Roman gate closed off after bits of ancient stone break away

The incident at Porta Maggiore didn’t cause “any damage to people or things” according to the city authorities.

Porta Maggiore incident, Rome
Municipal Police officers stand by after pieces of Rome’s Porta Maggiore gate fell off. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

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.

READ ALSO: Ancient Roman home and mosaics unearthed during Italian apartment renovation

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.”

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VIDEO: Huge fire breaks out at Rome’s Cinecitta studios

A fire broke out on Monday at Rome's legendary Cinecitta film studios, destroying a set but causing no injuries, emergency services said.

VIDEO: Huge fire breaks out at Rome's Cinecitta studios

Three teams of firefighters were on the site southeast of the Italian capital, which in its heyday was frequented by some of the country’s greatest stars, from Federico Fellini to Sophia Loren.

“A fire has broken out in an area where a set was being decommissioned,” a spokesman for Cinecitta told AFP, adding that nobody was injured.

READ ALSO: Italy is burning – but many wildfires could be prevented

Firefighters said “much of the papier-mache reconstruction has been destroyed” on the affected set, which depicted Renaissance Florence, but that the flames were limited and under control.

Local residents posted photos and video to social media showing thick clouds of smoke above the complex.

The fire disrupted filming of a Charlize Theron movie, the sequel to Netflix film ‘The Old Guard’, according to production coordinator Natalia Barbosa.

She told AFP the fire grew rapidly amid high winds and soaring temperatures and the set was evacuated as a precaution.

“We’ve lost two days of filming,” she said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, although much of Italy is a tinderbox this summer due to heatwaves and a severe drought.

Cinecitta suffered a major fire in August 2007, in a warehouse where the sets of television blockbuster ‘Rome’ were stored, before spreading to other buildings in the vast complex.

Cinecitta – which means ‘city of cinema’ in Italian – has been the backdrop of more than 3,000 films, including 51 Oscar winners.

The studios were opened in 1937 to churn out propaganda for the Fascist government of Benito Mussolini.

They were later used to make such classics as William Wyler’s ‘Ben-Hur’ in 1959 and Fellini’s 1960 ‘La Dolce Vita’.

In recent decades, major productions have become more scarce, although the studios are planning a major makeover using money from the European Union’s post-pandemic recovery fund.