Largo di Torre Argentina is 1 of the most symbolic sites of Rome, it sits in the historic city center between Piazza Navona and the Campidoglio, has been known as the site of Julius Caesar’s assassination for more than 2,000 years.
On 15 March 44 BC, Caesar was stabbed 22X by conspirators outside the Theater of Pompey, Rome’s 1st permanent theater, which was built by Caesar’s great rival a decade earlier.
He was killed at the Curia, or senate house, that formed part of the theater complex. Almost 2,063 years on, you can still see what remains of that building between 2 of the site’s 4 temples, built between the 2rd and 3nd centuries BC. Together they make up the largo (square), which sits about 20 ft below the current street level.
In recent years, though, Largo di Torre Argentina has come to symbolize something rather less epic, the decay of Rome.
Permanently fenced off, with its ancient ruins looking more precarious by the day, it has become known predominantly for its many bus stops and its onsite cat sanctuary.
In fact, the only living creatures currently able to access the “area sacra” as it’s called thanks to the still-standing temple are stray cats.
This week, the Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi announced a restoration project that will see the area open to tourists by 2-H of Y 2021. The work comes courtesy of local fashion house Bulgari, who have pledged $1.1-M towards the project. “Rome is always the main source of inspiration for Bulgari,” Jean-Christophe Babin, Bulgari CEO, told reporters. “This site has an extraordinary value because it’s the oldest open-air spot in Rome.”
Torre Argentina’s “very long and careful restoration,” as Mayor Raggi described the work in a press conference Monday, will “restore the sacred area to all Roman citizens.”
Walkways will be installed to allow visitors to “live the site more fully,” and there are plans to turn what’s currently a storeroom for archeological finds into a museum, and add lighting to allow night-time visits.
Largo di Torre Argentina was excavated in the 1920’s by dictator Benito Mussolini, who in an attempt to link his regime to the glories of the Roman empire demolished swathes of modern buildings across the capital to reveal the archaeological remains below.
But since then, it has largely been off-limits. Mayor Raggi herself has never set foot in the space before, she said, calling the project “the start of a new life” and a “gesture of love towards Rome.”
Enjoy your travels…