Thursday, October 21, 2010

10 of the worst Roman Emperors in history.

Commodus was the son of Marcus Aurelius, one of Rome’s greatest rulers, and this only enhanced Commodus’s crimes in the public mind.
He adored the gladiatorial games, so much so that he personally entered many of them and fought alongside the gladiators, who were all criminals and slaves, etc. This severely offended the entire Empire, especially the Senate.
Commodus once ordered all the cripples, hunchbacks, and generally undesirables in the city to be rounded up, thrown into the arena, and forced to hack one another to death with meat cleavers.
He especially adored killing animals, and killed 100 lions in one day, to the spectators’ disgust. He killed three elephants singlehanded in the arena, beheaded an ostrich and laughed at the senators attending, brandishing the head and motioning that they were next. He speared a giraffe to death, an animal which the spectators did not see as fearsome at all.
The senators conspired to have him killed, and poisoned him, but he threw it up. They then sent in his favorite wrestler, a gladiator named Narcissus, who strangled him in his bath. His reign lasted 12 years, from 180 to 192.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

10 of the worst Roman Emperors in history.

4  Carcalla

Caracalla was not insane. He was malicious and sadistic. From 211 to 217 he presided over an awe-inspiring spectacle of fearsome acts. He had his brother and co-emperor, Geta, and Geta’s wife, assassinated.
The citizens of Alexandria, Egypt ridiculed this crime with a public play, and when Caracalla got wind of it, he traveled with an army to Alexandria, invited the citizens into their city square, and slaughtered them, looting and burning the whole city. 20,000 died.
This was the sort of emperor he showed himself to be in almost every Roman province at that time, putting down all hints of rebellions, even where rebellions were not imminent. At the slightest whiff of discord, he ordered death. Wherever he went, his army killed, raped, and destroyed.
He was murdered by one of his Guardsmen, on April 8, 217, while urinating on the side of the road outside Carrhae. Caracalla had had the Guard’s brother executed on a false accusation.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

10 of the worst Roman Emperors in history.

5 Nero

Nero used the office of emperor to suit his desire for an opulent lifestyle, and had absolutely no care for the welfare of the people. He never trusted his mother, Agrippina, rightly so, and tried to kill her by having her ship sunk. This didn’t work, and he simply ordered her executed. He routinely executed anyone close to him, whom he did not trust, always under mysterious circumstances, because he feared the Praetorian Guard.
He managed to reign for 15 years in this way, killing anyone who dissented. He was accused of treason beginning in 62, and simply executed the accusers, several dozen of them. He loved to go to bars and whorehouses, not even disguising himself.
The Great Fire of Rome, in 64, has given rise to the legend that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. This is not true. He was away in Antium (Anzio), and returned to Rome to try to have the fire put out. He even paid for this out of his own pocket.
He did help out the survivors tremendously, letting them stay in the palace until homes were rebuilt, feeding them, etc. But the fire largely destroyed the city center, and Nero had a large part of this destruction rebuilt as his Domus Aurea. This was his gift to himself, a gigantic palatial garden complex of 100 to 300 acres, for which he heavily taxed the citizens throughout the Empire.
The city wanted a scapegoat, so Nero blamed the fire on the Christians, and they were terribly persecuted. He had many arrested, impaled, and burned to death as torches to light his gardens in the Domus Aurea. He is said to have breathed in the stench and laughed heartily, then turned to his lyre and sung his own songs.
The taxes irritated the populace sufficiently to begin revolts in various provinces, until by 68, Nero was no longer loved, but hated by all. His Guards deserted him in the palace, and he fled to a nearby villa, where a messenger appeared to tell him that the Senate had declared him a public enemy, whom they would beat to death. He had a grave dug, while he repeated, “What an artist dies within me!”
Then he stabbed a dagger into his throat and bled to death. It is believed by most scholars that Nero is the Great Beast whose number is six hundred and sixty six referred to in the last Biblical book The Apocalypse.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10 of the worst Roman Emperors in history.

6  Tiberius

Tiberius was Emperor after Augustus, from 14 to 37, and did not care for the job. All he wanted was the luxury, and left the Senate to do all the ruling. The Senate despised him for this, and told the criticized him to the Roman populace, until he no longer trusted his safety in Rome and left for the island of Capri. He erected statues of his captain of the Guard, Lucius Sejanus, all over the city, and gave all the tasks of ruling to him. Tiberius more or less retired to Capri for the rest of his long life, only returning to Rome a few times.
While he lived on Capri, he had a huge villa built for him, Villa Jovis, the Villa of Jove (Jupiter), in which he indulged his pedophilia. He swam naked with and raped infants, toddlers and young boys. He did not otherwise physically harm them in any way, but even in his late seventies, sex with young children was one of his favorite pastimes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

10 of the worst Roman Emperors in history.

