An ancient pathway leading from the southern edges of the Eternal City’s Palatine Hill up to the Roman Forum is now open to the public after an 18-year wait. The route encompasses a whopping 1500 years of history, spanning imperial residences like the Domus Augusti and Domus Severiana.
Also included in the one-km stretch are the Temple of Magna Mater, Rome’s first and most significant temple dedicated to the goddess Cybele, and the recently revived Horti Farnesiani. The announcement promises a literal stroll through history but also a lovely dose of nature, says Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum archaeological park: “It’s a magnificent trail that traces all of Rome’s history, from its origin story of Romulus and Remus all the way to late antiquity…it also involves nature, allowing visitors to admire all of the plants and flowers that we’ve cultivated over the years, including mallow, rue, rosemary, mint, dog roses, and cypress trees.” Sunset tours along the renovated route are also in the works. “We’d love to recreate the same emotions experienced by German writer Goethe, who in 1786 wrote of Rome’s ‘intoxicating light,’” added Russo.
One of the city’s famous “Seven Hills,” the Palatine or Palatino is where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf who mothered them (or so the legend goes). Excavations reveal that the area hosted inhabitants beginning from the 10th-century BC, with the original Romans believed to have once lived on the Palatine. A bevy of affluent Romans, including not just Augustus but also Tiberius and Domitian, commissioned lavish villas here.
The pathway is one of many efforts to bring ancient Rome to tourists and locals in new and exciting ways: in January, the Palatine’s archaeological monuments were illuminated at night for the first time in 13 years, while an interactive show at the Colosseum recently debuted.