Rome Journal: Mi Ricordo Mamma Roma

Da Meo Patacca is set in the heart of Trastevere only a few steps away from Santa Cecilia where Stefano Maderno claimed to create his sculpture from the remains within the tomb of the famously tortured religious figure after which the church is named. The restaurant was one of the locations for the filming of Piero Paulo Pasolini’s greatest movies, Mamma Roma (1962). In the scene in question Mamma Roma (Anna Magnani) is watching her son on his first day at work in a trendy restaurant. Magnani, a former prostitute, dreams only of living a new life and she has gotten the boy the job as part of an unrealistic and doomed plan for social rising. Ettore like Saint Cecilia is another tortured character. He’s a petty thief who’s tormented by the knowledge of his mother’s past. He’ll appear later on in the film, tied to a wooden platform in a prison hospital, in a scene modeled on Mantegna’s The Lamentation of Christ. On a recent January afternoon the cobbled patio of the restaurant where Pasolini once filmed is deserted. Christmas lights still hang from a tree, along with broken statuettes which line the outside of the building where the restaurant itself is housed. Inside a lit trophy case includes pictures of local soccer stars along with Anna Magnani who’s shown presiding over a table at the height of her fame. Just a few steps further away is the church of S. Francisco a Ripa which contains one of Bernini’s most famed pieces the Beata Ludovica Albertoni. Despite Pasolini’s infamous and transgressive reputation (the images of human degradation in Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom ,1975, based on Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom ,1785, never fail to shock filmgoers), the path towards the making of a Pasolini film is lined with religious objects, a mixture of the sacred and the profane, the pagan and the Christian which is still reflected on every street corner of Rome today.

Watercolor by Hallie Cohen

This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy’s blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture

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