Rome's Newest Underworld

I got a chance to check out the new metro station just before it opened to the public last year and since then I have been back frequently. It is absolutely spectacular! In fact, I have dubbed it Rome’s most beautiful new museum.

The finds on display tell the story of Rome through stratigraphy (graphically marked with a clear indication of level below modern ground), chronology (with key dates popping up as you descend) and themes familiar to my students (water, reuse, etc.). The lighting is good, the signage is graphically excellent.

Sure, in the name of simplicity not much information is provided (a display case filled with marble fragments has one little placard saying essentially “old stuff”) and labels are only in Italian(well, it’s not like foreign tourists come to Rome or anything!). But the well-produced informative videos are subtitled in English and much of the display is self-explanatory.

It will be years before this station connects to anything but the outlying eastern periphery so I am curious to know how travelers will experience the station. People coming to see San Giovanni may arrive on the A line, then take a walk through the new station (which requires going out the turnstyle and then in again at Metro C but the ticket should still be valid I was told). Or perhaps this station will bring greater attention to the up and coming outer neighborhoods like Centocelle where my foodie friends keep unearthing new gastronomic treasures, including Santo Palato a short walk from the new station itself.

A nice outing is to take the metro A line from Termini (at the moment several other metro stations are closed due to maintenance problems), get off at S. Giovanni in Laterano, and before you get out pass over to the metro C station. There you can see all of the exhibits, taking the escalators down to the bottom, before you exit through the turnstyle and up to the street. Once at street level you are well situated to visit St. John’s in the Lateran, the Scala Santa, and walk to Santo Stefano Rotondo, Quattro Coronati, San Clemente, and various other stunning churches of the medieval city (which we feature in the Rankin & Green Building Rome walk. The view of the Colosseum in the distance will keep you from getting lost. Or you can just follow the Aqua Claudia aqueduct in to the Palatine and Circus Maximus.