Essential Rome: You Need To Know About Domus Transitoria

Are you heading to Rome anytime soon and want something new and cool to see? I just found out about a new ancient site that has recently re-opened that I absolutely have to visit, and maybe you will want to too!

Let’s Talk Nero…

Bust of Nero

I didn’t know too much about Nero until somewhat recently. I knew he was a madman and an emperor, but not much more. During a visit to his golden palace in Rome (you can read about it in the Underground Rome section of my new book Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome, available on Amazon.com) I was asking my guide, an archaeologist from the site, some questions about him. She pulled me to the side and very emphatically told me Everything you know about Nero is wrong! I am down here with him every day. I know him! They have lied about him and I know the truth.

Which is why I say I didn’t know too much about him until then. It would appear the senate changed the stories of more than one emperor once he died, so maybe we will never know the full truth, but her urgency got me interested in Nero and I plan on tracking her down when I get back to Rome to get the next part of the story.

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Who Was Nero?

bust of Roman emperor nero
Nero

Nero was the last emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He was born December 15 in 37 A.D and died June 9th in 68 A.D at the age of 30. He ruled the empire for 13 years and 8 months.

A Guy With Mommy Issues…

Nero’s mother, Agrippina the Younger was an interesting character. He was adopted by his great uncle Claudius and became the her and successor upon Claudius’ death. Agrippina is thought to have had a hand in the death of Claudius and in Nero’s nomination to be emperor. Apparently she dominated his early life and weighed heavily on all of his decisions a.k.a. controlling mother/stage mom. Five years into his reign he had her murdered.

… And A Guy With Many Wives

The story of Nero’s marriages is intriguing by itself. First he married his step sister Claudia Octavia, daughter of Emperor Claudius.

bust of Claudia octavia first wife of nero
Claudia Octavia

It was a very unhappy marriage (because he was nuts) and he tried to strangle her on more than one occasion. While married to her he had many affairs including one with Poppaea Sabina, the wife of his friend Ortho.

poppaea sabina was nero's 2nd wife
Poppaea Sabina

Poppaea divorced Ortho and became pregnant with Nero’s child, which in turn prompted Nero to divorce Claudia and banish her to Campania. The baby died at 4 months old.

Claudia complained about her banishment, so Nero had her maids tortured. The people of Rome like Claudia and marched in the streets to have her returned to them, which scared Nero so he not only had her brutally murdered but also had her head chopped off and sent to Poppaea.

Nero and Poppaea had a tumultuous relationship but it would seem that she was his favorite wife, even though he ended up killing her too. In the summer of 65 A.D Nero kicked a pregnant Poppaea in the belly, killing both her and the child. After her death he went into deep mourning.

Statilia Messaline was Nero's 3rd wife
Statilia Messalina

While married to Poppaea Sabina Nero had been having an affair with another married woman, Statilia Messalina. When Poppaea died in 65 A.D Statilia’s husband was forced to commit suicide so that Nero could marry her.

And then things got even crazier.

In sometime around 66 A.D-67 A.D Nero also married a young boy called Sporus, who bore a remarkable resemblance to Poppaea. Nero had Sporus castrated and paraded him around dressed in the clothing of a Roman Empress, and called him Lady, Empress, Mistress, and Poppaea. It is thought that he used his marriage to Sporus as a way to assuage his guilt for killing Poppaea.

Sporus was a boy nero had castrated and then married
Sporus

After Nero’s death Sporus was then taken on by Praetorian Guard Prefect Nymphilius Sabinus who treated him as a wife and also called him Poppaea. Nymphilius wound up getting killed by his guardsmen, and the story got even crazier when in 69 A.D Poppaea’s ex husband Ortho, who now became emperor albeit for only 3 months, then took up with Sporus!

Sporus ended up committing suicide to avoid being used as a victim in a gladiator show. He was probably not even 20 years old at the time.

But back to the wives of Nero, there was actually one more. Back in 64 A.D after a series of banquets during the Saturnalia Nero married one of his former slaves, a freedman named Pythagorus. Except this time Nero was the bride and Pythagorus the groom. Nero even wore a bridal veil! After the ceremony the witnesses had to watch the consummation of the marriage too.

RELATED POST: 7 Tips You Need To Know before Traveling To Rome

The Rule Of Nero

Nero’s time as emperor is generally associated with tyranny, compulsive behavior and extravagance. (As well as lunacy). Many historians believe he started the great fire of Rome in 64 A.D to clear the way for him to build his gigantic pleasure palace, the Domus Aurea. Apparently he blamed Christians for the fire and had them burned alive.

There are modern historians however who believe the ancient sources who wrote about Nero were unreliable. The archaeologist I went through Domus Aurea with is convinced that the history we know of Nero is in fact based on lies and hatred, not the truth.

The Domus Transitoria

Nero’s first palace, the Domus Tansitoria is now open to the public after a 10 year renovation.

Stairway down to nero's Domus Transitoria
The stairway down to Domus Transitoria

Transitoria was a lavish palace decorated with marble, inlaid marble, porphyry, mother of pearl, frescoes and mosaics, dating back to 54 A.D. It connected the Palatine Hill with the Esquiline Hill, which is how it got its name. It was built partially underground to help Nero beat the Roman heat.

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Ceilings at Domus Transitoria
ceilings inside Domus Transitoria

Most of the Domus Transitoria was burned to the ground during the great fire of Rome in 64 A.D. The ruins were discovered, robbed and looted during the 18th century.

