Showing posts with label Trieste Quarter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trieste Quarter. Show all posts

25 April 2024

Giacomo Boni - archaeologist and architect

Venetian best known for his discoveries at the Forum in Rome

Giacomo Boni was born in Venice but lived in Rome for much of his adult life
Giacomo Boni was born in Venice but
lived in Rome for much of his adult life
The archaeologist Giacomo Boni, who was director of excavations at the Forum in Rome for 27 years until his death in 1925, was born on this day in 1859 in Venice.

His work within the ancient Roman site led to significant discoveries, including the Iron Age necropolis, the Lapis Niger, the Regia and other monuments.

Boni had a particular interest in stratigraphy, the branch of geology concerning subterranean layers of rock and other materials, and was among the first to apply the principles of stratigraphic excavation in the field of archaeological research.

The methods he employed in his work at the Forum still serve as a reference point today.

Boni was also an architect. In that area of his work, his masterpiece is considered to be the restoration of the Villa Blanc, a prestigious house that represents a unique example of eclectic art, a harmonious blend of elements and styles of different ages and cultures.

He served as a soldier during World War I, after which he embraced fascism, which he saw as an opportunity for the revival of ancient Roman religion and paganism, in which he had a keen interest. He joined the National Fascist Party, having become enthusiastic about Mussolini’s vision of a Fascist Italy as a kind of continuation of the Roman Empire. Mussolini in turn appointed him a senator in 1923. 

Boni grew up in a strongly patriotic household, his father, a naval captain, having refused to swear allegiance to the Austrian Emperor at considerable cost to his status.

Boni photographed near the
Arch of Trajan in 1907
His interest in architecture grew from his work, as a 19-year-old labourer, on the restoration of the Doge’s Palace in Venice. He enrolled at the city’s Accademia di Belle Arti to study architecture before moving to Rome, where he quickly obtained a series of important appointments.

In 1888 he was appointed secretary of the Royal Chalcography and, in 1890, inspector of monuments of the General Directorate of Antiquities and Fine Arts.  He assisted in the Pantheon excavation in 1892 with Luca Beltrami and the architect, Giuseppe Sacconi, who would later be known as the designer of the Victor Emmanuel monument. 

In 1895 he became director of the Regional Office of Monuments of Rome and, three years later, was appointed to direct the excavations of the Foro Romano, the Roman Forum.

Documents show that Boni’s research in the Forum was responsible for the discovery of the Lapis niger, the Regia, the Lacus Curtius, the Caesarian tunnels in the subsoil of the square, the archaic necropolis near the temple of Antoninus and Faustina and the church of Santa Maria Antiqua.

He demolished the church of Santa Maria Liberatrice in order to expose the ruins of Santa Maria Antiqua. His other discoveries included portions of the Column of Trajan.

Boni also worked on the slope of the Palatine Hill where he discovered the Mundus (tholos-cistern), a complex of tunnels leading to the Casa dei Grifi, the Aula Isiac and the Baths of Tiberius.

During his work on the renovation of Villa Blanc, a noble property set in parkland on the edge of the Trieste quarter to the northeast of Rome’s city centre, he also carried out some excavations that revealed the existence of a Roman mausoleum.

Boni’s embrace of Mussolini’s regime was short-lived, in the event.  Two years after being made a senator, he became ill and died at the age of 66. His body was buried within the Orti Farnesiani sul Palatino, the botanical gardens on the Palatine Hill, overlooking the Forum. 

The ruins of ancient Rome's Foro Romano are  visited by 4.5 million people every year
The ruins of ancient Rome's Foro Romano are 
visited by 4.5 million people every year
Travel tip:

Rome's historic Forum, situated between Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum, was at the heart both of the ancient city of Rome and the Roman Empire itself, the nucleus of political affairs and commercial business, a place where elections took place and great speeches were made.  The site fell into disrepair with the fall of the Empire and over time buildings were dismantled for the stone and marble, with much debris left behind.  Eventually it was abandoned and became overgrown and was used mainly for grazing cattle.  Attempts at uncovering and restoring buildings began in the early 19th century and the process of excavating areas long buried continues today.  The impressive and extensive ruins are now one of Rome's major tourist attractions, drawing some 4.5 million visitors each year.

