I’m going back to Rome! I love saying that. In five months. This is so exciting. One of the places that I love is the heart of Ancient Rome – the place that all roads lead to – the Forum and the Palatine Hill. One of the first things that you notice as you walk up the Palatine Hill is the silence. Away from the traffic on the Roman streets everything is quiet and you can hear the bird song. Next you notice the grass and how green it is. There are not many patches of grass in Rome. There are the giant iconic gardens like the Borghese but the average Roman doesn’t have a garden and everything that can grow is grown in pots on roof top terraces or in window boxes. You have to be fairly tenacious to be a plant in Rome, and some plants do grow in the most amazing places – for example the gutter of our apartment block. From the top of the Hill you can see much of Rome, to one side the Colosseum, move a fraction and its the site of the ancient area and further over from the escarpment that would have been known to the early Romans the view is of the Forum, over to the Basilica of Constantine and the roof tops of all the different Romes that exist side by side – the ancient, the medieval, the renaissance and the rococo.
From the look out over the Forum you decend through different layers of the Palatine, and different gardens. An arched gallery dug into the side of the hill is enclosed with plants growing over the arches – an early form of air conditioning. Rome in summer is hot. There are the ruins indicating where the places and gardens were. Further down the hill heading towards the Forum there are roses growing on the side of the pathway. Imagine being a Roman citizen decending into the Forum to hear the latest news about the victorious armies or even Julius Caesar being denounced. This is where it all happened. The Basilica of Constantine is huge. The ruins of shops and houses make it easy to visualise what was there. And here and there students are scaping away at bricks and stones.
Rome has grown up from around the Forum. Looking up you can see buildings and churches looking a bit tipsy as they crowd around the edges. There is nothing new here. Columns and capitals lie on the ground. The paving stones are huge. The triumphial arches tower over everything. The sentate building has been restored.
I am going back!