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Bill Thayer

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The Roman City of Ariminum


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Augustus' (or Tiberius') great bridge that carries the Via Aemilia out of town.

Ariminum was of major strategic importance in the early days of the Roman Republic. It boils down to roads and food.

The second of the great Roman roads to be built was the Via Flaminia, linking Rome to the Adriatic coast. After central Italy, an exercise in choppy mountains and tortuous valleys thru them, Ariminum is on the edge of the flat regions of northern Italy, where transport suddenly becomes easy.

That in turn means food: grain from the Po valley reaches Ariminum easily by river and sea. Indeed, the city was a major port in Antiquity, even if nothing is left of that today — except, history being the quirky thing it is, the foundation of San Marino by one of the dockyard workers.

For insurance, the Romans eventually built another great road that started in Ariminum and in one classic long ruler-straight line, dropping cities along it like thumbtacks, linking Ariminum by land to the wheat supply. The Via Aemilia in turn was a major formative influence on northern Italy and a classic example of Roman landscape engineering: to this day the region to which the province of Rimini belongs is called "Emilia-Romagna".

It is not surprising that most of the Roman remains in today's Rimini are connected with the roads.


[image ALT: A large but empty cobblestoned square with 17th- and 18th‑century buildings around it.]

[ 4 pages, 5 photos ]

The end of the Via Flaminia: entering town thru the Arco di Augusto, reputed the oldest extant Roman arch, she becomes the decumanus of the city and can be considered to end in the Forum, still the main square of Rimini — where the ghost of Julius Caesar still speaks to his troops.


[image ALT: A solid five-arched stone bridge.]

The beginning of the Via Aemilia: the great road leaves town over one of the most beautiful of Roman bridges.
[ 6/29/03: not yet, folks. . . ]


[image ALT: A large but empty cobblestoned square with 17th- and 18th‑century buildings around it.]

[ 1 page, 2 photos ]

The Porta Montanara, once the western gate of Ariminum, though reduced to a single arch by the vicissitudes of time, is still one of the oldest city gates in Italy; it is being lovingly cared for (and since I last saw it, has been removed from that parking lot).


[image ALT: A rather disorganized grassy area with clumps of ancient brick ruins.]

All work and no play would make Marcus a dull boy; so, partly occupied by an elementary school, sad remnants of an amphitheater can be seen: it is hard to believe this was one of the largest in the Roman Empire, measuring 73 meters long. (The Colosseum in Rome is not much longer, at 86 m.)


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Site updated: 25 Apr 06