HomeWorldWorldRome's most unlikely lake is an urban refuge (which drives environmental activism)

Rome’s most unlikely lake is an urban refuge (which drives environmental activism)

Lake ex Snia in Rome, Italy

The most unlikely lake in Rome, which shouldn’t even exist, motivated a fight for the environmental protection of the place.

In the 1990s, on a construction site just a few kilometers east of Rome’s Coliseum, a major project was underway to transform an old and expanding textile factory. The objective was to build an underground car park.

According to the Obscure Atlas, some members of the local community opposed the new construction, but to no avail. During the work, the excavation team cut an aquifer and the place ended up flooding. The construction project was then abandoned and, out of the disaster, a lake was born.

During the last three decades, the Lake ex Snia it inspired filmmakers and musicians, galvanized environmentalists and community activists, and, during the most painful days of the covid-19 pandemic, provided a haven for the most exhausted and fed up of confinement.

The lake has a surface of about 7,000 square meters and a maximum depth of seven meters. Its bacterial load is very low and, although the water is not drinkable, it has been declared safe for swimming.

In July of last year, a part of the site was officially declared a natural monument, a “ecological corridor” in the middle of a dense urban area. However, most of the area is still privately owned and does not enjoy the same protected status.

The uncertain future of the lake, the park and the surrounding area has motivated environmentalists and other advocates of the urban oasis. In 2014, the Italian group of hip hop “Assali Frontali” launched the song “Il Lago Che Combatte” (“The Lake That Fights”), which drew national attention to the long-standing tension between promoters and environmental activists.

But it was during the pandemic that locals began to really appreciate the lake as a an escape from asphalt and concrete.

The status of an urban oasis has given new impetus to the long campaign to obtain protection for the entire site, not just the part that has been declared a natural monument.

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