Excavate anywhere in the historic centre of Rome and something will turn up. When work started on the Auditorium Parco della Musica in the 1990s unusual Roman farm buildings came to light. Work stopped, plans were re-drawn and the walls of the farm are now beautifully incorporated into part of the music complex.

When diggers bit into the Gianicolo before the Holy Year 2000 to empty out the hill for a car park, they were stopped only just in time to save wonderful frescoes from a group of ancient Roman summer houses. These are now housed in the National Museum of Rome at Palazzo Massimo alle Terme.

Most recently, work on the central section of metro C around Piazza Venezia and Largo Argentina has come to a halt while archaeologists and structural engineers debate what to do with important historical finds.

It is hardly surprising therefore that there was going to be trouble when excavators started work on the Pincio hill overlooking Piazza del Popolo for a new car park with about 700 spaces.

Sure enough, up came all sorts of archaeological remains early this summer, work stopped and there has been controversy ever since; almost everyone who is anyone in Italy has had something to say. On 10 September the city