Gates of the Villa Sciarra by Alisha. 2010.
Today is the Roman festival of
Furrina is the patron deity of a sacred spring and grove located on the eastern slope of the Janiculum hill, a spot which once lay across the Tiber and outside the walls of Rome. The area has long been encompassed by the Villa Sciarra, now an unexpectedly peaceful park within the bustling city.
French archaeologist Paul Gauckler found epigraphic evidence on
marble fragments and altars in 1906 linking the site with the cult of Furrina, and later discovered an ancient well dating to the pre-republican
period. Exploring the well, he found passageways that were aligned with the points of the compass, and a rocky grotto “all hung with stalactites, a dark and secret
cavern in which the first explorers of the spring had without doubt believed themselves to be in the
mysterious retreat of the divinity of the place.”