The long pedestrian street running through Pigneto hosts from remote times the open market Casilino, a real point of reference for a neighborhood undergoing a great transformation. Today elderly owners, young workers and students renting a room, immigrants, families live together in the same area. And the market itself reflects this diversity.
A walk through the stalls
“I am here since long time, I have inherited the stall from my mother, who owned it before the war – tells Gianfranco, one of the historical sellers at Pigneto – Throughout the years the market has changed a lot, we were 140 stalls, 7 selling fish only and 1 dedicated to shellfish. Now I am the only fishmonger left and in total we are 18 stalls. The whole pedestrian area used to be covered by stalls, while today…”
Today, after a long wait, the 175 meters of Pigneto road have been restored with wooden benches and a new pavement which host about twelve stalls. They are mainly fruit and vegetable, but there are also some non-food stalls: tablecloths, curtains, household goods and some fixed ‘shops’. In addition to Gianfranco’s fishmonger, the butcher, the grocer.
Yet you can tell that for many “bancaroli” (stall owners) this market is a real passion.
As for Francesco, farmer from Fondi who has never missed the market, not even when he was serving his military service in Turin. “I used to work at the infirmary – he remembers – so I was free on week-ends. I used to leave from Porta Nuova (Turin railway station) on Friday night, arrive in Rome at 4 am and I would get at the market before my mother who was travelling from Fondi and was there at five. I would help her all day long, sleep in Fondi on Saturday night and then on Sunday back to Turin. I used to do it because I was young, but also because the market was my passion. I keep on doing it, but I am alone; my sons and my wife cannot keep up with this tiring rhythm”.
“I went to Pigneto market when I was very little. Because next to the market there is a cinema where very young babies, with their Moms. The volume is low, lights are soft, if someone cries, nobody complains and there is even a changing table. They call it cinemommies.
LThe first time I went I was 3 weeks old, I don’t remember anything about the movie. But I remember the market, even if it was very cold and all sellers had a wool cap pulled down to their eyes. Before getting warm inside the cinema, Mummy took me for a walk at the market. I was all muffled in my pushchair and I was looking at oranges, apples, broccoli and fish on the stalls and it seemed a beautiful movie to me”.
At Pigneto there is a place which is really nice for us... but also for our parents. It's a restaurant, but also somehow a place to play and there is a big garden which gets full of children in spring and summers. It's called Rosti and Mummy explained me that it used to be a mechanic workshop, where they used to fix cars.
I like it because there is a little vegetable garden where you can see plants growing, a merry-go-round and even a special menu for children, with all those things that we love: small hamburgers, juices... but the thing I like the most are the games that Moscerine, -some girls who come to make us play - organize, especially on Sundays at brunch time. They told me there are even cooking classes... I'll have to go and try one day.
Just around the corner
Pigneto is one of many cities within the city that Rome offers to those who want to get to know it in depth. A small village with a distinct identity, with its low houses, its pedestrian islands, and a strong sense of community that crosses it. Even now that it’s very trendy, the district has managed to keep its proletarian soul. In this triangle of roads between Casilina and Prenestina, used to live the workers employed in the plants of what was once an important industrial area of Rome. Here were the first tram depot (first on horseback, then electric) in the city, the buildings of the Snia Viscosa (now occupied by a lively social center) and those of Pantanella, which once used to be the first industrial pasta factory in Europe, now converted into offices and private apartments. A working class spirit, and also fiercely anti-fascist, forged by bombings in 1943 and kept alive by several cultural initiatives: the most important, the “Path of Remembrance”, which recalls the neighborhood residents deported to Mauthausen or killed at the Fosse Ardeatine. Irony (and revenge) of taxonomy, one of the roads through which the path goes, currently Fortebraccio road, in the Twenties was named after Benito Mussolini. But there is a third spirit that hovers in Pigneto streets and merges with the others: it’s that of the cinema.
Therefore, we cannot NOT mention a place that perhaps more than others is the beating heart of the neighborhood, BAR NECCI, in via Fanfulla da Lodi. Founded in 1924 by Enrico – who died in '43 under the Anglo-American bombs – it has later become the preferred ‘hangout’ destination of Pier Paolo Pasolini and anointed by his debut as a director: “Accattone” (tramp). Between April and July 1961, the streets around Necci were used as a set for the adventures of these “hustlers”, while the walls of the bar were transformed in a casting office: it’s here where Pasolini chose the actors – all taken from the street – for his movie. But the real “debut” of Pigneto dates back to 1945, when, besides the war still in progress, Roberto Rossellini directed one of his masterpieces: “Roma Città Aperta” (Rome Open City). And the most famous scene of the film – and one of the most famous and exciting in the history of Italian cinema – takes place in VIA RAIMONDO MONTECUCCOLI. It’s on this pavement, where the working-class Pina, played by an unforgettable Anna Magnani, is killed by a burst of machine gun while chasing the Nazis truck that is taking away her husband, after a raid. In Montecuccoli road (unfortunately back in the spotlight in 2003 for the discovery of a hideout of the new Red Brigades, responsible for the murders of the labor lawyers Massimo D'Antona and Marco Biagi) seems to have lived in the 60s also Lucio Battisti, who in “Pensieri e parole” (thoughts and words) used to sing about the “whole world closed in a road” and a “cinema in the suburbs”. We have read it on the web site of Nuovo Cinema Aquila, which could be exactly the cinema mentioned by Battisti. Now a theater confiscated to racquet in 1998 and completely renovated by a cooperative who has initiated – among others initiatives – the morning shows dedicated to newly Moms and their babies.
On top of this, in the neighborhood there are many attentions, and attractions, for children. Among others, the MUSEO DELLA MEMORIA GIOCOSA (Museum of playing memory), also known as Historical Museum of Toys and Games of the Twentieth century. In the 300 square meters of this building in Via Vincenzo Coronelli, you can find over 2,500 toys, which were built between 1920 and 1960. Each of them could tell endless stories, let’s just remember the story of the father of this real ‘toysland’, Fritz Billig Hoenisberg. A Viennese Jew forced to flee to New York at the advent of Nazism, Billig succeeded in bringing his toys collection. And he kept on nourishing this passion on the other side of the ocean, not only for his playful spirit, but also driven by a profound ideal motivation that he used to sum up with the motto: “When they play, all the world's children are equal”. At his death, the baton was passed to his daughter, Lisa, who with her husband Franco Palmieri, opened the museum in 1979, the only one of its kind in Rome. Walking among models, comics and vintage dolls is like taking a trip throughout the Twentieth century. As far as the mean of transport is concerned, you can make your choice: from perfect modeling cars to a faithful reproduction of the Hindenburg airship, to one of the best pieces of the whole collection: a rail landscape of 25 square meters in 1:43 scale, made in 1937.
|DOVE||via (pedonale) del Pigneto|
|GIORNI DI APERTURA||Lunedì - Sabato|
|ORARIO||6:00 - 14:00|
|PARCHEGGIO||a pagamento sotto l'hotel Eurostar Aeterna|
|AUTOBUS||dalla stazione Termini,
Linea 14 e 5