08 September 2006

Italy, full of ruins

Ruins, ruins everywhere…

Italy seems to be a country with ancient ruins and artifacts everywhere. This is not surprising since this peninsula has been populated by various advanced cultures for well over 2,500 years. Each of these cultures has left their own mark on the landscape with various architecture and engineering structures scattered across the countryside. There are so many of these in various states of disrepair that it seems many Italians are oblivious to their presence, to the locals they are just there as part of the landscape, no different than a tree. To me this is the same reaction I had after a few years living in New Mexico to seeing roadrunners, cactus and bright sunsets; no big deal.

Of course in Roma there are artifacts everywhere and many times you walk right on top of them. In Ostia Antica, the ancient Roma port city, you walk on beautiful floor mosaics that are 2000 years old. Near Caserta north of Naples you can walk through the passageways of an amphitheater similar to the Coliseum in Rome.

There are some Roman ruins here in Anzio as this was once a favorite city of several emperors, including the infamous Nero. One of these is a section of original Roman road which we saw photos of in a brochure and said “Wow, we’ve got to see that”. When we found this section of road outside of town it was overgrown with weeds. We had the same experience with ruins of a Roman theater in Anzio, overgrown with weeds and right in the middle of a residential area. Along the beach we have seen people sunbath on top of wall sections from Nero’s palazzo.

Restoring all of the ruins in Italy would bankrupt any government. I think our friend Giorgio has the right idea: Italy should rent out artifacts to the rich and famous, this way people get to borrow a piece of antiquity and the state can make some cash to use towards restoration.

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