Sunday, May 3, 2015

Ruins outside my balcony

We can have our morning coffee on a tiny balcony.  Here is the view:

Like everything in Rome it is old.  The above ground part is likely from the middle ages but this is a city where much is hidden, underground.

Here is the view from Via della VII Coorte.

What you cannot see is that under your feet is the remains of a fire station from early Imperial times.  VII Coorte refers to the Seventh Cohort of "vigiles".  These were the combined police and firefighting force for ancient Rome.  Augustus funded their formation with an initial sales tax on slaves.

The underground structure is called an "excubitorium", this was a sort of "sub station" for the force.  They were scattered around the neighborhoods of the very flammable Eternal City.

Alas like so much of Roman antiquity this place has had a tough time.  It was intially excavated by, basically, treasure hunters looking for loot to sell back in the 1860s.  Anything swell they found probably was whisked away.  There were many examples of graffitti, the sort of stuff bored firemen would write on walls.  These have faded over time. The mosaic floors seem to have mysteriously vanished during World War Two.  The modern vigiles seem to have been slacking off.

The Excubitorium is rarely opened and there appear to be no funds to maintain it.  Trash lies around and seagulls feast on it.

Still, very picturesque over morning cappuchino so long as you dont look down on the trash  waiting for collection.

I wonder what would happen if I took the elevator all the way down to the basement of our lodging and started rattling the handles of any dark and dusty doors.....

1 comment:

Borepatch said...

This is cool. I stayed once at the Hotel Forum, right across from the Colosseum.