Uncharted and traditional Rome, Italianness in Garbatella Lots

Statue of the "Garbatella"

Engraved portrait of “Lady Garbatella”

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.

The faith and unconditional support for AS Roma, the local football team.

The faith and unconditional support for AS Roma, the local football team.

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.

Laundry from the window, a typical Italian landscape

Laundry from the window, a typical Italian landscape

Austere, no-frill architecture

Austere, no-frill architecture

The people, outlandish and genuine

The people, outlandish and genuine

The faith, never missing a little sign of deference

The faith, never missing a little sign of deference

Flowers for scent and colors

Flowers for scent and colors

More laundry, just to remind you where you are

More laundry, just to remind you where you are

9-garbatella lots

10-garbatella lots

Fontana Carlotta, a man told us that drinking here brings good luck. We drank a liter each

Fontana Carlotta, a man told us that drinking here brings good luck. We drank a liter each

The man giving us a live demonstration on how to drink in order to have our dreams successfully come true, with the right hand on the head of the fountain.

The man giving us a live demonstration on how to drink in order to have our dreams successfully come true, with the right hand on the head of the fountain.

The humor, never missing among Romans. Here a warning sign "No hunting" (inside the city?)

The humor, never missing among Romans. Here a warning sign “No hunting” (inside the city?)

The streets, uphill in this corner of yesteryear charm

The streets, uphill in this corner of yesteryear charm

4 Comments
  1. I agree that there is way more to Rome than the common sites that most visitors go there to see. I did some exploration of “uncharted” Rome on my last trip there. We chose to stay in Tuscolano, a very residential area of Rome, and we loved “living” among every-day Romans.

  2. I love finding the food treasures in these kinds of neighborhoods. Like the pizza shop no wider than a phone booth where an old man has been slaving in front of a 1000 degree oven because “that is how it’s always been done.”

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