A plaque on the edifice of a home near Piazza Navona pays tribute to the Italian actor/singer Romolo Balzani, who was born in the building. Besides being best known for his interpretation of traditional Roman songs, Romolo was also featured opposite one of my favorite actresses, Anna Magnani, in the film, “L’ultima carrozzella.”I love discovering things that I’ve never seen before. So when my friend, Giovanna, suggested spending an afternoon exploring the neighborhood of Garbatella, I jumped at the chance. She picked me up in her car, and we headed down to the area, where we were going to meet a few other friends for lunch. As we drove, Giovanna told me that we were about to cross one of her favorite bridges in Roma. It’s called Ponte Settimia Spizzichino, and it links Via Ostiense to the Garbatella neighborhood. The bridge takes its name, and is dedicated to Settimia Spizzichino — a Roman citizen, who was one of 50 women rounded up in the Raid of October 16th, 1943, in the ghetto, and taken to Auschwitz. She survived the ordeal, and returned to Roma, where she died in 2000, at the age of 79.Garbatella is one of Roma’s most unique neighborhoods! It was created in the 1920’s, as a sort of housing project. Many citizens were displaced at that time, when Mussolini had their homes destroyed, in order to built his monuments, etc. Many of them were relocated to this area, where each family was given an apartment, in a building, which would be theirs for life. The neighborhood is made up of groups of these buildings, all built around common courtyards, which are really what gives the area its charm. Once looked down upon by residents in the city’s other districts, this is now a desired location!The charming courtyards are the area’s piazzas — people congregate there, and even hang their laundry out to dry, on common lines. A sign pointing the direction to an air raid shelter still hangs. One of the area’s most illustrious residents was the famous actor/comedian/director — Alberto Sordi. Sordi grew up in Garbatella, and so it is only fitting that he is honored on one of its walls.
Next up: a wall of dolls, the Chiesa di San Lorenzo in Lucina, and more from the beautiful city of Roma!
Note: this blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations which may appear. If you have enjoyed this post, please check out our archives for more posts from bella Roma, as well as other Italian destinations. Grazie!