April 24, 2013-RomaIdroscalo-5534
This ‘bar’ is the one of two businesses within Idroscalo, a small “self made city” near the delta of the Tiber River with the Mediterranean Sea.  As explained below, this city lies in a grey area for city officials.  The residents have lived in the city for nearly 50 years – illegally.  The roughly 2,000 inhabitants come from many backgrounds, from Romania, even Italy itself, and others.   The members of the community were busy readying the beach for the summer season, everyone chipping in – either raking, painting, or sweeping.


Our last Italian class was this morning.  Really unbelievable to think about.. I sat down before class and was thinking back to the first time we entered the classroom.  That day seemed so long ago, but at the same time felt just like yesterday.

-insert start of panic mode that this once in a lifetime experience is almost over-

For At Home in Rome, we took a train out towards Ostia Lido, the coast of Rome.  We were going to visit a small (relatively speaking) settlement called Idroscalo.  The settlement began nearly 50 years ago when some fishermen built small huts to live in while they fished at the mouth of the Tiber River, where it meets the Mediterranean.  These small huts (on illegal squatted land) eventually became home to many fisherman and other immigrants alike.  Over the course of the past 40 years, the small village became what some would think is an actual village.

April 24, 2013-RomaIdroscaloHarbor-5485The Harbor of the Port.

April 24, 2013-RomaIdroscaloMap-5486The plan of the port.  Idroscalo is supposed to be in the top left corner, but it’s not.

The community there is very close, and they still remain susceptible to Roman Police evacuation orders.  A pressing issue for the community was the creation of a  development called Porto Touristico di Roma, which was meant to be a small port for the wealthy of Rome with shops and restaurants.  While the project is basically complete, many shops remain empty and desolate.  The city’s interests lie in the economic impact of the new development, so many plans show Idroscalo completely erased from the map.

April 24, 2013-RomaIdroscaloPorto-5488It may be a Wednesday afternoon, but the area looks this empty the majority of the time.

April 24, 2013-RomaIdroscaloWalls-5493The city tries to create no association between it’s new complex and Idroscalo.  High fences and gates attempt to keep residents out.

The community looks and feels like an actual little city.  There are streets, house numbers, cars, etc.  The houses are all made from a variety of things, whether it’s concrete blocks, wood, or whatever anyone could find. Some houses are even very luxurious looking (see below).

April 24, 2013-RomaIdroscaloMaterials-5503This home was constructed of whatever the resident could find.

April 24, 2013-RomaIdroscaloHome-5515A very nice home over looking the River.

In 2010, the Police came in force and full riot gear in an attempt to rid the area of the ‘squatters’.  Residents protested and resisted.  The conflict ended in an agreement to only destroy a small portion of dwellings closest to the break wall (see below).  This was a small victory for some residents, but for those that were forcibly relocated, it was a difficult transition.  The notion to allow other residents to stay reiterates the government’s benign neglect, as I have mention before in other posts.

April 24, 2013-RomaIdroscaloBeach-5518 There used to be lots of homes on this beach until the riot.

For the time being, the residents enjoy the majority of luxuries you’d find in a normal home: electricity, four walls, and a roof.  While there isn’t specific sewer systems or running water, they residents have created water systems off water fountains and each home is equipped with a septic tank.

April 24, 2013-RomaIdroscaloChurch-5510This is a very simple, clean church for the residents.  The Priest has attempted to do a lot of work advocating for the community against the city.

April 24, 2013-RomaIdroscaloSamTimur-5523Sam and Timur listening to part of our lecture on the break wall.

The small city itself even has historical significance as the land they live on is thought to be where the initial inhabitants began populating the city, at the mouth of the Tiber.  They moved along the Tiber, eventually settling in it’s currently location.

Ferro (our professor) mentioned that the residents were outraged when the city attempted to turn their beach (the one seen in the featured photo) into a dog park with running water.  The city cared more about some dogs than they did the people of Idroscalo, as they continue to reject proposals to bringing running water to the small city.

In all, it comes down to a tough decision to be forced to remove ALL small cities like this one, or to try and allow them to become legally recognized.  How could the government destroy a city they have let the inhabitants live in for nearly 50 years?  The city put itself in a bad situation by not doing anything earlier, but since these people are mostly contributing back to the city of Rome in some way or another, they deserve the same respect as all other citizens.  Simply (well, not so simply) recognizing the land, providing water, and allowing the residents of the city to begin legally paying taxes for the land they are on could help to dissipate a few of the city’s issues – rather than building a multi million dollar complex that only sees the turn over of numerous businesses due to lack of tourists.

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