Rome Travel Guide

Rome Architecture, History, Art, Museums, Galleries, Fashion, Music, Photos, Walking and Hiking Itineraries, Neighborhoods, News and Social Commentary, Politics, Things to Do in Rome and Environs. Over 900 posts

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Women with Guns: Rome's New Feminism

Saudi Arabia has just labeled feminism, along with homosexuality and something else I can't recall, an "extremism."  Having survived the American 1970s as a male, I can see their point. I was forced to learn to cook!

But that was almost 50 years ago, and I wasn't prepared for the hostile, militant feminism I found on the walls of Rome in the Spring of 2019.  I should qualify the "walls of Rome" reference in the last sentence.  Most of the aggressive feminist images and slogans I found were not in "Rome," as if they were everywhere in Rome, but in certain areas of the city--especially Pigneto, but a few other places as well.

Here we go.

You may have seen this one; it's been on the RST Facebook site.  "Monogamy is the New Fascism." It's in English, so maybe it doesn't count.

This one's a stencil.  While the message seems aggressive, it's also sensible:  "Neither forced maternity nor imposed sterility."

The next one's more obviously aggressive, yet it's also vague about what it's advocating:  "We're multiplying the feminist rage."  Followed by the standard feminist symbol - in triplicate.

"Addio al patriarcato"--a reasonable translation would be "Goodbye Patriarchy."  Who could disagree with that?  The symbol here combines feminism with anarchy.  Anarcho-Feminism.

Below: "Complicit with the women who resist and kill the aggressors." That's strong.

Now we're into visuals.  Many of these fall into the "women with..." category.

As in, below, "Woman with a Drill" (and small wrench).  One could think of this as something like Rosie the Riveter, or....?    From Ostiense.

Below, a piece of wall art.  I tried to translate "Tommy gani [or cani?] sciorti" and could not.  This is "woman with dagger as hand":

Then there's "woman with dynamite" (upper poster):

And "women with guns."  Four of the figures in the poster below are women, and three of them have guns. The rally of the New Resistances was to take place in Casal Bertone--a community just north of Pigneto.

The following poster invokes the Partisans of the 1940s, and in that sense the woman with a gun is justified.  But it also says "oggi antifascisti" (today [we are] antifascists]), and it's not so clear that anti-fascism requires women (or anyone) carrying weapons:

This poster announces a "sciopero globale transfeminista"--"a global strike of transfeminists," I guess.  The woman is masked and ready for street combat.

Two more.  The first one, below, was found in Pigneto and starts with "Gender violence also involves (or concerns) you." "La Casa delle Donne Lucha y Siesta" ("Women's House - Fight and Nap") is a self-run women's organization fighting violence against women, located in the Tuscolano quartiere. Again, the image has a Rosie-the- Riveter quality, but it's more aggressive than welcoming.

And finally, from Ostiense. Here, less aggressive than anxious? (For more on the F word in Rome, see here.)

Author of "Patty's Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America."

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

We Get a New Scooter

The expert driver (yes, helmets are required; tickets are given).
The time had come - in 2019 we "traded in" our (very) old Malaguti 250 for a Honda Forza 300. The Honda is our third scooter in Rome and certainly the largest, classiest, and most expensive. For those who picture us zipping around Rome on a Vespa, well, nope. A classic Vespa has less than half the power of this baby, and is considerably smaller. Gregory and Audrey, move over.

(I guess I should've posed like this.)

Bill did a considerable amount of research to come up with the Honda as our first choice. The 300 cc is an ideal size for us, because it gets us into the hills and mountains around Rome without groaning, as the Malaguti did. Bill's usual passenger also had a lot of complaints about the hard ride on the back of the Malaguti; the Honda's suspension is way better.

Picking it up at the dealer's near the GRA - yes, though it literally is in the
 showroom, that's OUR scooter.  Friend Massimo helped with the negotiations.
We could have purchased a used scooter for a better price, but given our use of the scooter in Rome (we put on about 1,000 kilometers in 2 months) and our amortization of it over our remaining scooter life, we decided to go with a new model. The Forza 300 also is fairly new for Honda; the first model was 2018.

