Living with history

By Carol / June 3, 2011 /

If you lived with a Roman aqueduct running through your yard, would you think about history differently?  I asked myself that today when we biked for a mile or so along the base of an aqueduct built in the 17thCentury that still stands between Guamo and Lucca, Italy.

The aqueducts run, literally, through peoples’ yards, they frame the entrances to restaurants, they span roads, villages, cities.

On the east coast, my niece and her family live in Pennsylvania, home to Gettysburg and the Liberty Bell. My feeling when visiting them is that history comes alive when you can walk in the field where President Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address or see the chairs in Freedom Hall where Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson or James Adams debated the tenants of democracy.

How much more would that connection to those who came before be true if you lived in an area where history went back 500, 700, 1,000 years? What would that mean to the way you thought about your life and actions. What would that mean to the way you thought about preserving the environment or being involved in the issues of the day?

We in Iowa have a very short history. We have yet to celebrate our state’s bicentennial. We have the Effigy Moundsnear Guttenburg, created by ancient peoples more than a thousand years ago. But these mounds are enclosed in a park and blend with the nature that surrounds them and covered them up until recent years. They do not have the same aura as a church built in 800 AD or the Roman aqueducts that might stand right outside your door.

History in Italy is literally at every turn in the road. I don’t have an answer. I’m just curious.

How do you think about the history of where you live? Would seeing an aqueduct outside your door ever become so common you forgot about it?


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