He published several books and essays dealing with the economic, social and cultural circumstances and conditions of urban development, and the use of the ancient town in the framework of metropolitan development. These issues were also the primary focus of his professional and academic work, where restoration and planning of historical towns and environmental systems prevail. He was especially interested in the relationship between archaeology and the modern city; he proposed solutions for the correct (re)use of ancient towns that included traffic restriction, pedestrianization, and restoration. Some of these have been implemented by municipal governments, particularly in Rome.
Born in Turin in 1929, at age five he and his family moved to Rome. His father Filadelfo, a university teacher, ranked amongst the few who introduced the financial and actuarial science in Italy. His elder brother Delfino was editorial director at Zanichelli publisher in the 1970s and 1980s; his sister Melina, high-school teacher, wrote a number of grammar books (Italian, Latin and ancient Greek).
In 1953, Insolera graduated from La Sapienza University, Rome, with a degree in Architecture. He became a licensed architect in 1954, and qualified for university teaching in urbanism in 1960. Meanwhile, he had married Anna Maria Bozzola (architect, in the early 1960s was the author of a book series on arts education which became a reference in the freshly reformed Italian lower secondary school); she would be his partner during all his life. In 1962, he published Roma moderna. Un secolo di storia urbanistica (Modern Rome: A Century of Urban History), the first book dealing with urban planning and management in Rome from the unification of Italy to the present. The book has subsequently gone through six editions, with the most recent published in 2011.
During his tenure in Geneva, he founded and was for four years at the head of the Centre de Recherche sur la Rénovation Urbaine (Research Centre on Urban Renovation), sponsored by the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Insolera also long played a leading role in numerous environmental battles over landscape conservation and protection, as well as urban architectural heritage protection and revitalization.
He died of natural causes at age 83 in his house in Monteverde, Rome at dawn on August 27, 2012. Italian urban planners deeply mourn his passing.
Since 2003, all of Insolera's professional documents, designs, photos and writings have been deemed of public interest and protected by the Italian Superintendence of Archives [it].
2000: Alla ricerca della luce-I pittori di Aix-en-Provence dal XVIII al XX Secolo (Searching for Light – The Painters from Aix-en-Provence from 18th to 20th Centuries), Municipality of Perugia, Palace of Penna; curator of both exhibition and catalogue
2000-2001: Frondose arcate. Il Colosseo prima dell'archeologia (Leafy Arcades – The Coliseum before Archaeology), Rome's Archaeological Superintendence [it], Altemps Palace, project, layout and catalogue
2002-2003: Roma tra le due guerre (Rome between the two Wars), Museo di Roma in Trastevere and House of Architecture, Rome; project and layout (with A.M. Sette)
2002-2003: Dall'Augusteo all'Auditorium (From the Augusteum to the Auditorium), for the opening of the new Auditorium “Parco della Musica”, Rome; project, layout and catalogue (with A.M. Sette).
Competitions & Competitive Examinations
1955 Spatial layout of the “Valletta di Belfiore” area, Mantua (Lombardy; joint work): 1st prize equal
1955 Establishment of designers-architects teams for it:INA-Casa (public housing programme): qualified
1957 Venice General Master Plan [it] (in Italian: “Piano Regolatore Generale”; joint work)
Paesaggi perduti, Granet a Roma 1802 – 1824, American Academy in Rome (Lost Landscapes – Granet in Rome 1802-1824, American Academy in Rome), Roma, Electa, 1996 (contribution to the catalogue), ISBN 88-435-5894-3.
Via Appia, Sulle ruine della magnificenza antica (Appian Way – Amidst the ruins of the ancient splendour), Roma, Leonardo Arte, 1997 (catalogue of the exhibition; joint work), ISBN 88-7813-776-6.
Frondose arcate, Il Colosseo prima dell'archeologia (Leafy Arcades – The Coliseum before Archaeology), Roma, Electa, 2000 (catalogue of the exhibition; joint work), ISBN 88-435-7831-6.
Roma fascista attraverso la documentazione dell'Istituto Luce (Fascist Rome in the Istituto Luce’s Documents), Roma, it:Editori Riuniti, 2001, ISBN 88-359-5028-7.
