After having housed working class families for over a century, the insula (apartment block) underwent a transition. It became the property of a local millionaire. This wasn’t a bizarre impulse buy. Rather, the millionaire was following a trend that had become increasingly popular toward the end of the Empire. Rome’s economy had suffered several severe downturns. But the filthy rich stayed filthy rich. And they often bought entire multi-family apartment buildings to renovate them as mansions or executive homes. Besides being renovated, these insulae were redecorated with new (and more expensive) pavements and artwork.
This redecorated insula’s frescoes are intriguing, because many of them contain symbols and themes from different ancient religions. To spice things up even more, the Catholic Church claims that two Christians by the name of John and Paul were martyred right here in this mansion! And that’s a murder mystery that we’ll explore in greater depth.