The detriments to driving and riding a scooter include the terrible streets in Rome and the surrounding area and parking challenges. We've written about renting a scooter with the bottom line: don't and about the dangers (the statistic - 25% of deaths on the streets of Rome are moto riders).

The additional negatives for a new scooter, and of a popular model such as a Honda, are the worries about it being stolen. So insurance (which only covers a portion of any loss) and a garage are extra expenses.

We spotted our model in a scooter showroom window in Rome.

We found this garage near our Pigneto apartment.  It was run by an Egyptian, who told us to go the Pakistani next door to get our documents copied for him - indications of Pigneto's immigrant-friendly neighborhood. Bill found the steep driveway down to the parking area somewhat challenging. It was one-way in and one-way (on another street) out, but not everyone felt obligated to follow those rules.

And, for posterity - below, our first scooter, a Hexagon 125 (bought used in Bologna in the early 2000s and driven - by Bill - over 4 days and more than 250 miles/450 kilometers - to Rome). We survived - and one bone-breaking accident later - still do. We often quote one of our Roman friends, who says there are 2 kinds of scooter drivers: those who have fallen and those who will fall.

Not quite the Audrey pose, but equally posed (the kickstand is down; no helmets).

 Dianne (the passenger).

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The New Corviale: Failed Public Housing AND Street Art Center

We've been drawn to and appalled by Corviale, the massive, kilometer long, 1970s housing project in the south of Rome, since we first saw the place more than a decade ago.  It's still there, and it's still intimidating, especially for those who, like us, obviously don't live there and don't "belong." We're voyeurs, and we know it. On the sunny early June day we visited, we were once again in awe of the sheer size of the complex, as well as its sameness; we were once again taken aback at the exterior corridors that seemed to stretch into infinity; and we were surprised at how few people we saw--Corviale seemed empty.

If that were all there was to this world-famous housing project, we would be repeating ourselves and risking boring our readers.  There's another side to today's Corviale: it's become one of Rome's premier sites for high-level wall art.

After parking the scooter in a near-vacant parking lot, we walked over to the structure.  This is the first thing we saw:

Turning right, there's this work by the artist SFHIR, a minor piece but interesting for its message, as if all of Corviale's street art had been done illegally, under cover of darkness.  We doubt it.  There's too much art here, and much of it too large and complex, to have been completed without knowledge--and permission--of the authorities.

We found the mermaid below, the first of several works that combine wall art with poetry. We asked our Roman friend MV, a professional translator, to help us with the words, and we're glad we did, because almost every line is difficult.

Here's what MV came up with, starting from the top:

Open your shutters         [serrande] there's something great to [see]
It stirs your mind, but not your senses/snake      [the rhyme is mente (mind) serpente (serpent, or                                                  snake, a reference to Corviale, whose nickname is The Serpent)]
It welcomes you in her arms                        [or breasts [seno], or lap]
The 'hood' [periferia] is a state of [my] mind  [MV adds, of course here the pun works much better in                                                English; it's obviously referring to the mental clinic next door]
People pierced by splinters            [schegge, misspelled here; MV adds that the word schegge is                       usually associated with wood, but the word trafitto is usually associated with spines/thorns]
It's been a prison         [or, it is a prison state, or if the mermaid's tail covers the word "in," it could be                                 "it did time in prison"]

Mille Grazie, MV!

And another with a message: "If you have no memory, you have no knowledge."  More snakes--again, reflecting Corviale's nickname, "serpentone" (big snake).

Some of the art is clustered in and around a small stadium (which we missed on our first trip), including a whimsical tableaux by LAC 68, one of  our favorite street artists. His "signature" is a white figure with a shopping cart (far right side).

LAC 68 also did this portrait of a woman. "Pupo" translates as kid; "geloso" as jealous. Looks like she's stroking a cat-like creature.

It was one of a number of depictions of women:

Including several by Pier the Rain, an artist unfamiliar to us:

On the level below the stadium, where there is a functioning business or two, we found the lovely "Corviale" mural that for the past few months has served as the cover photo for our romethesecondtime Facebook site:

And this piece, with some serious word content, perhaps referring to life at Corviale:

Our reality is tragic,
but it's only one fourth:
The rest is comedy.

One can laugh
at almost everything.

On the level above, the artist QWERTY has fashioned one of his well-known, playful--but also deadly serious--stick figures (left side).  Shades of Guernica?