Roma tra le due guerre. Cronache da una città che cambia (Romebetween the Two Wars, Chronicles from a Changing City), Roma, Palombi Editore, 2003 (with Alessandra Maria Sette), ISBN 88-7621-412-7.
Dall'Augusteo all'Auditorium (From the Augusteum to the Auditorium), Roma, Ed. Musica per Roma, Collana dell’Auditorium no. 1, 2003 (with Alessandra Maria Sette), ISBN 88-900980-3-1.
Saper vedere l'ambiente (Getting to Know how to Look at the Environment), Roma, De Luca Edizioni d’Arte, 2008, ISBN 88-8016-792-8.
Avanti c'è posto (Move on, there's room ahead!), Roma, it:Donzelli Editore, 2008 (with it:Walter Tocci and Domitilla Morandi), ISBN 978-88-6036-276-6.
Roma, per esempio. Le città e l'urbanista (Rome, for example. The cities and the urban planner), Roma, it:Donzelli Editore, 2010, ISBN 978-88-6036-458-6.
Roma moderna. Da Napoleone I al XXI secolo (Modern Rome. From Napoleon I to 21st Century), Torino, Einaudi, 2011 (New edition expanded with the collaboration of it:Paolo Berdini), ISBN 978-88-06-20876-9.
Modern Rome: From Napoleon to the Twenty-First Century, Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018 (First English edition, based on the above; editors Lucia Bozzola, Roberto Einaudi and Marco Zumaglini), ISBN 978-1-5275-1664-9.
The Centre de recherche sur la rénovation urbaine (Research Centre on Urban Renovation) published: Atlas du territoire genevois – Permanences et modifications cadastrales aux XIXe et XXe Siècles (Atlas of Geneva Territory, Cadastral Permanencies and Modifications during 19th and 20th Centuries), 7 volumes, Genève, Georg Ed., 1983-1998 (foreword by A.Corboz).
Italian Fund for the Environment (FAI) Award, 2008.
Writings on Italo Insolera
Elisabetta Reale, Archivi Italo Insolera e Ignazio Guidi (the Archives Italo Insolera and Ignazio Guidi), sheet on "AAA Italia. Bollettino n.9/2010", p. 31-33, May 2010.
Alessandra Valentinelli et al., Italo Insolera fotografo (Italo Insolera photographer), Roma, Palombi Editore, 2017, ISBN 978-88-6060-769-0; the exhibition held at Museo di Roma in Trastevere (11 May-3 September 2017), at Palazzo Gravina, Faculty of Architecture, Naples (5-19 November 2018) and at Polo del '900, Turin (17 September-18 October 2020).
^Refer to entry "Insolera Italo" in Chi è. Mille nomi dell'Italia che conta (Who's who. One thousand names of those who matter in Italy), appendix to no. 44 of L'Espresso, November 1986.
^In 2011 the Centre became the Observatoire des territoires et tissus urbains (Urban Spaces and Tissues Observatory; in French) hesge.ch
^The Death of Italo Insolera, Architect and Urban Planner of Modern Rome (in Italian) romatoday.it
^For Italo Insolera, by the association Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli (in Italian) bianchibandinelli.it
^Atlas du territoire genevois: permanences et modifications cadastrales aux XIXe et XXe siècles (in French) Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machinegeneve.ch
^"Aldo Della Rocca Foundation for Urban Planning Studies (in Italian)". Archived from the original on 2008-04-17. Retrieved 2014-09-13.
^INARCH (National Institute for Architecture) Awards (in Italian) Archived 2014-09-13 at the Wayback Machine
^Sistema Informativo Unificato per le Soprintendenze Archivistiche (Unified Information System for the Superintendences of Archives) siusa.archivi.beniculturali.it
INU - Italian Institute for Urban Planning (in Italian)
FAI – Italian Fund for the Environment (in Italian and English)
YouTube - Italo Insolera Speaks about Rome’s Late Urban Development (1962; in Italian)
RaiScuola - Italo Insolera Speaks about Rome’s Fascist Architecture (1991; in Italian)
International Society of City & Regional Planners (multilingual)
Italo Insolera’s and Paolo Berdini’s Modern Rome on RAI Art Portal (in Italian)
This article closely derives from the original Italian page, which was written with the substantial contribution of Insolera himself.