Monte Testaccio


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This 36-metre-high (120-foot-high) 'mountain' covered by scruffy plants is a quirky sidebar to the commercial might of the Roman Empire in the second and third centuries. What appears to be a substantial hill is in fact a collection of pieces of broken amphorae dumped here during the port's heyday. The jars held olive oil from Betica (Andalucía) and North Africa. In the Middle Ages, Monte Testaccio and the area below it were the venue for pre-Lenten carnevale celebrations, with the horse races and religious pageants of the nobility vying with the less-refined sport of the people. Pigs, bulls and wild boar were packed into carts at the top of the hill and sent careering down: survivors of the impact were finished off with spears. Jews, too, were subjected to indignities of all kinds. Osterie were bored into the flanks of the hill in the 17th century. Today, clubs and restaurants are still tucked away there, many of them with glass rear walls that show the clay-pot innards of the hill.

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Monte Testaccio details

Via Zabaglia 24

Area Rome

Transport Bus 24, 30Exp, 75, 95, 280, 673, 716/tram 3.

Open by appointment only.

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