In order to map the differences of nighttime and daytime I decided to spent this day in Necci. It’s a famous place loved by the locals, many of them come here for breakfast, to swap few words and to read the morning news. I am sitting, writing, observing and taking pictures.
Breakfast hours turn fluently into lunch time. Clients come and go. I can distinguish foreign languages, some people are obviously tourists. Suddenly I notice a lonely man, a Jamaican i guess because of his long gray dreadlocks. I quickly explain my intentions and we soon begin a wonderful interview. So Bedlu, do you often come here?
“We are all addicted to this place. The first thing I do after getting up in the morning is to come to Necci. Sometimes I spent entire days here, during the day it is a place that belongs to this quarter, but in the evening it becomes a bar as any other and many people from other parts of Rome come here for dinner. So in the evening I usually go somewhere else because here it temporarily loses its atmosphere.”
I am surprised by the perfection of his spoken Italian. As I got to know, he lives in Pigneto for 10 years already. He will be the right person to tell me about all the changes!
“Oh yes, it has changed so much! Especially the last two years, the commercial aspect has developed. Plenty of new bars and restaurants have open, but who are these people? They are the clever ones, that already had bars in Trastevere or in the city center and now they understood that Pigneto is becoming cool. Somehow they bring this unfamiliar culture here, there are girls in front of the bar inviting you inside… “
Exactly! I noticed that some bar have even the menu written in English! I was shocked..
“It seems almost like an antithesis of the meaning of this place.. The pedestrian island is now a trap for clients, I don’t go there anymore i prefer these parts now, if feels like the local spirit is moving in this direction, further away from the center.”
Are you afraid that Pigneto could become a new Trastevere, where you hear more American than Italian now?
“Look, now many other neighborhoods are opening bars that were typical for Pigneto. Centocelle, Tor Pignatara.. All of these local people prefer to stay there and they create they own communities. So I can’t say that something is positive or negative, it is all changing all the time. Everything is just process, I am not scared that this place could become a new Trastevere, I am only a guest here. Even if I feel this space in all my veins and I could not live anywhere else.”
We exchange our mutual affection for this place and my new friend sums it up perfectly.
“Pigneto is one of the most particular places in Rome. It unites various cultures, sexual orientations, ethnicities, generations … Pigneto unites everybody that is insecure or somehow problematic, everybody that felt unsettled in their life, all that felt disturbance and the danger. Here it’s all based on the fragility that demonstrates itself in various ways.”
Bedlu keeps greeting all his friends that are passing around us, so we get often interrupted by a stranger that only confirms what he’s saying. He continues..
“The thing I like the most is that when I walk the street I say Ciao to a 80 years old signora, to a baby girl that is 4, to her 30 years old dad, to a beautiful chick that is 24, to a drug dealer, to a butcher, to a trans, but also to a young fascist haha…. It’s like to stay in a perpetual vacation here. In very precarious conditions, possibly without money but it is still a wonderful place to be because everybody is accepted here. Were you a robber? It’s not a problem. Were you dealing drugs? It’s not a problem. Here people don’t judge the others, they help them and integrate them.”
After more than one hour I turn off the recorder to enjoy the rest of the evening surrounded by the “addicted ones” that already accumulated at our table.