Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Subterranean Trastevere: VII Coorte dei Vigili, Rome

Adjacent to Viale di Trastevere, within the depth of the block to the south of the basilica of San Crisogono are a subterranean set of rooms. They are the remains of Roman civic infrastructure in the barracks of the VII cohort of ‘vigili’ or fire watchers discovered by accident in the mid nineteenth century and important evidence of the daily life of lesser functionaries in the ancient city. Presently roofed by a concrete slab and stripped of its decoration which survived burial, it is difficult to discern the historic situation, except to realise how the process of urban sedimentation has raised the street level of the ancient Via Aurelia eight metres to the present Via Lungaretta, the medieval pilgrimage route to the Vatican.

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