Introduction At present Rome’s urban space appears open and uncon ned. e major housing expansion, which began during the post-war period and stretched through to the present, brought about a loss of coherency in the urban fabric. Over time, the city centre – while nominally preserved thanks to its historic value – has lost the speci c, connecting function of ‘the centre’, becoming instead a discordant space. In its place, individual and disconnected fragments within the city have assumed its various ‘central functions’: be they administrative, economic, cultural, etc. Roberto Cassetti has commented on this situation, making particular reference to the 2003 piano regolatore, the urban master plan of the city. In Cassetti’s view, the various ‘centres’ of Rome, which have materialized around the various focal points of urban activity, should be placed into dialogue with one another within a system of reciprocal relationships, so as to manage organically the dispersed urban context.2 As a city develops, he writes,

At present Rome continues to expand its presence and its in uence in marginal areas. Yet this expansion raises a key question: what e ect does this expansion have on its concrete relationship with the central, historical city? In order to begin to approach an answer, I will pose another question: in what ways can a monument such as the Aurelian Walls, one which was created in order to con ne urban space and yet which certainly no longer does that today, continue to characterize the imagery of the city? Beginning with these questions, in what follows I intend to o er some re ections on the urban environment of Rome today.