Latina: Italy’s Only Completely Modern City

 The vast throng of tourists travelling between the urban buzz and glories of Ancient Rome, and the spectacular islands and volcanic cities of Naples often miss out on what is one of Italy’s most unusual and charming cities which also holds the title of being Italy’s only fully modern city: Latina.

Latina lies just inland from the infinite and immaculate sugar sand beaches of Latina Mare about a third of the way south of Rome towards Naples. Up until the 1920s this entire area was known as the Pontine Marshlands, a huge swamp area that was effectively uninhabitable due to the massive clouds of malaria-bearing mosquitoes which thrived in the hundreds of square miles of bog. The area was a scourge of Ancient Rome as it is just on the doorstep of the Seven Hills, and was considered for centuries a morass that could never be tamed or populated to any extent.

This is an entire modern city which is built on former boggy swamps: Mussolini’s historic project drained the Pontine Marshes and turned the entire region into arable farmland. The major city built on the marshland was Latina, a small metropolis built from scratch unlike all the other cities in Italy which boast city centers that date back millennia. This “carte blanche” form of development created a city that is almost “American” at first sight, with very un-European wide, straight streets, logical traffic interchanges, flowing and immaculately maintained green spaces and massive ultramodern shopping centers.

The best way to describe Latina would be as an “American” city in Italy. Latina would be very much at home in California or Florida were it not for the very identifiable Fascist architecture which forms the core of the city. For the uninitiated, this particular form of building is an imposing form of purified Art Deco, which takes Roman shapes and forms, simplifies them to pure, smooth, sparse design and incorporates them into enormous, blocky, stone fronted monumental edifices. It is truly an indescribable form of architecture that has to be seen to be understood, and nowhere in Italy is it more evident than Latina which was founded on that very type of building.

In a country where these elements are the exception rather than the rule, Latina can be said to be the perfect, clean, safe and modern Italian city. Latina is an amazing and completely offbeat Italian urban environment. Although it is most certainly not the primary destination for the lover of ancient cathedrals or museums filled with precious antiquities, it does offer a considerable city center which features a wide variety of very Italian bars and cafes where the citizens gather to discuss soccer and politics over cups of fragrant espresso, or simply engage in the southern Italian’s favorite passtime, “Dolce Far Niente” or how sweet it is to do absolutely nothing!

What is missing are the endless traffic jams, noise, chaos, confusion, diesel fumes and exasperation which mark the core of many Italian cities (Latina’s southern neighbor the filthbag Naples being the ultimate example). Latina is a completely modern, spotlessly clean, fully decent, low crime and worry free Italian city. There aren’t many other places that can make that claim!


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Comments 39 comments

Vladimir Uhri profile image

Vladimir Uhri 7 years ago from HubPages, FB

After I escaped from communistic Slovakia (former Czechoslovakia) I was in refugee camp 7 months in Latina. Nice hub Hal.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

I love love LOVE Latina. It's probably one of my top four or five places I'd like to live in Italy!

Lubomir 7 years ago

I was in Latina in 1980 when I escape from Czechoslovakia, it was nice town and the Italian people were the first who help me to survive. Today Italy is the worse place to live because of the political strategy of new fascism.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Lubomir: I swear I have no idea what you're blathering about. What new fascism? Are you one of those pitiful, pathetic, knee-jerk Berlusconi Bashers? You have no clue, dude.

Lubomir 7 years ago

Dear Licino, if you haven't clue what is new fascism, than you have to study more. Don't swear just learn the reality of this days. Wish you all the best in study.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Come on dude, so where is the new fascism in Italy? Gianfranco Fini's AN? Umberto Bossi's Lega Nord? Or are you just trying to keep busting the cojones of the leftist-embattled Silvio? I've forgotten more about Italian politics than you'll ever learn in a dozen lifetimes, so the gauntlet is down. Debate me on this subject and I'll send you home with your tail between your legs. :)

Lubomir 7 years ago

Education is more important than your answer. You have to send home somebody else with the tail between his legs. Good luck! And all the best.

SAM 7 years ago


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Lubomir: Best wishes to you too.

SAM: Which camp?