The Fontana delle Rane in Piazza Mincio in the Quartiere Coppedè in Rome's Trieste neighbourhood
The Fontana delle Rane in Piazza Mincio in the
Quartiere Coppedè in Rome's Trieste neighbourhood
Travel tip:

The Trieste quarter is the 17th quarter of Rome, located in the north-central area of the city. It borders the Aniene river to the north and northeast and is a neighbour of other notable quarters, such as Monte Sacro, Nomentano, Salario, and Parioli. It is an area with a rich history, one of its attractions being the ancient catacomb of Priscilla, a former quarry used for Christian burials from the late second century until the fourth century.  The Trieste quarter houses the Quartiere Coppedè, an architectural complex known for its eclectic style, and Villa Albani, which holds a collection of classical art. The eastern part of Trieste is referred to as the African Quarter, its streets named after the colonies of the Kingdom of Italy. The quarter was once famous for the Piper Club, a 1960s bar and music venue that hosted the debut of the Italian pop star Patty Pravo and performances by Pink Floyd, Nirvana and the Beatles among others. Combining historical charm with a vibrant community feel, Trieste can offer a pleasant escape from the more tourist-dominated areas of Rome.

Also on this day:

1472: The death of Renaissance polymath Leon Battista Alberti

1815: The birth of inventor Giovanni Caselli

1973: The death of former World War I flying ace Ferruccio Ranza

Festa della Liberazione

EN - 728x90


8 March 2017

Antonello Venditti - enduring music star

Roman singer-songwriter's career spans almost 50 years

Antonello Venditti has sold more than 30 million discs in a long career
Antonello Venditti has sold more than
30 million discs in a long career
Singer-songwriter Antonello Venditti, one of Italy's most popular and enduring stars of contemporary music, will celebrate his 68th birthday today with a live performance in his home city of Rome.

Venditti will perform at the PalaLottomatica arena - formerly known as Palazzo dello Sport - in a concert entitled 'Viva le Donne' to mark International Women's Day.

Famous in the 1970s for the strong political and social content of many of his songs, Venditti can look back on a career spanning almost 50 years, in which he has sold more than 30 million records.

Taking into account singles, studio and live albums and compilations, Venditti has released more than 100 recordings.

His biggest success came with the 1988 album In questo mondo di ladri - In this world of thieves - which sold 1.5 million copies, making it jointly the eighth best-selling album in Italian music history.

Venditti's music ranges from folk to soft rock, often with classical overtones. He enjoyed sustained success in the 1980s and 90s, when Cuore - Heart - Benvenuti in Paradiso - Welcome to Paradise - and Prendilo tu questo frutto amaro - Take this bitter fruit - all sold well.  His versatility as a singer was demonstrated with the 1979 album Buona Domenica, which contained several ballads including one, Modena, which regarded as among his finest songs.

Antonello Venditti (right) with Giorgio Lo Cascio and Francesco De Gregori at Folkstudio in 1975
Antonello Venditti (right) with Giorgio Lo Cascio and
Francesco De Gregori at Folkstudio in 1975
For some fans, however, he was at his peak during his politicised phase with Lilly (1975) and Ullalà (1976), which featured several tracks bearing powerful social messages, against drugs and corruption among other things.  Ullalà included the song Canzone per Seveso, which was specifically about the accident at a chemical factory in the Lombardy town of Seveso that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths among farm animals and pets exposed to dioxins.

Venditti was born Antonio Venditti on March 8, 1949, in the Trieste quarter of Rome, about 8km (5 miles) to the north-east of the city centre. He was the only child of a middle-class couple. His father was a government official and future deputy-prefect of Rome, his mother a teacher specialising in Latin and Greek.  He was educated to a high standard himself, attending the Giulio Cesare High School and Sapienza University in Rome, where he graduated in law in 1973 before obtaining a further degree in the philosophy of law.

This qualified him, naturally, to build a career in the legal profession.  Yet Venditti was already writing songs and, having been taught to play the piano as a boy, wanted to perform.

Antonello Venditti in 2008
Antonello Venditti in 2008
In the late 1960s he began to frequent the famous Roman club Folkstudio, in the Trastevere quarter, where Bob Dylan had performed in 1962.  He made friends with other young musicians and sang some of his own compositions, accompanying himself on a jazz piano, and made such an impression he was offered a recording contract with a new company.

