I reflect on this a lot as I take my younger son, a track and field and cross-country athlete, to his competitions.
For his weekly workouts, he trains, arguably (for others, clearly not for me), at the most beautiful stadium in the world – on the site of Caracalla, the Ancient Roman baths where young men (women couldn’t compete at the time) in Ancient Rome would also practice sports.
There, at parks like Rome’s Tor Fiscale, where I was last month (my second time there for races), my son and his fellow athletes ran routes that duck around ancient towers and through the arches of Ancient Roman-era aqueducts.
If there’s any need to prove how Romans live amongst their ancient past, this is it. In other countries, these ancient ruins are in museums. Here in Rome, they are simply part of the backdrop of normal life.
Il Parco Tor Fiscale (Tor Fiscale Park) is off the Via Tuscolana, in easy walking distance from Rome’s metro (A line – Porta Furba-Quadraro stop). It was a crossing point for five aqueducts of Ancient Rome and one built during the Renaissance period.
There are also traces of the ancient Via Latina (the Ancient Roman road that began alongside the Via Appia and stretched down to Capua, in today’s Campagna region), and this was a rich area for exploration of burial sites and ancient Roman country villas.
The 30 meter-high Torre del Fiscale (Fiscale Tower) dominates the landscape – and the cross-country runners’ course generally loops around it.
As I mentioned earlier, if one has to wake up on a Sunday morning, at least it’s a real treat to discover some of these off-the-beaten-path parks with their impressive reminders of Rome’s past as caput mundi.
Enjoy your wander – or cross-country competition – through these impressive ruins at Parco Tor Fiscale the next time you’re in Rome.