Two days before Christmas 2009, 350 people gathered in Piazza Vittorio in the Esquilino district of Rome for a community photo. The group was diverse in nationality, age, gender, social status, religion and occupation. It was to be a moment in the life of the community; not a demonstration against something but a celebration of solidarity among those who live in this historic and multicultural area of the city.
The photo was the idea of Emma Amiconi and Roberto Crea, who between them write, publish and distribute a local newsletter, Esquilinotizie, and Roberto Cioce, who owns the Napoleon Hotel in Piazza Vittorio. Amiconi and Crea began the newsletter less than a year ago in an effort to address what they see as one of the fundamental problems for local residents: communication for and within the local community.
With 25,000 residents, the Esquilino is the most densely populated district of the city centre, with people of different nationalities from every continent living side by side but often in isolation from each other. Having started from scratch, Esquilinotizie now has 600 local names on its mailing list and is growing every day. Amiconi and Crea want to mitigate the shortage of information about events, cultural associations and initiatives in the area which, they say, could provide opportunities for developing links and furthering understanding between residents. Crea also emphasises the need for information and education to help people understand why certain behaviour is required for communities to function in harmony.