Unità operativa della Croce Rossa Italiana

The Unità operativa della Croce Rossa Italiana is one of the most operation centres of the Italian Red Cross located in the Capital, Rome, in "Via Bernardino Ramazzini". Nowadays, it is the heart of the operations in this zone.


The Italian Red Cross is an Italian society that has its origins in the so called: ”Comitato dell'Associazione Italiana per il soccorso ai feriti ed ai malati in Guerra” founded in Milan on June 15th, 1864. Other committees were formed later. The Italian Red Cross was one of the original founding members of the International Red Cross in 1863.


Emilio Maraini was born in Switzerland in 1853. He was a businessman who discovered a particular treatment for sugar beetroot. This discovery led him to gain a lot of popularity in the Italian society as a sugar producer.1.On December 5th 1916 he passed away in Rome leaving his spontaneous generosity and his brilliant intellect as some of the key points of the ideology of the Red Cross. E.Maraini honoured the Italian Red Cross, of whom he was also Vice-President2, by giving the plots of land where this unit lays. Due to this, those plots of land are by half property of the Swiss red cross, just like every property of the Italian red cross.

Due to Its collocation the “Via Bernardino Ramazzini” centre -located in a nonindustrial area- was first used as a place for looking after patients affected by tuberculosis. As a matter of fact the so called “fresh countryside air” was not only believed to be very helpful for the therapy but it also kept illnesses away from the inhabited lands. Nowadays some of the green terrains are used as parking areas, but most of them are used as internal parks. Moreover, in front of the green area showed in the photo is located a congress hall, which is called “Sala Solferino”, in memory of the battle which took place in 1859 in Solferino nearby Mantua.


This area is currently used as the acting part of Red Cross, indeed it is the location of all the operative units, including not only doctors but also ambulances cars, and a series of social services given by the Italian Red Cross.


During 2017 most of the buildings were designated as a day hospital for all north african migrants arriving from Augusta nearby Syracuse and from Reggio Calabria. So this structure gave them help in order to fulfill the Emilio Maraini and the international Red Cross principles.


There is also a whole area that is designed for addicts in alternative pain, founded by the Ex President of the Italian red cross Massimo Barra, with the foundation of the Villa Maraini, that provides the daily distribution of methadone to drug addicted people of the area3. But it has to be remembered that this place is also reported as where nurses went to learn the art of caring for people, following the thoughts of Florence Nightingale.



In conclusion it has to be considered that even though this place is not the historical centre of the Italian Red Cross, and there are not plaques and busts to remember all the people that worked there who contributed to the community wellness.
It is thank to those people that this place will always be remembered as a crucial site for the history of the Italian Red Cross, fulfilling the wishes not only of Emilio Maraini but also the wonderful principles of the founders of the International Red Cross.

  • Photos and Main Text by Antonio A. D'Alpa and Alexander F. Costantino (December 2018), courtesy of Dott. Enrico Girmenia
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- Treccani, "Maraini, Emilio", Enciclopedia Italiana, Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana, Roma 1934 (Link to online edition) - Antenore Frezza, Storia della Croce Rossa Italiana, CRI, Firenze 1956


- "Villa Maraini Foudation" official website: http://villamaraini.it/

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