Outside Aurelia

About ten miles out of Rome, this leafy neighbourhood is a part of Castel di Guido, a rather spread-out village close to the first Roman staging post on the Via Aurelia. The ruins of a 3rd century Roman villa are being excavated nearby. Staying here for roughly a week, I remained on the outside, observing what was observable. To me this appeared to be an affluent place. There are large villas with swimming pools. Families live here and they only very occasionally use the play equipment placed at the crossroads. Barriers appear across streets that lead nowhere and ‘no parking’ signs seem to have no audience. Private entrances, gates and gardens are well kept, while the public spaces deteriorate.

There is the odd house that looks like it might have been abandoned sitting next to the building site for future accommodation that might never be. The neighbourhood association posts its meeting agenda on the public notice board. Their representations elsewhere show the struggle of the area with lack of investment, lack of government oversight and the diversity of multiple areas making up the village. These issues remain invisible though on the ground on the semi-public streets lined by tall pine trees. This quiet idyll with its hedges, fences and gates presents itself as if unperturbed by the world that surrounds it.

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