Latina – The campo

, FreewheelLatina – The campo

Even though I have never ridden my ‘truck’ for more than 154 km in one day this evening I felt like I did 250 KM. I am physically and emotionally shattered after my six hour visit to Latina.

With an internal temperature 24C and the maximum speed of the train reaching up to 158 km/h I arrived to Latina at 9:50 AM. This was my first ever visit to this city in the last 33 years. After a short ride I got off the bus at the Piazza del Popolo in the centre of Latina. It was 10:34 AM and the main square was occupied with the peacefully protesting students. Well, back in early 80’s I did my share of protesting, so I passed on now.

Although I recognized the main square I wasn’t quite sure, which out of six streets I needed to take to the XXIV Via Maggio where the refugee camp was located.

It is wasn’t hard to recognize the main gate to the ‘campo’, which I crossed on March 22, 1985 for the first time. Eight years later, in 1993, the refugee camp was shutdown and then partially demolished. Today serves the students of the Facoltà Di Economica at the Università La Sapienza. My hesitation of crossing the main gate lasted for less than a minute. Next 20-30 minutes I walked around the premises trying to reconstruct the layout of the camp. I was confused and pretty exhausted. Eventually I had enough. I decided to grab a coffee at the nearby café. I sat down and I felt my legs were shaking. I realized that the whole morning I ran on adrenalin. My head was like the highway of the past events. I knew I’m done with it. It was time to SMS Mario to pick me; “Dove vorresti che ci incontrassimo? al campo e piazza del Popolo?”

Few minutes later Mario replied; “Io sono appena arrivato al campo.”

To be continued…

The Piazza del Popolo in Latina, Italy

Between 1957 – 1993 the Latina Refugee Camp was located on this street

This used to be the family building, today part of the local university.

33 years apart

The kitchen building – partially demolished

My bed at the ‘H’ barrack – I took this photo back in 1985

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2020-12-05T05:46:05-08:00 October 12th, 2018|Cities, Freewheel|36 Comments


  1. Babeanu Mihai October 13, 2018 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    The kitchen building – partially demolished! In this ruin has now formed a new camp, with current migrants, clandestine Muslims. I saqw them and even photograph.

    • Jacek Laszkiewicz October 14, 2018 at 3:16 am - Reply

      Wow! I haven’t seen anyone there as the entire area looks overgrown with the shrub and trees. But thank you for your note Mihai and once again sorry I didn’t get in touch with you when passing thru Paris. I totally forgot, must be my age 🙂

  2. Jana October 14, 2018 at 2:58 am - Reply

    Hi Jacek, I was in Latina from June 1985 till February 1987.
    I love your story of returning back to see it.
    I went back too after like 20 years. Lots of emotions. Where do you live now? I in USA.
    Looking forward for to be continued.

    • Jacek Laszkiewicz October 14, 2018 at 3:14 am - Reply

      Hi Jana, thank you very much for your encouraging feedback. I live in Canada now in Vancouver.

  3. Gyula January 28, 2019 at 3:36 am - Reply

    Hello guys, my name is Gyula, I was also in this Camp in 1973 July, Spent here almost a year.
    I am originally from Hungary/Budapest. I arrived as a Refugee to New Zealand in 1974.
    Like all of you, I still have mixed emotions living in this Camp.Owfull conditions, concrete floors, bathrooms and Toilets had no windows, just to name a few things!
    I still live in New Zealand, 44 years gone by, and I am very happy!😀
    Kind regards, Gyula 👍

    • Jacek Laszkiewicz January 28, 2019 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      Hi Gyula,
      Thank you for your comment. Did you ever had a chance to visit Latina or Hungary since? If you are interested you should join a Facebook page, which is managed by Ema Gasbaroni who made a 70 minutes film about Latina. It is quite interesting documentary. I’m quite sure she’ll be happy to hear from you.
      My regards and thank you again

    • Miklos Toth June 11, 2020 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      Miklos Toth, in Latina 1971-72, fun times , worked in a wood shop in town.I was 17 years old, ended up in California,
      Bring back found memories of the Italians.

  4. John June 2, 2019 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Jacek, you mentioned 70 minutes movie – how do i get to see this movie?

    • Jacek Laszkiewicz February 14, 2020 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      Her name is Emanuela Gasbarroni. Please do some searching on Youtube

  5. Kornel July 31, 2019 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your post. I has born in the camp in November 1966. My Family emigrated to the USA in 1967.

    • Jacek Laszkiewicz August 1, 2019 at 10:02 am - Reply

      That is incredible! Are you Polish?

