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In the eastern quadrant of Rome, below and to the east of the Via Nomentana, there is an intricate road network that follows the ancient Tiburtina, Collatina, Prenestina, Casilina and Tuscolana consular roads. The neighbourhoods, mostly sprung up spontaneously and illegally after World War II, are lapped by the waters of the river Aniene and crossed by the remains of the ancient Alessandrino aqueduct.

Our route starts at Porta Maggiore, heading towards the university district of San Lorenzo, and continues to Pigneto, now considerably changed from the era immortalised in the films ‘Roma città aperta’ by Rossellini and ‘Accattone’ by Pasolini. Next, we head towards the Prenestino-Labicano area, where we find the council houses of Villa Gordiani and Collatina, the working-class district but being redeveloped in Centocelle and, beyond Viale Palmiro Togliatti, Alessandrino and Quarticciolo. Here, we encounter the famous towers: Tor Pignattara, Tor Sapienza, Tor Tre Teste, Torre Maura and Tor Bella Monaca.

Besides Sapienza, Rome’s first university and the largest in Europe, we also find the second university Tor Vergata in the Romanina district. Pushing beyond the Grande Raccordo Anulare, in areas that were once countryside, we encounter Lunghezza, Castelverde and Ponte di Nona.

Towards the Aniene Park, on the other hand, there are the Tiburtino, Pietralata, and Casal de Pazzi districts, where there are former factories and new logistics hubs, and Rebibbia, where there is an enormous prison complex. Proceeding southwards, we pass through the Tuscolano district, which includes Certosa, Quadraro, Don Bosco and Cinecittà.

Of course, not all the areas mentioned are exhaustively covered, considering that many other ‘fractions’ of neighbourhoods stretch across this part of Rome.

The map shows 63 squatting and self-managed places: the first free and independent radio station founded in 1977, Radio Onda Rossa; the oldest still-occupied social centre in Italy and the largest in Europe, Forte Prenestino; a lake that arose after excavations for the construction of a car park, one of the few cases of spontaneous renaturation in Europe; many other social spaces and occupied buildings for housing purposes, created by the recovery of former factories, disused former schools, emptied public offices, abandoned hotels.

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