History repeating. In these days of coronavirus panic something came to my mind: the “spy boxes” installed in Rome for the Jubilee of 1750.
The massive influx of pilgrims, who packed the city’s hotels and inns during this time, brought along concerns about the spread of epidemics across the Papal States. As a result, authorities constructed a number of spy post boxes around the city. This one you see is probably the last one survived and is located in Piazza delle Coppelle on the side of the San Salvatore Church.
As the Italian inscription describes, innkeepers and hoteliers were expected to report any sickly, dying, or dead foreigners and pilgrims by leaving a note in one of the boxes. Heavy sanctions were given to those who did not comply.
However, citizens thought it was just a way to monitor and track foreigners and ignored the request.
Privacy mattered also in 1750! .
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