This project is a photographic exploration of Pomezia and Santa Palomba, an urban area fifteen kilometers South of Rome, Italy.
It is a narrative of high contrasts in a territory characterized by an unusual degree of historical, geographical and environmental diversity. The area includes the remains of an ancient city, the tomb of a Greco-Roman mythological hero (Aeneas), Roman ruins, medieval relics, a natural reserve, an artificial lake on the site of a former sulphur mine, natural sulphur springs, and agricultural, industrial and residential developments, many of which have been subjected to economic, social and environmental decay.
Historically, the area is of great significance. In the last century, an archaeological excavation in Pomezia, in the village of Pratica di Mare, uncovered the remains of a necropolis and identified it as Lavinium, an ancient city that pre-dates Rome. According to Greco-Roman mythology, the city was founded by Aeneas, who named it after Lavinia, the daughter of Latinus, King of the Latins. The mythological relationship between these two rulers, the founding of the city, and subsequent formation of Rome, featured in the Latin epic poem, the Aeneid, by Virgil.
In grim contrast, more recent developments within the area have been less poetic. In 1955 the government established the “Cassa per il Mezzogiorno”, a funding program whose aim was to bridge the prosperity gap between Northern and Southern Italy through a series of financial policies. Within a few decades funding ran out, labor costs increased and manufacturing declined with the onset of globalization.
In the sixties, the sulphur mining company, Co.Mi.Ro, constructed a new plant in the area and commenced extraction for the first time since the Romans. However, the project was abruptly interrupted in response to Italy’s evolving industrial needs, leaving abandoned quarries, derelict buildings and corroded equipment in its wake.
As a consequence, the fabric of the community quickly unraveled. The absence of infrastructure and planning has led to heavy vehicle congestion, uncontrolled waste disposal, and prostitution. The mayor of Pomezia and various citizen committees are trying to identify and promote measures aimed at protecting and increasing the value of the territory.
The photographs both represent and transfigure, reconnecting to a lost place and time. The inhabitants of the area - the figures in transit, the souls of the streets, the smoky industrial plants, the truck drivers, the shepherds, the prostitutes, the beekeepers, the wheat and tulip fields, the 8th-century look-out towers are paradigms of an art that founds in the margins a land of relation and exchange.