I have been asked many times by Italian friends why on earth do I
live work in Rome. When I’m in a particularly bad mood I answer: “Stendhal’s syndrome screwed me”. When I feel poetic I put examples like this. My husband has sent me by whatsapp these pictures of an old Roman road that has appeared during some works. As usual, here in Rome, when you dig a few meters Ancient Rome pops up and reminds us that the new city is built using the old one as foundation.
I guess that what differenciates normal people of me, Ancient-Rome-Nerd, is that when they see a disorganized pile of old bricks, I observe old Romans, as through a viewfinder. To me the remains of the old consular road (I presume Via Prenestina, this site is just a few meters away of the modern one) are not just stones. I can see as clear as they were in the picture the farmers transporting in their carts the vegetables they are to sell in the city, a messenger of the Imperial post service hurrying to deliver on time the letters he carries to the Palatine Hill, some slaves buying groceries in the shops in one side of the road.
This reminds me that, some years ago, a very famous Italian stylist (Valentino) got the necessary authorisations to make some kind of super-huge party near the Colosseum, and he had the “brilliant” idea (authorised by someone as bright as he) to “complete” the columns in the Via Sacra with new, white, plastic-polyurethane ones. Fortunately I have not found pictures of what they did (the kitsch effect was completed by night as the columns were iluminated inside). Anyway, the plastic shining bright white columns remained for months, as “tourists liked them”. I found that simply disgusting.
Because, when you don’t have enough imagination as to see those columns forming part of the temple of Venus and Rome you can always watch this video, or buy a ticket to Cinecittà and admire the spectacular reconstruction of the city which was used as set for my admired HBO’s “Rome”, without disturbing the archeological area.
But I was talking about my Stendhal’s Syndrome. The modern city of Rome stresses so much that I have to pump it up continually and repeatedly. Tonight I will have an extra dosis, and I will endure and resist the next public transportation strikes or the disastrous state of modern roads and sidewalks for several months. I have booked a night visit to the Vatican Museums. Which reminds me that I have to take as many notes and pictures as I can of the Borgia apartments.