Bed and Rome and Breakfast - 3 B&B in Rome: ROME DISTRICTS


Probably if you ask to a person living in Paris close to the Louvre in which area of Paris he/she is living, the answer will be 1st Arrondissement. The same will be in Prague, people will say Prague 1 or Prague 5 and so on. In those cities the administrative division is linked to the daily life.
Well, that’s not the case for Rome. When you ask to a Roman in which part of the he/she is living, you will get several possible answers, and the administrative division is the less likely one. Why?
To give an answer we have to go back 2000 years, at the time of Augustus, the first emperor. Rome already had over 1 million people living in it; later, at the moment of the golden age of the empire, in the II century AD, it reached also 1.5 million inhabitants.
Rome has been the first city in the human history to surpass 1 million inhabitants and that created administrative problems, as one can imagine. So Augustus decided to divide the city into 14 districts, called Regiones. The logic of that division remained substantially unchanged for centuries even because the city, after the fall of the Roman Empire lost the majority of its population that became as little as forty thousand people in the mid VI century  AD and it was still 175,000 people in the mid XIX century.
According to the evolution of the population, during the centuries those districts, now called Rioni, were modified, sometime being unified and sometime being divided.  After that Rome became the capital city of the Kingdom of Italy in 1870, the population started to grow and the Rioni became 22 with the addition of two new ones close to St. Peter, Borgo and Prati. In fact the zone where St. Peter is located was originally out of the urban area.

The growth of the city was the very fast and, in the mid-twenties of the XX century, Rome had again 700-800 thousand inhabitants and had expanded out of the Aurelian Walls. So it became necessary to create a new division, at least at toponymy level.
New districts were then created, called Quartieri (neighborhoods) and, later in the peripheral zones Suburbi (suburbs) and Zone dell’Agro Romano (zones of the roman country-side).
The division is following essentially geographical landmarks like the rivers, main roads, parks, railways
Overall there are 22 Rioni, 35 Quartieri, 6 Suburbi, and 53 Zones. They look to be a lot, isn’t it? Yes, they are a lot but it must be taken into account that the surface of the municipality is very big, over 1,200 sq. km. and that is even smaller than it was till few years ago when Fiumicino, where the main airport is located and that was initially part of Rome, became a separate city.
Is that clear up to now? Probably yes, but the story is not finished.
A city having over 2.6 million people living in it cannot be administrated by one single council. In 1972 the territory of Rome was divided into Circoscrizioni, later changed to Municipi (administrative districts). They are, at the present time, 15. Is each Municipio, formed by few Rioni, Quartieri, Suburbi, Zone merged together?  Absolutely not. They have been created essentially on the basis of an homogeneous urban configuration, and following geographical landmarks that are not the same used for the toponomy level.

Therefore a Municipio, may include only part of a Quartiere, while the other portion belongs to a different Municipio. For example the Tiburtino neighborhood belongs partially to the Municipio II and partially to the Municipio IV.
In addition to that, in 1977 the zone urbanistiche (urban zones) were created to further split the area of the Municipi (at that time still called Circoscrizioni) in more homogeneous areas essentially for planning purposes. The cadaster is also based on the urban zones.
It is well possible that a name, e.g. Salario, is used both for a Quartiere (neighborhood) and a urban zone but the borders are not the same. The Salario urban zone includes part of the Salario neighborhood as well as part of the Pinciano neighborhood. And there is no Pinciano urban zone despite the fact that Quartiere Pinciano is much bigger than Quartiere Salario.
Are you confused enough now? Probably yes. But it is still not the end.
There are also the unofficial divisions, that are those coming from the daily life. For example San Giovanni  is the area around the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome. Depending on the person you are talking to, San Giovanni may be bigger or smaller on the basis of his/her personal evaluation.  The same occurs with San Pietro, the area around the Vatican.
And, for a Roman, and also for UNESCO, Centro Storico (historical center) is everything within the Aurelian Walls but, as urban zone, it is only a part of that.
To try to understand more give a look to the official maps and the lists.

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