Rome Travel Guide

Rome Architecture, History, Art, Museums, Galleries, Fashion, Music, Photos, Walking and Hiking Itineraries, Neighborhoods, News and Social Commentary, Politics, Things to Do in Rome and Environs. Over 700 posts

Monday, August 29, 2011

Parking in Rome


While thinking of something to say about the soap opera "Parking in Rome," I was reminded of evenings spent some years ago in the Re di Roma area, sitting on the window ledge of our 2nd floor apartment, watching at dusk as frustrated drivers circled the block, then circled again, and again, hoping against hope that a space would open up.





Especially in the neighborhoods, where parking enforcement is weak or nonexistent, drivers are not particular about where they park.  If the regular spots are occupied, the crosswalk will do (see above left, with the car directly astride the white pedestrian-crossing lines), or the sidewalk (at right).  Another
technique, though one that undermines the value of owning a vehicle, is to never move the car. 

Some neighborhoods, like Piazza Bologna, have taken measures to prevent these transgressions, installing raised curbs guarded by sturdy posts at the four corners of intersections, and sometimes extending the sidewalks into the intersection to minimize the area available to rogue parkers.

In the near-burb of San Paolo, where these photos were taken, authorities met the parking crisis by converting a major vehicular underpass into a parking area (left).  All the vehicles in the photo, including those in the foreground and center/back, are parked.  Bill

Monday, August 22, 2011

Alberto Sordi: a Roman in Rome

If you're shopping for movie posters in Rome, three, as we recall, are ubiquitous: Anita Ekberg cavorting in the Trevi Fountain in La Dolce Vita (1960); Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck on a Vespa in Roman Holiday (1953); and Alberto Sordi putting spaghetti into his mouth in Un Americano a Roma (An American in Rome) [1954]. 

If you've never heard of Sordi, you're not alone, though if you expressed that ignorance to an Italian you'd be judged insane or demented.  Sordi's illustrious career as an actor spanned 61 years and included 148 roles.  Among his best-known films were The White Sheik (1952) and  I Vitelloni  (1953), both directed by Fellini, and Lo Scapolo  (The Bachelor) [1955] and Un Borghese Piccolo (An Average Little Man) 1977, whose title suggests one of his most common roles.  He also directed 18 films.

Sordi was Roman to the core--so much so, the story goes, that he was kicked out of Milan's dramatic arts academy for his thick Roman accent.  He was born in Rome, raised in the quartiere of Garbatella and by his schoolteacher mother and musician father, and when he died in Rome in February 2003, more than a million people came to the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano to pay their respects (these days, an equal number appear in that square only for free rock concerts), and some 250,000 came to the funeral (right).  (For more on Garbatella, see the first itinerary in our new book, Modern Rome: 4 Great Walks for the Curious Traveler. More on the book at the end of this post.)

Garbatella remains proud of its native son.  On one of its curvy streets, you'll find evidence of that pride: a wall-size painting, featuring Sordi's portrait and an abbreviated--if still impressively long--filmography.

Remember the name--Alberto Sordi, also known as Albertone (big Albert)--especially when talking to an Italian, especially in Rome, and above all in Garbatella.
Bill

The wall painting at right is featured in the Garbatella itinerary of our new print AND eBook,  Modern Rome: 4 Great Walks for the Curious Traveler.  Modern Rome features tours of the "garden" suburb of Garbatella; the 20th-century suburb of EUR, designed by the Fascists; the 21st-century music and art center of Flaminio, along with Mussolini's Foro Italico, also the site of the 1960 summer Olympics; and a stairways walk in Trastevere.

This 4-walk book is available in all print and eBook formats The eBook is $1.99 through amazon.com and all other eBook sellers.  See the various formats at smashwords.com


Modern Rome: 4 Great Walks for the Curious Traveler
 now is also available in print, at amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, independent bookstores, and other retailers; retail price $5.99.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The White Vans of Rome

Rome is well known for its scooters.  But there's another vehicle that deserves attention.  One of our Roman friends--which one we can't recall--drew our attention to the unmarked, white vans that seem to be everywhere on the streets of the city.  They're long and bulky and surely a parking nightmare; not the natural choice for a commuter or a small family, and the working-class guys who in the states feel tough in their trucks would in Rome probably prefer the masculinity of a motorcycle or even a substantial scooter.  So the vans they're likely to be commercial vehicles, but without the markings that would identify and publicize the business.  And they're all over the place.   Bill


We shot this for the Scuola Elementare, a nice example of Fascist public architecture.  The white van was a bonus.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

RST Top 40. NUMBER ONE! The Gianicolo at Night


No. 1 – the Gianicolo at night. No contest. Even he and she agree.

