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Rome Cinema, the Short Bus and a Final Night in Trastevere

May 17th, 2013 · No Comments · Paris, Rome, tourism, Travel


Sure, it’s a little odd. When on vacation we sometimes go to the movies. In Paris. In Rome.

It would not be unreasonable to expect that, on only the seventh day in Rome, something historical or important remained unseen or unexplored. But, sometimes, you just don’t feel like making the effort.

Instead, we went to see a movie on its first day in Rome.

That would be Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.

From our peregrinations around town, we have not seen many movie theaters. One up by the Palace of Justice … and the place in the upscale Barberini neighborhood that we found. And unlike in Paris, movies in English with subtitles are rare.

The 3:30 p.m. English showing was in a large room, with big, comfortable seats, a clean floor and no stains on the chairs.

As is the case in Paris, the audience was well-behaved, attentive, almost reverential. And not just because Luhrmann’s take on the F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel was a neon-tinged, hyperkinetic homage.

We might have been watching it alone, it was so quiet in there, and only once in 2.5 hours did a cell phone ring. A stark contrast to what you would expect while watching a movie in the United States or the UAE.

Verdict? A great place to see a movie, and not a bad movie. A morality tale from the early 1920s has some resonance, nearly a century later, but it’s hard to feel it on a gut level, given how cynical many of us have become.

OK. The short bus.

The bus is really the only way to get around Rome. The subway system is short and almost useless if you are on the west side of the city. And not just on the other side of the Tiber.

The place has the regular big buses you might expect, but given all the extremely narrow streets in the heart of the older part of the place, the city has rolled out a fleet of 10-seat mini buses.

We rode on one, from Trastevere to Barberini, and it was an interesting, disorienting experience. We had to stand, and that 1) meant we could not see where we were going because our vision was blocked and 2) meant we had to be careful not to be tossed around the interior because we were banging along over cobblestones nearly the whole way.

It is impressive, however, how the 20-foot buses can maneuver through the narrow streets where many of the leading sights of the city are found.

And the last supper in Trastevere. Actually, we meant to eat on the east side of the river, where most of Rome sprawls. Instead, we found ourselves walking around a neighborhood with not much happening, and the restaurant that was our target was shuttered. So … after looking at various other restos, and actually taking a seat in a way overpriced wine bar, where we were ignored for quite some time, we just got up and headed back over to Trastevere, where everything is open and your dining choices number around 100.

(Interestingly, as we crossed the Sisto pedestrian bridge, we found ourselves in a crowd of people heading for cheerful, busy Trastevere.)

We settled on a crowded mom-and-pop style place on a side street we had previously missed. It was mostly expats on the terrace (including one a table where an American college girl talked about herself for 90 minutes as five relatives from home listened to her ramble).

I had the best main course I have eaten thus far in Rome, a Bombolotti Gricia that was warm and savory and just very nice. Pasta without the in-your-face starchiness of some of the pasta here.

And we had another  bottle of Greco de Tufo, though from another winery, and it was fine, but not as fine as the Feudi di San Gregorio we had sipped at the Vin Allegro wine bar a few blocks away (twice).

It was jumping, in Trastevere, and the college kids seemed to just be warming up as we headed out of the busy part of the neighborhood, around 11.

Did I already mention this? Trastevere is very tourist-oriented, but a majority of everyone in there appears to be Italian … and as it turns out, most of Rome is overrun by (and caters to) tourists.

In Trastevere, however, the level of service seems a bit higher, tourists are not seen quite so cynically as cash cows to be milked, and the choices are numerous. It was the least exploitative of the tourists areas we saw.

I liked it. I recommend the neighborhood to anyone staying in Rome for more than a week. A little apartment, not much more than 100 euros a night … that’s the ticket.


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