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Foro Romano

Departing from the Piazza del Campidoglio, we follow the road to the right of the Palazzo Senatorio where we can see preserved part of the ancient Roman pavement. Passing in front of the Tabularium, the ancient archive of the laws of the Roman State on the ruins of which the Palazzo Senatorio is built, we finally reach a small terrace which faces onto the Palatine and onto the Roman Forum. No city in the world offers such a grandiose and imposing spectacle. At our feet we have what was the capital of the world, and in front of us the Palatine, first the primitive cradle of Rome and then the proud residence of the Caesars. On the left, we have the Tabularium, the columns of the Temple of Vespasian and the Portico of the Consenti. On the right is the Clivus Capitolino which led to the Temple of Jupiter, father of all the Gods. In the background is the Temple of Venus and Rome, under the shadows of the church of Santa Francesca Romana and its campanile, and further on, the Colosseum. Within our view are the most important monuments of ancient Rome: the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Arch of Titus, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Temple of Augustus, the Basilica Julia, the Basilica of Constantine, the Basilica Emilia and the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Tomb of Romulus, the Column of Phocus. This solemn scene brings to mind a world now no longer: little by little, as in an strange hallucination it seems that our imagination gives life and form to the images we see. At once we see the primitive kingdom of Evandro among the herds of cattle grazing in the Forum, and the fig of Romulus. Here is the Via Sacra, along which Romulus and Titus passed, consecrating the friendship between Romans and Sabines. Here is the Fountain of Juturna where the horses of the Dioscuri drank: there is the alter where the fire of Caesar broke out; there are the tribunes decorated with the rostrums of enemy ships from which the orators addressed the crowds; here is the Curia, a monument of superb juridical and administrative knowledge, from which the Roman people dictated the law of the world; here is where Orazio was deafened by the roaring screams of the crowd; here is the circular Temple of Vesta erected by Numa Pompilio where the sacred fire to Vesta burned. And from its atrium it still seems that virgins wander about solemnly feeding the sacred flame of the Empire of the world, while a toga-dressed crowd bustles through the Forum and the basilicas and a triumphant chariot advances along the Via Sacra surrounded by the faithful guards bearing laurel decorations, toward the Campidoglio to pay tribute to the Gods in the Temple of Jupiter. One can almost hear the thousands of cheering voices saluting the victor. Undoubtedly this is not a field of ruins. As Michelet rightly said, Rome did not die here: "Qui porte en soi une force aimante éternelle ne peut pas mourir!" But now it is time to leave the realm of dreams and cross the threshold into the sacred area of the Roman Forum. First, however, it is necessary to go pack to the Clivo Capitolino and the Clivo Argentario to Piazza Venezia, at the beginning of the Via dei Fori Imperiali, where the remains of the grandiose monuments of Rome of the Caesars await us.