7  Diocletian

Diocletian reigned at the end of the Crisis of the Third Century, and though he significantly stabilized and improved the Empire’s military and economy, he will forever be remembered as the worst persecutor of Christians in history.
He issued several edicts in 303 removing all rights from Christians until they converted to the Roman religion. Of course, the Christians refused, and from 303 to 311, at least 3,000 were martyred. At first, those who refused were simply imprisoned, but it was not long before they were executed by both crucifixion and beheading. Christian churches were sought all over the Empire and burned to the ground, looted, and even Christian senators were stripped of their jobs, imprisoned and executed.
When the persecution did not seem to be working, as the Christians simply went into hiding and continued to spread their religion, Diocletian advocated their torturous and entertaining executions in the Circus Maximus and Colosseum, and this was the time when most Christians were thrown to the lions, much to the delight of the Roman citizens who worshiped Roman gods.
The murders did not truly stop until Constantine’s rise to absolute power in 324.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

10 of the worst Roman Emperors in history.

8  Maximinus Thrax
He was, by all accounts, a huge man, well over 6 feet tall, perhaps 7 feet or more. He has been blamed as causing the Crisis of the Third Century, largely due to his murders of several dozen of his closest friends, advisors, and benefactors. He did not trust anyone, and intended to make the people love him by conquest and expansion.

His first campaign was against the Alamanni people of Germania. They were absolutely no threat to Rome at this time, but Maximinus invaded them and conquered them, albeit at a terrible cost to his army. The people did not love him for this, but hated him. But he went right on invading Sarmatia and Dacia, modern-day Ukraine and Romania, respectively. These people had not instigated anything against Rome.

Meanwhile, a revolt began in North Africa, setting up two men as claimants to the Roman throne, Gordianus Sempronianus and his son. The Roman Senate supported them, and in response, Maximinus marched his army on Rome, but his troops had been fighting for so long that they were exhausted and sick. They were unable to enter the closed city gates, and many deserted. His Praetorian Guard had finally had enough and stabbed Maximinus in the back, then his son and advisors, beheaded them and put their heads on poles around the city walls, whereupon they were let in.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

10 of the worst Roman Emperors in history.

9 Septimius Severus

There is no doubt that Christians and Jews were persecuted severely during Severus’s reign. He believed in a draconian interpretation of Roman law, which did not tolerate any religion but the Roman one. He did not seek out any particular religious culture, but simply persecuted all of the foreign ones.

Christians and Jews were the most common, and up to 1,000 to 3,000 were executed, after being given the option of cursing Jesus or Yahweh, or being beheaded or crucified. He had absolutely no respect of care for anyone except his army, since they were the ones who could rise up and depose him. He managed to stabilize the Empire through draconian fear, but this stability did not last long, once his son, #4, took the throne.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

10 of the worst Roman Emperors in history.


The Apocalypse of Saint John is believed to have been written during Domitian’s reign at the end of the First Century. Domitian was a staunch advocate for the Roman gods and goddesses, the worship of whom had fallen out of practice by the time of his rise to power.
Eusebius of Caesarea, writing 300 years later, recounts that the first large-scale Christian and Jewish persecution began during Domitian’s reign. There is no non-Christian history of such activities, but Domitian is known to have been tyrannically opposed to all other religions other than Roman.
Like so many other emperors, Domitian dealt with dissent among his close Advisors and friends by means of death. He executed a few too many prominent politicians and wealthy citizens, and the straw that broke the camel’s back was his murder of his secretary, Epaproditus.
A man named Stephanus, and several others, conspired to kill him, with Stephanus pretending to be wounded for several days, so he could conceal a dagger under his bandages. He approached Domitian in his bedroom, and stabbed him in the groin, whereupon the emperor was beset by several men, one of which was a fearsome gladiator, who all stabbed him to death.

Monday, September 6, 2010

This is a great podcast about the history of Rome if anyone is interested

Thursday, August 26, 2010


The modern city of Rome, as legend goes, was built on seven hills. A city that is accustomed to foreign influences, it is known for it architectural treasures. There is a lot more to Rome than we know. Here are some interesting facts to give you an insight into the Roman culture, its history and treasures.

1. The birth of the Eternal City, Rome, which was founded in 753BC, is celebrated every year by Romans on the 21st of April. Celebrations include fireworks, gladiator shows, traditional Roman banquets and parades.

2. The Pantheon which was built in 27 B.C. by Marcus Agrippa is the only monument belonging to ancient Rome that still remains intact. What is even lesser known, is that it entombs Italy's king Vittorio Emanuele II, and his successor, Umberto I.

