The Italian city of Latina was founded on the 30th June 1932 during the fascist administration of Benito Mussolini. Originally the city was known as ‘Littoria’ and was officially inaugurated on 18th December 1932 by the Italian leader. The title ‘Littorio’ was a commonly used term during the Fascist period being used for numerous sports stadia, villages, army divisions or to describe architectural styles.
Urban planning for a city in this part of Italy goes back to 1918 when ideas were formulated for the hydraulic drainage and reclamation of the surrounding Pontine Marshes, a huge area that amounted to 135,000 hectares of submerged marshland. Littoria grew out of a Fascist land programme which can be labelled under the concept of reclamation or bonifica where disused or swamplands were restored towards constructive state use and social housing regeneration.
Construction work on the modern city of Littoria started in 1927 and buildings gradually emerged from the central square – the Cancello del Quadrato which is now the Piazza del Popolo – outwards to the outer perimeters of the city. It became a city based on the radial concentric model creating an organised mesh of radial roads stemming from a central point.
At the nucleus of the settlement were the familiar buildings of the town hall and a host of ancillary buildings or public services. Included in that were a post office, a grand City Hall and a modest sports complex that emerged in 1935.
Littoria was populated with settlers who mainly came from the north eastern Friuli and Veneto regions of Italy. They formed the so called Venetian-Pontine communities in the area. The edifices and the monuments in Latina were designed by famous architects like Piacentini and Mazzoni whom had also designed many of the larger contemporary sports stadiums all over Italy. A few of these, including the redeveloped Nazionale del PNF in Rome, were host venues for FIFA World Cup 1934.
Latina sits about 62 kilometres (39 miles) south of Rome.
US Latina Calcio
The Italian Fascist regime which lasted from 1922 until 1943 had, amongst its many aims, the purpose of using sport towards the formulation of self identity. Calcio was used as an effective vehicle for promoting the idealised fascist state.
One of the principal objectives was to make people more adept at physical education with sport, recreation and leisure producing sportsman capable of representing the new Italian political order. The football industry became an arm of state and success was often exploited for propaganda purposes. Football worked in co-operation with the state and Mussolini where victory became a source of national pride.
The Italian national team were crowned FIFA World Champions in 1934 and in France 1938. The hosting of the 1934 FIFA World Cup event saw a building programme for large sporting stadia many of which used classical Imperial Rome principals of spherical design, circular column features and multiple public entry points.
Although not a venue for the 1934 FIFA World Cup the Campo Sportivo (now Stadio Domenico Francioni) had opened in Littoria during 1935. Once multi purpose it is mainly used for football these days and hosts the home matches of U.S. Latina Calcio, a club in Serie B.
The football team dates back to when the city was still called Littoria – to 1935. This was Sports Association Littoria. After the war and the removal of the Fascist regime (when the city was renamed Latina) the club was re-founded as Unione Sportiva Latina Calcio.
The sporting director and President was Dominic “Memmo” Francioni after whom the stadium is now named in 1996.
The Domenico Francioni is part of a wider sporting complex and has a classical open column facade with the words ‘Campo Sportivo’ emblazoned across its front. It is located in the heart of Latina although some distance from the train station. In recent years it has been extended and adapted to meet the strict regulations of the Italian league and Italian government fan control measures.
Currently playing in Serie B, Latina have been through a number of name changes and still play in home colours of black and blue.
I visited Latina in September 2013 and you can see some of the images here.