STUMBLING UPON THE VIA DELLA REGINELLA
With the world in turmoil and the barrage of horrific news of wars constantly in the media, my wife and I finally got to escape the madness and experience a trip to Rome - the eternal city - that we'd originally planned for 2020 when the Covid pandemic then struck.
We visited many of the main historic attractions the beautiful city has to offer and then started doing what we really love best - getting totally lost. We find meandering the backstreets where 'truly local people' live gives us a real feel for a town or city and we wander for mile upon mile through them.
We also have a little obsession with terracotta. At home we have well over a hundred terracotta pots that stand in every corner of our garden in summer and my wife also fills our home with houseplants planted in every shape of terracotta pot she can find.
So walking the streets of Rome with all its shades of terracotta buildings was an absolute joy.
Then we came upon the tiny Via Della Reginella.
At first sight it appeared to be another lovely typical Roman (sampietrini style) cobbled street, beautiful old buildings, a few now B&B's, the odd boutique and a corner cafe where chairs, a beer and wine were most welcome for a 'well-earned' break.
Leaving the cafe and walking in the direction of the Tiber river we noticed a couple of shiny brass tiles on the street floor. Having worked in electricity supply I'm always checking out how our continental chums receive their utility services and thinking they could be a covering for a water stop-cock or the like, a cursory glance proved necessary.
What we discovered was much more hard-hitting:
We'd quite literally stumbled upon what are called the 'Stones of Stumbling'. These are the brass tiles laid to remember the victims of Nazi/facist deportations during the 2nd World War. They mark the doorways of the places where the deportees last lived 'freely'.
The inscription on each stone begins “Here lived”, followed by the victim’s name, date of birth, and fate: internment, suicide, exile or, in the vast majority of cases, deportation and murder.
Walking along the relatively short street we found many more:
A survivor - Rosa (above) would presumably have been liberated from Auschwitz by the Soviet Red Army. Let's hope she has lived a long and beautiful life.
The streets of Rome (and most other cities) are full of statues and monuments to heroic warriors, but for me, the real history of the world is that experienced by (extra) ordinary folk just trying to go about their lives.
We visited Rome to escape the non-stop news of hatred, conflicts and war in the media and were reminded that sadly, 'it's ever been so'.
AND WE NEVER LEARN!
The wall at the end of the Via Della Reginella.
There are more than 70,000 such memorial blocks laid in more than 1,200 cities and towns across Europe and Russia.
Together, they constitute the largest decentralised monument in the world.