As construction continues ahead of the 2025 Jubilee in Rome, the work in front of the main street to St. Peter’s Basilica is hitting a wall.

The area in Piazza Pia, the street in front of the Vatican media office – the former Vatican Radio – has been discovered as the site of ruins from the Roman Empire. Of course, this is a common occurrence in construction projects in Rome.

According to Corriere della Sera, large mosaic floor surfaces have been uncovered, along with four or five rooms of considerable size, believed to be the remains of an ancient clothes washing service.

A human skeleton was discovered on May 24, adding to the drama. (The skeleton was probably from the 1500’s, so was neither from the era of the Roman Empire nor a recent burial.)

The plan is to turn the space into a walking area, and to add an underground passageway for cars – the area is a major passageway for the Vatican.

However, before it can be done, the site must be studied and any valuable remains need to be secured: And this can take time, especially in Italy.

The Italian newspaper says the most likely option for the authorities given the absolute centrality of the construction site at the entrance to Via della Conciliazione is to relocate the finds.

Google photo of area to be pedestrianized near Vatican. (Credit: Google Maps.)
Google photo of area to be pedestrianized near Vatican. (Credit: Google Maps.)

Two months ago, Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri told reporters the city “can’t wait” to hand the site over to the Roman people and tourists ahead of the Jubilee, “this beautiful, completely renovated, pedestrian, greener, safer, more liveable piazza.”

The project will make the space between the Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s Square fully pedestrianized – radically changing the character of this area of the city. The plan was to have the project finished by December, but the new finds may delay this goal.

However, as it often the case in Rome, the project is causing turmoil in the area, with businesses suffering.

“Now, however, yet another about-face has arrived and nothing more will be done about this project, just a stone’s throw from the Vatican, after having sown further chaos and traffic jams in Prati [residential area near the Vatican], already on its knees due to the works in Piazza Pia, and having forced bars and restaurants to suffer significant economic losses,” said Fabrizio Santori, a member of the conservative Lega party.

Despite the chaos, the question still remains on what will happen to the discovered ancient works.

Although the headquarters for the Vatican media is under the rule of the Holy See, the road in front of it is under Italian control – which means the finds are more likely to be moved to an Italian site rather than Vatican City.