|Foro Italico, one site of the 1960|
And, as the editors, Thomassen and Isabella Clough Marinaro emphasize, it's global in its tourism, as a locus of international diplomacy and, especially, in its growing number of immigrants, who now make up about 1/8 of the city's population.
Moreover, as Simon Martin's essay makes clear, Rome has been, and to some extent remains, a global sporting city, hosting the 1960 Olympic Games and the 2009 World Swimming Championships (in contrast, Mark Dyal's essay on romanità argues that the term's application to soccer was part of a larger effort to hold on to an older, traditional Rome threatened by multiculturalism, modernization--and globalization).
|In a new shop near Piazza Vittorio, an Asian|
family eats lunch
|Cinema Impero closed in 1983, before|
the Bangladeshi arrived in Tor Pignattara
|Carlo Pisacane elementary school--the site of conflict|
between Italians and Bangladeshi
|Via Boccea, one of the areas where Roma "settled".|
The Roma are doubtless Rome's most despised immigrant group. Tourists protect their wallets when they approach, and to most Italians they seem incapable of the hard work and community-building that would bring them into the mainstream. They come off somewhat differently in two essays in this collection. Marco Solimene presents the Xoraxanè Roma, immigrants from Yugoslavia beginning in the 1960s, as a determined and responsible group, one that cultivated relationships with the Italians who offered services the Roma needed: bars, Internet points, tobacconists, and the Trastevere train station, which served as a meeting place. Some settled in the via Boccea area to the northwest, others out via Nomentana to the north, and the largest number in Rome's southwest, in Trullo, Corviale, Tor di Valle, Muratella, and especially Magliana, with its concentration of scrap iron dealers to whom Roma scavengers could sell.
|Trullo's self-managed community center, "Ricomincio|
dal Faro," operated by squatters. Once a movie house.
And, having lived in the Marconi district and across the river in San Paolo, we were eager to learn
|Squatters still live tucked away on the grounds|
of the now-defunct Testaccio slaughterhouse.
For Daniele and Marinaro, these episodes are typical of authorities' efforts to clear areas deemed valuable--such as vicolo Savini and the Testaccio slaughterhouse--and give them over
to private developers. Cristina Lombardi-Diop tells a similar story, and a similarly depressing one, of some 2,000 Senegalese immigrants, happily and productively renting apartments in 5 buildings in "Residence Roma" near Forte Bravetta, yet forced to relocate--to Ladispoli, Pomezia, Centocelle, and Torpignattara--to make way for single-family villas. The mayor at the time was left-center Walter Veltroni, who wrote the foreword to our first book.
This account of evictions is one of several in the collection that deal interestingly with the ugly Rome politics of housing and homelessness. One the one hand, the city's interest in cultural heritage protection--argues Valerie Higgins--has emptied central Rome of Italians (only 100,000 live in the Centro Storico, a term that didn't exist until 1960), marginalizing locals and making the core "more like a museum" than a living community. To find an authentic Rome--that is, areas inhabited by Romans--she adds, you have to go the suburbs and even the periphery--the subject, we self-servingly add, of Rome the Second Time and Modern Rome and, especially, of this blog.
On the other hand, failure of the city authorities to develop a reasonable and coherent housing policy has led to something of a frontier mentality in areas distant from the center and has played into the hands of unscrupulous or short-sighted developers. Carlo Cellamare labels Rome "The Self-Made City" because so much of its periphery has undergone "development by improvisation"--housing made by squatters in abandoned buildings or on public land, or just plain illegal building, sometimes on a grand scale. The Valle Borghesiana, between via Prenestina and via Casilina and about 7 km beyond the GRA, is typical: a lot of building but no public space and minimal services--a few bars that take on a quasi-public function as meeting places. Young people have only the mall.
Miles away on the coast sits the tiny community of Idroscalo, in recent years a symbol of Rome's dysfunctional housing policy. Located just around the corner from the memorial to Pier Paolo
|We've never been to Idrascalo, but it's just a stone's|
throw from this small park, a memorial to Pier
Pierpaolo Mudu is equally critical of Rome's housing history, arguing that the failure to build housing--and better housing--is a matter of policy. He dates the problem to l924, when the term "borgate" was coined and Acilia was built, far from the center. Housing developers became key players in the postwar era, building projects that were poorly constructed and, again, lacked services--like Magliana, constructed along the Tevere in the 1960s. A
|The shopping center in Torbellamonaca, a suburb|
constructed as an "episode."
Torbellamonaca--all constructed, writes Mudu, as "episodes," rather than as integrated parts of Rome. With the withdrawal of the public sector from the housing market after 1970, illegal (abusive) housing became common. Rent controls were abolished in 1998. In the 1970s and 1980s, Tufello, San Basilio, and Trullo became sites of resistance to these policies and practices, resistance to the "refusal of the political class to take on any responsibility."
Rome's dysfunctional policies on housing and land use have likely contributed to the inclination of Romans to abandon the public sphere for an insular retreat to the private sphere and family life. Nonetheless, there have been
|An occupied social center in Ostiense. The facade is now|
fully painted--by street artist Blu.. Inside, a cafe serves
tea, apertifs, and snacks.
|Likely an illegal private garden, in the Parco della Cafferella--|
that is, on public land.
70 public gardens in Rome, and many communal gardens--all created in the absence of a coherent city policy. Not to make money, as Ferruccio Trabalzi notes, but to foster community.
Global Rome is a remarkable collection, a complex yet accessible mix that sheds light on little-understood aspects of a city whose cultural patrimony can overwhelm efforts to appreciate and understand its nuances. It will have special appeal for scholars of modern Rome and for those interested in exploring beyond the historic center, and beyond the suburbs into the periphery. Rome the third time, perhaps.
Global Rome: Changing Faces of the Eternal City, ed. Isabella Clough Marinaro and Bjorn Thomassen (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014), is available through Indiana University Press [$32 paper, $27.99 eBook] and amazon [$27.56 paper, $16.40 eBook].