Rome’s ruins are such an integral part of the Eternal City that it can be surprising when sometimes bits of them fall off.
Nobody was hurt after a few fragments of the Porta Maggiore gate, whose monumental double arches once provided a gateway through the third-century Aurelian Walls, fell on early Tuesday morning.
The monument, which originally supported two of the city’s aqueducts and is now located behind Rome’s main train station, was temporarily closed off while it was being checked, according to a statement from the city authorities.
The fragments of tufa (tuff) – a type of easy-to-cut rock used in Roman-era constructions – fell off around 6.15am, landing on the pavement below “without causing any damage to people or things”, it said.
“At first glance, there does not seem to be any further damage,” said the statement, which added that “the overall state of conservation of the monument is good”.
Regular pedestrian and road traffic was not affected.
Residents have long complained about the state of monuments and roads in the city, which draws millions of tourists each year to see wonders such as the Colosseum.
“We really need maintenance here in Rome,” said Veronica Rinaldin, 33, working near Porta Maggiore, which has long been marred by overgrown weeds and garbage.
A police officer who preferred to remain anonymous told AFP that tufa provides an excellent base for certain plants to grow and their roots often split the stone open. He said: “It doesn’t happen often. It happens if they are abandoned and neglected.”