|Toroazul Painting and Fine Arts
Most of Rome's many, many Medieval towers go unnoticed by visitors and
residents of the City alike. In part, this may be because we are conditioned to
only see the classical ruins and the Baroque churches, etc. However,
a text from the 1930s, ROMA TURRITA (The Rome of the Many Towers),
written by Emma Amadei, has opened my eyes to the significance of these
buildings of the Middle Ages. It seems to me that the materials, proportions,
and certainly the histories that are part of these great buildings reveal a
whole new dimension of Rome.
La Torre dei Conti
Located on the corner where Via
Cavour meets the Via dei Fori
Imperiale and the Temple of
Peace, this massive tower still
has a stately presence.
Today, only 2/3 of the original
structure remains -- in addition,
there is an ugly fence, barricades,
and scaffolding all around the
base of the building, so most
passers-by probably overlook the
"stripes" or bands of alternating
black and white stone at the
bottom of this bastion.
To draw La Torre dei Conti, I had
to take many notes from various
angles and first comprehend the
building before composing its
"portrait" study in sepia and black
pencil on the 8" x 11" paper.
Tower of the Tabularium
This lofty tower dates to the 1400s, when it
was built on to the so-called Tabularium or
Archives of the old Roman Forum by early
Renaissance Popes Nicholas V and
Innocent VIII, whose coats-of-arms appear
on marble "stemma" attached to the wall
side above the door.
The nearness of this Medieval tower to the
Temple of Saturn ( where one sees the row
of 4 columns on the far left) inspired me to
call this image, the Tower of the Golden Age
-- la Edad de Oro. According to poets like
Ovid and Virgil, the Age of Gold was
established on earth by the deity Saturn. At
that time all was bountiful and all things
were held in common by human beings.
Archaeologists have found remains of the
buildings that housed the mint and treasury
of the state in Republican times, dating back
to the year 500 B.C., attached to the same
Temple of Saturn. They also tell us that an
important cult to Saturn thrived in this point
of the Forum in the archaic times of the
Seven Kings of Rome.
This color pencil drawing of a small section of the wall and
turret surrounding Rome's Protestant Cemetery, near the
PYRAMID of Gaius Cestio, to me, do more than enclose
the tombs of Shelley and Keats.
La Torre Sanguigna
Old Roman legends claim that Caravaggio
himself slept in this tower, located on the
street to the north of Piazza Navona.
Benvenuto Cellini also narrates in his
autobiography that he killed his brother's
murderer in this house, while he was in
the arms of a courtesan named Antea who
did her business there.
I purposely kept all the buildings around
the tower muted in color, to set off the
lovely anatomy and the red sanguine
"skin" of the tower, which at one time had
lovely monochrome frescoes on it.
There is a mythological light and quality about this image,
and I view it as one of the walls and turrets surrounding the
fabled Garden of the Hesperides that the hero Herakles
had to enter in order to steal some of goddess Hera's
golden apples. According to poets, a dragon guarded the
The Garden of the Hesperides
La Torre Margani or Cesarini,
also known as the Tower of
This tower once was part of a nearby
palazzo where it is said the Spanish Pope,
Alexander VI Borgia, kept Vannuzzia, one of
his mistresses. Lucrezia and her brother
Cesare also lived in the palazzo.
Located in the piazza where
Michaelangelo's MOSES sits inside the
church of San Pietro in Vinculi, the
so-called Tower of the Borgias was
"separated" from the palazzo in the 1500s
and transformed into the church tower of
the then-new monastery of the Calabrian
order of Saint Francis de Paul.
One of the days I was sketching there, the
engineer conducting work connected to
theTower was gracious enough to let me
inside so I could see for myself the
2-meter thickness of its walls. (CLICK here