Walking tour of Garbatella: Part 2

imageLast week we went on a walking tour of Garbatella, which was really interesting: see Part 1. This is our neighbourhood in Rome, a working-class area which is well worth a visit for the architecture and ambience. Here, the Roma logo, on a house wall.

imageHere, an internal courtyard, where our excellent guide Franco pointed out the decorative pillars on the facade. Many of the houses have decorations of pillars, reliefs and mythical figures, part of the barochetto romano movement. Decorations were done with simple materials, not marble.

imageWalking up Via Passino: the fire brigade was out (parked next to a progressive social club). They were inspecting a tree that was leaning a bit too  much. (Still there this week, though)

imageThis is a fervently Roma supporting quartiere, and you see the giallorosso (yellow and red) echoed on lampposts,  bricks and walls. More Roma-fandom (with added grafitti, I noticed later…..) There is a lot of grafitti in Rome, unfortunately.

imageCesare Battisti school on Piazza Sauli, example of civil architecture in Fascist era. See the massive eagles! This school is also featured in “I Cesaroni”, a soap opera that has been on for years. It is mainly set in Garbatella, at the bar just around the corner. The 673 bus ends here, three stops after the Garbatella metro, and there are often Italian tourists on the bus, doing a Cesaroni pigrimage.

imageArchitecture buffs might especially enjoy Lotto 24, which has the 13 “model houses”, built for the International Congress of Housing and Town Planning in 1929. Look for them on the triangle of Via delle Sette Chiese, Via De Jacobis and Via Borri. Here, we arrived at Piazza Eurosia. This is one of several excellent areas for eating out.

We ambled down Via Rubino, a tree-lined little street with litlle houses and beautiful gardens, and arrived here at Piazza Sapeto.. If you go straight through the piazza, you come down the steps to the Fontana di Carlotta.  We went left instead.

imageFranco pointed out the communal washing lines in some of the internal courtyards, still very much in use. Many of the courtyards have lovely gardens, well looked after by the inhabitants, and there are footpaths so you can criss-cross  through and have a look.

imageMore laundry in afternoon sun. See that box on the tree? It is a bat box, to encourage bats: they sleep there in the day. When it is dark, you see them swooping around eating insects.

What we found really interesting about this walk through Garbatella is seeing how people live: people walking dogs, hanging out laundry, the smells of dinner cooking, the sounds of conversations drifting from windows, the sun illuminating the faded reds and yellows of the buildings, and getting the feel of Garbatella as a neighbourhood.

In Rome and interested in seeing Garbatella? Contact Garbatella Mon Amour: https://www.facebook.com/garbatellatour regarding the new free walking tour around Garbatella, offered in English. About two hours, very enjoyable and highly recommended. For information and booking, call or text +39 351 1245 664. PS Generally this is offered in the morning at 10AM.

Tony’s peaches in prosecco

It is Ferragosto today, 15 August, and the peak of the Roman summer. The name of the holiday derives from its original Latin name, Feriae Augusti (“Festivals [Holidays] of the Emperor Augustus”). Shops are closed, our palazzo is deserted, and my will to cook dwindles steadily with the rising temperatures. So I was thrilled when our visitor Tony made us dinner. Sicilian fennel-orange-olive salad, a timballo of zucchini wrapped around tagliatelle in fresh tomato sauce, with a lovely fresh Pecorino wine. Then he served these peaches for dessert. Even better the next day!

Tony’s peaches in prosecco

One bottle of prosecco
5-6 peaches
2-3 tbs sugar, optional

Start the day before serving, at least. Find a nice deep dish you can cover, that will fit in your fridge. Wash the peaches, and chop them coarsely. Remove the pit, but leave skins on. Sprinkle sugar on, maybe half a tablespoon per peach depending on how sweet they are. Taste: remember, the flavours will develop as the fruit steeps. Pour over the bottle of prosecco. Cover, and place it in your fridge.

Leave covered in fridge for at least 24 hours, or even 48 hours. The cold peach pieces will now have a gentle taste of prosecco, while the prosecco itself will have turned slightly pink and peach-flavoured. Ladle into some pretty glasses, and serve cold.


So simple, and utterly delicious! Perfect for hot weather. So I am bringing this to Fiesta Friday, at the ever-gracious The Novice Gardener, and will be ladling this out there. Many thanks to host (welcome back from your holidays!) and co-hosts.

Fiesta Friday

Notes: In case you do not have prosecco, Tony also makes this with white wine, which is also wonderful. The bubbles vanish anyway. Just use something not too sweet a wine that you would like to drink, or something like a light elderflower cordial, with sparkling water.

