Monday, May 04, 2009

The historical perspective

Where do you live?

Somewhere really old.

The extreme antiquity of Rome and Italy in general is a constant source of fascination for us North American ex-pats and tourists.

This, about my own neighbourhood in Santa Marinella, is from the website of the Odescalchi castle.

The Odescalchi Castle is located in a position well known in antiquity for its strategic and landscape qualities. For the Etruscans, the harbour was the point of arrival for merchandise coming from Carthage. Later on in time, the Romans settled here, re-naming it Punicum. Here they built a splendid sea-side villa which belonged to the great consul Ulpiano.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Norman tower was erected (12th century). Still standing to this day, it was built with the scope of defending the coastline from pirate attacks.

In 1567, with an edict published by Pius V, it became part of a larger-scale defence system of towers running along the coast from Terracina to Porto Ercole.

At the end of the 16th Century the observation tower was encircled by a tall enclosure.

Here's a bit more, translated rather creatively from Italian:

On the promontory of Santa Marinella, where now is found the Odescalchi Castle, according to Tabula Peutingeriana, where the site of the ancient Punicum could be found, a settlement of Etruscan origin, born in coincidence with a point of easy area, protected from winds and the sea.

The name Punicum, by the connection to the frequency of this track of coast by part of the Punic people, may derive from the Latin name of pomegranate (malum punicum) a plant that in ancient epoch, together with other elements of the natural landscape, was used often as topography point of reference (ad punicum).

In the Roman age near Punicum was built a great and luxury marine villa called Ulpianus, including a port and an establishment for fish farming, bought perhaps at the start of the III century A.D. by the famous jurisconsult Ulpianus.

There is the remains of an Etruscan bridge too. I'll get some pics. The commune of S. Mar. is building a little park around it.

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