This was the first time that we have bothered to take the bus and metro. Laurie and I rose early to meet the group at Bruno in the Campo, but alas no one was to be found. We bought tickets at the Tabacchi and headed to Largo Argentina to pick up the first bus headed to the Termini (40 or 64). We arrived safely and picked up the train to Cinecittá, the next to the last stop on line A, if I recall correctly. On arrival we exited the station and arose from the underground into our group clustered around the corner café.
A short walk, and past the mall of 100 stores (where incidentally the Rome Center Director would never shop!) we found our way to the second gate of the Cinecittá which is occasionally labeled #31. One is left to wonder if they occasionally consider a sign of more permanence and stature. A round man met us and was to be our guide. The Director (what is her name?) of the center our translator.
At Cinecittá they keep the sets that are built around, deteriorating and dilapidated, just in case they might be of use again. To our right sits a train, on our left a jagged rock wall, a façade of course. We enter a long cylinder link domed tent where a replica of a submarine is housed. I can’t remember for what movie it was made, but it is true in detail except of the width of the galley walkway which was enlarged to make way for the cameramen and equipment. I stole up the portal above into a small room with gauges and a life vest. It all is so authentic—if it weren’t for the readings frozen in time, dials painted to look like glass, and wood where there ought to be metal with.
Outside again ants swarm below our feet and we learn of magnesium snow. It sounds like the real thing under foot, and packs together authentically too. Onward to the replica makers yard. Italy requires that any replica either be larger or smaller than the original, however this one studio alone is able to be true to the original. They make nearly everything, and the yard reminds me of the abandoned pieces in the terror of boy’s room in the house next door. A tiny house to gain perspective, even in the photo you must look twice.
Then we enter a Piazza, but this one is like all else, not real. In time’s passing you can now determine the seams of the 1 meter by 1 meter squares which make up the scene. I can’t help but feel the irony as we settle in on the stairs taking a momentary break, stairs as if they are stairs, in a Piazza as if it were a Piazza.
We then press onward towards the set of “Gangs of New York”. We walk through time and in a curious turn I take of my own I step through a wooden palette worn thin. Sheepishly I return to the group, seemingly none surprised it was I that caused the disturbance. Exiting the fake city we pass by a giant white wall where scenes are superimposed.
We walk down a street that once was a scene from New York, now adapted to be Italian. Posters paper the wall at the end, each certainly individually designed to belong and fit in. I ask Kevin, “What’s that word for when something appears in art or movie that isn’t actually from the time period?” he answers and again I’ve forgotten.
No more cameras–we’re approaching the area where the HBO series “Rome” is filmed. During filming it is a secured set, no one allowed anywhere near. But it is off season and when a truck exits the area shrouded in ribboned privacy fencing we see through the gate. Greece to the left, Italy to the right; It’s quite a sight to behold.
We then step to the entrance of the Studio 5 (what is the word?). This is where Fellini, Mel Gibson and others recreate reality piece-by-piece in a contained environment. The guard/tour guide tells us of how he disturbed the set during filming of the “Passion of the Christ”, he had reached through the veil enclosing the space—he had just wanted to touch the leaves of a tree. Gibson was very angry yelling at him.
Winding up our tour we walk through the museum like common house with posters memorializing each movie. Ben Hur was filmed here! A humongous infamous statue from the movie is just outside as we exit.
The whole way through the tour I just keep hearing the lyrical line “What is for real, and what’s for sale” in my head.
Returning home I chat with Rick on the metro, then lead the small group to quickly board the next bus about to leave, going our way. I locate the leather shop (La Pella) that he suggested for the more commercial leather goods. I debate a bag and wonder if I should just have one made, or would I miss the intricacies of my own well loved bag.