Finanziato dall’Unione europea – Next Generation EU

The Lazio coastal area placed on the south of the Tiber mouth represents a landscape of outstanding historical and archaeological interest. In this stretch the coast is formed by a complex system of ancient dunes and in the past a series of coastal lagoons, a very peculiar habitat providing shelter to shallow-draft boats. The estate is located a few kilometers S of Rome, between the ancient centers of Ostia and Ficana to the NW and Lavinium to the SE. Via Laurentina runs E next to the center of Castel di Decima. The whole coast today is heavily urbanized with intense and irreversible transformation to the ancient landscape. At the center of this territory there is an area of about 60 km2, still little investigated from an archaeological point of view, consisting of the Presidential Estate of Castel Porziano.

Figure 1 – Fisheye view of the Presidential Estate of Castel Porziano

Archaeological investigations so far have been able to explore some of the villas located on the Via Severiana, which runs parallel to the coast, and part of the Vicus Augustanus Laurentium, but an extensive investigation has so far been hampered by the dense vegetation that covers most of the two estates. This obstacle, however, constitutes at the same time an enormous potential. Indeed, the landscape has escaped the territorial transformations that have upset the surrounding areas and constitutes the last strip of the Lazio coast that has remained substantially intact, preserving evidence of its complex and rich archaeological and environmental stratification.

Figure 2 – Aerial photo of the area of the Presidential Estate of Castelporziano and the surrounding area. Particularly evident is the contrast between the widespread presence of built-up areas and the Castelporziano estate (polygon outlined in yellow on the AP and red on the map).

The research project aims to define the coastal geomorphology by identifying stopovers and basins on the line of the coastal dunes, to identify the exploitation of the territory in the various phases, to understand the relationship between the coastal settlements and those of the hinterland, the patterns of the road systems, the impact of the Imperial Age settlement and infrastructures. It is also intended to define the soil use of the landscape through the integration between archaeological, geomorphological, and paleo-environmental data, from the protohistory up to the early Middle Ages. The broader scale and enhancement of the relationship with surrounding areas and Rome is also among primary goals. These targets will be achieved through a multidisciplinary approach based on the integration of different methodologies. The starting point is the development of a cartography of the whole Estate based on the integration of the technical map, historical cartography, aerial photography and the DTM obtained by the processing of high-res LiDAR survey. The new map will provide the basis for the implementation of targeted fieldwork (including geophysical surveys, field walking survey and drone survey), geomorphological and paleo-environmental analyses. The results of the investigations will flow into the GIS which will support the integrated analysis and interpretation of the archaeological and environmental record and the development of multiple interpretative scenarios across time.


Prof. Paolo Liverani

Work team

University of Florence

University of Siena – Landscape Archaeology & Remote Sensing LAB

CNR-ISPC Research Unit (ISPC)

Associated partners

Bruno Kessler Foundation Trento

University of Modena & Reggio Emilia