3. A park in Rome is named the "Park of the Monsters." Not because it is a haunted place but because it is full of grotesque figures like a crude Hercules slaying an Amazon and an ogre's face with a mouth so big that people can even walk through it!

4. The Baths of Caracalla although in a bad state now, were once in their prime days spread across 27 acres and could handle 1,600 bathers at any given time. Built in the 3rd century, they are the largest survivors of Rome's imperial era.

5. Rome has a museum which is entirely dedicated to pasta. The Pasta Museum is a one of its kind around the world and showcases different pasta-making machines, as well as paintings related to pasta by contemporary artists.

6. St Peter's Basilica inside Vatican City is the largest church ever constructed.

7. Rome's Coliseum, a huge amphitheatre which could seat 50,000 people is one among the Seven Wonders of the World.

8. The Monumental Cemetery of the Capuchin Brothers has used the bones of over 4,000 Capuchin monks, some skeletons fully intact, to create symbolic works of art in its series of chapels.

9. The Vatican Museums is a huge museum complex with over 1,000 museums and galleries like the Gallery of Tapestries and Etruscan and Egyptian Museums that are full of masterpieces collected by the successive popes. It is the world's largest museum complex.

10. St. Peter's Basilica was a structure that stood for almost 1,000 years until it neared collapse and was rebuilt by 1500s and 1600s. It is an overwhelming structure which displays the work of some of Italy's greatest artists like Raphael, Michelangelo, and Maderno.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rome for the disabled

Here's another site you might find useful if you are disabled and coming to Rome for a visit. Leave a comment if you think it's useful.

Rome for kids

Have a look at this website if you're planning on coming to Rome with kids. Leave a comment if you find it useful.


Tips when visiting Rome, Florence and Venice

reviews: 3“ Short, straight to the point tips - Rome ”

Aug 17, 2010,

Hi, I think many of the trip reports suffer from too many personal descriptions. We had a  trip for 7 nights in Rome, 3 in Florence and 3 in Venice during late June / early July. Here are some punchy, straight-to-the-point tips, focused on what may be missing from other trip reports.


* Book tours for Vatican through the Vatican website.

* Book a time to visit Galleria Borghese through phone. Check their website for the phone number.

* Book a time for Accademia. Call the number.

* Book a time for Uffizi. Call the number. (We missed our 9.30 booking and landed up at 12.30, but still got our reserved tickets).

* Book the Secret Itineraries tour. We booked ours through a website called Charta Sri.


* You need to pay to use the toilets in all the railway stations in Italy (Eur 0.5 - Eur 1). Steep!

* You will end up walking a lot. Wear good shoes, and carry a hat and/or an umbrellla.

* Almost all the museums are closed on Mondays.

* We think it makes more sense to buy guidebooks rather than audio guides. With audio, sometimes the comments are too detailed. If you stop the audio for a painting, you have this suspicion that you have missed out something important. With a guidebook, you can glance through the contents quickly - so the time for each painting is more in your control. Plus you have something to carry back home.

* There are many water fountains, particularly in Rome, from which you can refill your bottles.


* If you have a question, call their helpdesk. They do answer or call back. But be prepared for unclear telephone lines.

* You have to a different credit card for every booking; else it will be rejected.

* Lowest priced tickets (called Meno 30) are available only for adults. If you are traveling with kids, after you choose the train, you first specify the number of kids and then click on "Add Price" for the adult tickets.That way, you will get the lowest price.

* The carriage numbers are mentioned in small letters on the doors of each carriage. The big numbers "1" and "2" on the carriages are not the carriage numbers.

* Use the washroom on the train before getting off. That way, you avoid paying Eur 0.5 - 1 for the washrooms in the stations.

* When you have to get off at intermediate points, get ready 10-15 min in advance by gathering your belongings near the door. The train may stop for just 1-2 minutes and you will be fighting for space against the incoming passengers as well as other outgoing passengers as well as those obstructing the walkway for no reason! (We lost two bags that way when the train from Rome to Verona stopped in Florence for just 60 seconds.)

* Some cities have multiple stations. Be sure of where you are getting off and don't assume all trains go to the central station.

* Don't lose any of your bags in the trains or you will never see them again. The entire Trenitalia system does not have a "Lost and Found" office.

* If possible, get into the train early. (Once, on a trip from Naples to Rome, another family landed up just after we had sat down and claimed the seats. When we compared the tickets, there seemed to be a clash of bookings. But since we had already occupied the seats, they said something in Itallian and went away. We don't know why and what happened to them.)


* Pizza Margerita = Eur 4 - 7, but generally around Eur 5.

* A basic pasta (say, pasta with tomato sauce) = Eur 6 - 8

* A basic sandwich (say, with mozzerella and tomato in Panini) = Eur 3 - 4

* You need to always buy bottled water in restaurants for Eur 2-3. We did not know how to tell the guy we have our own water or to just give us tap water! I guess we were too shy!


