For the Friends of the Library, Old and New Light on Rome’s Rione Testaccio

Satellite view of Rome’s Monte Testaccio. Image: Google Earth

The Friends of the Library was founded 1961 by Library readers at the American Academy in Rome so that they could help build the Library’s collections with their annual dues and special initiatives. For nearly half a century, the Friends of the Library (=FOL) has provided important financial support for acquisitions, and in thanks to the FOL the Library has organized regular programs  for the group presenting the work of scholars.

Featured on Thursday 29 April, for the 2010 Patricia Labalme Friends of the Library Lecture, was dott. Renato Sebastiani, archaeologist with the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma. Sebastiani delivered a lecture on “Testaccio: Archeologia del Paessagio du un Rione di Roma”, which treated recent excavations in the area of the future Nuovo Mercato of Testaccio. He then followed his lecture the next morning with a guided tour of the Testaccio area for the Friends.  You can see the full description of the events here.

2010 Patricia Labalme Friends of the Library Lecturer Renato Sebastiani

Sebastiani’s talk was accompanied by two special exhibitions in the AAR Library. In the Online Catalog Room, Arthur Ross Reading Room, and Barbara Goldsmith Rare Book Room, the Friends took in a wide-ranging display of print and electronic materials.

The Arthur Ross Reading Room with part of the Testaccio exhibition materials

These included rare books, prints and maps illustrating the Testaccio area through the ages, a green and sustainable vision for the future of the area by architect Andrew Kranis FAAR’09, and a documentary titled “Metropolis Prima—I magazzini del porto fluviale di Roma Antica.”

Fr. Frederick E. Brenk, S.J., examining antique maps of Testaccio in the Barbara Goldsmith Rare Book Room

Presentation of the documentary Metropolis Prima; featured here is Professor Andrea Carandini, Presidente del Consiglio Superiore dei Beni Culturali

And in the Academy’s Fototeca, participants viewed a show of historical and modern photographs of the Rione Testaccio, with aperitivi to follow.

The Testaccio exhibit in the Academy’s Fototeca

Sebastiani’s walk for the Friends on Friday 30 April uncovered many surprises of the Rione, going far beyond the amazing Monte Testaccio (composed of millions of Roman-era pottery sherds), to include also its wilderness areas (with brilliant flowers, swallows and butterflies everywhere, and not a city sound to be heard), the interior chamber of the Cestius Pyramid (frescoed in a similar late first century BC style to those of the House of Livia on the Palatine), and the Non-Catholic and Commonwealth Cemeteries.

Academy Friends of the Library group at the summit of Monte Testaccio

Rebecka Lindau, Drue Heinz Librarian of the American Academy in Rome, organized the two days of events for the FOL, with the help of Fototeca Curator Alessandra Capodiferro and the entire Library and Fototeca staff.

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