THE SEVEN HILLS OF ROME
Having to describe something one has never seen is a challenge. It can only appear from the words of others and through the scope of one’s imagination. Rome is full of legends and history. Built on the seven hills just East off the Tiber. It is hard for anyone to grasp the importance of such a metropolis through the ages. Many things have started and ended there. This is the vision of a stranger over centuries of history.
Standing in the center of the city, on top of the Palatine hill, one understands how the word Palace was conceived here. The oldest part of the radiant capital of the Roman empire was where it’s founders, Remus and Romulus, were saved by the she-wolf, Lupa. Baptised by one of Hercules’ feats and crowned by Romulus’ augural tent, it hosted a glorious line of Roman emperors including Augustus, Tiberius, and Domitian. From the centermost of the seven hills one can gaze at the other six and discern the multiple paths of history passing through them.
Glorious and untouched is another hill that gave birth to a noun. The Capitoline hill, the citadel of the early Romans and home of the Sabines. The hill itself and the temple of Jupiter it hosted were once the universally recognised symbols of the capital of the world. When invaded by the
barbarian Gauls the hill remain uncaptured, the last bastion of the Romans. Adorned with palaces, some planned by the great Michelangelo himself, in the honour of Charles V. In the center of the piazza Marcus Aurelius rides a bronze horse out of the Palazzo Senatorio.
For a more discreet elegance after such grandeur, one’s head turns to the Caelian hill. Named after Caelius Vibenna who assisted Romulus in the edification of the city, it was the residence of the wealthy, hosting a basilica, graceful villas, and wondrous gardens.
In the blue sky, rising above the Colosseum stands the Esquiline hill and its three spurs. Much debate exists around its name. Yet not much debate seems to have taken place as to the construction on the hill. As, once more a basilica, gardens, and temples, between sumptuous residences share the grounds.
The eyes now investigate Quirinal hill, named after the Sabine’s god Quirinus, which once held a temple to the god. Another kind of ruler has taken place on the hill, as it hosts the president in the Palazzo del Quirinale. Most of the modern administration of the great city and Italy are based on the hill amongst the various palaces.
In between Quirinal and Esquiline rests the Viminal hill. Whilst it did not bare much importance in the early days of Rome it is now the key to it for the rest of the country. The main train station flooding the city with visitors, sits on the hill. Also there, is the Teatro dell’Opera, reviving epic tales of the once glorious empire of which Rome was the center.
Finally one contemplates the Aventine hill, at first excluded from the city. Named after king Aventinus the southernmost and divided hill was the home of Remus’ augural tent. Haven of inauspicious birds, it was disdained by the rest. Being the entry point of the barbarian invaders was it’s revenge on the city. Once a working class part of the city it is now chic, housing beautiful villas and gardens.
By now it is dusk, the city becomes golden. The splendour of this compilation of anachronisms builds a certain aura of wonder around Rome in one’s imagination. So much glory contained within what is now only a small part of the city. One can only imagine what it must have been to live in one of the many days of prosperity this legendary imperial metropolis and capital has known.