I have been to Rome many times.
At the turn of the last century, I was involved in making three movies there over the course of a few years - (now that was a fun sentence to write!) But this weekend, thanks to my old friend and co-worker on The Talented Mr. Ripley, Laura Luchetti, I got to visit another side of Rome that I had not seen before, the neighborhood of Pigneto, once made famous by Pier Paulo Pasolini in films like Accattone!, always literally and figuratively the other side of the tracks, and now a slowly emerging gentrifying area of artists and cafes and bohemian vibrations.
The long walk from Rome's Termini Station to Pigneto was hard on the old still-suffering foot, but it was a fascinating landscape unlike a typical touristic view of the city. I had not been back to Rome for a number of years, but this street felt more like the existential landscape that Antonioni favored back in the '60's.
The Piazza di Pigneto is across the train tracks that give the area a natural border or boundary, and it definitely felt like crossing over into another world, a neighborhood that has had a more violent recent past, like Venice Beach back in the '80's, or certain areas of the Chicago I grew up in.
Hidden away on the Via Fanfulla da Lodi, which was not on the map and quite hard to locate with my incredibly rusty and limited Italian, was this nice outdoor cafe from 1924, Trattoria Necci, which is a kind of nexus of the artistic life of the area, and a place that Pasolini himself used to frequent (before his own violent and untimely demise, murdered by being run over by his own car in Ostia in 1975, a case that is still unsolved as to the actual perpetrators and motive.)
It was such a pleasant afternoon that our conversation and thoughts strayed far away from any Pasolini-esque quality of our experience, but I left motivated to rewatch and rediscover this artist, poet, journalist and filmmaker and his own view of the other side of Rome.