* Since public transport is Eur 1 per person, you may like to take a taxi if you are a group of 4.

* Taxis ply by meter, but be careful to note the meter before you get off. Drivers may try to cheat (once, the driver pressed some button on the meter as soon as we reached the destination and the meter showed Eur 18 for what should have been a ride of Eur 7. When I expressed shock, he quicky brought it down to Eur 9!)

* As soon as the taxi stops, the driver wipes the meter clean. So notice the meter before it stops and let him know that you have noticed it.

* There seems to be a night charge between 10pm and 7am. The meter starts at Eur 5.90 instead of Eur 3.90.

* Taxis used Tariffa 1 generally, but Tariffa 2 sometimes. I could not tell why.

* Examples of taxi costs:
Trastevere - Galleria Borghese = Eur 10
Trevi Fountain - Trastevere = Eur 8
Colosseum - Trastevere = Eur 8
Trastevere - Vatican Museums = Eur 12
Vatican Museums - Trastevere = Eur 8
Trastevere - Etruscan Museum = Eur 10
Trastevere - Termini = Eur 10


* Book before you leave your hometown. Call their telephone - check their website for the telephone number.

* You need an ID to pickup your reserved tickets.

* Even with a reservation, reach 30 minutes in advance to buy the tickets and deposit your bags.

* You get 2 hours to visit.

* There are two floors full of stuff. You cannot spend too much time on each artwork. It is better to have an idea of the top pieces you wish to see. One way to do that is to visit the bookshop before entering the exhibits. We saw a book called "10 Masterpieces" which would have been a perfect introduction, but unfortunately we saw it only after visiting.

* Get an audioguide after you deposit your bags. There are printed explanation sheets in every room, but sometimes they are missing, and sometimes they are not great. It is worth investing in an audioguide.


* Buy tickets with no queue from the entrance to the Palatine Hills on Via di San Gregario, ahead of the Arch of Constantine

* If you want to listen to every word of the guide, plan for 2.5 hrs for the Forum, 2 hours for Palatine Hill and Museum, and 2 hours for the Colosseum.

* You get a map along with the audioguide for Forum/Palatine Hill, but the directions in the accompanying map are not great.

* It does not matter in which order you see the Forum, Palatine Hills and Colosseum.

Time required: 3 hours at the Forum and Palatine Hill if you spend a reasonable time. Not much in Palatine Museum.


* Book your tour before you leave home through internet.

* We chose the 3 hour tour of the museums and St. Peter's. The actual tour lasted 2.5 hrs (1.75 hrs in the Museums and 0.75 in St. P). We were generally happy with the tour, but the guide skipped Raphael Rooms even though she had 0.5 hrs more, which is not professional. In the tour, we spent only about 5 min in the Sistine chapel, but it clearly deserves more time.

* If you wish to see the Pope, you need to get other types of tickets.

* Wear full trousers and shirt/T-shirt with sleeves to comply with the dress code.

* After the first official tour, we wanted to go back to the Museums. We went at around 10:30 on a Wednesday, around the time when the Pope was supposed to be giving an audience. We found we could just walk right in and get tickets

* They let you take water inside if you have your own plastic (but not glass) bottle.

* You can take photos everywhere without a flash, but no photos at all inside Sistine chapel.

* There is a drinking water tap on the other side of the road bang opposite the Museum entrance.

Time required: 3 hours if you spend a reasonable time (incl 20-30 min in the Sistine chapel)
- 1 hour at St. Peter's.


(We saw only half the exhibits since there was a "strike" when we went)

* The cafetaria was exorbitant. No self service.

* You can leave the bags in the ticket counter.

* No water fountain.

Time required: a bit more than 1 hour for the stuff that we actually managed to see, which we understood was about 40%


Sunday, August 1, 2010


Went to a great Gelateria this morning, it's on Re di Roma roundabout and it's called La Procope. I had pistacchio, amarena and cream. Try it out!

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Me and two friends of mine have recently decided to make some audio guides for this wonderful city called Rome. We have made seven audio guides so far, Circo Massimo, Piazza Navona, The Trevi Fountain, The Vittoriano, The Spanish Steps, The Mouth of Truth and The Pantheon. We've only started two months ago so I think we have done a good job so far.
We are also going to put in some reviews of hotels, restaurant and some basic tips of getting around in a city like Rome. We think it would be much easier on the tourist to have these audio guides instead of bringing around a heavy book around with them. We have lived here for nearly ten years and our knowledge of the eternal city is second to none.

Any advice you would like to give us on these audio guides would be more than welcome. Post a comment please!

Rome city of the Love

Bella Roma ....Beautiful Rome

A tribute to my beautiful ROME.

Bella Roma