Saturday, October 06, 2007

Dateline: Garbatella. Yep, we're in

Ok, I've been in for a few days now; Xtina even longer. It's been several weeks delayed, and we still haven't managed to rid ourselves of a Romanian crew of workers, but we can officially say that the offices of Il Sette Bello are up and running in the new location. Please note, *reader mail should be sent directly to the embassy in Rome. Your embassy, not mine.

* - if it's a bottle of wine, contact me directly.

So, where is Garbatella exactly? It's on the other side (the Colosseo side) of the river, on a hill overlooking St. Paul's, a magnificent basilica that mercifully gets a tiny fraction of the pilgrims that usually converge on St. Peter's. Garbatella was the first community in Mussolini's grand urban plan, il Duce's idea in the '20s to extend Rome beyond the ancient walls and give everybody a bit of breathing room.

Mussolini's imprint is still visible today. Many of the buildings are adorned with an "E.F" for "epoca fascista" followed by a IV or V or some other Roman numeral, meaning built in 1926 or '27. (That's 1922 plus 4 or 5 for those of you scoring from home.) These days, Garbatella has flipped to the left, or so it appears from all the hammer and sickle graffiti in evidence. But the locals still like their Mussolini-inspired houses. And, there's a great teatro in the area that we've been known to check out over the years that has some funky avant garde productions.

Here's a funky Flickr montage, capturing the 'hoods more colorful parts.

And what about today? Garbatella was in the local press this week with Il Messaggero asking is "Garbatella like Notting Hill"? Turns out, no, not at all!

Locals got a bit feisty when a film crew from Working Title, the studio that produced "Notting Hill," tried to pay everyone to move their cars. They wanted a car-free street in order to film (or "gira nuda," as the Italians say) a scene with Sienna Miller (fully clothed, evidently) walking through the 'hood.

If I see Sienna Miller out my window (nuda o no) with a film crew trailing her, I'll let you know.

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