Torpignattara is situated along via Casilina in the VIth district of the Municipality of Rome. It is named after the tower of the Mausoleum of Helena, which is located in the neighbourhood. Its 47,335 inhabitants living on 2.35 km² of land make Torpignattara one of the most densely populated areas of Rome, with a very high percentage of residential buildings and a scarcity of public parks and spaces.
Torpignattara first began to be urbanised at the beginning of the 1900s in the vicinity of the Church of St. Helena and of the present day via Labico. This early phase of urbanisation produced a combination of multiple-storied buildings, small villas, huts, and groups of huts and shelters borghetti. From the 1920s through the 1940s, this multiform development continued. The number of informal dwellings increased and various intensive construction projects were carried out by both private companies and public agencies.
The neighbourhood’s growth was fuelled by significant internal migration from central Italy and later from southern regions. During WWII, the neighbourhood was the breeding ground of various partisan operations. The urbanistic expansion of the Torpignattara was completed during the 1950s with a series of intensive building projects led mainly by private construction companies.
The neighbourhood was inhabited predominantly by workers from the building industry and was strongly influenced socially by a sub-proletarian culture. The Torpignattara slowly fell into decline and since the 1980s has been the object of a series of attempts at renewal, such as the 1998 Programme of Urban Renewal of the Pigneto.
From the beginning of the 1990s, Torpignattara has received a number of waves of international immigrants, especially from Asian countries. This has off-set the Italian demographic trends since the 1980s of falling birth rates and an aging population. Currently, around 8000 of the neighbourhood’s inhabitants are of foreign origin, or 17 % of its total population.