Last week we went on a walking tour of Garbatella, which was really interesting. This is our neighbourhood in Rome, a working-class area which is well worth a visit. It is easy to reach by bus or metro (Line B, stop Garbatella) and very walkable. If you are interested in architecture and/or want a break from the city centre, a visit is highly recommended. Here is “La Garbatella” on a house wall on Piazza Bonomelli: was she an inkeeper who was garbata e bella? (Courteous inkeeper). Or does it refer to a specific wine-growing technique called “a barbata” or “a garbata,” which requires that the grapevines be supported by trees (maples or elms)? Who knows.
Our neighbour Franco, who gave us the tour. We were guinea pigs, so he could test his English. Have no fears, his English is excellent and we really enjoyed ourselves. See https://www.facebook.com/garbatellatour for details: it’s a free walking tour.
Just around the corner, on via Basilio Brollo, you can see this. Not current (and bad) grafitti, which Rome is full of, but an old political incitement from 1948. The new republic of Italy was preparing for the first parliamentary elections, and this was done by someone from the Fronte Popolare. It was restored a few years ago. (We were doing the tour our of order, since we actually live here, otherwise you would start at the metro.)
The Albergo Rosso, the red hotel. Franco explained that Garbatella was created in the 1920s to house people evicted from the centre due to Mussolini’s demolitions to clear streets (Via della Conciliazione, Via Fori Imperiale, and others). Housing was also needed for the industrial workers in the Ostiense district next door. What did they build? It was based on the English garden suburb: low-rise houses, surrounded by small gardens and greenery. Much of that still exists. Many families were housed in the four alberghi suburbani (suburban hotels), big housing blocks designed by Innocenzo Sabbatini, of the ‘Roman School’ of architecture. Just a room for each family.
Now we have wandered over to Via Fincati, to look at Roman baroque. A number of the older houses have mystical animal figures, plants, and reliefs as decorations.
Lotto 2. You’ll see “Lotto” signs on many of the older buildings. Old Garbatella is a small historical area, divided into lots occupied by buildings erected around courtyards and gardens. Very green, though somewhat run-down. Much is this is still public housing, but it is gradually becoming privatised.
Up the hill to Piazza Brin, where the first stone for the new quartiere was laid by Vittorio Emanuele II, King of Italy. Franco also pointed out the pincetto terrace overlooking Ostiense road, like the famous Pincio terrace over Piazza del Popolo (but much less fancy). Just off to the left here is the outdoor cinema for the summer, Arena Garbatella. On until 14 September 2014, 21:15 every evening.
A random cat, snoozing in the afternoon sun.
Laundry drying, lovely colours. It used to be forbidden here, hanging our your laundry like this, we were told. You had to use the communal laundry lines between the houses. (More in next walking tour post about that. I have so many gorgeous photos, this will be shared over three posts. Lots more to see!)
In Rome and interested? Contact Garbatella Mon Amour: https://www.facebook.com/garbatellatour regarding the new free walking tour around Garbatella, offered in English. About two hours, very enjoyable and highly recommended. For information and booking, call or text +39 351 1245 664.
(PS Generally this is offered in the morning at 10AM, though we did this walk 6-8 PM, as you can see from the wonderful light. This is a free tour, but a small tip might be appreciated.)