The new Mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, recently announced plans to make the area of the Roman Forums "the greatest archaeological park on the planet". The biggest impediment to his plan is the Via dei Fori Imperiali, the grand avenue ploughed through the area by Benito Mussolini in the 1930s. The road covers about 1/3 of the Forum area and is also a major traffic thorofare in the city, the closure of which will cause many problems but if he can succeed the results will be spectacular.
The Forum area consists of a series of areas built over several centuries. The original Republican Forum sits in the valley between the Palatine and Capitoline hills. Adjacent Forums were built by Julius Caesar and the Emperors Augustus, Vespasian, Nerva and Trajan.
On this Google Map you can see the Via Imperiali running from the Victor Emmanuele monument to the Colosseum.
(All photos and pictures from Ex Urbe)
This is the original Forum.
The start of the Via Imperiali.
In the course of researching this post, THC found an outstanding new blog, Ex Urbe, written by a young anonymous Professor of European History. Read his post, The Shape of Rome, which does the best job THC has ever seen in clearly explaining the centuries of building layering within the city of Rome. He uses as his example, the Basilica of San Clemente, a church near the Colosseum, taking us on a beautifully illustrated tour from the Baroque era back to the time of the Roman Republic, all within the same structure . THC has read about layering but never really understood it until this post.
The author then embarks on a comprehensive overview of the geography of the city during various historical periods, astutely using pictures and maps (many of which THC had never seen before). Take a little time and read The Shape of Rome on Ex Urbe.