Rome Travel Guide

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Garage Art: the Pinup in Rome

Grease monkeys like their pinups.  Back where the work is done, where the oil is changed and the tires rotated, there's usually a poster or calendar featuring a fetching young thing in short shorts straddling a motorcycle or leaning over a front fender, ready to replace a spark plug or remove the air filter. 

Center: A helpful auto repairman approaches woman in distress. 
That's true in the US, anyway--at least that's how I remember it--and when I walked by the garage (photo above), on Via Nocera Umbra in a sedate, middle-class area of the quartiere of Tuscolano, I was sure I had stumbled upon the tip of the pinup iceberg.  Surely Rome's mechanics had their calendar girls, too.  I imagined coming upon one suggestive display after another, the sum proving my theory that men are men, mechanics mechanics, and garage art garage art, the world over. 

To make a long story short, I never found another,  Despite zealous, even intrusive observation of every garage I passed on my walks through Rome's neighborhoods, I never found another pinup.  Not a one. 

Where had I gone wrong?  Italy is not a prissy culture, or a censorius one.  For many years the television show "Colpo Grosso" was well known for women "flashing" their breasts.  And today, stores selling sun-tan lotions advertise their wares in the window using luscious top-less cardboard models.  No, it's not that Italians are squeamish about sex or sexiness.

A better explanation has to do with the shape of Rome's car and scooter repair industry.  Many of the shops are small, shallow, room-size affairs, big enough for one or two lifts and tools, and they're open to the sidewalk, so that passers-by are close to the action inside.  The calendar pinups would be there, revealed in all their immodesty to every school girl and grandmother.  Perhaps not the best idea. 

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