The Auditorium of Mecenate in Rome

auditorium di mecenate

The Auditorium of Mecenate, now submerged in the traffic of Rome, was a place of entertainment and delights

Probably even to many Romans, who hastily pass along the busy via Merulana, the auditorium of Mecenate is almost unknown.

Inside an anonymous urban garden, nothing leads us to suspect that, passing through a small door, you find yourself catapulted into the ancient Rome during the first century AD.

This is the effect you feel when going down a ramp, still partially paved with the original bricks placed in a “herringbone” pattern, which leads to the so-called Auditorium.

A large room opens up, now protected by a modern roof, with a semicircular apse on the bottom which has a staircase consisting of seven narrow concentric steps.

The frescoes on the walls, still legible in some places, simulate windows open onto outdoor spaces, gardens surrounded by small fences, enlivened by vases, fountains and birds in flight, like modern trompe l’oeil.

In one corner two types of flooring are still visible: one below in white mosaic with a black frame, and one above, in polychrome marble.

This place of leisure and relaxation was, probably, also cheered by a waterfall. This is what the apse bleachers suggest: a monumental fountain with a waterfall that would make the enjoyment of this environment even more pleasant and fresh.

This space, in fact, was not intended to be an auditorium, but is supposed to have been a summer triclinium, that is a place for convivial and cultural meetings (like the Sallustio’s Gardens), where the owner, the famous collaborator statesman of Augustus, Mecenate, welcomed his guests.

Benedetta Tintillini


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