Campo Marzio and Pasquino

The Campo Marzio, or Campus Martius in ancient Latin, is the heart of the city of Rome today, much as it had been the ceremonial heart of the city for centuries during the Roman Empire. Originally a grassy meadow where military exercises were conducted, the area filled with temples and other buildings as space ran out in the forums.

It is amazing to walk these streets, as old Roman columns literally pop out of the walls in this area of Rome. One can only imagine what else lies underneath the modern day buildings. Certainly dozens of temples remain buried. I once had dinner in the cellar of one of the buildings in the Campo Marzio, and there were porphyry columns sticking out of the walls of the basement.

One of the stranger monuments in Rome is the so-called “Pasquino,” which during Papal Rome served as a sort of “free-speech zone” in a time when speaking against the government landed a person in jail. The joke was that the statue was speaking the political commentary, so it continues to this day.

As you can see, people still plaster political messages on the base of the statue, as they have for centuries.

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