Rome Travel Guide

Rome Architecture, History, Art, Museums, Galleries, Fashion, Music, Photos, Walking and Hiking Itineraries, Neighborhoods, News and Social Commentary, Politics, Things to Do in Rome and Environs. Over 900 posts

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

History by Walking Around: the new tourist destination of Quartiere Giuliano Dalmata


As usual with Rome, we find some of the most interesting information - and add to our knowledge of history -  just by walking around. Last year - when we were walking back from our intended destination of the Laurentina 38 housing project (about which Bill wrote in July 2019) we ran across this "monument" (top photo) - with the words "To the fallen, Giuliani Dalmati," placed on a large boulder from the Carso - a rocky region of Italy that was the subject of Italian/Austria-Hungary battles in World War I, and was a focus of competing armies and political interests again in World War II. 

We also saw on a nearby building this plaque, 

which basically reads:

March 1947: The Exodus of Italian Pola: Hospitable Rome welcomes the Istrian, Fiumean [Fiume is now called Rijeka] and Dalmation refugees. President Oscar Sinigaglia [a street in the map below bears his name], with the National Organization of Repatriated Workers and Refugees, gives life to the "Giuliano Dalmation Neighborhood"  The plaque is marked as put up by the National Association of Venezia, Giulia, e Dalmazia (Venezia-Giulia and Dalmatia)

Quite difficult to make sense of this if one is less that fully knowledgeable about Italy's role in World War I, Fascism and World War II, plus some post-World War II history. In giving it a try recently, we ran across an article touting the restoration of the monument at the top of this post, "after years of neglect and degradation" (it didn't look so bad to us in 2019!) only this past October.

And, even more recent, on December 30 of this past year, the "Quartiere Giuliano Dalmata" (map at end of post) was welcomed - with a plaque and Q Code - in the tourist layout of Rome. 

Not exactly readable here, but the plaque relates that the "quartiere" or neighborhood started in 1939 as workers' housing for laborers building Mussolini's E42 expo grounds (now the fully developed EUR zone, which is featured in our books) a few miles further south of Rome. 
When the war brought Mussolini's unfinished international exhibition construction to a halt, the workers abandoned the housing. The Allies occupied the buildings for a while. When they left, in 1947, a nucleus of 12 families - fleeing their homes in Pola, which was ceded to Yugoslavia and is better known as the Istrian Peninsula - were settled here. The dorms were converted to small apartments, and in 1955 another 2,000 people from the ex-Italian Pola region settled here, giving the quarter its name. 

There are still some political joustings and resentments over the "exodus." Apparently (I'm trying to tread lightly here) some of the Italians were settled in the Istrian Peninsula by the Fascist government, which claimed the area and wanted it settled by, and dominated by, Italians.

The boulder monument was put up in 1961, and in 2008 a sculpture (photo below, right) was erected in the nearby Largo Vittime delle Foibe Istriane ("Largo [something like a piazza] Victims of the Istrian Foibe").  Bill commented on the sculpture in a 2011 post here. 

Delving into the foibe (deep sink holes into which victims were thrown, sometimes alive) and their political ramifications is beyond my pay grade at this point - perhaps for a later post.  Because the Day of Remembrance for the victims and those in the exodus that resulted in the neighborhood described here is February 10 - not long ago - we offer a link to an Ansa article describing the reasons for the Day of Remembrance (and a bit of the politics).

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Things I Miss in Rome, 5th installment


Things I Miss in Rome (part V):

1. Scaffolding without workers (or, never-ending work on the tomb of Augustus). Heard it just opened--but no tickets available through June (another thing I miss in Rome). 

2.  Anna Magnani

3.  Curious Wall Sculptures 

4.  Living in somebody else's apartment

5.  Discovering someone actually cutting grass

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Subterranean Rome - an engineering feat from 2500 years ago


At one time, one could visit,
but would you want to?

  Rome's - if not the world's - most famous sewer showed up on our RST Top 40 list, admittedly at #40, almost 9 years ago. We're revisiting it today, because it fits into our you-can't-go-there-anyway category; in this case, because it's underground.
Better to view it from the outside, here, today, as it exits into the Tevere.

 The sewer, or Cloaca Maxima (also spelled Cloaxa, as we did 9 years ago, but Cloaca is more common, we've learned since) - meaning "big sewer" - was constructed about 2500 years ago, even before the Romans as we know them. It was designed to canalize water coming down from streams on Rome's 7 hills into the Forum. It ran straight through the Forum and was first open, with small boards as crossing points (must have smelled lovely).

In the photo at right is a reconstruction of what the Cloaca Maxima looked like during the time of the Tarquinian kings (6th century BCE).

When we wrote Rome the Second Time in 2008, we were fascinated by the large mouth of the Cloaca on the Tevere that one can still see today (it shows up in Itinerary 3: The Strange Career of the Tevere, p. 48 in the print copy) - see photo above,"Lo sbocco nel Tevere." There are many views of that 2500 year-old opening, including by Piranesi (etching below), who apparently inspired Goethe to visit the Cloaca in April, 1788. There's evidence Goethe was able to go inside the sewer, though we don't know if he entered it from the Tevere. 

There are more, quite lovely, paintings and etchings at the end of this post.  Amazing a sewer can be so inspirational.

We, who are always finding ways to tie Rome, Los Angeles, and Buffalo, NY, to each other, offer to tie at least Rome and Buffalo together with the tracing above ground of the waterway below-ground. The photo below shows the route of the Cloaca Maxima, above ground, as it would look today. Recently, Bill took the two of us on a route following an important creek in Buffalo, the Scajaquada Creek, where it was placed - a mere 90 years ago -  underground, but can - more or less - be followed above ground. 

So that's our challenge to our readers and to us the next time we are able - to follow the Cloaca Maxima's route above ground.  Part of that route, of course, still wends its way through the Forum, and one can today find evidence of it above ground there, as in this photo:

These (above photo) are the remains of a small "chapel" ("Sacello") to the Sewer Venus ("Venere Cloacina"), evidenced also in a coin of the period (photo right). 

Other fun facts.  Most of the sewer is in use today, 2,500 years later, although not the part that opens onto the Tevere. Etruscans started building it by carving into the very useful tufo (photo left). It was finally (!) covered over in the 2nd century BCE, as Rome grew and there was need for more space. Agrippa (1st century BCE) took a boat and explored it. 

People who were sewer-keepers were proud enough to have this on their tombstones (photo right). 

One of the San Sebastiano stories has him thrown into it. Left, Ludovico Carracci's 1612 painting of San Sebastiano being thrown into the Cloaca

Parts of the Cloaca Maxima are built with the classic Roman marble, travertine (tons used by Richard Meier to construct The Getty Museum in LA - see, I got LA in there - as well as the Ara Pacis structure in central Rome). Photo right.

There have been visits "down there" from time to time, including the photo at the top of this post from the 1960s, as I recall. Now, small robots are used to investigate the caverns, called "robotini" or "archeorobots" - photo left.

Most of the information in this post is from a Zoom lecture by Daniela Pacchiani, a specialist in ancient archaeology, as part of Turismo Culturale Italiano's Roma Inaccessibili ("Inaccessible Rome") series in January and February.

Dianne (more 18th and 19th century paintings below!)

This is a nice "capriccio" or fantastical image
of the Cloaca's opening onto the Tevere. It is 
not too far from the temple, whose ruins are fancifully shown here,
but which are obviously not exactly in this location.