Served by the Servian Wall?

June 4, 2013 / Art & Archaeology
Rome, Lazio
servian1The Servian Walls of Rome, so called after the 6th century BC king Servius Tullius (even though they’re really from the 3rd century BC), sure turn up in unusual places. Here for example, a section conveniently doubles as one side of this auto mechanic’s shop.

While little is left of them (the Aurelian Walls, built later, are much more intact), the largest piece is out front of Termini, Rome’s train station. Next time you’re catching a train somewhere, stop out front and look to your left. You can’t miss it.

servian2The strange thing is that it goes straight into the station. Or rather, the modern station is built straight across/on top of it. Curious, you head inside and… no tangible sign of the rest of it. Hmmm, it’s got to be somewhere…

The problem is you’re too high up now. Head downstairs to the shops/mall area below the station and if you’ve taken the direction of the wall outside into account, and mentally triangulated your vector, angles, and position properly, you’ll find yourself looking at the wall… in the food court!

One question though. So we know it’s “Billions Served,” but how many have been served by the Servian Wall?

(The fun photo of the mechanic’s shop is courtesy of Mott Groom. Many thanks!)




by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

14 Responses to “Served by the Servian Wall?”

  1. Liz Weeks Musiil

    I understand and enjoy all of the reasons why there are many contributors to this wonderful touch of Italy that gives joy in my Arlington, VA, US home everyday, BUT….. your notes are the most joyful! Thank you, Liz

  2. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    very curious…no wonder you found it in the station,it was in the food court! thanks , a great bit of history.

  3. For years I wondered about the walls, of course knowing that somehow they were historical with an interesting story, just how? One of the charms of Rome (and other Italian cities) is that history hasn’t been dismissed for the sake of parking lots and the likes. As the saying goes “One sees the future by standing on the shoulders of the past”. Thanks GB.

  4. Toni DeBella

    GB: You crack me up. I have to admit I am a sucker and sometimes buy french fries for the train ride home. I always wondered what was up with the walls…thanks for clearing that up. Toni

  5. Virginia C. Mars

    You post the most fascinating bit of history. Fun, illuminating, unusual. All of you at Italian Notebook deserve great credit for making Italy such a tantilizing destination. Thank you.

  6. I saw this segment of wall on my last trip to Italy, and was absolutely blown away! Where else on the PLANET(!) can one find an artifact so ancient, in such plain sight — and — in a food court! It reinforces the adage from my old neighborhood in West Philadelphia (now much changed): “there are 2 kinds of prople in the world – those who are Italian, and those who want to be”.
    What an incredibly glorious history — and present — we are gifted with.

    • Giuseppe Spano
      Giuseppe Spano

      Hello Russo could you be my cugino? (Bunacorso/Ianelli/Spano)22nd and Toronto The only wall there was the bocce club!

  7. GB: I’m late to your post but, of course, find it most fascinating. Another lesson in taking one’s time and looking around when in Italy – the layers of old and new are amazing – ancient walls, modern conveniences…I can’t help but think that the (ancient) Romans would’ve found it amusing as well!

    • Come stai Victoria, sometimes we just need to slow down so that we can see things. Instead of rushing around trying to see everything on our list! I think that’s one of the reasons we love just wandering around when we are on a trip. For instance, in Perugia, we came across a Etruscan well that was open to the public, amazing. Last fall we were in Clerkenwell in London and walking down the street saw the “well” there. Not well marked but facinating! I love that sort of stuff!

      Ciao, P

  8. To Giuseppe Spano – Ciao! What section of Philly is 22nd and Toronto? I don’t think we’re closely related – the names you mention are not in my family — but we must be distant cousins! LOL

  9. Allen F.

    Amazing that after I spent 6 years there in Rome, that I never took notice of the Aurelian wall. And now they even have a food court. Wow. I hope they don’t serve Mac Donalds.

    • GB

      Uhh… actually, it is a McDee’s! (Btw, the walls you see in Rome are the Aurelian walls, but this one is a section of the Servian walls. Not much left of them in Rome as they were much older and were recycled and removed as Imperial Rome grew.)

  10. GB:

    From an archaeology lover… we stumbled on Roman ruins when we were headed into Piazza Navona, for the first time,where shops were built around them. As you know, there are a number of sites to view Roman walls in London, that have been built over, around, etc., just like in Italy. We are so fortunate to be able to still see them!


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