Monday, May 12, 2008


Many of the roads in old Rome are paved with black cobblestones, called sampietrini and they are, for the most part, a specific kind of porphyry, an igneous rock.  They come in different sizes and Rome is famous for them. These large ones are on the footpath in front of the Arco di Constantino, adjacent to the Colosseum.  Most of the stones used on the heavily traversed urban roads in central Rome are actually smaller.  

Here is a short, interesting article about the sampietrini.  It turns out they were invented and adapted as a paving material in the mid-1500's, under the authority of Pope Sixtus V, who looks very grumpy in this picture. (Frankly, most of the papal portraits we saw are pretty must be grim work.)

As it turns out, the current municipal government of Rome is beginning to replace it's cobblestones with that newfangled asphalt, which is making lots of other folks unhappy, too.  


Heidi said...

Awww... I like the cobblestones.

I think it is funny when places come in and put down brick roads or sidewalks to "class it up" when that is what was probably there in the first place!

Lovely photo, BTW!

Barry Pike said...

Thanks, Heidi! You should check out my wife's photos on her Flickr site. They are amazing.