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THE EARLY 20th CENTURY

The Caseggiato dei Dolii (I,IV,5) near the museum was excavated by Giuseppe Gatti between 1903 and 1906. This was an important period for Gregoriopolis, modern Ostia Antica, with its borgo and Rocca. In 1765 156 people were living in the borgo, mostly working in the salt pans. But then the waterway near Portus was reopened, and the people moved to Fiumicino, glad to leave the malaria-infested marshes of Ostia. In the early nineteenth century the only people living in the borgo were prisoners, put to work in the excavations. In 1884 some 500 unemployed young men and 50 women arrived at the Tiber delta from Ravenna, hoping to build a new future for themselves. One hundred of them went to Ostia. When they arrived in the borgo they found one inhabitant. Supported by king Umberto I they started draining the marshes by pumping the water to the sea through channels. But before the work was finished twenty percent fell victim to the malaria. In 1904 the area was much safer, and in 1911 3600 people lived in and near the borgo. From 1912 there was a bus service between Rome and the new seaside resort Lido di Ostia, three kilometres from Ostia Antica. The construction of a railroad was begun during the First World War - Austrian prisoners of war were used as labourers. The track was finished in 1924, and included a station in Ostia Antica. It was inaugurated by Mussolini.



The marshes near Ostia. From De Nisi 1985, fig. on p. 14.



The Ravennati who went to Ostia. From De Nisi 1982, fig. on p. 26.



A hut of nomadic farmers, who frequented the area when the Ravennati arrived. Shepherd 2006, fig. 13.



A dredging-machine used in the marshes. From De Nisi 1982, fig. on p. 30.



Austrian prisoners of war building the railroad. From De Nisi 1982, fig. on p. 60.



Mussolini at the station of Ostia Antica, during the inauguration of the railway (1924).
From De Nisi 1982, fig. on p. 68.