Colosseum, ancient ruins, immortal masterpieces, Caravaggios and basilicas. While Rome is all that, there are many other fascinating areas of the city shadowed by such timeless jewels, and one of them is Garbatella Lots, that even I discovered haphazardly during the photography course I recently undertook, that brought us also to Rome’s grand mosque, Ostiense’s old gasometer and to capture the street art of Via dei Magazzini Generali.
While ancient ruins and art masterpieces are undeniably priceless treasures, I think it’s walking these narrow streets and entering these private gardens that you can actually feel the vibe of a village-like atmosphere you never thought a big city like Rome could have. Created in the 1920s under the Fascist rule, Garbatella neighborhood was inspired by English urban planning idea of “garden cities” envisioned by town planner Ebenezer Howard as a response to the need of sprawling cities for a better and healthier quality of life.
Apart from the historical facts that brought the quarter into existence, however, it’s not quite clear how the name “Garbatella” (kind lady) came about and especially where her features, as engraved on the wall of a building in Piazza Geremia Bonomelli, came from. Tradition wants her to be the beautiful and kind hostess of a local tavern, while some try to identify her with a noblewoman or a woman from the lower class. Whatever explanation has been given so far, none seems to bear historical evidence, but no one can deny that this neighborhood embodies the most traditional, working-class soul of the city, where you will see all things Italian, from superstition to faith to laundry hanging everywhere.
Below are more photos that I hope will bring you to the heart of traditional and lesser known Rome.