While wandering around, we literally stumbled across the ruins of the Portico d’Ottavia. The Portico of Octavia was built by the Emperor Augustus between 27 and 23 BC, and dedicated to his sister, Octavia. I mainly know Octavia through the HBO Rome DVD series that I was watching just before leaving for this trip. One of the most prominent women in Roman history, Octavia was respected and admired by contemporaries for her loyalty, nobility and humanity, and for maintaining traditional Roman feminine virtues.
In the Middle Ages the huge area of the Portico of Octavia was filled with houses, towers, churches, monasteries and convents. It was a fish market until the end of the 19th century.
I watched a woman work her way through the ruins, putting her hands on the stones as if seeking to feel the spirit of Octavia herself. The red poppies grow throughout all of the ruins of Roma.