  6. Milan von Brunn July 31, 2019 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    Yep, I was there, too. In 1979-1980. What a dump.Don’t have good memories of that place.Glad it is being demolished.Would love to see that Gasbaroni’s movie. Any way you could post a link, here ? Thank you ! Milan von Brunn

    • Jacek Laszkiewicz August 1, 2019 at 10:04 am - Reply

      Yeah, it wasn’t necessarily a home 😉

  7. Zbyszek February 14, 2020 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    I arrived there in February 1987, left Rome on early 1988, while there I was living in family building first door on the right, many bottles of Lambrusco’s went down on the stairs in front :-). In US first landed in Boston, now in San Diego since 2003.
    Cheers to all who went through Latina


  8. Maria Littke May 16, 2020 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Hello We were in the camp from 1969 summer. No good memories also. We are from Budapest Hungary living in Canada. We never visited Latina only the Triest camp where we were for a month in the beginning.

    • Jacek Laszkiewicz May 16, 2020 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      Where in Canada do you live? Did you know I published a book about My days in Latina. It is titled ‘333 Days’

    • Natalie Hoy September 10, 2020 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      Hi Maria,

      Would you know what kind of documentation you needed to get into the camp? My father recently died and I discovered that he changed his name and birthdate when he escaped Poland in 1969. He too was in Triest but has a Latina refugee card with his forged name and birthdate. I’m just trying to figure out did he come to Latina with forged documents or was he able to get a refugee card with little to no authentic documentation. He immigrated to Canada too.

  9. Peter Dudulec May 16, 2020 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    I was in Latina camp in 1960-family did not qualify to go to Australia so we went to refugee camp in Aversa.I was only 10 years old Our family had escaped out of Yugoslavia -it seemed to be brand new when we were there

    • Jacek Laszkiewicz May 16, 2020 at 10:24 pm - Reply

      So where did your family end up immigrating?

  10. Eva Blaine September 27, 2020 at 4:30 am - Reply

    Hi I entered the camp 1966-1967. I was 11 years old. Spent about 5 months there with my parents. Had not thought about the camp but recently as I get older memories are flooding in. We escaped from Czechoslovakia. Only good memory. My confirmation in Rome. We emigrated to the U.S.

    • Jacek Laszkiewicz December 5, 2020 at 5:26 am - Reply

      I invite you to read my journal titled “333 DAYS PERSONAL MEMORIES FROM A refugee CAMP” If you want a sign copy let me know via email @

      • Eva January 4, 2021 at 10:18 pm - Reply

        Me, my husband and our 2 kids arrived to Latina at 1987. Place was crowded and we hardly find a little space for our tend. We are from the Czech Republic and now living in Canada.

        • Jacek Laszkiewicz January 10, 2021 at 9:39 pm - Reply

          Which part of Canada are you in?

      • Aurel April 4, 2021 at 9:27 pm - Reply

        Jack thanks for writing the story about the camp in latina. It brings back my memories of when I was there. In 1981-1982 I now live in Saskatchewan Canada. I’m from romenia

        • Jacek Laszkiewicz April 5, 2021 at 3:25 pm - Reply

          Did you get hold of my book as well? It is titled “333 Days”

          • Aurel April 6, 2021 at 7:42 am

            Thanks for the info. My wife has found the book and is going to order it for me.

  11. Artur September 29, 2020 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    I was in Latina from mid 1986 to late 1988.

    • Jacek Laszkiewicz December 5, 2020 at 5:24 am - Reply

      I heard became quite crowdy after I left the campo

  12. Ivan Teren October 22, 2020 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Thank for the pictures and comments. I was there in 1984. Good and bad memories. Now in USA.

    • Jacek Laszkiewicz December 5, 2020 at 5:29 am - Reply

      I published a book about my life in Latina. It is titled “333 Days”. You can purchase it online or send me a personal message and I will send you a signed copy.

  13. Dumitru Dragnea December 8, 2020 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Hi guys! That’s really awesome. I didn’t expect to find all those memories. I lived in the Barrack H 4. left site between the entrance and the bathroom, so happy to see those images now. I even that room from that picture looks the same I was leaving since 1984 until April 1985, when I arrived in USA, California. I wish all the best and lon life ahead, and if someone have more pictures and info please post it.
    With respect Dumitru Dragnea

    • Jacek Laszkiewicz December 11, 2020 at 2:57 am - Reply

      Thank you for your comments. I am happy to hear everything worke out for you. You can always send me personal email at my Hotmail address I’ll be happy to share more photos with you

  14. […] spent almost a year in the Latina refugee camp outside of Rome before moving to Canada in 1986 and would a book about his experience called 333 […]

  15. […] spent almost a year in the Latina refugee camp outside of Rome before moving to Canada in 1986 and wrote a book about his experience called 333 […]

  16. ARON February 4, 2021 at 6:56 am - Reply


    • Jacek Laszkiewicz April 5, 2021 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your comment!

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