Stepping way back in time


I was driving back to Bagni di Lucca just yesterday – coming back from a shopping spree in Lucca, when I spotted a squat, wider-than-usual stone wall. I have driven back and forth on this road countless times and had never clocked this rather historical looking piece of wall. Whilst Ponte della Maddalena has whole bus loads of people crawling all over it in the season, this piece of wall, seemingly separating two olive groves and doing little else, was deserted. On inspection this is a piece of wartime memorabilia, it is the Gothic Line, built between 1943 and 1944 as a last stand against invasion in Northern Italy.  I like the way it sits there, attracting very little attention, a reminder of more turbulent times. So whilst on this historical theme how about this for delving back into the past…. a Dutch historian, Rene Voorburg has recently brought an ancient tabula back to life. This Tabula Peutingeriana shows an Imperial Roman road network that starts in Britain and extends to the river Ganges – just a wee thing then. It is some 2000 years old and shows 2760 towns, listing distances and destinations on the original Roman roads connecting them. Now thanks to Mr Voorburg we have a means of stepping right back in time, well before the Gothic Line was even considered. I have been playing around with it, it is all in latin of course, if it were a satnav you would just have to have Julius Ceasar’s!

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