The Roman Homes on the Celian Hill, under the Church of Paul and John
As we stroll down the ancient Clivus Scaurus or Scaurus’ Slope, it’s easy to imagine the sound of wagon wheels creaking under heavy loads, the shouts of children playing amid yelping stray dogs, the taunts of delivery boys, and lost foreigners asking for directions. Here we’ll find a large insula or apartment block and a neighboring domus or aristocratic home. They create an interesting study in real-estate and ancient Roman town planning. The insula, or apartment block, underwent several surprising transitions: after housing Rome’s working class for over a century, it was bought by a wealthy Roman. This was a typical trend towards the end of the Empire, whose economy had suffered several severe downturns. The new home owner renovated the multi-family apartments into a sort of McMansion, redecorating it to his complete satisfaction. Adding to the redecorated insula’s intrigue is the subject of its frescoes: many of them contain symbols and themes from different ancient religions. To spice things up even more, the Catholic Church claims that in this apartment turned mansion, two Christians by the name of John and Paul were martyred. That’s a murder mystery that we’ll have to explore in greater depth!
The archeological area is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
It pairs up with other underground Rome attractions (like the nearby church San Clemente) as well as different archeological areas that explore the idea of housing (e.g. the Imperial mansions on the Palatine Hill or the middle-class insulae of the Vicus Caprarius).