And a painted walkway.

With a police station close by:

Aside from the wall art, and while exploring Corviale and near-environs, we found a few objects of interest.  One of them was a old rusted sign for an alimentari (a small foods store), an indication of what used to be and isn't any more.  As far as we know, there is no commerce in or near Corviale.

And across the street from Corviale proper, we saw what appeared to be an abandoned social space:

Just beyond it, a short tunnel with words by Pier Paolo Pasolini, the Roman poet, novelist and film-maker known to have visited the city's public housing projects--though not this one.  He was murdered in 1975, the year construction of Corviale began.

"Beauty can pass through the strangest streets."

Within a stone's throw, an upscale sports facility, likely not intended for the mostly downscale residents of Corviale, though the complex also harbors some wealthier folks.

Corviale has a small, comfortable library:

As well as a modern art gallery!

And now, its own worthy collection of outdoor public art.


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Grocery shopping 2019: quantity, quality and detours

Grocery shopping in Rome can be a pain - no 24-hour true supermarkets (no Wegmans - Buffalonians and Brooklynites). At the same time, it can be a great pleasure - as in, no 24-hour true supermarkets. We shop in open-air markets (our favorite, in Piazza San Giovanni di Dio, we've written about several times), mini-marts (ditto), the dying classic alimentari (small grocery/deli), and specialty shops. Among the pleasures we enjoyed in 2019, above - the incredible offering of wines under $3 in our local "super" (not at all large by US standards) market - and those above aren't the cheapest - you can also buy wine "sfuzi" - from a tap - fill up your own bottle, at even lower prices).

We also found this gorgonzola-by-the-scoop fascinating (photo right). The spoon and the amount of cheese is significantly larger than you can imagine from this photo. And, it's Euro 14.90/kilo, or about $7.50/pound - not that anyone buys a pound of gorgonzola at a time. At the deli at another not-very-large "super" market.

Part of what made our eyes pop is simply the quantity of what's being offered that one doesn't see in the US - the numbers of bottles of wine, the size of the gorgonzola, the multitude of waters (below), and the list goes on.

Left: in front of a Pigneto mini-market we found this list of prices for water - yes, that's all for different brands of bottled water (at least until you get to the Coca-Cola at the bottom). All selling for under Euro 3 (about $3.30 today) for 6 bottles of 1.5 liters each or more than 2 gallons of water. Romans still like their bottled water, even though the local water is quite good - though hard. Climate change may erode this practice over time.

Above, a small portion of the elaborate variety of desserts
at our local cafe'/pasticceria (Fattore) in Pigneto.

Left, enough salumi and prosciutto for you? (At a local, small market in Pigneto.)

It's not just food and drink.  Below, we found this plethora of "sfuzi" (unpackaged - bring your own container) laundry detergent at a local market:

Of course, you also can choose between 3 different kinds of asparagus (when in season) - at our old standby, the tin-shed open-air market in Piazza San Giovanni di Dio:

At the same market, we also could buy fruit and vegetables for the a single price/kilo - Euro 1.49 - by the way, that included bottles of wine.

Kiwi from Lazio
There's also the practice - likely an EU law, but also important to Italians - that requires the markets to label the source of all the produce, as in this Tivoli market (looks good close-up, but unfortunately seems like it's on its last legs):
Lemons from Amalfi

Tarocco oranges from Sicily "natural,
with leaves"

Melinda apples from the Trentino
(northern Italy); "offerta" = sale price

The alimentari (small, classic, usually Italian-owned and run, grocery/deli) near us in Monteverde displayed its dog food outside:

and inside was a photo of "Mama," who, it was explained to us, made the mozzarella:

Two more unusual presentations in 2019. One, a tiny stand that offered a plethora of baked goods from Ciociaria, a province near Rome noted for its food (and for the Academy Award-winning film, based on the book by Alberto Moravia, starring Sophia Loren, "Two Women" - in Italian, "La Ciociara" - the woman from Ciociaria):
"Ciociara bread- cooked over wood"
And, finally, we encountered - still in Pigneto - a street blocked off. The solution for which was one had to walk through the Todis grocery store to get around the block:

Yes, that's me, taking the detour through the store.