The event was promoted by the association Ars in Urbe and 16 groups took part in it, bringing the good old times back and offering wonderful and detailed explanations and lessons to the visitors.
The set was the beautiful complex of the Villa di Massenzio, and it was just the icing on the top. A wonderful scenery that gave even more local colour to the event! For the occasion the access to the archaeological site was free, so it was a further pleasure!
The stands were dedicated to various aspects of the Roman culture, and it was really interesting to hear the various "lessons" from its "characters", enacted by the guys of the SPQR association.
The first "tent" that caught my interest was the one of the medicus, the doctor.
We got to understand the basic of Roman medicine, its technology, and we were shown curious reproductions of archaeological finds.
Let's go to the main attraction (for me, ahah!), the food!
Besides the explanations, we were given bits of foods created by original recipes to try out!
Various kind of breads, according to the buyers and the markets!
Another stand was dedicated to make-up and we were taught how Roman women prettified themselves with use of oils, minerals and pigments!
Then it was the turn of the vigiles, the Roman firefighters!
We were taught how they protected the city, their equipment, what caused so many fires in Rome and what they were expected to do-- In extreme cases they had to use artillery to tear down the burning buildings!
It was an extremely dangerous work: it's said that a slave to gain Roman citizenship could do three things: to marry a Roman, to serve 25 years on the battlefield or-- Just 3 years as vigiles!
Next was the stand dedicated to free time and daily life-- There were instruments dedicated to religion, games and houseworks.
There was also a working reconstruction of a loom, and from what we could tell, the most difficult thing was to get the ordito ready! Roman women sure had a great sights!
After this last stand I decided to take some pictures!
I reached the stands of the guys of the Legio X that explained us everything about the Republican army.
Another interesting subject was the one about the war machines, the catapultas. A Greek invention, the Romans stole the ideas and perfected them, turning them into lethal artillery weapons able to tear down whole fortresses.
As if it wasn't enough to excite us, next we got to meet the gladiators of the Ludus Picenus group, the winners of a recent gladiators tournament!
Like everyone in the area, the guys are enthusiastic practitioners but informed scholars too!
We started with a short lessons about the different kind of armours during Republican and Imperial eras, and the depictions of the various "characters", their weapons and styles of fighting.
The world of gladiators is one that was peculiarly RAPED by Hollywood movies (like everything concerning Rome, to be honest).
I was very glad for the lessons of these guys, who offered a wonderful rendition and explanation of the whole deal-- When good ol' Verres took this book out of nowhere and started to explain things using the ancient mosaics or the finds of Pompeii and Co. I was about to cry with joy.
As one of the gladiators explained us, this was one of the best ways to explain history, expecially to those who have no chance to see or try the actual pieces.
It's a way to bring history to life, and it is really moving to see the passion of these people!
Besides the divulgation, there was also the time for actual, practical demonstrations.
The morning showed some explanations of battle engagements and military formations. It's always a freaking spectacle.
Here I stole a picture of the guys of Ludus Magnus getting dressed--
Pay attention to the arbiter, that controlled the fight and the conformity of the weapons-- The two gladiators are two provocators, the most appreciated by the audience for their bold style of fight.
Here you see a scissor against a retiarius:
As the name implies, they symbolized the usual "Roman" vs "Barbarian" match.
The historical Spartacus used to cover the role of the murmillo, and this was intended as a sort of humiliation: as he was a Thracian noblesman he was forced to wear the character of the Roman soldier, the one who enslaved him.
On the way back to catch my elusive bus, I decided to take a detour to see the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, a monument that kept popping up in the background of my pictures and sure deserved a closer (even if quick) inspection!