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.
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.
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