Thursday, May 8, 2014

Acqua Vergine

A while back I posted an image of a Piranesi print, which graced the top of our stairs growing up at 84 McClellan Street, and now sits above my desk.  Today, I managed (with the help of Academy staff member Giulia Barra) to get into a tiny archaeological site, on the Via Nazareno, just off of Via Tritone, where a sixty foot stretch of the Acqua Vergine has been preserved -- the very section that Piranesi portrayed back in 1756.  Of course, instead of looking up at the aqueduct, as the Romans would have done (and as Piranesi portrayed it in the first of his images), we today entered at the top and descended a spiral staircase to get down to the current level -- about 15 feet above the Roman road bed.

Here's the image by Piranesi portraying the aqueduct in Roman times:

Here is Piranesi portraying it somewhat in ruins but still functioning, in his 1762 Il Campo Marzio. A large opening was cut in the aqueduct to fill up a large basin, which was used for washing clothes.

Here is a painting from the early 19th century showing the elevated level of the aqueduct -- higher than today, and the basin in use.   In the painting, you can see in the background the roadway -- Via Nazareno -- above the arch.  The engraved Latin inscription is today barely visible.

And here are images of it today, May 9, 2014.

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