Part of the project of the Capitoline administration that aims at a ‘widespread’ tourism, this Sunday the oldest settlement still in the original nucleus of the city reopens to the public
Not everyone knows it, but on the far outskirts of Rome, 20 kilometers from the center, after Tor Bella Monaca, one step away from the hamlet of Finocchio, stands one of the most important archaeological sites in the capital. In reality it is just another city: the ancient Gabi, an important urban settlement of the vetus Lazio inhabited well before the borders of the city were drawn in a strategic position that allowed the inhabitants to control the lower Aniene valley and the accesses to the Sacco and Liri valleys. The archaeological area of about 70 hectares – located at the XII mile of the ancient Via Prenestina – has long been acquired by the state property, but since 2019 it is not accessible to the public.
Thanks to a memorandum of understanding signed in November 2020 between Municipality VI, the Special Archaeological Superintendence of Rome and the University of Tor Vergata, from Sunday 6th June until 10th October the area will be reopened to visitors with a program of guided tours and free events. Not far from the Ama di Rocca Cencia waste treatment plant, in the direction of Tivoli, on the new Prenestina, the site represents the prototype of attraction on which Campidoglio and superintendencies aim for the relaunch of a new idea of post-pandemic tourism: widespread and less superficial. With the explicit purpose of bringing tourists, but also citizens, out of the normal circuits of cultural interest of the historic center of Rome.
Excavations that have taken place over the years have shown that the ancient Latin city is largely preserved under the surface layer of the soil. The area, since the abandonment of the ancient settlement (between the 11th and 12th centuries), has always and only been used for agricultural purposes, without undergoing construction. Precisely for this reason it has preserved intact the ancient structures that in other areas have instead been destroyed. Some of these are also visible on the surface. In perfect condition, for example, it is possible to observe artifacts from the Roman era, such as the temple dedicated to Juno, but also more ancient remains such as the Bronze Age huts which formed the first village.
Before the tourists, to dig, archaeologists from all over the world came to these parts: for example, the universities of Michigan, Bonn, and experts from the Louvre museum collaborated. Among the strong points that can be seen inside the archaeological site there is certainly also the “direction” of Gabii, a tripartite building complex from the 6th century BC found in an exceptional state of conservation. The plan and the decorations found have suggested to the archaeologists a direct comparison with the remains of the famous building in Rome identified as the directed by the Tarquini. During the excavation it was possible to deduce that the building was intentionally obliterated under a gigantic mound of stones between the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 5th century BC, precisely in the years in which, according to ancient sources, the monarchy with the expulsion of Tarquinio the Superb, while his son Sesto Tarquinio who reigned in Gabii, was also dethroned and perhaps killed right here.