Challenging Testaccio. Urban Landscape History of a Roman Rione.

Image project Challenging TestaccioThis is a multi-year project carried out jointly by CLUE+, the Soprintendenza Speciale dei Beni Archeologici di Roma (SSBAR) and the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR).
Central is Testaccio, an urban district within a stone’s throw from the heart of the Eternal City.

The project entails, amongst other things, the creation of a Spatial Data Infrastructure for Testaccio, archival research, urban design projects and also excavations. The ultimate aim of the project is to investigate the urban landscape of Testaccio as a palimpsest of closely interwoven histories and to study how the history and heritage of Testaccio can be integrated into the modern city.

Testaccio houses a number of famous Classical monuments, such as the Cestian Pyramid and the Monte Testaccio. In ancient times the area was Rome’s river harbour. In the early 20th century its ruins were covered by blocks of flats, accomodating the working class population, so crucial to Rome’s industrial development.

Excavations of the Porticus Aemilia
Excavations of the Porticus Aemilia
The modern rione of Testaccio is an urban landscape in flux, which poses major challenges to its built heritage, especially when viewed in its broadest sense, including the Classical monuments as well as recent industrial buildings.

  • How can the tensions between heritage management and urban renewal be resolved?
  • Can heritage contribute to sustainable social and economic development?

These and other questions are central to the project 'Challenging Testaccio. Urban Landscape History of a Roman Rione'.

Project details


Funded by: SSBAR, KNIR, VU Amsterdam (2011-2016)
Budget: EUR 300,000

Project leaders
Dr. Renato Sebastiani (SSBAR)

Prof. Dr. Gert-Jan Burgers (VU Amsterdam/CLUE+)

Niels van Manen PhD
Maurice de Kleijn MA
Raphaelle-Anne Kok MA
Sara della Ricca MA
Drs. Valerio De Leonardis
Dr. Chris van Aart


Prof. Dr. Henk Scholten
Prof. Dr. Gert-Jan Burgers

Challenging Testaccio


Publications 2015

  • Dias, E.S., Linde, M. & Scholten, H.J. (2015). Geodesign: integrating geographical sciences and creative design in envisioning a 'New Urban Europe'. International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, 14(1/2), 164-174. 10.1504/IJGENVI.2015.067488.

Publications 2014

  • Burgers, G.L.M., Kleijn, M.T.M. de, Aart, C.J.A. van, Manen, N. van, Scholten, H.J. & Sebastiani, R. (2014). Testaccio: una app per la biografia culturale digitale del rione. In C. Virlouvet (Ed.), Rome, le Tibre, le littoral. 3000 ans de l’histoire. Rome: Ecole Francaise de Rome.
  • Burgers, G.L.M., De Kleijn, M. & Van Manen, N. (2014). Urban Landscape Archaeology, Geodesign and the City of Rome. In D.J. Lee, E. Dias & H.J. Scholten (Eds.), Geodesign by Integrating Design and Geospatial Sciences, Geojournal Library Vol. 111. Geojournal Library (pp. 183-192). Springer.

Publications 2013

  • Kleijn, M.T.M. de, Aart, C.J. van, Manen, N. van, Burgers, G. & Scholten, H.J. (2013). Testaccio, A Digital Cultural Biography App. In International Workshop on Personalized Access to Cultural Heritage. Rome, Italy: PATCH.
  • Kleijn, M.T.M. de, Manen, N. van, Kolen, J.C.A. & Scholten, H.J. (2013). User-centric SDI framework applied to historical and heritage European landscape research. (Preprints, Research Memorandum, no 2013-32). Amsterdam: Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.

Publications 2012

  • Vermeulen, F., Burgers, G.L.M., Keay, S. & Corsi, C. (Eds.). (2012). The Contribution of Urban Landscape Survey in Italy and the Mediterranean. Oxford: Oxbow.