• Italy's news in English
Italy roadworks unearth frescoed Roman room
A 2000-year old frescoed room has been discovered under a busy Roman street. Photo:Archaeological Superintendency Rome

Italy roadworks unearth frescoed Roman room

Patrick Browne · 24 Nov 2015, 12:31

Published: 24 Nov 2015 12:31 GMT+01:00

The find was made three days ago, when workmen started to dig a hole for the pipeline in Via Alfonso Lamora.

As they began to remove pieces of earth from the road, a large chasm opened up in the road extending down into the dark, four meters below.

At first, the workmen thought it was an ordinary sinkhole and called in speleologists - or cave experts - to investigate. However, when the experts reached the bottom of the large cavern they were surprised to find themselves standing in the frescoed room of a once luxurious Roman home.

Photo:Archaeological Superintendency Rome

The partial discovery of the room has excited archaeologists who have dated the find to the first century AD, based on the depth at which it was found and the pictures speleologists took of the frescoes.

“Finding a room under the street is rare,” the archaeologist responsible for the newly discovered site, Mirella Serlorenzi, told The Local.

“We do get archaeological finds from between 60 and 50 percent of all roadworks though."

The area around the site once belonged to the luxurious Emperor's gardens known as the Horti Lamiani, which is the place where Julius Ceasar was partially cremated and buried.

In the first century AD the area comprised a complex of luxurious villas, gardens and pavilions. Archaeologists are hoping the new find will prove to be of considerable historical interest.

“Digs took place in the area of the Horti Lamiani at the beginning of the 1900s during some building work," explained Serlorenzi. "They turned up many incredible statues and sculptures which you can find in the city's museums today."

"Obviously, we have very few details at the moment but we know about the area and these finds can now be fully investigated,” she added.

This is not the only exciting find in the capital this year: a perfectly preserved example of a Roman domus was unearthed under the city center in September.

Story continues below…

While such finds may be exciting for history buffs and archaeologists, their frequency poses a headache to archaeologists who need to find a way of performing digs while letting roadworks – not to mention busy Roman life – continue around them.

“Blocking the traffic in a busy Roman street around Christmas isn't really ideal,” Serlorenzi lamented.

“But by now we Roman archaeologists are used to working as quickly as possible.” 

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Patrick Browne (patrick.browne@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The 35 signs you'll never be truly fluent in Italian
The moment when you realize you'll never be mistaken for a native. Photo: Pexels.

Hands up if you never quite know how to answer the question: 'So do you speak Italian?'

My Italy - Trieste
'Speaking the dialect made me a lot of friends'
Karoline Steckley lives in Trieste (R:ho visto nina volare/Flickr)

Italian police recover stolen Van Gogh paintings
A self-portrait of Van Gogh. Image: Public domain/Wikimedia Commons

The two masterpieces are worth millions of dollars.

Cyclists gear up for Tour of Lombardy race
The Giro d'Italia earlier this year. Photo: AFP

'Il Lombardia' is one of cycling's five 'monuments'.

Italy has Europe's oldest population: Eurostat
Italy is home to the highest proportion of over-80-year-olds in the EU. File photo: Pexels

13 of every 200 people in Italy are aged over 80 - the highest proportion in the EU.

Italy police get lunch for poor woman 'forced to steal food'
The stolen goods only amounted to €14. File photo: Pexels

The woman had stolen food worth €14 from a supermarket.

Renzi: UK won't get special treatment post-Brexit
The UK can't expect an easy ride post-Brexit, Renzi warned. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Italian PM Matteo Renzi said the UK won't get more rights than other countries outside the EU after voting to leave the bloc.

Looters steal computers from quake town's new school
Almost a third of the schools in the area are now unusable. The above photo is of a school in Amatrice: AFP

The school had only been opened two weeks ago, after the town's existing two schools were left unusable by the earthquake.

Here's what Americans in Italy think about the US elections
The candidates shake hands before the debate. Photo: AFP

Four American expat voters from across the political spectrum talk about the issues which influenced their vote, and how it feels watching the elections from Italy.

Italy scraps bid to host 2023 Rugby World Cup
Italy's rugby team at the Six Nations earlier this year. Photo: AFP

The move is a result of Rome's decision not to bid for the 2024 Olympics.

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
Eight things you should know about Rome's Spanish Steps
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
The incredible hero dogs of Italy’s earthquake
Why quake-hit Amatrice will never be the same again
Why discontented Italians could derail their economy
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Why coffee in Italy is a culture you must taste to understand
The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still rich today
So why do pasta-loving Italians live such long lives?
Italy's Renzi prepares for stormy autumn
This 104-year-old just saw the sea for the first time
Should Rome give up on its 2024 Olympic dream?
The Italian doctor giving hope to thousands of migrants
Ten 'Italian' dishes that don't actually exist in Italy
Five Italian athletes going for gold at the Rio Olympics
Trastevere: From a fiery past to Rome’s souvenir stand
Think Trump would be a disaster? Just ask the Italians
How Brexit has helped to expose Italy’s banking malaise
After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
jobs available