Saturday, March 31, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
|Via di Boccea, looking east from a bus stop.|
We had arranged to have lunch with a friend, in her neighborhood, a second-tier "suburb" to Rome's northeast, beyond the Vatican. Boccea, it's called, after its main street, Via di Boccea, which runs east of the Cornelia Metro stop on the "A" line.
We had arrived by scooter with about 45 minutes to spare, just enough time to get a sense of the area. What we found was "just" a Roman neighborhood: teeming with shoppers and workers, touched by the marks of recent history, graced by one of Rome's finest parks, brightened by color and creativity.
Among the dozens of shops that line Via di Boccea and the side streets to the north, we noticed a pet supply store with its carriers and beds arranged along a broad sidewalk
A line of new bicycles added color to the streetscape.
And a macelleria (meat market), receiving its supply of meat from a couple of guys in blood-colored garb.
A bicycle with an old-fashioned basket (it could have belonged to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz) and--a real prize--an old but still functional Vespa, decorated in the pointillism style of Seurat.
|Parco del Pineto|
Just a Roman neigborhood.
Friday, March 23, 2012
This underground passageway is shuttered now, and probably has been for years, useful only for collecting trash and attracting graffiti.
|The "sopraelevata," an elevated intersection|
on Rome's east side, completed in 1975
The purpose was the same. As traffic density increased, the elevated highways would carry vehicles over pedestrians and dense urban intersections, and the underpasses would carry pedestrians under busy streets full of cars and scooters. In EUR, the tunnel under Viale America was designed to allow thousands of EUR workers safe access to a Metro stop on the south side of the wide street.
|The Buffalo Skyway, opened in 1955|
But by and large these efforts to deal with traffic's consequences proved unpopular. Just about everyone but us wants to tear down the Skyway, despite the wonderful driving experience it provides. Seattle, adds Dianne, after much controversy is tearing down its waterfront "viaduct," as we Westerners call these things. We don't know precisely why the EUR underground was closed, but we can imagine. Over time, the passage became intimidating: graffiti, the smell of urine, predictable (for Rome) accumulations of trash, the threat of crime. For some, a dash across the street was preferable to descending and ascending long flights of stairs. And in Rome, the descent from sunshine into the unnatural and relative darkness of a tunnel, must have seemed not only odd, but contrary.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Monday, March 19, 2012
|Prominent, column-size fasci on a government building in Pomezia, a nearby "new" town, |
built under Mussolini's regime. Above the door, we learn that the building was constructed
in the year (A., anno) 17 (1939) of the Fascist (F.) Era (E.).
There are other, more subtle ways to engage the Fascist heritage. As we explain in a sidebar in Rome the Second Time (p. 85), many buildings constructed in the Fascist era proclaim their origin under the regime by using the Fascist dating system, which begins with 1922 (Year I, using Roman numberals). Many if not most of these buildings retain these Fascist markings.
|Hacking away at a symbol of the|
Fascist regime, Milan, 1943.
Although some fasci were removed by angry anti-Fascists when Mussolini's regime fell in 1943 (left), and others since then, many still remain as reminders of the dictatorship.
|Fasci on a school building in Centocelle, a|
close-in suburb of Rome
year (A.) 9. In Garbatella
in the main piazza in Grottaferrata,
a town in the Alban Hills. Probably 1920s.
Below, we offer some of those we found in the last two years. Good hunting!
|The base of a flagpole at Cinecittá, the |
movie-making center, with wrap-around fish.
|One seldom sees a light standard with fasci, perhaps because they're quite public. This one, featuring a schematic design, was in an ironworks exhibit in the Casino delle Civette, in Villa Torlonia.|
|Because manhole covers are seldom changed and seldom stolen, they are a good source of fasci. This one is obviously from Pomezia. |
|Here, a contemporary artist has juxtaposed fasci with|
other images from or of the 1930s.
