EUGO study visit 3 provided the participants with experience of the hectic nature of urban life that is the reality of Rome, whilst allowing them to appreciate the richness of history, lifestyle and climate that is to be found in the “EternalCity”.
CEMEA’s charming representatives had arranged a programme that incorporated a variety of garden types. They ranged from tiny plots (Pigneto) that had been wrested from the hands (or was it paws?) of the local dog owning fraternity to expansive vegetable plots (Casa Santa Rosa) set in beautiful grounds, surrounded by sumptuous palms and abundant olive groves.
The group visited many parts of the city, experiencing the difficulties of urban travel in hot and cramped buses, whilst their eyes were continuously amazed by the wealth of history that is the carefully managed legacy of the predominant days of theRoman Empire.
They also experienced the legacy of political debate that still dominates in this ancient democracy, spending much time in the company of local politicians whilst they discussed the issues pertaining to the urban gardens ofRomeand how it compared with other European partners.
This dimension was reflected in the stories of most of the urban gardens that were visited, where gardens had been appropriated by local citizens (sometimes illegally) in nooks and crannies of the city, with subsequent struggles to establish legitimacy with the local authorities. The best example of this was the large expanse of parkland and vegetable plots at Garbetella, which had just recently received formal authorisation after over ten years of occupation by local gardeners.
In addition to seeing the work done in establishing growing opportunities for citizens of the city, the group was able to experience the power of using gardens in a therapeutic context, helping the disadvantaged ladies of Casa Santa Rosa to enjoy the simple pleasures of planting, nurturing and harvesting their own vegetables. This session was a most enriching experience for all.
Sadly, the visit was over all too quickly, but it will be remembered as providing a rich and varied diet of knowledge, experience and culture.