I hope you are in the mood for lots of pictures today because I went a little snap-happy the other day in a part of Rome that you might not be familiar with that is just two metro stops from the Colosseum.
Years ago when I was first learning Italian I watched a show called I Cesaroni. It was a light, funny, Brady Bunch kind of show about a blended family and their Roman life. They lived in a house (!) in Garbatella with a garden and met at the bar around the corner. The theme song was my ring tone for a long time. Who can resist such a Roman line that goes
"Pizza e mortadella la strada é sempre quella
guardo tramontare il sole sulla Garbatella"
Fast forward to now. I spend much less time working on my Italian, my ringtone is a Hamilton song and I still had not made it to Garbatella. A pal was in town working on a book and invited me along for a day with Rosalie who runs
Garbatella was created in the 1920s to provide housing for the new workers who were coming to work in the capital city. The neighborhood has a complicated political history and it's working-class residents have always leaned to the left. The overall vision was for a garden city with winding lanes that felt more country village than urban cityscape.
We meandered through the Lotto, which are public housing apartment blocks that were planned with large communal pathways and garden spaces and under Mussolini were gated and guarded by former colonial officials brought home from their time in Africa.
I was completely enchanted with the architectural mishmash, the wide-open spaces and garden courtyards alive with birdsong with roses and bougainvillea (still blooming in late November) and shrines and street art.
We took a break and had an amazing lunch at La Casseta Rosa and were able to fit in the Where Streets Have No Name - Vivian Maier Opening Exhibition too.
Another great Garbatella resource is the blog Rome The Second Time's book; Modern Rome: 4 Great Walks for the Curious Traveler.