Apr 1 • 16M

A Podcast about Rome. Episode 10: Insouciant exoticism and engineering triumph - Porta Maggiore and the Claudian Aqueduct.

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Agnes Crawford
A chronological history of Rome focusing on a building, a sculpture, a painting, or an artefact each episode.
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The closest point of the Aurelian Wall to my apartment is also one of my absolute favourite parts. It is the Porta Maggiore, literally “the great gate” which is, in fact a misleading name. In fact the Porta Maggiore predates the walls by over two centuries: it was never intended to be a gate at all. It is instead a triumphal arch of Roman engineering, built to straddle two of the ancient consular roads, the vie Labicana (now Casilina) and Prenestina.

An Arch of Engineering Triumph, with the Baker’s Tomb behind. Porta Maggiore. March 2023.

Even after twenty-three years in Rome this remains, to my English eyes, an improbable and grubbily exotic tangle of ancient and modern. Tram-tracks and traffic knot themselves around and through aqueducts, a grand tomb, and ancient fortifications with an inescapable Roman insouciance that I still find so relentlessly appealing.

The Baker’s tomb: bread oven and dough rolling. c. 30 BCE
Porta Maggiore and the Baker’s Tomb..
Aqueduct and trenino: insouciant exoticism writ large.

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