Rome Travel Guide

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Before and After: the Stairway to Piazza Brin, Garbatella

It's been devilishly difficult to find a photo--any photo--of the stairway leading up from via Alessandro Cialdi to Piazza Brin, in Garbatella.  I couldn't find such a photo in the tens of thousands of Rome photos taken by RST since 1989.  And a lengthy search of the internet turned up only the photo below.  It was taken sometime in the 1920s, when most of Garbatella did not yet exist.  It reveals the stairway walls to be rather handsome, made of stone that's been employed as a design element as well as a structural one.   It's a fitting entrance to the piazza above, and just beyond the piazza, to the historic entrance to Garbatella, the entrance and its flanking buildings designed by Innocenzo Sabbatini and completed in 1922.

Sadly, the Piazza Brin stairs no longer have the elegance they once had.  In 1989, when we first saw them, they were not only overgrown with weeds but littered with needles left by drug dealers and users.  Today, the stairs are no better maintained, and the walls have become a favorite haunt of taggers and graffiti artists, including some who claim to be making political statements or support the Roma soccer club (Roma/Sud--i.e., Roma fans on the south curve on the Stadio Olimpico).  Steel railings, to keep folks from driving vehicles on the stairs, were in place.  In 2012, the stairway looked like this:

Even so, the side elements of the stairway remained fairly clean.

By the spring of 2017, most of the open areas had been filled in.  The Roma cheerleading had been replaced by standard lettered graffiti, its meaning unknown (to this viewer).  And the 2012 "Carlo Vive" was now on the left side wall, complete with a painting of Carlo.  The splendid view of the buildings of Garbatella, available in 1925, was covered by bushes and trees.  And the bottom of the stairs has become a site for garbage collection and recycling.

Who Carlo is, and why there's so much interest in him is a story that remains to be told.  The words "Carlo Vive" (Carlo lives) present on the Brin stairs in 2012 and 2017, are solid evidence that Carlo is dead. [For information about Carlo, see the first comment, below].



frederan said...

Uncertain whether you mean to write further about Carlo, the young man depicted on the wall in Garbatella, I just wanted to let you know that he is
Carlo Giuliani, antiglobal protester shot dead by riot police in Genoa, 2001, during the G8 summit hosted by the Berluconi government. Guliani, born in Rome, was 23. See
Keep up the good work, friends

Dianne Bennett and William Graebner said...

Thanks so much for your very helpful comment, Frederan. Another sad story. I intended to write something about Carlo, but I didn't know anything about him. Now I do. Bill