Rome Travel Guide

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Rome on Fire

Fires in Rome are relatively rare, or so it seems.  It may just be that, like traffic accidents, fires are numerous but almost always elsewhere, out of one's personal sight.  To our knowledge, there hasn't been a "real" fire in Rome's mountains and rolling hills for decades, even though farmers continue to light small fires to burn trash (or whatever), and it seems logical that the practice would sooner or later produce a conflagration in nearby fields or woods. When I was growing up in the Chicago suburbs in the 1950s, it was legal (and widely practiced) to have an open, circular iron contraption to burn stuff at the back of the property.  And sure enough, the adjacent fields caught on fire on a regular basis, blackening an acre or two of open land.

Despite the rarity of Rome fires, we have seen a few over the years.  Nothing major, but interesting nonetheless.  Four years ago, while exploring the somewhat dicey working-class town/suburb of Trullo for the first time, we came across not one but TWO burning trash bins (above and below).  Young punks resisting authority, we supposed.  Not good publicity for Trullo, but since then the town has experienced something of a regeneration through a substantial program of wall art and wall poetry

Then, in the spring of 2017, we happened upon--or in one case, read about--several fires.  In one case, we were on the way to a physician's office in the exclusive quartiere of Coppede'.  There on via Adige was this sad sight.  The owners of the burned automobile at left were there on the sidewalk, grieving and coping, a lot of work ahead of them.  Perhaps more young punk activity; privileged, alienated youth. 

Then, on the return from a hike in the Colli Albani, while passing through Piazza Finocchiaro Aprile, we came upon a more serious blaze along the far side of the railroad track, close to the Tuscolana station.  We parked the scooter and had a look.  This fire was in the papers the next day, but it was apparently put out without consequences.

There were, indeed, consequences to the final fire on our list.  This was a river bank blaze, known by some as the gazometro fire because of its proximity to the iconic Ostiense structure.  We knew this backwater area well, having explored it and observed its inhabitants from afar.  No one was killed, but quite a few "residents" of the river bank--Roma living in huts and tents--were rendered homeless by the blaze. 


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