Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The University at Tor Vergata: A Brief Tour
The latest addition to the club of Rome universities is Tor Vergata, named after the alternating red and grey bricks of a striped 14th-century tower. It is a long way from the Centro, out there to the east with all those other "Tors": Tor Sapienza, Tor Bella Monaca, Torre Maura, Tor Borgata. I would add Tor Pignattara, except that this community, long considered to be inhumanely removed (in more ways than one) from central Rome, seems in comparison to Tor Vergata very close in, indeed.
Our first thought on considering how to out there was to take the Via Casilina trolley/train. This was a mistake--the university is located three stops beyond the GRA--though in retrospect, in the absence of a scooter or car we would consider the Metro and a bus transfer--that, in reverse, is how we got home. The trolley stopped frequently, and the ride, through an uglier part of outlying Rome, took well over an hour. Even then, we weren't "there." From the local natives we determined that the school was to the west, which it was; about a mile, in the mid-day sun.
Things improved after that. We found the academic core: a set of reasonably attractive buildings in the style of contemporary modernism. A trifle sterile, perhaps. Alfredo Lambertucci and Tommaso Valle, architects.
In one of the buildings, students studied at tables in a hallway. Tor Vergata offers 113 courses of study through six "faculties": economics, law, engineering, letters, medicine, and science. In the 2010/11 school year, the school claimed 43,000 students and 1,538 faculty.
Outside, a small group was celebrating a graduation or some other achievement; the object of that celebration (center) was wearing a laurel wreath (appropriately, the Italian word for graduated is laureata).
The Economics Department was preparing to host a leadership event, using English and a Warhol-style soup can, with Campus standing in for Campbell's.
It was open, and we had a look around.
To be honest, we doubt we've done justice to the campus at Tor Vergata. Yes, parts of it reminded us of Zabriski Point. But Tor Vergata is reputed to have thousands of students, and we observed only dozens. It would look different packed with young bodies.
But maybe not different enough.
On the celebrity modern architect working in Rome see an earlier post on 5 of Rome's "Starchitects".