Rome Travel Guide

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Suburban Surreal: Parco Leonardo




It was "Giorno della Mamma," Mother's Day (BTW, a creation of President Woodrow Wilson) and Dianne's reward for 38 years of Motherhood was a series of international films showing at Parco Leonardo's Hollywood-style mega multiplex, whose sleek, football-field size lobby is shown at right. Getting there was easy--a 20 minute train-ride from the Ostiense station--and the cinema tickets were cheap at less than E4 per film. We went to three films with short breaks between, all subtitled in English, and two (LOSS [Lithuania] and TEARS of APRIL [Finland])were of considerable merit. All three films, and the festival generally, were sparsely attended (our films averaged about 6 people per screening). Of course, it was Mother's Day.

Having arrived at the Parco (named after da Vinci) early, we toured the suburban development, which might be described as a high-rise, grid-based Pleasantville, with a dash of West World. These could be the cleanest streets in all of Lazio, but also the most surreal, partly because they're not really streets, since cars are kept at the perimeter, and most Romans arrive, like us, by train. Although many of Parco Leonardo's large apartment buildings have commercial space on the ground floor (in typical Italian fashion), most of the stores are empty BECAUSE THEY BUILT A 2-STORY MALL NEXT DOOR--smart, huh?
Because the streets are so empty (the Mothers were all inside we suppose), any human activity looks weird. Case in point, the guy having a bite to eat at right, looking as if he were on the set of a Fellini movie.

Of the businesses that do exist, inside and outside the mall, one of favorite motifs is the Wild West (that isn't a misprint).
Our thought was that this would be nice for the kids, but by nightfall both of these places were jammed--one had people waiting outside to get in--with adults. Coincidentally, the ladies strolling
on the street at Parco Leonardo (below) had the look of gunslingers heading for trouble in a Kansas cow town.

The massive advertising display at the top of this post reads: "At Parco Leonardo, it's all about you."

One of Parco Leonardo's pecularities is that the rail station by which it is served has no stand to buy tickets and no machines that function (true both times we've made the trip). So if you got there, but don't have a ticket back, you're screwed (which means you get on the train without a ticket and grit your teeth hoping you don't get caught and fined). Bill

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