The Ruyi Rome

An adventure to discover Rome: stories, enigmas and text messages

Like the Ruyi Venice, “Rome: The Ruyi” is an extraordinary treasure hunt through streets and squares, challenges and clues, that turns the Eternal City into a mysterious and fascinating playground for the players, who must discover the hidden-most corners of the city with the help of simple and direct technology, accessible to everyone: the mobile phone.


“Rome: The Ruyi” is the second chapter in a saga which originated in Venice, opening a world of legends and mysteries that have permeated the history of the great city of the Caesars since Antiquity, from the myth of the foundation of Rome to the ghosts of Donna Olimpia and Beatrice Cenci; from the stories of Virgil the sorcerer and Pope Joan to the adventures of Giordano Bruno, Cagliostro, Raffaello, Michelangelo, Lucrezia Borgia, each told on the most significant site in which they took place.


The system is the same used in each book of the Whaiwhai collection: the pages of the book are cut into sections and mixed up, and must be recomposed by solving the riddles scattered throughout the city, moving from one location to the next.


If at the end of the thirteenth century Marco Polo returned to Venice from China with the Ruyi, the legendary scepter of the Chinese emperor Qubilay Khan, and the object of the game in Venice was to find it and the tomb of the Venetian traveler, the Roman chapter starts with the discovery of an unknown letter by Benvenuto Cellini, in which the famous jeweler hints that the scepter was brought to the City of Popes at the end of the fifteenth century, and ended up in the hands of Rodrigo Borgia; that it was given new form during the Sack of Rome, to avoid falling into the hands of Charles V and his Landsknechts.


During the game, you discover that there is a hidden treasure under the Arch of the Argentari in San Giorgio a Velabro, and that the famous Bocca della Verità, the mouth of truth, has not worked since it was tricked by a woman… The book – published by Log607 in 2008 – may be used at any time of the day or night, playing single, as a couple, in a group. Or organizing a challenge among teams. This is a new and different way of traveling in pursuit of learning and fun. In 2009 the project won the National Award for Innovation in Services, for the Tourism category, conferred personally by the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano. The same year it was reprinted and distributed by Marsilio.


The following is a page recomposed and purged of game clues:


Beatrice’s Lost Innocence

Ponte Sant’Angelo was built in 136 A.D. as Ponte Elio, and no inundation of the Tiber river has ever caused it damage. In the Medieval Ages it was the road most frequently travelled by pilgrims on their way to San Pietro. The last ornamentation was added in the seventeenth century, with the installation of the angels designed by Bernini. Among the curiosities surrounding the bridge, it is said that it was to be embellished by two angels sculpted personally by Bernini, but that Pope Clement IX decided that they were too beautiful, and chose to send them to his native Pistoia instead; they ended up in the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte where they still adorn the main altar today.

The dark legend that distinguishes the bridge is undoubtedly the legend of Beatrice Cenci, who was executed in 1599 at the age of sixteen, and may still be seen wandering, on the night of September 11 – the day of the execution – holding her head in her hands. The daughter of Francesco Cenci, she lived a life of submission to the sexual attentions and beatings of her father, whose violent temperament and immoral behaviour had brought him no more than a bland reprimand by the Roman courts. Everyone was aware of the repulsive behaviour of this man, who had corrupted the judges during the three trials he stood (including one for sodomy, which was a crime punishable by death at the time), and gotten off free. The girl lived in the family palace with her brother Giacomo, her father’s second wife Lucrezia Petroni and the son she had borne to Francesco, named Bernardo. They were all victims of the man’s violence. The girl had sent a letter to the Pope, in which she detailed her father’s cruelty. But the document mysteriously disappeared; it never reached its destination and cost her dearly, as her father relegated her to a fortress that the family rented at Petrella Salto, in the kingdom of Naples, just beyond the borders of the Vatican state. It was here that the four Cenci plotted to kill the man.

In 1598, while Francesco was staying at the castle, two of his vassals – Marzio Floriani Catalano and Olimpio Calvetti, the latter of whom was said to be Beatrice’s secret lover – helped Beatrice and Lucrezia drug the man, then killed him in his bed, hammering two long nails into one eye and his throat, then throwing the body into the garden to simulate an accidental fall out of the window. But things did not go as planned, and the judicial authorities grew suspicious. A family friend, Monsignor Guerra, tried to kill the two valets, but Catalano survived, was arrested and confessed everything; he was tortured to death in front of Beatrice’s eyes.

From then on, things went from bad to worse: Olimpio Calvetti was captured and revealed the entire plot, the Cenci were imprisoned at Castel Sant’Angelo and tortured until they confessed. Only Beatrice stubbornly remained silent, despite the ferocious torture, until she was convinced by her family members to speak up, and revealed the horrible acts committed by her father.

When Clement VIII sentenced Beatrice to death, all of Rome took Beatrice’s side, but the Pope would hear no reason, and condemned all the members of the family to death, saving only Bernardo, but condemning him to watch the massacre. The execution took place on September 11 1599, on the bridge of Sant’Angelo: Giacomo had pieces of flesh torn from his chest and his back with a red-hot iron; he was then clubbed to death and quartered in front of the people who had gathered to watch the “show”.

Lucrezia’s beheading was over quickly: she was made to sit astride the block, and as she leaned forward with her neck exposed, her head was cut off. But when Beatrice’s turn came, a platform built nearby collapsed, killing a number people and delaying the execution. Finally the young woman walked onto the gallows of her own free will: she refused to be touched by the executioner. The ax fell, and it was all over. The executioner picked up the head and raised it for the shaken public to see. His pride in his zeal was short-lived: thirteen days later he died tormented by his nightmares, oppressed by his feelings of guilt. His assistant was stabbed to death two weeks later.

In her confession, Beatrice pronounced a sentence that in the light of the events that followed over the centuries, sounds almost like a prophecy: “No judge will ever be able to give me back my soul. My only fault is that I was born! […] I am as if dead and my soul […] is unable to set itself free. […] I don’t want to die… Who can guarantee me that down there, I won’t see my father again!” And in fact her soul never set itself free, and still wanders desperately around the place where her body was so violently put to death. This is why, at every anniversary, the girl’s spectre unfailingly appears on Ponte Sant’Angelo: in her candid hands, she carries her severed head.