Jim 6 years ago

My parents were in the camp 1964 to 1965 refugees from the former Yugoslavia but ethnic Hungarians. I have some photographs. Do you have an email address. Jim Sydney Australia

Art 6 years ago

I was in the Latina camp in 1986. refugee from Poland....Block H-49

Ivan/profugo 6 years ago

I lived in Latina 1984 for 7 months in a refugee camp, when I escape from Czechoslovakia. Lovely town, nice memories.

Kasia 6 years ago

I was in Latina too in 1986....good times:) Can still smell the filth of the camp.

Agnes 6 years ago

I was in Latina for a year, april 1986-87 ....I would like to see some picuters of camp, anyone?


Trek 520  6 years ago

Well, I was in Latina from August81 to May82. Some emigrants used Cedok service but I have different idea when was time to travel so I got permition to paddle my kayak on Dunabe River from Bratislava in Czechoslovakia to Budapest in Hungary. 19 days later at cloudy night I cross border to Yugoslavia. Because no authority want to see my passport I did make it to Nova Gorica and over the fence in record time to Italy. It was nice trip.......

Spartacus 5 years ago

I was in Hotel Bologna(Cisterna di Latina)for 7 months in 1985.My memories are bad.The staff members were nasty and disrespectful.My friend (married to Italian )came to visit with her parents.We had seen one of workers digging in their lagguage on our unexpectged return from a walk!The food was terrible and limited amount(1 bread-roll,1 butter,1jam if you taken 2 ,had to return as they yelled at you....Moldy prunes were a treat after pasta...).Garbage treatment.Italy is beautiful,I am well off in America today and can forget this horror but had to get it off my chest.I was a human not a slave.

Augustine 5 years ago

I lived in the Latina camp. The conditions were atrocious because the staff stole most of the UN - provided supplies. As an occasional employee, I found most local Italians disrespectful, uneducated, abusive, snobbish and cheap.

Maria 5 years ago

I lived in Latina's refugee camp in 1982. It was a horror...dirt, only cold, dripping water, abusive carabinieri who made passes on me, fear for my safety, pasta with a bone that had a green skin with hair on it...waiting and dreaming of a better life.....I made it and I am successful and well off and I am proud of it. I can appreciate little things things in my life more. In Latina, I experienced for the first time what it meant to be hungry.

I met very nice Italian people. I sneaked them to the camp to see how the refugees live. After they saw the camp, they told me that they are ashamed to be Italians. Yes, I agree with the above writer, I was also told that the UN donations were stolen by the camp staff.

Voros Istvan 5 years ago

1971 Latina was a turning point in my life. "I love the place."

Martin 5 years ago

I lived in Latina Refugee Camp for three months after defecting socialist Czechoslovakia through Yugoslavia in mid 1986. I must admit that I've never seen such a filth and atrocious conditions never in my life before. Even remember placing my metal bed's legs into cans filled wit water so I don't get any of the unidentifiable insect crawling over me while asleep. Nevertheless those times were one of the best in my life. High, euphoric and tasting the freedom as much as I could. Almost everyday I had those Immigrant dreams where bunch of "Commie" soldiers are chasing me and I can't escape. Then waking up realizing I am free and behind the "Iron Curtain". How sweet! Would do it all over again in the heartbeat. Good luck to you all.

Natalie 5 years ago

Was with my family in the Latina camp for 6 months in 1966. I was just a kid but my memories are vivid and not happy. The conditions were bad and the food worse. I think it was worst for my parents, trying to protect their kids from the filth and cold.

anelia 5 years ago

spent 9 months in Latin in 1965, don't much remember the conditions because i was only 5yo. am very grateful for this camp as it presented the opportunity for my family to escape socialist yugoslavia and prosper in freedom in america.

miki 5 years ago

filthy & vulger like the catacombs

Bogdan 4 years ago

I was in Latina between September and November of 1984. Later on in Capua till June 1985. It was over a quarter century ago but I'm still thankful to all Italian people who helped me to regain my dignity when I had to run away from communist filth.

Viva Italia !!!

