The Idroscalo, a self-grown neighborhood on the coast of Rome

La plaza central del Idroscalo de Ostia

Few people know that Rome has a coastal line. A long road built during fascism crosses the fields that until the 19th century were unhospitable marshes, and reaches Ostia: a city of 200.000, formally a part of Rome, but physically divided from it. The function Ostia has as a site to display power (the coast of Rome that Mussolini dreamed, or the beaches for the rich, or the “big projects” that periodically fail in their announced intentions to upgrade Ostia) overlaps with another function: Ostia as a dumping site for the remains of the growth of Rome, for those evicted from the city, that inhabit the enormous peripheries of this periphery. In the 70s the City Council sent to Ostia more than 10,000 people were deported from the spontaneous neighborhoods of Eastern Rome: the announced intention to “dignify” life for the “slum dwellers” ended up creating highly conflictive neighborhoods without even the basic services of urbanization. A couple of miles from this, on the mouth of the tiver Tiber, there is the last self-built neighborhood of Rome: Ostia’s Idroscalo, where Italians, migrants, Rom, non-Rom, live in some 500 self-built houses, and have been fighting during half a century for regularization of their dwellings, against the threat of demolition, and against the repetition of past mistakes.

  • Stefano PORTELLI (2017) “Dove l’acqua dolce incontra quella salata: Idroscalo, ultimo grande quartiere autocostruito di Roma”, Antropologia, vol.14 n.3 [PDF][link a Academia]