Dear Diary …

Most English language films in Italy are dubbed. Dubbing is an accepted practice here and somewhat of an art form. Great for me to practise my Italian, but bizarre to see English actors speaking Italian. A couple of years ago, Rome honoured Meryl Streep for her contribution to cinema, but they dub all her films, they don’t know what she sounds like! Quite important I would have thought for appreciating her performances. However, it means that most films I see are in Italian and dubbing makes it easier because the accents, dialect and any slurry speech are mainly removed. Meaning I can understand a dubbed American film fairly well, but have less success with real Italian ones.

So I was really pleased when Friends in Rome (international meet-up and events group) decided to show classic Italian films with English subtitles at Detour Cineclub in Monti, part health-food shop, part bar, part cinema. So far I’ve seen: Roma by Fellini (a hit-you-in-the-face mixture of chaotic scenes and images that is Rome), Non Ci Resta Che Piangere with Roberto Benigni (a completely surreal film where the protagonists go back in time to 1492. Imagine a Vic and Bob type duo with Italian in-jokes. Even with subtitles impossible to comprehend) And this month was Caro Diario (Dear Diary) by Nanni Moretti, a really gorgeous film, if only because it starts with a scene exploring Garbatella, the neighbourhood where I live. 
Built in 1920, Garbatella was designed and more importantly PLANNED as public housing around the concept of an English garden. The villas and houses are based on farmhouses from the surrounding countryside and each courtyard is set around gardens and originally vegetable patches. It’s one of the few suburbs in Rome with collective green space that is actually green and not scrubby brown.


Garbatella and its architecture is how Roman suburbs should be. Unfortunately I don’t live in this particular part of Garbatella, rather the more modern part – land of the high-rise monstrosities which seem to seep out from the historical centre and disturb all visitors from home – I promise it’s a really good residential area I tell them. But to live in Garbatella proper, Dear Diary it’s nice to dream …


  1. Just be glad you have a roof over your head and no bedroom tax young lady. (Then again you don't have a bedroom do you!)


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