Joan Perroni, archaeological excavation assistant in Rome: “The Aqüeducte de les Ferreres, today’s Parc Ecohistòric, used to be my playground as a kid”

Joan Perroni / ©Pere Toda-Vilaniu Comunicació

Joan Perroni is a man born in Tarragona who has lived, for years, on his particular diaspora in Rome, Tàrraco’s mother. There, Joan does what he loves the most: working as an archaeological excavation assistant in the most timeless and monumental city there is. If constructors in Tarragona complain every time a rock unveils a Roman ruin underneath, imagine what happens in Rome

Joan –who trained in the Taller de l’Escola d’Aqueologia (TED’A), located back then inside the Antic Escorxador building, home today of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili headquarters– really longs for Tarragona: its dimensions, its quietness, its natural light, friends and family, the castells (aka human towers)… This is why Joan tries to visit Tàrraco as often as possible and spend a few days –usually, not enough to his taste– with his family.

When we presented him with the opportunity to shows us his most beloved personal spots in Tarragona, we reckon he gave us the final yes thanks to yet another short break he had planned to the city. Would you like to know about his three photographs? Do come in.

Aqüeducte de les Ferreres (Pont del Diable) / ©Joan Perroni

I’ve chosen the Aqüeducte de Ferreres, also known as Pont del Diable, because I’m a kind of Tarragona suburb citizen, I’m from Sant Pere i Sant Pau to be more specific. And so, what today is known as a Parc Ecohistòric (Eco-historical Park), used to be my playground as a child, one of my favourite areas to play and walk around. What I see now as ruins and remains were a kind of theme park back then. We used to play at Mas de l’Àngel and Pont del Diable quite often. It is a truly amazing piece of work, one that, to me, should draw a lot of attention. When I was a child, I felt incredibly tiny when staring at it or standing anywhere near it. I used to think about the colossal effort put in building it, so that they could transport and channel water. This is a symbol of our city, and that’s why I’ve picked it”.

Baixada de Misericòrdia amb carrer Major. / ©Joan Perroni

Tarragona and Joan Perroni exude the Roman world at all times. Thus, the second location he provided has a lot to do with Tàrraco’s past. “The point where Carrer Major and Baixada de Misericòrdia meet is very special to me because this is one of the first excavations on which I took part, at Pizzeria Pulvinar in particular. In here, we find an access staircase once joining the Roman Circus and the Provincial Forum. Well, this access is still very alive these days. I love to walk up the Baixada de Misericòrdia and, just where it meets the Carrer Major, stare at the Cathedral. I really get the impression of this still being a very current area,¡ even after so many years. Besides, I love the fact that it is home for many celebrations throughout the year and that it has become specially symbolic as it welcomes the so-called Walking Pillars on La Mercè’s day”.

Antic Escorxador, abans edifici del TED'A, avui  integrat als serveis centrals de la Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV). / ©Joan Perroni

#lamevaTarragona (my Tarragona), as Joan Perroni reckons, is a sort of connecting thread between the past and the present, the old and the modern, and one that works as a sort of linking point between a number of different locations in the city and his personal and work life. We also see this in the case of the third spot he’s provided. “The photograph you can see shows the Antic Escorxador building, today the Universitat Rovira i Virgili vice-chancellor’s office building, but once –over twenty-five years ago– and for three years, the Escola Arqueologia’s headquarters (TED’A). Here’s where I trained as an archaeology assistant. From this point, we used to go to the different monuments and urgent digs, and so this is a place I love because it reminds me of an amazing period where I learnt the job and met a lot of great and nice people”.

Joan Perroni / ©Pere Toda-Vilaniu Comunicació

We say goodbye to Joan at the stretch of wall located behind the Antic Escorxador building, just by the old TED’A, “which to me symbolises the birthplace of the archaeology of Tarragona, of today’s archaeology of Tarragona. I think TED’A set the basis for the restoration of the city’s archaeological patrimony and the resulting proclamation of the World Heritage Tarragona. It might sound a bit exaggerated, but I reckon it happened more or less like this. Here’s where I grew as a professional, and that’s why I’ve got it deep in my heart”.

Joan Perroni is very active in the social networks, with a personal profile on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where he tells us about his job in Rome, his beloved and yearned Tarragona and the country.

Text: Ivan Rodon (@irodon on Twitter)
Pictures: Pere Toda (@ptodaserra on Instagram)
Translation: Artur Santos (@artur_1983 on Twitter)