Scirocco and Wind Rose markers in St Peter's Square

Oct 16, 2018 430


When Juno, Queen of Olympus, needed to vent her spleen, she visited Aeolus, god of the winds, on his draughty island off Sicily. Juno was outraged that the fugitive Trojan prince Aeneas was destined to found Rome and destroy Carthage, her favorite city, so Aeolus ordered a cyclone to capsize the Trojan fleet. Ever since, Rome has feared southern winds.

If you visit St. Peter’s Square, you will see them marked on a wind compass surrounding the Vatican Obelisk. Before the Papal States were blown away, Pius IX noted their names and directions. The ostro, the warm and humid south wind, brings summer storms and flash floods. The libeccio, the southwest wind from Libya, raises high seas and causes squalls. But the most malevolent is the scirocco, the southeast desert wind, a withering blast whose hot and clammy touch hastens death and putrefaction.

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