26 The conquerors who came from the north did destroy an endless number of buildings, monuments, documents from the past, but they could not fail to show great admiration for what the Emperors, the Senate, and the Romans themselves had succeeded in doing. The result of this was that they repurposed at least as much as what they had torn down. The popes adopted a similar criterion. In the Renaissance, the architect Sebastiano Serlio wrote that: “Roma quanta fuit ipsa ruina docet” (the greatness of Rome can be seen in its ruins). And these ruins were restored, used, transformed, buried, and then unearthed, in an oscillation between the old and the new, the likes of which had never been seen before, in two thousand years and beyond, a clear prevalence of the one over the other. This is the rationale of the Eternal City, and it is the rationale behind the pictures in this book. Everywhere you go you can establish the exact era of the place you are crossing, visiting, or simply experiencing in the day-to-day. However, that place, our photographs tell us, albeit accurately dated, never exclusively belongs to the historical era in which it was planned, built, and adorned. The entire city, in fact, is one colossal palimpsest where different historical periods thrive together in the same place. Each of these periods left behind specific marks, visible in the streets, monuments, artworks, archaeological sites, human activities, meeting places, and spaces for social assembly. In countless cities around the world there are—clearly distinct—ancient areas destined to the visits of tourists, and modern areas where people live and work. That is not Rome. In the city of Rome, the ancient and the modern live together, they are present at the same time, and anyone who lives or travels there becomes aware of this, especially when seeing the huge historical district, identified by the “Rioni ” (neighborhoods) or the districts that were built between the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, as though it were an open-air museum, even though the word “museum” is not to everyone’s liking. But what we can see in these photographs is rather different. Here, Rome is not an open-air museum; it is a place of profound historical meaning and supreme beauty, where everything speaks of lives lived even with respect to two thousand years ago and even longer. In these images we see how space and time are generated by a stratification that is immediately perceivable both in the day-to-day and in the cultural research. In these pictures the author’s gaze flows unhindered, there are no obstacles or disturbances. We see what history has passed down to us and what it reminds us of each and every day. This book thus becomes a full-fledged walk through the uninterrupted and endless flow of history. The fact that there are no people in the images does not arouse feelings of melancholy or sadness, and what we see is not a city of the dead. It is everyone and no one’s city: it is the city that its residents and its visitors could easily get to know if only they really stopped to look at it, understanding that it is truly designed for each one of us. And so we travel through landmarks like the Capitol, where secular power and religious power meet, for at the very top is the Basilica, at first Benedictine and later Franciscan, of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli. Close by is the new Rome born after the papacy’s defeat by the Savoy troops. Here is the Vittoriano, the monument built between the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries in honor of King Victor Emmanuel II, celebrating the unity of the country and the freedom of its citizens. In 1929 the Concordat resulted in the ultimate paradox, clearly shown in these pictures. That was when, inside the secular city, an independent State was born, surrounded by walls like in ancient times, and named the Vatican City.