Technology helps tourists to visualize ancient Rome

Touring ancient sites in Rome? Maybe a virtual reality headset will help you imagine things as they were thousands of years ago. From CBS News: Cutting-edge technology is helping bring ancient Rome back to life.

The cavernous space was once above ground, the grand home of Emperor Nero, and considered one of the most magnificent palaces ever built. Its name, “Domus Aurea,” means “golden house.” It’s hard to believe it was once colorful and flooded with light. But now, modern technology is letting tourists peek into the past.

Two thousand years ago, this labyrinth, now underneath the city of Rome, was the sprawling home of Emperor Nero, stretching the size of three football fields. Today, tourists can explore it, but the colors, light and opulence of this ancient Roman villa were unimaginable until this month, when visitors could start using virtual reality headsets.

“You always try to imagine in your mind what it must’ve been like, and this helps tremendously,” said Tom Papa, a tourist from New York.

Virtual reality brings to life this important piece of history. Alessandro D’Alessio, the chief archaeologist here, explained how this place was buried following Emperor Nero’s death. [continue]

On Venice’s Grand Canal in a kayak

Dear heavens! These people kayaked through Venice. Part of me wants to shout "sacrilege!" and part of me wishes I’d thought of doing that. From the New York Times: On Venice’s Grand Canal in a Kayak.

They helped fleeing Romans evade Attila the Hun and held a glittering city aloft for more than 1,500 years. But the wooden pilings rising out of the Grand Canal in Venice are so decayed that as we clung to them one afternoon it wasn’t at all clear whether they would be sturdy enough to prevent us from capsizing into its murky waters.

It was rush hour in Venice, so the canal’s usual tumult of crosscurrents and tides was churning with the wake of water taxis, ferries and delivery boats. Each volley of waves slapped against the side of the inflatable kayak we were using to cross Italy’s most storied waterway; the pilings were our best chance to avoid being immersed in it. [continue]