Vicolo della Spada di Orlando - Orlando’s Sword Alley
Vicolo della Spada d’Orlando (Orlando’s Sword Alley) is located in a street in the Colonna district between Via dei Pastini and Piazza Capranica.
The name suggests that it speaks of the valiant paladin Orlando and his exploits narrated in the Chanson de Roland, the heroic cycle of the eleventh century.
Orlando, or Roland in English, is both an historical figure and later legendary character. A Frankish military leader and trusted side-kick of Charlemagne.
Orlando, returning from the Crusade in the Holy Land, fallen in an ambush in Roncesvalles due to the betrayal of Gano di Maganza, killed several Saracens with the Durendal, his very powerful sword, and then sounded his horn, the Olifant, so strong to be killed.
Legend states that the King of the Franks, Charlemagne, frightened by Orlando’s powerful sword, decided to destroy it.
He tried to break it by hitting a column, the same one that is in the alley of the Spada di Orlando, but he did not succeed and the column broke.
A second legend instead states that it was Orlando who pierced the column. He would have fallen into an ambush and, defending himself from the attack of the enemies, would have hit the column with enormous power.
The column, in reality, would belong to the Temple of Matidia erected by the emperor Hadrian in the memory of his wife’s mother: the deification of the mother-in-law was certainly due to the fact that Hadrian wanted to highlight his dynastic descent, through his wife, with the family of the Ulpii Traiani and of the emperor Traiano.
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