The Land Reclamation
A work by Titan to rid an area of about 134 thousand hectares by the water putrid and stagnant. Flows of settlers arrived from the Veneto, Friuli and Emilia Romagna. In the mammoth work were undertaken 18 major pumping stations, and over three thousand houses were built.
Until the early Twenties the swamp reigned supreme, crossed by cowherds in the area between Cisterna and Terracina, where the sites were identified by lugubrious names: Pantano dell’ Inferno (Slough of Hell); Pantano della Morte (Slough of Death); Femmina Morta (Female Dead); Caronte (Charon); La Piscina della Morte (The Pool Tomb).
In 1918 the Genio Civile of Rome finished his studies for the complete hydraulic reclamation of the Pontine Marches and the submerged part of the Agro Romano. Reclamation work was entrusted to two consortia: the “Pontina Reclamation” one, which started operating in 1923, and the “Land Reclamation of Littoria” that began his work three years later.
The real work started in 1927. The work to be done was huge. The matter was of controlling and drainage waters over a range of about 135 thousand hectares of which approximately 77 thousand proper members of the Agro Pontino.
Depressions of the land had created numerous pools, full of putrid water and even up to 10 meters deep, very deceptive and dangerous, because carriers of malaria.
During the reclamation works had been used 18 major pumping stations; 165 kilometers of canals was built or reactivated; 1360 kilometers of roads opened, 3040 houses built, and 4500 wells or artesian groundwater was drilled: a deal valued, at current exchange rates, at around 30 billion euro.
In addition to the reclamation itself, there were also executed all those activities that would create the conditions and infrastructure necessary to make the Agro habitable.
To the Opera Nazionale Combattenti touched mainly the task of dividing the flat lands on unities of various extension, according to soil fertility, an average of 20 ha for each family group, which could have a farmhouse (the farm), fitted with all the civil and agricultural services needed.
In the period between October and November, 1932, began the immigration of about 60 thousand farmers from the Veneto, Friuli and Emilia, to populate the land reclaimed.
They were entrusted the farm units, first as sharecroppers, so from 1942, to ransom.
For every hundred farms, business centers were set up that would then developed independently and that are currently populated centers, many of which still keep the agricultural vocation: to them were given names of places in the First World War, and today they’re called Borgo Isonzo, Borgo Grappa, Borgo Piave, Borgo Montello, Borgo Faiti, Borgo San Michele, Borgo Montenero, Borgo Pasubio, Borgo Vodice, Borgo Hermada.
In the same time, took place the activity tending to improve the living conditions, with the creation of centers for the prophylaxis, which had been studied by Angelo Celli and Giambattista Grassi, fighting with quinine the terrible mosquito Anopheles.
Finally, were opened schools which followed the apostolate opera played by Giovanni Cena.
Giovanni Cena was a graceful teacher with a will and a sense of school that elevated the teaching mission. He spent the years before World War I combing the marsh in search of students from poor farming families, braving malaria to bring a kind word and a little light in the stripped house of the Agro.
With the creation of Casale delle Palme, it begins the implementation of number of schools to fight illiteracy.
With Giovanni Cena worked other poets and artists, other teachers and doctors: Giacomo Boni, Angelo Celli, Alessandro Marcucci, Sibilla Aleramo, and Duilio Cambellotti, painter and sculptor, which left, in the school of Casal delle Palme, between Cisterna and Latina, six temper painting representing the life in swamps.