His first album Theorius Campus, which he recorded with another Folkstudio regular, Francesco De Gregori, contained two of the songs he played at that first impromptu gig - Sora Rosa and Roma Capoccia - that would become lasting favourites with his fans.  He wrote both, in Romanesco dialect, when he was 14.

Influenced by the militancy among the student population at the time, Venditti's politics were firmly on the left and his subsequent albums reflected that.  It was the powerful social messages in many of his songs that helped him acquire such a devoted following.  One of his compositions, A cristo - 'Hey, Christ' in Roman dialect - which he performed in Rome in 1974, resulted in his arrest for blasphemy, although he was ultimately acquitted.

However, in time he became less political, particularly after terrorism became such a problem for Italy during the late 1970s, when blame for a number of attacks tended to be laid at the door of left-wing groups.  His friend, De Gregori, was booed at one concert.

Venditti also said that he began to have problems reconciling his strong religious faith with left-wing ideology and felt that while the left offered social changes that he saw as good it did not suggest a path towards happiness and contentment.

The stage at the Arena di Verona, where Venditti performed at the Wind Music Awards in 2016
The stage at the Arena di Verona, where Venditti performed
at the Wind Music Awards in 2016
Nonetheless, he would return to political themes from time to time.  Benvenuti in Paradiso (1991) contained a song Dolce Enrico, which was a tribute to the former leader of Italy's communists, Enrico Berlinguer, while Che fantastica storia è la vita (2003) included a song satirising Silvio Berlusconi.  His 2015 release Tortuga was his 20th studio album.

A fanatical supporter of AS Roma, he has written a number of songs celebrating the team and gave a free open air concert in Circus Maximus when Roma won the scudetto - the Italian championship - in 2001.

Married briefly in the 1970s to Italian screenwriter and director Simona Izzo, Venditti has a son Francesco Saverio.

He is also the author of two books,  L'importante è che tu sia infelice - The important thing is that you be unhappy - an autobiographical work in which he focussed on his difficult relationship with his mother, and Nella notte di Roma - On Roman nights - a discourse on what he considers good and bad about the city of his birth.

The arch of the Palazzi degli Ambasciatori is one of the features of the Piazza Mincio in the Trieste quarter
The arch of the Palazzi degli Ambasciatori is one of the
features of the Piazza Mincio in the Trieste quarter
Travel tip:

Antonello Venditti's childhood home was in Via Zara in the Trieste quarter of Rome, a stone's throw from the picturesque Villa Torlonia park, a feature of which is the 18th century Casino Nobile, a house that was once the Rome residence of Benito Mussolini.  Trieste nowadays is a popular district with young professionals and students, with a bustling market, artisan shops and plenty of stylish bars and restaurants, as well as lots of green space within walking distance.  The Villa Ada, Villa Paganini and Villa Borghese parks are all close by. Trieste is also the home of the so-called Coppedè Quarter, an area of beautiful and distinctive buildings designed by the architect Gino Coppedè, fanning out from Piazza Mincio.

Hotels in Rome from

The Piazza Guglielmo Marconi, with its obelisk, is typical of the bold architecture of the EUR district
The Piazza Guglielmo Marconi, with its obelisk, is typical
of the bold architecture of the EUR district
Travel tip:

The PalaLottomatica, formerly known as Palazzo dello Sport, was designed by the architect Marcello Piacentini and built by Pier Luigi Nervi for the 1960 Olympics, in which it hosted the basketball tournament.  It forms part of the EUR complex, to the south of the centre of Rome, originally developed to host the 1942 World's Fair, which was cancelled because of the Second World War.  A team of prominent architects, headed by Piacentini and including Giovanni Michelucci, contributed to the project, which featured the neoclassical designs that came to be known as Fascist architecture.

More reading:

Singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla's tribute to Enrico Caruso

65 million sales and rising - Eros Ramazotti's lasting appeal

How Laura Pausini keeps turning out hit after hit

Also on this day:

Italy's own Festa della Donna

1566: The birth of composer Carlo Gesualdo

(Picture credits: top picture; Venditti in 2008 by Elena Torre; Verona Arena by Raphael Mair; arch of the Palazzi degli Ambasciatori by LPLT; EUR piazza by Blackcat; via Wikimedia Commons)