Rome Travel Guide

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Monday, May 20, 2013

The Grass is Always Greener: the Saga of Piazza Sant' Emerenziana


Piazza Sant'Emerenziana, 2013.
Piazza Sant' Emerenziana was never anything special.  It sits in the north of Rome, in a quarter known as "Africa," fed by streets with names like via Tripoli, viale Libia, and viale Eritrea, references to the hard scrabble empire that Italy assembled at great cost--and then lost. 

Franca Valeri, in Il Segno di Venere (1955). 
Perhaps the highlight of the piazza's existence was its appearance in Il Segno di Venere (The Sign of Venus), the 1955 film starring Sophia Loren and Franca Valeri.  The scene filmed there includes both a tram (which no longer runs) and an ATAC bus stop (see photo, right).

The piazza's engagement with public transportation continues to this day.  The new B-1 Metro line runs under the piazza, but has no station there.  Residents are equidistant from the Annibaliano stop to the south, and the Libia stop to the north.  What the piazza got for this "service" was a huge ventilation system, right in the middle of the only section of the piazza available for socializing. 

As the shadows reveal, we were there.

And here is where the story gets interesting.  To mollify the neighborhood, it was decided to cover the huge ventilation box with grass.  Real, live grass.  With some kind of watering system. 










Then, somehow, despite ample spring rains, the grass died, or turned brown, or both, and the box
Spray-painting the grass green
looked awful.  So the authorities sent a guy out with--you're not going to believe this--a spray gun and green paint. And yes, he spray-painted all the grass green. 




                                                 
Evidence of a watering system. 









We had to see this, and we did.  We chatted with some folks in the piazza, who confirmed that the grass was "erba vera"--real grass--and expressed their own amazement at what had happened.  What makes the story even weirder is that the painted grass looks good!  Just the right color.  And, even painted, it feels like grass.  Nice work.  Another victory for Piazza Sant' Emerenziana!

Bill

2 comments:

Marilyn from Buffalo said...

Perhaps the spray painter was trying to emulate the "verde smalto" of which
Dante speaks in Canto IV of the Inferno.

Marilyn from Buffalo
(a/k/a Lovenlaw)

Marco said...

A minor correction: that part of the "Trieste" district is called "Quartiere Africano", not "Africa".