The Gianicolo is a lovely hill overlooking Rome from the Trastevere side of the Tiber. It’s easy to get to, even if it does involve a bit of uphill walking. And at night, it’s simply magical. Whether you’re in Rome the first, the second, or the hundredth time, you have to go there. We never miss a chance to soak up the views and the atmosphere (from Punch & Judy shows in the daytime to lovers at night).

In fact #19, the Acqua Paola fountain, is on the way to the Gianicolo, and also looks great at night and has great views of the city.  See our earlier post on the fountain.

Our stairways itinerary in Trastevere, the fourth in our new book, Modern Rome: 4 Great Walks for the Curious Traveler, includes part of the Gianicolo and Acqua Paola.  See the end of the PS to this post for more on the book.

Dianne

A PS on the Top 40 as we close it. Re the “he and she agree”: “Dianne says” and “Bill says” appear in our book, because we don’t always have the same take on Rome. (In an early manuscript of our book, we used simply “he says” and “she says”, which we both still like, but we bent to the will of an editor and changed to Dianne and Bill). And since we don’t have the same take, we made lists of our top Rome the Second Time sights. Then we collated and voted, made a few compromises (she says), and came up with our Top 40. As I noted, we both put the Gianicolo at night as #1 on our respective lists. Didn’t we, Bill? - she asks.

Yes, dear.  Bill

Dianne and Bill managed to cooperate enough to put out vol. 2 of the Curious Traveler series:  our new print AND eBook,  Modern Rome: 4 Great Walks for the Curious Traveler.  Modern Rome features tours of the "garden" suburb of Garbatella; the 20th-century suburb of EUR, designed by the Fascists; the 21st-century music and art center of Flaminio, along with Mussolini's Foro Italico, also the site of the 1960 summer Olympics; and a stairways walk in Trastevere.

This 4-walk book is available in all print and eBook formats The eBook is $1.99 through amazon.com and all other eBook sellers.  See the various formats at smashwords.com


Modern Rome: 4 Great Walks for the Curious Traveler
 now is also available in print, at amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, independent bookstores, and other retailers; retail price $5.99.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Graffiti Report: Howen


Howen, on the Metro viaduct, at San Paolo
 We're rank amateurs in the complex, fast-moving field of Rome graffiti.  Still, emboldend by a recent visit to MOCA's daring new exhibition on graffiti in several of the world's major cities, we're offering this report on one of Rome's most talented and prolific writers.  He has two names: Howen and POISON.  In a 2002 comment that we found on-line, a fan wrote, "this dude has got to be one of the kings of the b-line in rome, every photo I have of it he's up in it, even  after the buff he still had stuff running so ive heard."  (We're not sure what the "buff" was, but suspect it was an effort by the city to cover up/erase graffiti).  Sure enough, it was on the b-line--actually a viaduct carrying the b-line through the suburb of San Paolo--that we first saw Howen's work (see photo at left). 

Dianne, pensive at the Pomezia cafe

Then, on a scooter trip to Pomezia, a modernist village created under Mussolini and the home of a massive cemetery housing German dead from World War II, we found another piece by Howen just over our shoulders (see the bottom of this post) at an outdoor cafe in the city center. 

As you can see, Howen appears to enjoy writing his own name (at least what we assume is his name).  Sometimes he also writes his other name, POISON. 

We also found an on-line profile for the guy.  It lists POISON's interests as: "Graffiti, muri (walls), treni (trains), e la mia metro (and my Metro).  The profile notes his mood as "implacable" and offers this bio:

                POISON

                male
                102 years old
                Roma, Roma
                Italy 

Bill

Howen, in Pomezia

   


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Steppin' Out

We found these long-haired, leggy young ladies on the back side of Rome's new MAXXI gallery, headed for the front entrance--about a quarter of a mile away--where they would join hundreds of others in one of those expansive evening cultural events that have recently become part of the city's burgeoning arts scene.  Bill