engineering, heritage, Italy, Metro, metropolitana, monuments
Rome remains a city of great interest to me and since we left some years ago I still follow what is going on. It remains really our second home and very dear to us.
The completion at snail pace of the Line C of the Metropolitana di Roma, the infamous line C which connects line A and B in Rome is something I have been following for years. When we left Rome in 2011 I thought it would be completed in a year or two. This is a very long metro line which crosses Rome from one end to the other however given that Rome is a very compact city building a metro line over 24 Km should not be a long tedious affair, well think again. The first tranche of Line C is now complete from the Eastern Suburb at Monte Compatri-Pantano to San Giovanni where is intersect with Line A. San Giovanni is the site of the ancient Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano, the Pope’s church since he is the Bishop of Rome with a Papal Palace attached. The first section now functionning opened in 2014 and two more stations in 2018. The biggest hurdle is all the archeological sites along the route, as the construction gets nearer to the historical centre of Rome the engineers have to dig ever deeper and at the same time all work must stop the minute they hit any ancient site. Archeologists and historians are brought in and a major study is undertaken, which can take a couple of years, so this causes many long delays.
The result the digging has now reached the Roman Forum area and the Colosseum, continuing down the Via dei Fori Imperiali, as you can see from the photo upper right corner down to the Altar of the Nation, ( the big white monument) the tunnelling is now more than 90 feet under ground to avoid any ancient structure. Some stations because of the complexity of avoiding any archeological structure or monument have been cancelled out right, like the planned station at Lago di Torre Argentina where four ancient temples of the Republican era around 2200 years old are located and also it is the site of the Theatre of Pompey where Julius Cesar was assassinated in 44 BC. So far the line is 15 years late in completion and billions in Euro over budget.
Centre of Rome, Piazza Venezia in front of the Altar to the Nation.
In any other city, engineers and politicians would have compromised and agreed to save some monuments and ignore others, based on the importance historically of what should be preserved and what should be discarded. In North America, this is a common compromise, in Canada often everything is bulldozed and only a plaque will recall what was destroyed. However in Italy it is a very different matter and any question of not studying what is found and not taking measures to preserve it is considered barbaric. So I have seen years of discussion between the various Mayors of Rome, Prime Ministers of Italy, Ministers of Culture, archeologists, University deans, members of the public etc. go on and on and on, enough to drive you crazy. If this was not enough there was also a big discussion around the two boring machines or Talpe (Italian for moles) underground digging the tunnels, what to do with them, should they be left in a side gallery once the work is over or …
How much this is costing in total is not even considered. it is not important, what does matter is to preserve the past of Rome. Some Metro station will have museums built within to exhibit the artefacts, so that riders can view it all as they come to the Station. The design of each station in the historical centre must be practical but also appropriate to the surrounding area and style matters. The Piazza Venezia station will be unique in the world given the Palaces of noble princely families, like the Colonna and Doria Pamphilij in the neighbourhood and the importance of this square in the heart of Rome.
In the digs discovered so far are barracks of the Pretorian guards with beautiful mosaic floors intact and some wall paintings, then at Piazza Venezia the forgotten Athenaeum of Emperor Hadrian was unearth which prompted great excitement amongst Academia. Not to mention all the other finds and artifacts.
Line C is important for the future of the City and public transport, it needs to be built and the delays only make things worse in terms of traffic congestion in Rome a City with a population of almost 3 million people, you have 2.6 million cars. This week the Mayor of Rome announced that the Colosseo Station will open in 2025 more than 8 years late and Piazza Venezia should open thereafter, but what about all the other stations going across the Tiber and beyond St-Peter’s, no one knows.
Rome for Romans remain the Capital of the World and it seems that from what I have seen this belief is entrenched in how people see themselves and their City.
Line C is in pale green, remains 6 stations to be built from Colosseo to Clodio Mazzini.