Rome Travel Guide

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Val Melaina, Serpentara: Can Rome's outer burbs Entertain?

Dianne was skeptical.  Bill had suggested a trip to Val Melaina and Serpentara, contiguous suburbs to the northwest of the city center, not far south of the GRA (the beltway).  He was sure that the area's curving streets would yield some modern architectural treasures.  Even the name "Serpentara" sounded mysterious, possibly dangerous.  Dianne reluctantly agreed to participate.

We began our journey at Junio, the last stop on the new B1 Metro line, which connects to the B line at Piazza Bologna.  Our first site was an apartment complex, seen here from the Junio Metro exit.

A long block up to the right (north), then a left turn and--lo and behold--an historical marker:

    In Questa Palazzina il Maestro
                     Vittorio De Sica
               nel 1948 Girava il film
                   "Ladri di Biciclette"

  De Sica directed parts of "The
    Bicycle Thief" (American title)
    in and around this apartment

Wow!  Here we were at the building where the master of Italian Neorealism crafted one of the most important films ever made.  How cool is Val Melaina!  And now we know these buildings
are mid-1940s at the latest.

We continued on a broad and, to be honest, uninspiring thoroughfare lined with undistinguished apartment buildings.

A shopping center, more like a strip mall, built for the automobile, across the street (right).

But then: an open-air market, hundreds of yards long.  We liked the sign that said, "A prezzi
fissi   Perfavor...non Perditempo"  (Fixed prices. Please don't waste my time [bargaining])

Another sign, advertising some product that makes bruschetta "facile" (easy).

At the far end of the market, a circular ramp led to an underground garage.  Bill admires anything
that's circular.

Ahead, now in Serpentara, a rather forlorn arcade-style market.  Not much traffic--but it was afternoon, and Italians were eating lunch.  Via Vergilio Talli.

Further on, a circular building that held out some hope of being engaging.

Inside the circular apartment building.  If you
want to visit, the name is Largo Fernando
de Lucia.  It looks very cool on a map.  Today, at this hour, not exactly a hive of activity.

And a wine bar--miraculous!  Unfortunately, it wasn't cocktail hour.

And a not-bad stairway.  The Italians lead the world in designing stairways, imho.

As we left the complex, a Lazio fan depicted fans of the Roma team as Jews ("Romanista ebreo"). Clever!

On our return, along viale Lina Cavalieri, we passed by this monumental church in the c. 1970 brutalist style.  What a marvel! How many tons of concrete!  Might make a good bomb shelter.

And this handsome modernist structure (left), straight out of the 1930s, or so it seemed.  Perhaps it owes something to Buffalo's grain silos, which were very influential for modernist architects.

Some wall writing whose meaning wasn't clear, to us anyway:  "Valerio Combatte Communista" (complete with hammer and sickle).

Stopped at this cafe for a Coca Lite--at a table outside.  Really a bathroom break.  Though Dianne does need a regular Coca Lite fix. The tavola calda ('hot plate' lunch) looked good.

A nice piece of found art--one of Bill's hobbies.  At home
in Buffalo, Bill printed this on his Epson 3880 at 13 X 19 inches.  Looks fantastic.  Think 1920s Russian constructivism.

Back at the Jonio stop, several hours later.  They could have done better with this building.
Evaluating the walk: Thumbs up?  (Bill)  Thumbs down? (Dianne). In any event, we "burned some Cs."



panettone said...

In what way is anti-Semitism "clever"? The recent incident at the Olympic stadium with Lazio fans distributing stickers associating Anne Frank with the Roma team demonstrates the ugly prejuduces all too common in Italian soccer.

Anti-Semitism must never be tolerated.

Dianne Bennett and William Graebner said...

Hi panettone,
The "clever" was meant as irony. I think my next book will be titled "The End of Irony."

panettone said...

You're right, I should have know you didn't really mean it. I had just read about the stadium controversy so I was hypersensitive. Sorry!