Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rome Journal XIII: Ruins

drawing by Hallie Cohen
Tintern Abbey is a famous ruin. Wordsworth’s poem, “Tintern Abbey”(1798) reflects the once grand structure's sublimity. Allen Ginsberg took an acid trip in Tintern Abbey from which he wrote “Wales Visitation” (1967). Shelley’s “Ozymandias” (1818) expresses a similar sentiment through the epitaph of a great king.  Rome makes a mere ruined abbey look sick. It’s a ruins party. You could say about the bus lines of the city, that all roads lead to Rome, the Rome of antiquity that is. If you take the number 75 bus down from the Gianicolo Hill you will come to the Colosseum. But when you start to hang around Rome for a while, you get used to these great monuments, these vestiges of the past. You begin to take them for granted and as your 75 slows down in traffic, the Colosseum begins to look like any slum. Of course neither the Forum nor the Pantheon can be compared to the favelas of Rio, but it starts to make you question your cultural assumptions. Sure these ruined abbeys, forums and colosseums keep archeologists in business. However, these edifices are built on prime pieces of real estate.  One Roman realtor advertises the Colosseum Apartments, which are actually near the Forum and if you’re in Manhattan you might want to consider buying something at the Colosseum on 116th and Riverside which commemorates the past with its curved façade. Unlike Rome’s Colosseum, this building actually has electricity.

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