To those wishing to express their views or possibly exchange some photos please write:

Bibi din Timișoara 4 years ago

April 27, 1982. I remember waiting in the lunch line at the cantina after escaping from communist Romania and crossing Yugoslavia 20 hours later... I couldn't believe that we were getting all this fantastic food (mozzarella, spaghetti, sweets, salads, etc) for free... my eyes were bigger than my stomach... and at the end of the line this food server, not seeing me there before, told me: WELCOME TO FREEDOM! I will never forget his face radiating with the joy and happiness... that was the first time I realized that I was FREE! What a feeling! Will never forget it. 30 years later I still feel the greatness of that moment. Nothing else mattered after that as I WAS LIVING IN FREEDOM! I was a refugee in the Latina refugee camp between April and November 1982. Feel free to contact me at if you want to share any memories from that time, and not only…

feliks Corallini 4 years ago

Dear Jim from sydney

I met my future wife in Latina in 1963 I sure would like to have some pictures

from the camp in Latina if possible. We just celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary

my e mail

Thanks Jim

Zdravko Dimitrov 4 years ago

I was in Latina 09/09/1986 to 1987 waiting for Australian refugee visa.

Ami 4 years ago

Jim Sydney Australia, would you share pictures from Camp Latina from 60-ies when my parents were there? Does anybody else have pics from that time and would like to share? My e-mail is

Marlin 4 years ago

Oh yeah, I remember this camp very well. It was a stepping stone. Lived there from December 84 to February 85. After that I stayed in Hotel Tatti (sp) for few months before arriving in the USA.

Coold showers, or no showers, drinking vodka and eating cold spaghetti. Would i go through this again to reach my dream - sure i would.

carlo 4 years ago

grazie italia pasato qualche tempo pero molto gracie

vera 4 years ago

was in Latina for seven months from Aug. 1983. came to Canada and didn't like it. wanted to go back to Italy. Love Italy, Latina was very good to every one . People who talks bad about it should not emigrate. Those people are still unhappy where ever they are !!!

spartakus 4 years ago

To Vera,don`t judge other people!What they should or shouldn` stupid statement.Everyone started from different level,who was hungry at home welcomes a bowl of any soup....Future expectations fall to the same category if you are getting my drift...Honest criticism is the only vehicle for change.I would not like to be on mercy of Italians again(I see their misbehaviour even here in Canada..not all of them but many).Ciao.

eagle 3 years ago

bylem tam

Petr 3 years ago

Trek 520

I was at the Latina camp with my parents during this time: August 81 - November 81. Remember the riot between the Albanians and the Romanians? I was only 10 years old and slept through it but I remember all the blood on the walls afterwards.

Szczecin 2 years ago

My family and I arrived from Poland in 1986 and spent 9 months at the Latina refugee camp and another 9 months at Hotel Caty before moving to Canada. I was only 8 when we arrived, i have great memories of Latina and Italy as a whole. Only now upon reflecting on our time at the camp am i coming to realize how poor the conditions truly were, but we endured and it was an incredible experience. I would appreciate any pictures any of you may have to offer of the camp,

Kind regards!

Apia 2 years ago

Finally! I started a research for my book- describing the escape from communist Czechoslovakia. I spent 4 months in the camp, and yes, I grew NOW (then all appeared to be exciting and curious- I was quite young and always adventurous) to believe that the conditions were quite miserable and really life threatening at times. I new friends who ran for life not to be raped,...some were..., others were asked for a cigarette POLITELY- by pressing the gun against their forehead. I always liked writing in my youth, but did not do much of it in English. Time to do it. There are plenty of great editors. Living in USA, it is an eye opener listening to people I am surrounded with how ignorant (not arrogant and quite respectful and innocent) they are regarding the Eastern Block Communist regime and all the situations attached to it. Your comments are a great reminder of the mood- of the time so long ago- 1981. Any recommendations how to reach all of you to pry for your experiences and an assistance to recall the details of the camp operations. I may create a website for all interested to donate and share their thoughts. Please come forward and connect.

marlin 23 months ago

Apia, Great idea, set up a website (or just FB) and let's connect.

Frank Marton 20 months ago

My family and I (I was a child) were in the latina camp after escape from Hungary and a stint in another camp in Triest. This was a nasty place that taught me about the best and worst about humanity. Unfortunately about 80% was the worst. Yes, some stories of courage but mostly just how lousy people can be to each other, to their own countrymen and even their own families.

Monika 18 months ago

Vera ty jsi na FB? A jak? Ja jsem tam byla v.ten samy cas!! Monika Duzbabova Barry on FB

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