It is believed that the mythical cave where the twins Romulus and Remus were nursed by the she-wolf is located in the deep of the Palatine Hill, on the south-west side.
However, the exact location has remained a fascinating mystery for centuries, and scholars determined to find it have meticulously and passionately sifted the hill.
We know that, as early as 1526, the Roman antiquarian Bartolomeo Marliano descended into a tunnel on the Palatine, telling that he had seen "a temple adorned with sea shells and stones composed together ..." where, at the top of the vault, it was possible to recognize the image of a white eagle.
We also know that in the nineteenth century the famous archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani was convinced that the site seen in the sixteenth century was precisely the Lupercale.
However, it must be said that there has always been a lively debate around the topic.
Some scholars are perplexed, and believe that this cave is nothing more than a splendid nymphaeum, or perhaps a triclinium.
From here, in ancient times, the Lupercalia festival began, linked to the totemic symbol of the city, the she-wolf.
From here the wolf priests started running around the hill, whipping the ground, the women and any person who came within range.
This fertility rite dedicated to Luperco (ancient Latin god identified with the wolf sacred to Mars) took place on February 15.
But now let's come to the present day, or almost.
In 2007, during the restoration of the House of Augustus on the Palatine Hill (reopened to the public in 2008), a sensational discovery was made: the Italian archaeologist Irene Iacopi claims to have found the Lupercale, the mythical cave we are talking about.
But how does the find happen? Thanks to a technological tool that has only been in use for a few years, a probe equipped with a laser scanner that, penetrating the belly of the Palatine, is able to transmit data of exceptional importance to the surface.
On that occasion, 27 feet below the ground level a golden dome emerges, decorated with a mosaic with glass paste, pumice stone and exotic shells.
The dome is relevant to an environment that sinks up to sixteen meters underground.
The hundreds of photos recorded and reworked by the computer also show us, on the vault of the dome, a white eagle on a blue background, exactly like the one described by Marliano in the sixteenth century!
But while Marliano descended into the cavity personally, through a tunnel that he had found, today archaeologists are still forced to use the technologies described above, since they still have not managed to find the entrance to the site.
It seems, therefore, that it is precisely the cave of the she-wolf (but will it have been a she-wolf? I'll talk about it soon), origin of Rome, a sacred place, revered and decorated for centuries, apparently up to the fifth century.
In the aftermath the abandonment, the Christianization of the city and, in the same place as Lupercale, the construction of the churches of San Teodoro and Sant’Anastasia.
I look forward to seeing you on the Palatine Hill for an unforgettable tour dedicated to the origins of our beloved Rome!