Piazza on Ferragosto
Here is our very empty piazza just now, lunchtime Ferragosto. Look at all those parking spaces! There is a group of pensioners chatting below. I can hear music from the palazzo across the street, and someone shouting “Ciaoooooo!” nearby. Six years ago we were newlyweds, we had just bought this flat and we spent Ferragosto painting the bedrooms. The old lady across the street thought this was riveting, and spent several hours watching us from her window, propped up with a red pillow. Stranieri moving in! Foreigners! It was really hot, everything was shut nearby except the bar across the piazza. Nice people, terrible coffee; but with no kitchen here we were desperate for a cappuccino, however bad (it was). We did have our new fridge, sitting in the living room (it was all about to be renovated) so lunch was IKEA pickled herring, eaten with paint-speckled plastic spoons.

It was fantastic! Every August 15 I am reminded of that day, of the heat and the paint and the herring, and how happy we were. And still are! Buon Ferragosto a tutti!

Walking tour of Garbatella: Part 1

La garbatellaLast week we went on a walking tour of Garbatella, which was really interesting. This is our neighbourhood in Rome, a working-class area which is well worth a visit. It is easy to reach by bus or metro (Line B, stop Garbatella) and very walkable. If you are interested in architecture and/or want a break from the city centre, a visit is highly recommended. Here is “La Garbatella” on a house wall on Piazza Bonomelli: was she an inkeeper who was garbata e bella? (Courteous inkeeper). Or does it refer to a specific wine-growing technique called “a barbata” or “a garbata,” which requires that the grapevines be supported by trees (maples or elms)? Who knows.
FrancoOur neighbour Franco, who gave us the tour. We were guinea pigs, so he could test his English. Have no fears, his English is excellent and we really enjoyed ourselves. See https://www.facebook.com/garbatellatour for details: it’s a free walking tour.
Vota GaribaldiJust around the corner, on via Basilio Brollo, you can see this. Not current (and bad) grafitti, which Rome is full of, but an old political incitement from 1948. The new republic of Italy was preparing for the first parliamentary elections, and this was done by someone from the Fronte Popolare. It was restored a few years ago. (We were doing the tour our of order, since we actually live here, otherwise you would start at the metro.)

Albergo RossoThe Albergo Rosso, the red hotel. Franco explained that Garbatella was created in the 1920s to house people evicted from the centre due to Mussolini’s demolitions to clear streets (Via della Conciliazione, Via Fori Imperiale, and others). Housing was also needed for the industrial workers in the Ostiense district next door. What did they build? It was based on the English garden suburb: low-rise houses, surrounded by small gardens and greenery. Much of that still exists. Many families were housed in the four alberghi suburbani (suburban hotels), big housing blocks designed by Innocenzo Sabbatini, of the ‘Roman School’ of architecture. Just a room for each family.

imageNow we have wandered over to Via Fincati, to look at Roman baroque. A number of the older houses have mystical animal figures, plants, and reliefs as decorations.
Lotto 2, GarbatellaLotto 2. You’ll see “Lotto”  signs on many of the older buildings. Old Garbatella is a small historical area, divided into lots occupied by buildings erected around courtyards and gardens. Very green, though somewhat run-down.  Much is this is still public housing, but it is gradually becoming privatised.
Piazza BrinUp the hill to Piazza Brin, where the first stone for the new quartiere was laid by Vittorio Emanuele II, King of Italy. Franco also pointed out the pincetto terrace overlooking Ostiense road, like the famous Pincio terrace over Piazza del Popolo (but much less fancy). Just off to the left here is the outdoor cinema for the summer, Arena Garbatella. On until 14 September 2014, 21:15 every evening.

Couple on scooterScooter. If you have seen the film Caro Diario by Nanni Moretti, you may remember the opening scenes with the main character riding his Vespa through Garbatella.

Cat in afternoon sunA random cat, snoozing in the afternoon sun.
LaundryLaundry drying, lovely colours. It used to be forbidden here, hanging our your laundry like this, we were told. You had to use the communal laundry lines between the houses. (More in next walking tour post about that. I have so many gorgeous photos, this will be shared over three posts. Lots more to see!)

In Rome and interested? Contact Garbatella Mon Amour: https://www.facebook.com/garbatellatour regarding the new free walking tour around Garbatella, offered in English. About two hours, very enjoyable and highly recommended. For information and booking, call or text +39 351 1245 664.

(PS Generally this is offered in the morning at 10AM, though we did this walk 6-8 PM, as you can see from the wonderful light. This is a free tour, but a small tip might be appreciated.)