The discovery of the Roman theatre is certainly one of the most important events in the recent history of archaeology regarding the city of Acqui. In the immediate surroundings of Piazza della Bollente the remains of the ancient city theatre – the existence of which was not known, as they remained hidden for centuries under the foundations of medieval and modern buildings, demolished in the course of the renewal measures undertaken in the old centre of the city – were only discovered in recent years (1999-2000; new excavations have been carried out in 2004, in order to finalise the research).
The presence of such a monumental building is further evidence of the political importance, of the economic wealth and of the high cultural level achieved, in ancient times, by the city of Acqui.
For the location of the cavea* – facing the square below Piazza della Bollente, where the stage had to be placed, the ruins of which are probably hidden under the modern constructions – the old building took advantage of the hill’s natural slope, on the top of which the Paleologi Castle stands. It followed a building technique especially typical of the Greek theatres that significantly differed from the Roman ones, which on the contrary provided for the presence of structures supporting the terraces. The constructions brought to light by the excavations consist of some seats cut directly into the hill’s rocky basement together with, in the upper part, three parallel curved walls, made of squared stones, the last one of which is linked to double cross walls, which may perhaps suggest the original presence of above ground structures supported by arches. Also worthy of note is the presence of substantial portions of two flights of stairs providing access to the terraces, always placed in order to follow the slope of the ground: such structures, made of stone slabs and preserved in such a good condition as to ensure still an excellent readability, gave clearly access to the public to the various tiers of seats. The only visible remains belonging to the ancient building – heavily affected by the later constructions – are those of a staircase giving access to the cavea, while the other structures identified during the excavations have been covered again, as it was not possible to keep them in view because of the serious conservation issues that the exposure would have created. Above the ruins of the ancient cavea, however, some terraces have been made that, with their curved shape, ideally intend to recall the space scheme of the Roman building, whose memory is kept alive also through the persistent use of this place for theatre performance.
* Translator’s note. Cavea: seating area