When in Rome: Ancient History in Mosaics and Patterns

When in Rome: Ancient History in Mosaics and Patterns

No words can express the color, pattern, architecture, and sheer intricacy of the cities and towns I visited last month. On a recent trip to Italy, my husband and I embarked upon a country-wide tour, visiting Venice, Florence, Rome, Chianti, Cinque Terre, a brief stop in Naples, and several towns along the Amalfi Coast including Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, and even the mountain town of Gragnano.

While each place had unique and amazing sights, as an artist, the delicate mosaics and tiles embedded in nearly every ancient structure jumped out at me over and over again. The care put into something as basic as a floor wasn't overlooked, and the artisans that painstakingly created each unique pattern left a lasting legacy that's survived for thousands of years.


Living in a country with a history measured in decades and centuries versus a European country measured by centuries and even millenniums, I'm blown away by the depth of ancient Roman history. With very little of the technology we have today, they built immense basilicas, bell towers, cathedrals, and cities with their hands and simple machines. Construction workers required different credentials than those that build structures today, and were skilled artisans and apprentices within guilds following specific details for construction. Guided by architects and accomplished artists and sculptors, landmarks like the Duomo in Florence, the Doge's Palace in Venice, or St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City went built to the awe and wonder of both the citizens of their time and for those yet to come.

The snapshots above were just a sampling of the colorful patterns that I came across in our travels. And while time has worn some of them away, the materials used and results of restoration experts have preserved a vast look at the beautiful details of the past.

So what we can learn from Roman civilization? I'll be honest—I'm inspired, but also overwhelmed by the amount of history we witnessed. And to take a line from many teachers that poured years of art history lessons into me and my classmates—you tackle it one thing at time. Find a piece that speaks to you and explore it. Study, research, learn, appreciate, experiment, create—and then start all over again.

All great art is inspired and shaped by the rich histories, shapes, colors, materials, trends, stories, and so much more that came before us. Let's listen and watch carefully—and keep making art.


Andrea Smith 7th & Palm, LLC was created in order to build a business that allowed us to give away more time and resources to help others. We choose to not waver on our commitment to our 1/1/1 giving pledge to give back 1% of our time, 1% of our profits, and 1% of our products in order to give back to the local and global community—at a bare minimum. And you can be a part of that by voting with your dollar. All artwork, stationery and greeting cards, and prints are created by artist Andrea Smith.
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