Frescoes in neros's first palace, the Domus Transitoria
2000 year old frescoes inside Domus Transitoria

What remained has been restored, so you can see the floors, frescoes and structure. One of the best preserved areas of the complex contains the 50 communal toilets thought to have been used by the slaves and workers, almost 2000 years ago.

Domus Transitoria

You can take a guided tour of Domus Transitoria, but the tours are for small groups only, around 12 total. There is new lighting down there, so you are not wandering in twilight. There is also a virtual reality component to the tour. This is something that Rome is doing so brilliantly, the multimedia and V.R. components to the newer tours are just sensational.

Nero's Domus Transitoria
RELATED POST: WHY YOU NEED TO VISIT PALAZZO VALENTINI IN ROME

Domus Transitoria is open Friday – Monday and is part of the new SUPER Foro-Palatino ticket. Check the website for more details and ticket options.

Bonus Content

Would you like to enjoy a cold prosecco with a mesmerizing view while in Rome? I have created a downloadable PDF of the Best Rooftop Bars In Rome. Each of these fabulous spots is right in the heart of the city and easy to get to, especially after a long day of sightseeing! Download your PDF here

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7 Tips You Need To Know For Traveling To Rome

Are you planning a trip to Rome this summer? Rome is one of the greatest cities in the world. There’s so much to see and do, and no matter what your interests Rome has something for you.

Rome Colosseum, colisseum Rome
The Colosseum on a sunny day

Unfortunately most travelers to Rome just hit the same handful of sites – the Colosseum, Vatican, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. Many find the city overwhelming because they’ve only experienced the places that are overloaded with tourists. I need everyone to love Rome, so have a new book coming out at the end of March that is all about 101 amazing things to do in Rome that pretty much no one knows about. Its fabulous!

If you want to be on the advanced list to get notifications about Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome, as well as early bird pricing, you can join the Private Members Newsletter List here.

I’ve put together a list of 7 tips for traveling to Rome. This is especially helpful if you’ve never been before, but still worth looking over if you are going back anytime soon.

1. Stay Central

Most of the things you want to see and do in Rome happen within a couple of miles radius of the historic center of the city. There is loads of affordable accommodation close to the center of Rome, and you don’t have to be on a loud or busy street.

2. Rome is a Walking City

The very best way to see and experience Rome is on foot. Rome is an incredibly beautiful city, full of little piazzas, ivy walled side streets and little hidden neighborhoods that are to die for. You miss all of this if driving past in a bus or a car.

Use the GPS service on your phone to get you back on track if you get lost, but in the meantime hit the street walking!

cobblestoned street in Rome, Rome streets, cobble stone streets Rome
A little side street in the Trastevere, Rome

3. Wear Good Shoes

Make sure you pack good shoes that you can walk all day in. Rome is full of gorgeous cobble-stoned streets that photograph amazingly but can be hard on your feet. This is not the city to wander around in flip flops or sandals that don’t support your feet.

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4. Dress The Part

If you plan on going inside any of Rome’s 900+ churches or religious sites your shoulders and knees need to be covered. Keep a scarf in your handbag to throw over your shoulders if they are bare, and wear hemlines that touch your knee.

This past year (2018) women were being turned away from the Pantheon because their shoulders weren’t covered. Companies that lead guided tours through the Vatican will automatically disqualify anyone with bare shoulders or hemlines above the knee, regardless of whether you have already paid for your ticket or not. It’s not worth the hassle or the drama – just plan your wardrobe ahead of time!

5. Wear A Cross-body Bag

It’s a good idea to wear a cross body bag in any major European city. Wherever there are large groups of tourists there are also large groups of gypsies and scammers, just waiting to separate you from your cash and valuables.

The best thing to do is keep your bag across your body with the side that opens against your body. Never leave your bag open and never hang it over a chair in a restaurant or cafe.

Travelon Bags are super popular for travel. They have RFID blockers built into them, are slash-proof and even have a cable running through the strap so it can’t be cut.

RELATED POST: 10 THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO IN ROME

The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum

6. Purchase Tickets Online

Don’t waste hours standing in line to get into the big attractions – pre-purchase your tickets online. This year the Colosseum is doing timed tickets that only give you a 15 minute entry window, so plan on being in line with your pre-purchased ticket 30 minutes before your entry time.

Many of the smaller places are also only doing pre-purchased tickets now too. Make sure you research them before leaving for Italy.

7. Walk The Monuments At Night

All the major monuments are lit up at night, and are absolutely beautiful! Many places such as the Forum and Trajan’s Market have multimedia displays happening at night, and they are wonderful to see!

The busloads of tourists are all gone for the night, so the city becomes quite mellow. You will get an entirely different perspective of the various monuments that were crowded all day long. You just can’t beat night-time photos of the Colosseum or St Peters square!

Rome is a safe city to walk at night. The locals are out everywhere, there are lots of great little bars and cafes to stop into for a glass of wine as well as endless trattorias to stop in for dinner. You will love Rome at night!

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BONUS CONTENT: Would you like to know my favorite rooftop bars in Rome? Each of them is in the heart of the city, is easy to get to, and has a spectacular view. I’ve made a PDF (with photos) for my 7 Best Rooftop Bars In Rome. If you are already on my Private Members List it’s already on its way to you. If you are not on my list you can download your PDF here.


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