Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Rome Journal: Quartiere

Quartiere is the name for neighborhood in Italian. Most tourists who visit Rome know the city by virtue of the Trevi fountain (where a British-German woman got fined 450E after trying to duplicate Anita Ekberg’s famed scene in La Dolce Vita). Of course there are the Spanish Steps and the Colosseum, but these have little to do with the neighborhoods that people live in. For instance, if you go to Trastevere another high ticket spot (where tourists go to supposedly get a feel for real life) and then climb the Gianicolo, one of the seven hills of Rome, you can descend the other side to Monteverde where nary a tourist is to be found. On the main shopping street of Monteverde, the Via Fonteiana, there's a kosher butcher which tells you that you’ve arrived in a Jewish section of town, maybe not the old ghetto formed in 1555 around the Rione Sant'Angelo but a series of bustling streets, near the Piazza di Donna Olimpia. A neighborhood like Casal Bertone, way out on the outskirts of Rome and presided over by the Palazzo dei ferrovieri with its magnificent archway through which Anna Magnani playing Mamma Roma walks in a her striving for a better life, is a side of Rome that few tourists ever see. Pigneto is a bohemian district, famous for the wall painting of Pasolini eyes (courtesy of the artist Maupal and titled "the eye is the only one that can see the beauty" after a Pasolini poem) peering down at all newcomers. The B line; which traverses Rome from north-east to south, is bookended by Ribibbia, a working class neighborhood which is the site of Rome’s prison and Laurentina in the EUR, the location of the ill-fated l942 World's Fair where Mussolini had intended to showcase Italian futurist/fascist architecture and design and where  you will find yourself far from the madding crowd--of antiquity seekers.

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