain in Rome and you’re sure to return. Or so the legend says.

Rome’s legendary fountain is also associated with a ritual for lovers. This legend pertains to the miniature fountain of the left side, known as “the small fountain of lovers”. According to the legend, couples that drink from the mini fountain will forever be faithful to their partner.

Whichever legend you prefer know that the Trevi Fountain contains a wide collection of international coins and it is considered really bad form to try scoop them out or attempt to swim in the fountain.


When in Rome do as the Romans do and when in Italy it is worthwhile knowing a little of the local language. It is such a lovely language filled with all the passion Italians are known for.


There’s much to be said of the shopping in Italy and this is our guide to what we think you should be spending your hard earned travel budget on. Bring back some hand blown glass from Venice, fabulous fashion from Milan, ceramics from Bologna, leather from Florence, religious objects from Rome and wine from anywhere in Italy.

Icons of Italy – IOL Travel Europe |

The Colosseum was known as the arena of death due to the thousands of animals and people who died there in the name of entertainment.

The Colosseum was known as the arena of death due to the thousands of animals and people who died there in the name of entertainment.

Italy: Spirit of Rome – Travel – NZ Hera

On our recent visit to the Eternal City, we uncover Rome’s gruesome history and its spiritual light.

Standing outside the Colosseum, we could be forgiven for thinking that the Roman Empire has not yet fallen.

Where thousands of spectators once gathered to watch gladiators fight, today my husband and I join hundreds of tourists for gory stories of life and death.

In Emperor Nero’s day, gladiators fought exotic animals including elephants, lions, and giraffes at the Colosseum. We see the pits which housed these animals before battle.

While most gladiators were slaves, the professionals were apparently treated like football stars. Rumour has it that women had to sit far away from the arena to resist throwing themselves at these superstars.

We discover that the dark side of Rome did not end with the fall of the Empire…

Italy: Spirit of Rome – Travel – NZ Herald News via @nzherald

Looking down on the Colosseum, Rome. Photo / Supplied Looking down on the Colosseum, Rome. Photo / Supplied

Travel: Star power shines in Italy’s Puglia @malibutimes

The southern Italian region of Puglia is making headlines these days—why? Its scenic coast, historic towns and delicious cuisine are enough to focus attention on this part of Italy any day of the week, but now superstars too have tuned into the many charms of Puglia. Well, at least one superstar: Justin Timberlake has tied the knot with Jessica Biel there. Timberlake, an entertainment powerhouse who has gone from “Star Search” to “Sexyback” and beyond, has finally proven his “travel” star power by selecting Puglia as the setting for his recent wedding.

Travel: Star power shines in Italy’s Puglia

Picturesque Puglia, in southern Italy, is quickly becoming a travel hotspot due to its historic towns and delicious cuisine.

Picturesque Puglia, in southern Italy, is quickly becoming a travel hotspot due to its historic towns and delicious cuisine.

The Palio di Legnano, in May each year recalls the story from 1176

Italy is the country of traditions, in fact there are many events that are repeated year by year, with a spirit reminiscent and historical. The Palio di Legnano is one of them, and every year the last Sunday of May, commemoratesthe victorious Battle of Legnano, fought May 29, 1176 by the armies of the Lombard League against the Emperor of Germany, Frederick Barbarossa. Before the Palio horses are blessed, and the streets of the city held a parade consisting of more than 1,200 historical figures in medieval costumes, whose clothes, shields, etc.. closely reflect those of the twelfth century.

The highlight of the Palio, a horse race is the “hair” that is, without a saddle,which is manifested on Sunday and attend, as 8 districts: Flora, San Bernardino, San Martino, San Domenico, San Magno, Sant’Ambrogio, Legnarello, Sant’Erasmo. It runs on sandy mantle and is composed of two batteries elimination of 4 revolutions of the ring, to which each involving 4 quarters, and by a final 5 turns in the top 2 of the batteries classified earlier.

The district winner of the Palio has the right to retain in their own church, until the following year, the Cross of Ariberto Intimiano, which is a plaster sculpture from 1935 by sculptor Legnano Gersam Turri, which faithfully reproduces the original cross.



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