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  • Writer's pictureTammy Lowe

Story Time...

Legend says if you toss a coin over your shoulder, into the Trevi Fountain, someday you will return to Rome.

Clearly, the legend is true!

Now, grab your morning tea or coffee and settle in. I'll tell you another story.

Once upon a time there lived a young Roman girl. Whenever she came across soldiers -- exhausted and thirsty under the blazing sun-- she would lead them to a spring where they could drink as much cool water as needed, refilling their canteens endlessly.

In the year 19 BC, when an aqueduct was built here, they named it Aqua Virgo after the young girl-- Virgin Water.

The water flowed from the Aqua Virgo to a simple fountain where Romans could gather water for their homes. It wasn't until 1792 when the large fountain we all know and love today was built-- The Trevi Fountain.

Now...come back in time with me to the year 1999.

We head south a few blocks, from the infamous piazza to a movie theater. Cinema Trevi.

Wanting to catch the latest flick, we go in, buy a ticket, and order some popcorn.

Oops...they need more popcorn bags. The owner heads into the basement to grab some more from his supply room. (Yeah, I'm totally taking dramatic license here.)

All of a sudden we hear a bunch of cussing in Italian. "There's a water pipe leaking down here!"

So, the guy comes back upstairs and calls someone to get here asap to repair the leaky pipe.

Repair crews arrive and start digging.

And digging.

And digging.

The movie cinema has to close because this is a bigger mess than expected.

"Actually...we need to bring in some archaeologists," they tell the owner.

To this day, the cinema is closed because what was uncovered in the basement is now an enormous archeological dig: La città di acqua.

Photo Credit: Turismo Roma Official

4300 square feet of a 4th century Roman mansion, built atop an older "insulae" (that's kind of a low-rise Ancient Roman apartment building) as well as part of an ancient aqueduct.

Today, you walk into what looks like a cinema from the outside, head to the back, and suddenly the movie theatre opens up into another world.


Metal walkways and stairs lead you down to Ancient Rome. You're strolling along an age-old road, looking up at the external wall of a building, wondering where bygone staircases lead.

The part I'll never forget is the collection of coins in a display case...

They've melted together into a clump.

Now, you may not know that it was possible for a Roman slave to buy his/her freedom. Well, in the year 455 AD, this very building was destroyed by fire during the sacking of Rome by the Vandals.

Back to the coins.

873 of them.


All of little value.

They'd been left behind in a clay pot, probably by a slave running for his/her life from the fire.

And losing their life savings in the process.

Imagine, saving every meager coin-- year after year after year, determined to earn your freedom.

Many did.

And then to lose them all in a fire.

It's absolutely heartbreaking.

And there you have it. Today's interesting fact of the day: La città di acqua

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