Rome Travel Guide

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rome's Architectural Vernacular: the Open Loggia

Look up, and you'll see them. They're in every neighborhood built after about 1925. We call them "open loggias" (in Italian, one of the definitions of the word "loggia" is "verandah," and a "loggiato" is an "open gallery"). Some have become outdoor living areas, with vines or blinds to provide shade or, sometimes illegally--"abusivi" is the Italian word for such extra-legal structures--framed in to provide more permanent extra space for lucky and plucky upper-floor residents. And some, like the one above, on via Falconieri, remain pristine.
What we don't know is why architects designed buildings with this costly and, at least at first, useless feature. One answer would seem to lie in the realm of aesthetics; the open loggia arguably makes the building look better, lending it a certain lightness of being at the top. We also don't know the origins of the open loggia, whether in Bauhaus modernism, the architectural practices of ancient Rome, or something else altogether. Your insights are welcome. Bill

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