Wednesday, 19 March 2014

San Giovanni in Laterano

Have you been to Rome?
If you have you will know
that there is something extraordinary
around every corner.

This is an excavation deep underneath
San Giovanni in Laterano,
the cathedral church of the diocese of Rome.

It is completely silent down there,
no noise at all from the Rome traffic.
The sensation is dreamlike
as  you walk along corridors,
passing entrances to dark spaces.

The corridors are lined with plaster fragments
from previous excavations in the 30s
and occasionally there is a small fresco,
a column base or a marble statue.

It was a barracks in Roman times
with a basement full of amphorae
which was partially built on top of houses
in a practical use of previous foundations.

Gradually your eye gets accustomed
to the angles and levels
and you piece together the landscape
so that the Roman soldiers
are on the edge of your consciousness
in the cool, silent, dusty space.

This past weekend we were visiting sites
associated with the British School at Rome
and our guides were experts from the BSR.
My background is in science not classics
and it made me realise how little I know.

A few more trips to Rome
and my interesting colleagues
will soon fix that little problem.


  1. I would absolutely love to visit Rome one day, it looks so utterly beautiful. Glad you are having such an interesting trip.

  2. It seems there is as much history below as above.

  3. What an amazing place, thank you for showing it to us. xx

  4. Have you got an idea of how little "I" know about Rome? That city is history itself, I must go back hundreds of times if I want to visit half the historical sights. Thing is, I am always there for probably one day and I end up lured by shallow things like theatres and ethnic food ... shame on me!


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