Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ancient ruins, including mosaic floors, found near Vatican media office during construction for Jubilee

Ruins from the Roman Empire have been discovered in Piazza Pia, the street in front of the Vatican media office – formerly Vatican Radio – during construction ahead of the 2025 Jubilee in Rome.

According to Italian daily Corriere della Sera, large mosaic floor surfaces have been uncovered, along with four or five rooms of considerable size, believed to be the remains of an ancient clothes washing service.

A human skeleton, thought to be from the 1500s, was also discovered on May 24, adding to the drama around the site.

The plan is to turn the space into a walking area, and to add an underground passageway for cars – the area is a major passageway for the Vatican.

However, before it can be done, the site must be studied and any valuable remains need to be secured, something which can take time, especially in Italy.

The Italian newspaper says the most likely option for the authorities, given the absolute centrality of the construction site at the entrance to Via della Conciliazione, is to relocate the finds.

Two months ago, Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri told reporters the city “can’t wait” to hand the site over to the Roman people and tourists ahead of the Jubilee, describing it as “this beautiful, completely renovated, pedestrian, greener, safer, more liveable piazza”.

The project will make the space between the Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s Square fully pedestrianised, radically changing the character of this area of the city. The plan was to have the project finished by December, but the new finds may delay this goal.

However, as it often the case in Rome, the project is causing turmoil in the area, with businesses suffering.

“Now, however, yet another about-face has arrived and nothing more will be done about this project, just a stone’s throw from the Vatican, after having sown further chaos and traffic jams in Prati [residential area near the Vatican], already on its knees due to the works in Piazza Pia, and having forced bars and restaurants to suffer significant economic losses,” said Fabrizio Santori, a member of the conservative Lega party.

Despite the chaos, the question still remains about what will happen to the discovered ancient works.

Although the headquarters for the Vatican media are under the rule of the Holy See, the road in front of it is under Italian control – which means the findings are more likely to be moved to an Italian site rather than Vatican City.