ROME — This is not a time-machine but it comes close. It is called "ROMA SPARITA" [Vanished Rome] and it is a group formed on Facebook dedicated to the Eternal City. The group has over 70 thousand members but the number rises by the hour. They are all fans of Rome, or rather of the city it used to be. The group was created with the intention of rediscovering Rome as it once was through photographs.
"This is an act of love for the memories of this city" states the description of this group, which has become an instant phenomenon on-line. Its objective is to "make available to everyone, free of charge, at least a preview of original photographs portraying Rome as it used to be."
This journey into the past has been organized by ordinary internet surfers with a passion for history or photography, as well as a number of professional photographers, archaeologists and art historians.
And so we have the Eternal City’s historical and urban evolution portrayed in over seven thousand photographs. The photos are organized according to the city’s neighborhoods, but there are also collections of "Scenes from daily life," "Rome and the cinema," "Books on Rome," "Means of transport," "Paintings and Drawings." All users may upload their images on condition they are not dated after 1990. The captions are now being translated into English, confirming the group’s international success.
Turning the pages of the various collections, one sees once again the customs and traditions of a past of which there remain very few witnesses.
One discovers, for example that snails used to be sold on festive days in Piazza San Giovanni. There are images of when the market was still held in Piazza Navona and not in Campo dei Fiori, or the shops that used to exist under the arcades of Teatro di Marcello.
Many are the photographs and postings that give life to a real interactive manual of the Eternal City, all created by Facebook users. A new way, perhaps, of discovering and studying the history of Rome.