Ostiense old Gasometer, a relic of Rome’s industrial archaeology
Managed by Eni, the Italian gas and oil company, probably the only Italian body, someone would argue (and I would agree), that actually has an independent foreign policy in the interest of the country, Ostiense old gasometer is obviously not in use anymore, and the local council has been trying for years to revive the area and the same former gas holder.
Revamped with colorful and fluorescent lights, the gasometer has had for a couple of consecutive years the task of re-launching Roman summer nights with parties, concerts, exhibitions, evenings washed with Italian aperitivo moments, and all kinds of street performances taking place right on the banks of the “Biondo Tevere”, the Tiber that never fails to bedazzle tourists and locals alike for its beautiful reflections, from whatever angle you look at it.
A stone’s throw away from central neighborhood Testaccio, from the Pyramid of Cestius and from the non-Catholic cemetery that I like so much, the gasometer is a real piece of Rome’s industrial glory, a gigantic stylized figure somehow out of place in the district that has been going through a heavy gentrification process.
Dating back to the Mussolini era, Ostiense old gasometer is occasionally called the “modern Colosseum” after Turkish film director Ferzan Ozpetek declared in an interview that a small walk around that “wonderful industrial Colosseum is enough to give him peace of mind.” Actually, the gasometers in Rome are three, the first two being the small ones and dating back to 1910, while the biggest and most famous one appeared in the official records on June 28th, 1935.
Walking all around the star of the show, you will also end up in what my photography teacher calls “Little Manchester”, and not because it’s always rainy, grey and cold, but because of the brick walls as the main feature of the area’s architecture style, very much British, reminiscent of the atmosphere of the Industrial Revolution.
Ostiense is the perfect neighbourhood to explore the relics of Rome’s modern industrial archaeology. History buffs shouldn’t miss the fascinating Centrale Montemartini Museum established in the old power plant where all the original machines and engines are still kept.
I wandered around Ostiense neighborhood in the occasion of a field trip with the photography course I’m taking, glad I’m actually discovering new ways to photograph the Eternal City, an alternative to the open-air-museum style Rome is widely (and rightly so!) known for. I knew about this post-industrial reality more under a social/historical angle, but I think alone I would have never considered its look as a subject for a photo shoot.
Despite the decay of the surroundings, probably the close presence of the Tiber has allowed nature to keep flourishing, especially on the banks of the river, adding some color to the steel-ish district.
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