Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Under the guidance of the terrific Kim Bowes and Ruth Lo, a group of us visited a fascinating early 20th century  Garden City-inspired development called Garbatella.  Located in an industrial area that was supposed to become a new port for the city, this extensive new town was designed by some of the leading architects of the time, both before and during Mussolini's reign.  That's part of what makes it interesting -- do we call this "fascist architecture"?  Seems simplistic, and yet this was also very clearly a project pushed by the regime, even though the development had its roots in different motives.

It is a such a contrast to the gridded streets and blocky buildings of the nearby working class area of Testaccio.  Here the streets are curving, and everyone lives in small blocks called by the name "lotto."   The architecture is intentionally reminiscent of the Italian country and small towns, down to the exterior stairs that were a clear symbol of medieval vernacular architecture in the countryside.  Overall it was delightful, if a bit run-down.  Visible from the graffiti and posters on walls, this is a power center of the communist party in Rome, as one image below will reveal.

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