/A Vegetable Garden on Via dei Fori Imperiali?

A Vegetable Garden on Via dei Fori Imperiali?

Today French farmers transformed Paris’ Champs-Elysees into huge farm, covering the road with soil and bringing in 150,000 plants. The event was organized by Jeunes Agriculteurs, an association of young farmers, to raise awareness for the agriculture crisis in France. Could Rome’s triumphal way, Via dei Fori Imperiali, follow?

It wasn’t so long ago that the stretch of road between the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia (above), the parade route built by Mussolini, was once trimmed by a vegetable gardens and grain fields planted during WWII. Called Via dell’Impero by Il Duce, it was renamed Via dei Fori Imperiali after his regime collapsed.

Long before the war gardens were built, or the parade route itself for that matter, the area was partially dedicated to agriculture. Goats, sheep, and cows grazed among the area’s houses, churches and ruins. Open squares were the site of vineyards and produce gardens. We may be able to do without the livestock today, but perhaps a city garden would fare well along the Via dei Fori Imperiali…Thoughts?

This video shows the war gardens being worked and harvested and the end bit shows Marcus Aurelius and his horse being removed from the Campidoglio, another destination for a city garden, perhaps?

2016-01-07T03:38:44+00:00 May 23rd, 2010|Categories: Culture, Gastronomic Traditions, Rome & Lazio|7 Comments


  1. Mamma Parla May 24, 2010 at 2:01 am - Reply

    where did you find this footage? amazing! a city garden in the center would be fanatastic and i cant think of a better place than via dei fori imperiali – a bit of history revisited.

  2. Alan May 24, 2010 at 5:07 am - Reply

    Fascinating. Thanks for publishing the video. A few well placed gardens would be a nice tribute to tradition, not to mention a benefit to the Romans.

  3. Katie May 24, 2010 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Elisabeth Lee Giansiracusa left the following comment on ParlaFood’s Facebook page :I get the symbolic importance of the Campidoglio, but think – apart from the historical conservation issues – that it’s too small and would just provide a lip-service kind of occasion for the Comune, while the via dei Fori Imperiali offers more space, would mirror the Parisian effort, and would recoup that history you talk about here….In Rome, the agricultural memory is not only not too far in the past, but also alive with real issues of survival! To wit, Rome “Open” City, almost starved out during the German Occupation…! And something ‘alla grande’ would supplement the many ‘orti’ lovingly cared for by elders all over town.

  4. Katie May 24, 2010 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    i disagree with the historical conservation bit. the campidoglio square has modern pavement and a 1996 statue in the middle. it is less fragile than the via dei fori, which is flanked by ancient and medieval ruins. conservation is a serious issue there.

    for me, a public garden in front of city hall (think san fran’s slow food garden) is a first step to other gardens in the city and wouldnt/shouldnt be a 1-off event.

    Consider that the via dei fori covers a huge portion of the imperial fora and has not been dug up, has barely been dug beneath, and is essential to rome’s traffic circulation. id like to hear a practical way for the road to be transformed into a city garden for more than 1 day (maybe it could fly on a sunday, but not longer).

    After the campidoglio, i think circus maximus would be a great place for a city garden. it wasnt so long ago it was a cow pasture and the archaeological levels are 9m below modern ground level.

  5. Katie May 24, 2010 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Elisabeth Lee Giansiracusa’s response on FB: well, the whole area is dripping with historical significance and needs conservation no matter what era we’re talking about….I do think part of the via dei fori is still a rich venue – closed to traffic regularly and part of a larger archeo-park project extending to, and incl. the Appia. Maybe some part devoted to a garden would help nudge that project. Circo Mass. is also great…and perhaps a more permanent possibility – near the FAO (ironic as the site of the former Ministry of Italian Africa…). The SF city hall garden was temporary….alas.

  6. Katie May 24, 2010 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    the wedge between piazza venezia and the column of trajan/basilica ulpia would be perfect for a more permanent, i think. its got some shaded benches and scruffy plants now.

    a (temporary) campidoglio garden in front of palazzo senatorio would be amazing. they could even take down marcus aurelius copy to make more space for it.

    my thoughts exactly on the FAO location.

  7. Jill May 26, 2010 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    Love the video, although I imagine gardening in a dress has got to be less than ideal. Also, was that the Ara Pacis about midway through? Were they using it for grain storage?

    I’d love to see a garden in the circus maximus – what a great way to use the space and make it even lovlier.

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