On the 26th, a classmate and I visited the museum connected to the ancient Markets of Trajan. While the markets are now only skeletons of what they once were, being able to walk on the Via Biberatica like Ancient Romans used to was really impressive. This is one of those places where I can get a legitimate (if augmented) sense of what life was like in Ancient Rome. The museum was hard to find at first, hidden down a hill behind the markets themselves. The main floor had various small rooms above the actual street level displaying artifacts found around the Markets and Forum of Trajan. The majority of the artifacts were fragments of statues found in the area, each with its own story.
My classmate and I decided to go up to the Torre Milizie (Military Tower) lookout and second floor of the museum before we descended onto the ancient street. At the top of the stairs was a sign reading there was a dual exhibit in the museum on Franco Angeli’s photography. His modern art, fashion and photos juxtaposed nicely with the marble fragments dating back to the markets. Angeli had some black and white photos that shared a room with pieces of a colossal statue of Trajan, and I really liked moving from photograph to artifact. I had no idea we would get to see both exhibits, so it was a great surprise.
The overlook on the 2nd floor of the museum gave us a straight view to the markets, forums and onto the Vittorio Emmanuele II monument. The weather was perfect, so we stood up on the terrace, sunning and taking in all the history around us. Then, after a swift descent down a few staircases, we found ourselves on the actual Via Biberatica. That was one of those epiphany moments when the CC265 and TX201 courses joined together harmoniously. I never had the option to see these ruins during my previous visit, so being able to do this solo visit is a much-appreciated opportunity. I think that the privilege this museum offers really helps people appreciate classics, and because it isn’t a spot that is widely publicized, it doesn’t feel artificial. The 5 people milling around the old marketplace seemed genuinely interested in the history it held.
My classmate and I both remarked on how the space felt like the set for a play – empty shops and niches for statues lined the streets. They were so well preserved, too, which was really impressive. They looked like they had just been deserted the day before, not nearly 2000 years ago. The cobblestone streets were in good shape, after years of supporting Roman and tourist feet. The path in front of the major arc led into the Forum, but the security of modern times had installed a gate between the markets and the Forum, so we couldn’t enter as tourists. That would have been the cherry on top, obviously. But I was still pleased with our visit. I never realized how big the markets were and, once again, being on site was really supplemental to everything we learned in CC265.