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My favorite place: le case a giardino

The Case a Giardino are situated at the far end of the scavi and only few tourists have the courage to stroll that far. They are absolutely wrong because this complex is interesting and important for different reasons. First there is the location. The whole layout consists of a huge garden (now a green square) surrounded by a series of shops and luxury houses but there is hardly a connection between these houses and the garden. In fact the garden itself is a closed space, only accessible through porches on the four sides.

casegiardinoThis whole setting gives an extremely peaceful feeling that invites to have a closer look at theses remains, and when you are in the good mood you can imagine Romans walking around in these houses, enjoying their wealth and the vicinity of the coast.  In the middle of the garden we see two appartment blocks each consisting of four dwellings. They are arranged back to back and separated by a central passage. The appartments are ‘medianum’houses with a central circulation room and, at the small sides of this space two representational rooms. The longer side is occupied by smaller rooms. But these were really luxury appartments: an internal staircase gives access to a second floor. A second, outer, staircase indicates a third floor with probably the same kind of appartments.

The whole complex was built in the early second century A.D. and is a testimony of ancient entrepreneurship. Whether it was built by a single person or a group of persons or a guild, it comes very close to our modern concept of real estate development: as many appartments as possible in a given space, made attractive by a pleasant surrounding and separated from the buzzing and rumbling of the rest of the city. A small community within the great mercantile community that was Ostia.

Francis Brenders