Rome Travel Guide

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Campo Testaccio: AS Roma's Historic Field

Today, it's entirely overgrown, a swath of land in the heart of the city, abandoned to nature and inhabited by the homeless.  You can peer in from via Nicola Zabaglia, just a half block from the entrance to Monte Testaccio, at via Zabaglia and via Galvani, and just across the street from some of Testaccio's best-known bars and restaurants.  You're just five minutes from the Pyramid.  See the historical aerial views at the bottom of this post.

The site was--and still is--known to Romans as Campo Testaccio (Testaccio Field).  For 11 years, from 1929, when it was constructed, until 1940, Campo Testaccio was the home field of the legendary Rome soccer club, AS Roma, founded in 1926.  The stadium held 20,000 fans, and they reveled in the team's success in those years--103 wins, 32 ties, 26 losses. 
Campo Testaccio, c. 1935
Though the team won no championships while playing on that field, the stadium was immortalized in "Campo Testaccio," an anthem written by Toto Castellucci and sung by generations of Roma fans.  Click on the 'play' buttons in this link for traditional and modern versions of the song:

What happened to the field in the 60 years after the team moved to Stadio Nazionale is unclear, though at the turn of this century, when we first saw it, the campo still resembled a place where one could play soccer. 

But in 2008 preparations began for an underground parking lot on the site, and in came the bulldozers.
Bulldozers on their way
Apparently the area proved inhospitable for that purpose, and a grass-roots movement, peopled by Roma fans, took root--a "save the stadium" effort.  Surprisingly, just this year it met with some success; the city council removed the campo from the city's parking program and returned it to a sporting-use designation.  Maybe it'll look different the next time we see it.

Once you've seen the forlorn remains of Campo Testaccio, direct your attention to the area just west of the field, still along via Zabaglia.  Stop in front of what looks like another of the city's many Madonelle--street corner Madonnas.  In this case, we're not looking at the classic Mary.  The "madonna" being worshiped here is, appropriately, the Signora der Futtebball!    

Nostra Signora der Futtebball
         Campo Testaccio Incoronò (Crowned by Campo Testaccio)          
Testaccio Crowned Mother Mary Queen of Roma Football

Left: field center, via Marmorata Post Office upper right, Protestant cemetery lower right, Monte Testaccio lower left.    Right: 1932, from a different angle.  


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