A double city, both in name and fact: Guidonia Montecelio is built on contrast and contradiction. And it is proud of its two sides – modern and old, high-tech and medieval, sacred and profane. In fact, its very roots are to be found in this double-sided aspect, like the outer chamber to the capital where the atmosphere is still redolent of its Sabine past.
The memory of its past can be seen in the sections of its massive walls, in its grain storage ditches and the temple vestiges of the old town of Montecelio. It is from here that it dominates the valley and looks to the mountains with the aspiration of being the old and long-lost Corniculum:
“[...] if we were to attribute the name of Corniculum to one of these, it would be Montecelio (modern version of the old name of Monticelli). Here, in fact, under the medieval fortifying walls of the castle which dominate the conic peak of the hills, are the remains of the wall comprised of rough stones which would appear to be part of the old primitive walls. Within the castle grounds is also a small Roman temple built of concrete and covered in bricks which sits on a stylobate [...]; a number of pillars with Corinthian capitals are still preserved today. The brick facing is of excellent quality and was probably intended to be visible.” (T. Ashby, The Roman Campagna in Classical Times 1927)
It is this fact of being on two peaks that explains the old derivation of Montecelio’s name from Arce and then Borgo, with its houses arranged fan-shape around the imposing walls of the castle. It forms a highly-suggestive scene of houses and tower houses clinging to the rocky fabric of the natural and artificial continuum. “ ‘Terra’ located in Comarca, 16 miles north-east of Rome above the eastern-most peak of the three main Comiculan Hills, governed over by Tivoli and within the Borghese diocese, with 1353 inhabitants. [...] On the road which leads to the castle, we encounter a few ancient remains, i.e., a small column and capital, a marble head wedged above a door, etc., indications of structures and ornamentation from imperial Roman temples. The castle itself, built in the 13th century, still remains on the top of a small concrete temple decorated with Corinthian pillars, similar in style and construction to other aedicules from the first century of the empire that exist in Rome [...], perhaps erected by some rich Roman responsible for these hills. Other remains do not exist in the area or around it, at least not within the radius of a mile.” (A.Nibby, Analisi storico antiquaria..., 1849)
A more recent view can be found in Guidonia, such as its desire to build an urban park around the original aeronautic activity of the area with the construction of its airport. The first efforts at building up the area were based on the urban planning of Calza Bini, di Nicolosi and Cancellotti (1935-37), but unfortunately, subsequent construction became more diffuse, crowded and, sadly, without character.