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Underground Rome: Discovering the city's history through what lies beneath it

Broadcaster Megan Williams goes underground in the city that was once known Caput Mundi - the capital of the world. Williams uncovers the quiet secrets it continues to offer up, the questions that hang unsolved, and dramatic challenges the city’s underground past poses for the present. Delving into Rome’s past by venturing into what lies below it.
Images of underground Rome accompanied by a commentary from Megan Williams. 4:43
Listen to the full episode53:59

Broadcaster Megan Williams goes underground in the city that was once known Caput Mundi — the capital of the world. Williams uncovers the quiet secrets it continues to offer up, the questions that hang unsolved, and dramatic challenges the city's underground past poses for the present. Delving into Rome's past by venturing into what lies below it. **This episode originally aired March 12, 2015.

Megan Williams lives in Rome. For this episode she squeezed through dozens of dark, mysterious spaces underneath the eternal city, navigating subterranean quarries to discover the ancient rooms that lie below their foundations. It's a journey very few have ever been on: seeing bones and mosaics that date as far back as two millennia.

Photographs appear courtesy of Roma Sotterranea, the Centre for Speleological Research of Sotterranea di Roma and Megan Williams.

Guests in this episode:

  • Giuseppina Kysar Mattietti,  George Mason University Assistant Professor of Earth Science and Science Education and researcher with Centre for Speleological Research with Sotterranea di Roma.

  • Luca Girardo, Urban Speleologist with Roma Sotterranea​.

  • Carlo Pavia, Archeologist and Urban Speleologist​.

  • Allan Ceen, founder of Studium Urbis, research centre on Rome's topography and urban development.

  • Laura Venditelli, Head Archeologist at the Roman National Museum Crypta Balbi.
     
  • Olivia Ercoli, Rome art historian and guide.


Underground Sites in Rome Open to the Public

While the vast majority of underground sites in Rome remain closed to the public, in recent years, several have been opened or undergone further restoration.

Here's a list of some of the most interesting underground sites open to the public.

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