A huge public building known as the Auditoria, dating to Hadrian’s time in the second century, came to light under the central Piazza Venezia during an exploratory phase. Archaeologists believe the two-story building was Rome’s first university, used for cultural events and lessons. Today the square is a busy crossroad for traffic and tourists.
I often think Italy is too popular for her own good. When I pass through the piazza del Duomo in the middle of the day, on a nice day I can barely move through from the sheer numbers of tourists. The trash trucks and street washers (a type of vehicle) travel up and down the streets all of time, picking up after the people.
On the flip side, Italy reacts in general to the immense tourist population by constantly opening new sites to appeal to them. As someone who has visited Italy a lot over the past 30 years, I am constantly amazed when I learn new archaeological sites, for example, are newly available to be visited. As below.
Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts
“Quello che voi siete noi eravamo; quello che noi siamo voi sarete.”
“That which you are, we were; that which we are, you will be.”
On the Via Veneto in Rome is a small church, Santa Maria della Concezione, attached to which is a crypt of Capuchin monks. The burial ground consists of a few small chapels, the pilasters, arches, and vaults profusely decorated with the bones of four thousand exhumed monks that were brought to the church in 1631.
Imagine being three thousand years old. Suppose by some mysterious process you had managed to avoid the limitations of mortality, and year after year you keep going, adding more and more experiences to your life story until you have no choice but to repeat them because you have exhausted all possibilities.
You are the very essence of what it means to be human. You have had more than your share of victories and defeats, triumphs and tragedies, moments of glory and those of abjection, times when you wish you had never been born and times when you want to go on forever. You have loved and lost, have abandoned and been left behind, been rich and poor, skinny and fat, lived high on the hog and been forced to scramble for a few morsels of stale bread. You have seen it all, done it all, regretted it all, and then gone back and done it all again.
You are la città eterna, Rome, the Eternal City.
Epstein, Alan. As the Romans Do: The Delights, Dramas, And Daily Diversio (p. 1). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.