- Located in the outskirts of Rome, Garbatella is known both for its revolutionary, century-old housing experiment and as one of the best places to see Rome’s street art.
- Photographer Bruno Federico visited Garbatella to capture its spirit of rebellion and creativity.
Garbatella is a working-class neighborhood in the outskirts of Rome. Today, Garbatella remains a wonderful example of barochetto Romano architecture. It’s also home to some of the most interesting street art in the Italian capital.
Garbatella is known for a century-old housing project, also known as Garbatella, that was built in 1920 to house workers from nearby factories and was itself a revolutionary idea: A garden-city with low-cost housing, and space to relax and commune with neighbors.
While high-rise buildings would become the dominant form of public housing in the later years of the mid-20th Century, Garbatella serves as a reminder of how good urban design can make for happy urban spaces. With its winding streets and lush courtyards, it is a place where greenery and urbanization coexist.
Garbatella’s walls and building facades tell a story of rebellion and of the struggle for a better future. Walking through Garbatella, you’ll see art that takes on the destruction of the environment, racism and the criminalization of the migration, the dystopic model of the city, and the cause of Free Palestine.
A common site along one street is Mrs. Gisella, who is 81 and likes to stay at her windows to greet neighbors and people-watch. She says that Garbatella it is a quiet and pleasant place to live.
Murals also celebrate the neighborhood’s past, like the lady “Garbatella” who is thought to have given the neighborhood its name, and the Roman singer, Alvaro Amici, who grew up in Garbatella.
One mural pays tribute to Enrico Mancini, an Italian anti-fascist partisan who was captured and tortured by the Nazis. He was among the 335 civilians and political prisoners killed by Nazis in Rome on March 24, 1944, at the Fosse Ardeatine massacre in Rome.
The neighborhood is rich in social and culture initiatives. The Casetta Rossa Social Center is a local bar and cafe. It’s also much more than that, offering free classes to migrants, organizes cultural and social activities, and runs a food bank.