Latina Olim Palus
Latina was the first “new city” to be founded following the draining of the Pontine marshes. Established on 18 December 1932 with the name of Littoria (changed to Latina in 1945), on 18th December 1934 it was appointed capital of the new province of Latina. The province of Latina includes 33 municipalities and extends over 2,250 square kilometres, covering almost equal proportions of hilly, mountainous areas (the Volsci mountains divided into the Lepini, Ausoni and Aurunci mountain ranges) and coastal plains (the Pontine, Fondi-Monte San Biagio and Garigliano plains). The geographic features and ancient human settlements make it extremely interesting area to be visited. It includes also seaside towns, mountain-top villages, islands, natural springs, national and regional parks, natural monuments, archeological and medieval sites and “new cities”.
The history of Latina is a story of migrant labour, construction, destruction and rebirth. Now the second largest city in the Region of Lazio, Latina was designed by Oriolo Frezzotti, a rationalist architect who took few months to create the urban layout and main buildings of the city.
A urban itinerary
Crossing the town means to rediscover the original dimension and to imagine the old style, which should not be defined simply “littorio”, because each time it represents the Rationalism, the Archaism, the Monumentalismo, the Twentieth century and the Neofuturismo in each single intervention. To perceive all these aspects we suggest to start the visit from Piazza del Quadrato, on the ring road, and go to the east-west line centre of the town until Piazza B.Buozzi.
The main square in the center of the city is Piazza del Popolo with its Civic Tower, entirely covered with travertine, is linked with the big arch of entrance to the Municipio. Its shape reminds of the rich and various inventary of the italian medieval towers, decorated with civic symbols, which, here too, flank the arch, the clock, the sculptures and the bell.
From the entrance it is possible to see the “Dafne” by Elisabetta Mayo (1896-1972), here represented before being transformed into laurel. The work of art was given to Littoria in 1933 by the “Confederazioni Fasciste” of workers. Going through the inner garden, on the left you can see a fountain. In Piazza del Popolo, the green is functional to the urban choices, for the complex design of the central flower-bed’s pavement, made of river pebbles, bricks and basalt’s pieces. In the middle of an italian garden, a fountain represents the trasformation of the territory: it is a monument to the water with a travertine sphere placed in 1939 as the cardinal point of the town.
The buildings which surround the square are the City Hall, the Circolo Cittadino (ex O.N.D. and F.N.F.), the former Albergo Littoria, and part of the old Cinema Teatro dell’Aquila and the financial building.
To the south stands The Post Office, “one of the most notable example of the second wave futurism” in Italy.
The Post Office building in the background was planned by the architect Angelo Mazzoni del Grande (1894-1979), who followed the Futurism in 1934, signing the Manifesto of the Architettura Aerea.
The building, built in 1932, had a first widening in 1934 by Mazzoni who placed an apse dressed with another tall travertine base. Tiled and decorated with travertine trimmings, the building mantains an archaic and massif aspect in its original part, made by the counterfort elements which go around the forst widening. The column with the bronze lion, placed in Piazza dei Bonificatori, has been given by Venice.
A residential building, crossed by two pedestrian crossings, separates Piazza dei Bonificatori from Piazza del Popolo; it has got two archs as just told, which link the two squares and the three different parts of the building itself, which seems unified, on the back, by a taller element ending with the two aspes of the stairs.
The most typical square is Piazza del Quadrato, the symbol of the first “core” and of the first Littoria’s project, and it represents the most authentic meaning of the settlement: the rural village which becomes town. The square has a “vernacular” aspect given by the short buildings, destined as residences and shops, provided with archs, under which there was the agricultural market; opposite the ring road, just to surround the square, there is the ex Opera Nazionale Combattenti (now the Museum of the Earth Pontina).
The buildings are decorated with groups of statues by Egisto Caldana /1887-1961) characterized by the modelled massif of bodies: the Seminatore (sower), the Spigolatrice (gleaner) and the allegories of Fertility whose meaning is pointed out by big vases full of fruit. The colours, the coverings, the rings which fasten the stock, the portico and the controlled dimension, remind of familiar architectures as the hamlets of the Roman country.
In the middle of the square, the fountain, with a bronze statue given by the sculptor Pasquale Rizzoli (1871-1953) represents the marsh free from waters. From this square, it is obvious that the green is an important element of the urban equipment.
“Il Genio della Bonifica” 1920s, bronze h. 135, Fonderia Capecchi di Pistoia. Piazza del Quadrato. “The genius of the draining”.
Particular of the buildings in Piazza del Quadrato.
The Littoria family. Piazza del Quadrato.
The palm trees and the eucalypti of the square follow the cluster-pines of viale Italia, which can be reached going through the two side wings created by the INCIS buildings.
In Piazza Dante, the Elementary School, was built in 1932, connected with the stairwell it is known as Clock Tower, symbol of the public use of the building. The educational aspect is pointed out, besides the wide windows, by the travertine sculptures: young people’ heads, open books, allegorical basreliefs which decorate the inner and external faces of the building.
Viale Mazzini, on which the side front of the school faces, is surrounded on its sides by the residential buildings INCIS and INA, built in 1936-37. The two groups of buildings, which, as those in Viale Italia widen at the beginning and at the end of the tree-lined avenue to point out the entrance to the square, show long fronts with simple geometric shapes, weaken in their uniformity by loggias, projecting roofs, and different facings.
The Technical Institute, which was built between the two residential presences in 1936, appears as a public building because of the tall travertine board and the impressive portal similar to the Court’s one, placed in the background of the avenue to delimit Piazza B.Buozzi.
The Palazzo di Giustizia (Court), inaugurated in 1936, imposes itself for the progress of its central part, shown up by the tall columns and faced with travertine; the sides repropose the same course, but the pilaster strisps are heavier because of the brick facing.
Cathedral of San Marco
Just a short distance from Piazza Comunale lies Piazza San Marco and the cathedral of the Evangelista whose bell tower contains three belld known as the bell of San Marco, of the Virgin and of the Redeemer.
- The Museum Duilio Cambellotti in piazza San Marco (square) a pontine territory museum at the historical building of the former Opera Balilla.
- The Municipal Antiquarium
- The House of martyrdom of Saint Maria Goretti Patron of Latina who was a young local girl sanctified by Pope Pius XII on 24 June 1950. She came from one of the nine agro-pontine villages, that is Borgo Le Ferriere, a village which takes its name from the iron work performed there.
- Museum Sessano 50 dalla Lestra al Podere in Borgo Podgora which illustrates the history of Pontine plain form the drainage to the landing of Allied forces at Anzio.
- Civic Gallery of the Modern and Contemporary Art with even other .important collections of coins and documents referred to the founding of Littoria and other cities of the fascist period all the in the building of The House of the Culture home of two theatres -Teatro Grande and Teatro Ridotto-.
- The surrounding area: via Appia that is lined with epigraphs praising various Roman emperors. Ruins of Satricum, interesting excavations of a Roman country villa, Ninfa Gardens, Fogliano lake and botanical gardens managed by Circeo National Nature Reserve.
The most romantic and enchanting garden….