“Breaking open doors I sealed up before…”

Years ago, during a cross-country road trip, I convinced my friend Dave to pause for dubious contemplation at the Helium Centennial Time Columns Monument, a fourth-tier attraction if ever there was one. More recently, when we traveled to Rome, Dave reciprocated by suggesting that we seek out what others might consider a similarly minor site. As it turned out, I didn’t need much convincing, because when Dave unfolded his map, he pointed to a place that should rate higher on the itineraries of history-minded travelers, especially medievalists.

And so, rushing to snap a few photos before the sun set, we became the rare tourists who deliberately visit the remains of the Porta Salaria.

I’ll let Dave tell you what we found there. In this brief but pensive piece, he contemplated the limitations of historical travel, especially when the reality of history turns out to be right in front of you—and sixteen centuries beneath you.