Romans were skinny, and more

La Turbie Roman road

I am standing in the path of the Roman road that lead west from Rome skirting the coast of the Mediterranean. I think I read that this was the highest place along that route, which eventually went all the way to Spain. I am standing here (43.74522,7.40151), shooting south toward the gate that is some kind of post-medieval retread, and I suspect there was no gate here in Roman times. Anyway, just south of that gate is a 1930s reconstruction of a c. 6 BC piss-mark monument that has many names today. It celebrated the conquering by Augustus of many indigenous peoples living in the zone that today spans the French-Italian border in the southern Alps (a border which moved even in modern times). In case any subjects considered rebellion or otherwise forgot their place, this structure loomed above them at every turn, reminding them who the bosses were. The reconstruction dates to the 1930s. The original was robbed for building stones certainly during medieval times and probably before. The Roman stamp faded and the rebels could reassert themselves….

Monaco central from above

Standing here (43.74547,7.40345), on the end of a promenade the locals call the rondo, with carefully tended tiny plots of lawn and shrubbery and a rock noting that the Mayor of La Turbie made Prince Rainier an honorary citizen not too long ago, we looked down on the heart of Monaco.

Between us and the harbor, and just above the water, is the part of town where the famed casino is (we didn’t bet a penny, euro, or any other currency). That peninsula jutting out framing the other side of the harbor is the old part of town, Monaco-Ville, where the Prince’s Palace is (it’s the higher roof, of course). Since this is a politically independent place, I’d rather expect the top royal would be a king/queen, but, as you’re probably aware, that’s not the case. I’m sure the reason for this is noted somewhere, but I have either missed it or haven’t retained it.

After gazing out to sea for quite a while, and enjoying the breeze, we walked back to the car through the narrow winding streets, partly on the old Roman route, then drove down into Monaco, notching a third country on our belt for the trip so far (France, Switzerland, and…).

We, being mere colonials, had the idea that we could loop around Monaco-Ville, but a police-security guy was posted to deflect tourist cars from doing so. We opted not to walk there, either, and headed toward Nice on the basse corniche, the lower of the three along the stretch between Monaco and Nice.

In Nice, we skipped the Terra Amata site and museum (yes, very famous and Late Paleolithic, but), and did wander the Gallo-Romaine museum/ruins of Roman Cemenelum (more info here, on the dot-fr page; let Google translate help you), confusingly called Cimiez in all the off-site signage. The exposed zone has two bath complexes (different dates), sections of streets, and so on (check 43.71893,7.27610 in satellite view).

Fun day!

One comment

  1. Maureen Meyers says:

    The Latin student of 9th grade is way impressed with your Roman Road pic and words; the kid who read the Enquirer stories of Princess Grace’s death is wowed with the Monaco pics and words, and the archaeologist adult loves the borders percolating through the whole thing. Thanks!