5 unexpected finds in the city in Rome
1) Porticus Aemilia
This massive structure was built between 193 BC and 174 BC. Its function is still debated: given its proximity to the river, it was either used as a warehouse, or as a shelter for warships. This is one of the most ancient examples of tufa being used in opus incertum, a masonry technique that uses irregularly cut stone.
2) Horti Sallustiani
The ruins of these landscaped pleasure gardens date back to the first century BC, when they were developed by the Roman historian Sallust (which gives this neighbourhood the name Sallustiano), who acquired the property from Julius Caesar after his death. They fell into decay after the Goths sacked Rome in the 5th century.
3) Wall drawing by soldier
Like so many aristocratic families in Italy, the Torlonias were big fans of Fascism, so much so they rented Mussolini this villa for just one lira per year. Following World War II, the building was occupied by British soldiers. One of them covered the attic wall of the Casino Nobile with a vivid pastoral scene, including a beautiful bird drawn with pastels.
4) Amphitheatrum Castrense
One of three amphitheatres in Rome – the others being the Theatre of Marcellus and the Colosseum. Only the bottom floor remains of the three-storey structure. A mass animal grave on the premises suggests ancient Romans put on live hunting games here before it was incorporated into the Aurelian Walls.
5) Theatre of Pompey
Wondering why this façade has a concave curve? Until roughly 1500 years ago, this was the seating area of the Theatre of Pompey. The stage would have been behind you. The ruins have dictated the layout for this entire neighbourhood, and are still visible in many nearby restaurants and other businesses built on top of them.
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The 500 Hidden Secrets of Rome reveals off-the-beaten-track places and interesting details for anyone who's keen to explore Rome's best-kept secrets.
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