Wednesday, August 8, 2012



CONSTRUCTION workers expanding the Zara flagship store in Rome have stumbled onto a previously unknown section of the AQUA VIRGO, one of most important aqueducts in Roman history.

The famous Trevi Fountain draws its water from what modern-day Romans call the "Acqua Vergine Antica" aqueduct, which is almost entirely underground.

Archaeologists came across the aqueduct under the intersection of Via del Tritone as excavations began to enlarge the retail premises at the former Rinascente building off Via del Corso, now the home of Spanish retail giant Zara. 

The experts carried out a hurried inspection. However the expansion plan for the clothing store – scheduled to take two and a half years – continues, with the intention of opening a larger store in 2015.

Plans are to preserve the ruins and make them visible to visitors, similar to other archaeological discoveries under the capital's shops such as the Ikea store at Anagnina.

The Vergine aqueduct is one of the several built to serve ancient Rome with pure drinking water. The name derives from the name of its predecessor, AQUA VIRGO, constructed by Marcus Agrippa in 19 BC.

Along its more than 20 km length, the aqueduct dropped only 4 meters to reach Rome in the center of the Campus Martius. At its height, the aqueduct was capable of supplying more than 100,000 cubic meters of water every day.

The aqueduct ran underground for nearly all of its length. In 537, the Goths besieging Rome tried to use this underground channel as a secret route to invade Rome, according to Procopius.

After deteriorating with the fall of the Roman Empire, Aqua Virgo was repaired by Pope Adrian I in the 8th century. Following a complete restoration and extensive remodeling from its source to its terminus points from the Pincio to the Quirinale and within Campo Marzio, in 1453, Pope Nicholas V consecrated it Acqua Vergine.

Zara opened its Rome flagship store for business in the restored Palazzo Bocconi in time for the Christmas shopping season in 2010. The five-floor flagship store became the firm's third outlet in Rome after its other nearby locations in Largo Goldoni and Galleria Alberto Sordi.

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