Friday, March 16, 2012
In Monteverde Nuovo, an upscale neighboorhood in Trastevere, scooter owners are trying something different: parking on the sidewalk in front of a bank. With all those security cameras, it must be safe(r).
Monday, March 12, 2012
A few months ago we spent a pleasant evening at MAXXI, the new modern art gallery designed by Zaha Hadid. The tickets were free that night, and that helps, but we've also come to appreciate certain aspects of Hadid's design. Some of the interior sightlines are pretty cool, especially from up high on the catwalks that cross the large lobby.
But what impressed us the most was the subtle signage. The general sign, designed to lead one to the toilets (assuming you can't read the word "Toilet"), used a symbol we've never seen before; we're still not sure why the icon is leaning over backwards.
The signs delineating the men's and women's restrooms were discrete to a fault. We wondered if the legs/skirt motif would be decipherable to, say, a 9-year-old.
|Self-portrait. See photo at end for "context."|
Outside, the mass of the all-concrete-all-the-time courtyard was leavened somewhat by the encroaching darkness, the broad line of people waiting to get their free tickets (photo at top), our peeks through the glass at the fashionistas (left).
Thursday, March 8, 2012
That's our lesson for today. Sit up straight.
|The Lazio Symbol|
It's an octagon with 5 squares inside, each representing a Lazio province (an administrative entity): la provincia di Frosinone (down highway 6, to the southeast), di Latina (along the coast), Rieti (to the northeast), Viterbo (northwest), and--in the center of the symbol, and grounding the region, Roma. The 5 provinces are represented by "stemme," which might be translated as "coats of arms" or "heraldic symbols."
|The symbol; more legible version.|
|Symbol of the Province of Frosinone|
|Symbol of the Province of Rieti|
|Symbol of the Province of Rome|
Sunday, March 4, 2012
|Il Fungo, in the distance, center, from Via Cavalcanti|
So we took the Metro to EUR, got off at the Marconi stop and walked south on the west (right) fork of Via Cristoforo Colombo, crossing the Laghetto (little lake) and on about 1/4 mile, up a small hill to the right, to Piazza Pakistan, the site of Il Fungo.
|The Fungo, c. 1960|
|Il Fungo, as it looks today|
|Seattle's Space Needle (1962)|
The original restaurant, owned for a time by the tenor Mario di Monaco, closed in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and the building went into disrepair. The decline was arrested about a decade later, when a new restaurant opened and repairs and changes were made, including the repositioning of the windows, which in the original version had tilted outward from top to bottom and in the 1990 incarnation tilt inward to more easily shed rain water.
|Top of the Fungo|
At least two films of significance utilize the Fungo. Michelango Antonioni's black and white drama L'Eclisse (The Eclipse) , presents the Fungo as a symbol of alienation (a big theme in Italian films of that era). The film begins with Vittoria (Monica Vitti), having concluded her relationship with Riccardo, looking from an apartment to find succor in the landscape, but seeing, instead, the Fungo, a product a mechanistic modernism, even, perhaps, in its shape, symbolic of the threat of nuclear disaster.
Il Fungo appears again in Adulterio all'Italiana (Adultery Italian Style), a 1966 film starring Nino Manfredi and Catherine Spaak. This clip from YouTube includes a scene filmed at the restaurant (scroll through to about the 6-minute mark) and another, on ground level (at about 8 minutes).
|Banca di Roma uses Fungo for |
Although the original Fungo was not, we think, designed to support advertising (though we're not sure about that), it was inevitable that some company would want its name up there.
(1951-). That building, too, fell victim to advertisers, and now sports a particularly ugly version of the Samsung name.
On a lighter note, we enjoyed our expedition to one of Rome's more unusual buildings. Although we haven't yet tried the restaurant on top, we did have beers and sandwiches at an outdoor table on the ground floor, served by a lunch place inside.
Great views looking up at Il Fungo. Thanks, M.