Meeting at the Circolo
Modern Rome was built around the administration of the new government following the country’s unification in 1861. Whole new neighbourhoods were erected around the turn of the century for the newly appointed civil servants who came to work in the capital city. They needed entertainment at weekends as well as a place to socialize. So the concept of circolo , or sport and social club developed. Each public administration opened its own to enable staff to meet outside work hours and become friends as well as colleagues. These clubs still exist today, and are still exclusive places reserved for employees of a specific administration. They provide sport facilities such as a swimming pool, tennis courts, gym, meeting rooms and a restaurant. One of the most prestigious ones is the Circolo del Ministero degli Affari Esteri, subsidised by the Foreign Affairs Ministry for Italian and Foreign diplomats. It was created in the 1930s by Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini’s son-in-law who was also his Minister for Foreign Affairs. He wanted a place where Italian diplomats could invite their foreign counterparts, and where they could bond together around a meal or a sport tournament. Located north of the city, along the Tiber just opposite the prestigious Ministry, it is reminiscent of a country club inside the city, with its outdoor pool surrounded by lush gardens. Today, it remains an exclusive place where diplomats hear about each others potential promotion or move abroad. Other public administrations have their own club as well, which remain at the centre of Rome’s social life, particularly in summer when people meet and invite friends at their respective circolo.