/Excubitorium della VII Coorte dei Vigili, Trastevere

Excubitorium della VII Coorte dei Vigili, Trastevere

Last week I arranged a special visit to the Excubitorium della VII Coorte dei Vigili for some private clients. This site, ancient barracks for Rome’s fire brigade, is usually closed to the public but I was able to finesse a visit to this off-the-radar underground site.

The building itself lays buried 30 feet beneath the Trastevere district. Like so many ancient structures in Rome, it was abandoned in late antiquity and used as a foundation for medieval structures, and because it was buried it was preserved. After a brief pitstop at Biscotteria Innocenti around the corner, we met the custodian who let us down into the site. An ochre façade on Via della Settima Coorte with “EXCUBITORIUM” inscribed above the doorway is all that betrays the entrance to the ancient building. A staircase leads downstairs to what today is a large enclosed room with hexagonal fountain basin in the center and rooms leading off of the main hall. When the barracks were in use, however, this central hall was actually open to the sky, like an atrium in a Roman villa you might find in Pompeii or Ostia Antica.

When the ruins were first uncovered in the late 19th century, archaeologists found graffiti that identified the building but now combination of neglect and humidity have erased any trace of these writings. The site itself isn’t in the greatest shape. Red and white tape closes off a corridor and a skylight above one of the rooms, below which cigarette butts and syringes litter the ground. There has definitely been some deterioration since I last visited in 2006 while filming Cities of the Underworld. It begs the question, what exactly happened with the new administration’s plan to reform Rome’s archaeological patrimony?

2016-01-08T13:02:46+00:00 March 1st, 2009|Categories: Rome & Lazio, Underground|13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. nyc/caribbean ragazza March 5, 2009 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Amazing. Can we talk about this next time I see you?

  2. Katie March 6, 2009 at 7:24 am - Reply

    Of course! I can set up a special visit for us.

  3. […] two important underground sites back in town: the Mithraeum under the Circus Maximus and the Excubitorium della VII Coorte (fire brigade barracks). Both second century structures were buried for hundreds of years beneath […]

  4. […] two important underground sites back in town: the Mithraeum under the Circus Maximus and the Excubitorium della VII Coorte (fire brigade barracks). Both second century structures were buried for hundreds of years beneath […]

  5. Synnove January 14, 2010 at 12:15 am - Reply

    Hello

    Do you know if it’s possible to visit the Excubitorium della VII Coorte dei Vigili – and get a guided tour?
    We are going to Rome in the middle of February (and also in October).

    • Katie January 14, 2010 at 7:02 am - Reply

      I can set that up for you. I’ll drop you an email.

  6. Tom Daeger April 19, 2012 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    My wife and I would also like to see the Excubitorium della VII Coorte dei Vigili – and get a guided tour. Please advise if this is still possible. Thanks.

  7. Charles Fere bee April 1, 2015 at 12:40 am - Reply

    Hello I will be in Rome in a month, first part of May. Is it possible to tour the fire brigade underground in Trastevere and also the Mithraeum under the circus maximus ? Please let me know

    Charles

    • Katie April 1, 2015 at 12:59 am - Reply

      hi charles, my assistant will be in touch with details. the excubitorium is closed for renovation but we may be able to visit the mithraeum!

  8. Josephine Ingham July 7, 2016 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Katie, I would love to visit the Coorte vll and will be in Rome from the 3rd to the 12th October. Would that be possible?

    • Katie Parla July 12, 2016 at 10:39 am - Reply

      Hi Josephine! the site is closed for restoration at the moment. There are other limited access sites I can provide tours for. Visit my tours page for info on special site visits.

  9. Clair January 13, 2017 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    Hi
    Do you know if it is possible to visit this site, we are visiting Rome in a few weeks. Thank you

    • Katie Parla January 16, 2017 at 4:39 pm - Reply

      My assistant will be in touch with tour info!

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