This mini pod is part of our “When in Rome” series of extra pods and suggests a sort of scavenger hunt to help you become a better observer while wandering among Rome’s charming streets.
Partly to help us think about the kinds of strife Rome has experienced, I propose a sort of scavenger hunt in which we all keep our eyes peeled for direct and indirect evidence of “Strife among the Ruins.” Here are some examples that might stimulate your own searching:
1.Walls and fortifications: (For more discussion and photos, see Ancient Ruins and Medieval Forts)
2. The four great Bernini statues in the Galleria Borghese are all based on human conflicts. Aeneas tries desperately to escape from his burning homeland, Troy, which was destroyed by the Greeks. David is just about to lodge a large stone deep in Goliath’s forehead. Two show attempted sexual abductions.
Also in the Galleria Borghese: Caravaggio shows us Goliath’s severed head. Canova’s famous carving of Napoleon’s younger sister, Pauline seems composed and at peace, but she is holding the famous golden apple of discord and posing as Venus the Conqueror. Beauty and erotic love can also lead to battle, and the apple of discord was a cause of the Trojan War, which eventually led Aeneas to flee Troy with his son and father.
3. More recent examples of strife: the “stumbling stones” beaten into the pavements of Rome. These remember the Jews who were deported to Nazi death camps and are placed in front of the apartments in which they lived.
The pockmarks on buildings on Via Rasella. They are from Nazis with machine guns, responding to an attack in which they lost 33 soldiers. The Fosse Ardeatine, where the Nazis slaughtered 335 Roman civilians in retaliation for the attack on Via Rasella.
For an American connection: the cemetery at Nettuno, an easy train ride from Rome, where American soldiers from the first phase in the Italian campaign of World War II are buried. A little further afield, but still a possible day trip from Rome, is the site of the Abby of Monte Cassino, destroyed by American bombers on 15 February 1944 in a failed attempt to break through the Germans’ Gustav Line. (It has since been rebuilt.)