Rome mulls ‘metro museum’ after new line unearths ruin

Rome authorities are set to build the world's first 'archaeological underground station' around an ancient Roman barracks which came to light during works to build a new underground station.

Rome mulls 'metro museum' after new line unearths ruin
Rome is set to incorporate a massive Roman barracks in a new undergound station. Photo: Archaeological Superintendency Rome

The remains of a second century imperial barracks were found nine metres below street level in November, when construction began on Amba Aradam-Ipponio station on the city's new metro Line C.

The 1,753 square-metre ruin contains some 39 rooms, many of which contain original mosaics and frescoes.

Photo: Archaeological Superintendency Rome

Lying so deep under the city, it was impossible for modern survey equipment to detect the ruin before work began. But work on the station is ploughing on in spite of the incredible, yet inconvenient, find.

The city's archaeological superintendent, Francesco Prosperetti, promised on Monday that the building site would not be closed and that the ruins would be safeguarded so that future passengers could enjoy them.

“Work havs not been stopped, instead we will find a use of space which will allow the extraordinary archaeological heritage beneath the Roman soil to become part of the city's modern infrastructure,” Prosperetti said.

Authorities are now considering incorporating the barracks in one large metro stop-cum-museum structure.

“At the moment we're waiting for Roma Metropolitana [the company building the station] to draw up plans,” Luca Del Frà, spokesperson for Rome's archaeological superintendency, told The Local.

“It's possible that some structure will need to be dismantled and moved but the ruin will be on display at the station when it opens,” added Del Frà.

Authorities say the find won't affect the cost of the new station, which is located close between the iconic Colosseum and Imperial forum, as the budget for Line C already includes generous allowances for dealing with inevitable archaeological finds.

According to Rome City council, Amba Aradam-Ipponio will be operational by 2021 but Line C is said to be the slowest and most expensive metro line in the world. 

The first segment of the line publicly opened in November 2014, some 20 years after the project was first conceived.

So far, the 18km of the line in operation has cost city coffers more than €20 billion.  


Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.