Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Two Articles on Rome

The first is about the excavation of an ancient tannery outside of Rome that now stands in the way of progress, in the form of a rail line with only 109 yards to go for its completion. Either the rail line must be stopped, or the ancient complex will have to be moved to preserve it. My money is on the latter. Here is the lead:

ROME --Archaeologists excavating an ancient tannery believed to be the largest ever found in Rome said Tuesday they might need to move the entire work site, which is being threatened by railroad construction. The 1,255-square-yard complex includes a tannery dating to the second or third century, as well as burial sites and part of a Roman road.

At least 97 tubs, some measuring more than three feet in diameter, have been dug up so far in the tannery, archaeologists said.

In other news, Italian P.M. Romano Prodi is pushing for the restoration of the Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome.
THE ancient road on which pilgrims travelled from Canterbury to Rome could soon become a vibrant thoroughfare again.

The Via Francigena was first mentioned in the third century and is Europe's oldest route of pilgrimage.

After leaving England, it winds for roughly 600 miles through Arras, Rheims and Lausanne before reaching Tuscany and some of Italy's most beautiful landscapes.

The earliest map of the road was made in around 990 by Sigeric the Serious, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

However, the Via Francigena is much less famous than its Spanish counterpart, the Way of St James, which pilgrims use to visit Santiago di Compostela. Last year, around 100,000 Catholics registered with the church in Santiago but only about 8,000 people walked the Via Francigena. Romano Prodi, the Italian prime minister and a devout Catholic, has vowed to restore the Via Francigena to its former glory. Before the arrival of the motorcar, the Francigena, which means "born in France", was Italy's transport spine.

I'm guessing there must be a nautical component to the road somewhere between, say, England and France. And I think everyone will agree that its first cartographer had an absolutely first-rate name. The earnestness implied by his name is evidenced in his effort in map-making--an activity which, to be sure, would never be undertaken by someone called, e.g., Gaiseric the Frivolous. I'll leave you with a quote from Mr. Prodi:
"It really makes me angry that we do not have pilgrims walking towards Rome any longer."

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