Tel. 06-0608 Bus: 40, 62, 63, 64, 110, 170.
Trolleybus: 8 Open by appointment only: call first.
insula is tucked between the
monument to Victor Emmanuel and the
Aracoeli stairs. This ruined Roman tenement building dates back to the
times of imperial Rome, when thousands of people from all over the
Mediterranean tried to find themselves in the Eternal City. Most of
them lived in the cramped rooms of apartment buildings with which
they built up neighborhoods. In terms of their size, these houses
became known as "islands" or insulin in Latin. The owners poorly
supported these buildings and they often burned. Nevertheless, the
apartments in the city were very expensive. This multi-unit block of
the 2nd century is the only surviving similar building in Rome from
this era. The fourth, fifth and part of the sixth floor remain above
the current ground level, and the first three floors below ground
level. In the Middle Ages, part of these upper floors was converted
into a church. Today, its 14th-century bell tower and Madonna are
visible in a niche from the street.
In the fascist years, the
area around the Roman Insula was cleared, and for the first time
archaeologists studied the three lower floors. Approximately 380
people lived in this apartment building, in the squalid conditions
described by satirical writers of the 1st century AD. e., Martsialom
and Juvenal. The latter mentions that he needed to climb 200 steps
to get to his attic. This insula may have more floors. The higher
the citizens of Roma lived, the more gloomy the conditions were, as
indicated by the close spaces of the upper floors of the building.