Living in the center of the historical Rome is a positively unreal experience. I am two minutes from the Pantheon, three minutes from Piazza Navona, about 30 seconds from the place where Julius Caesar was assassinated-on my block!- and within walking distance of over 100 gelato stands (a low estimate). In such a lively, historical, and fun district of Rome, it’s easy to forget that my Centro Storico is actually the least dense neighborhood of Rome. So where do all the Romans live?
To answer this question, City and Regional Planning students have taken to the streets to explore the less famous (and more authentic neighborhoods) of Rome. My selected neighborhood of Tuscolana lies at the southeastern end of Rome, about a forty minute bus and metro ride from the center. Emerging from the train, I was delighted to find a cheerful, peaceful alternative to the rush of the Centro Storico. Tuscolana’s friendly farmers’ market is the only one of its kind left in the city, and carefully tended gardens hang from the balconies of post-war apartments painted every shade of citrus. Perhaps my favorite part of Tuscolana is the ancient aqueduct that slices through the grassy expanse of a public park, a constant reminder of the area’s history.
Living in the shadow of the ruins of the Centro Storico, Tuscolana is a reminder of the legacy of the ancient city. While preservation and excavations and museums are an important part of the city fabric, Rome has always been a city meant to be lived in and enjoyed to the fullest.