After we put Katiti and Bill in a taxi we took a leisurely walk through la Condesa and Roma to join up with our new friend Tom O’Toole for an Airbnb Experience Tour booked as “La Roma where the movie was filmed”.
Claudio, our guide, met us at the designated corner and informed us that what we thought would be a walking tour would be done in his car as he is recovering from a broken ankle. As the tour progressed we also realized that this was more a tour of the Roma neighborhood where Claudio grew up with a few of the Roma movie sites thrown in. Our first stop was la Romita. This is a small neighborhood located in Roma. It is centered on a beautiful square called Plaza de Romita. The area began as an independent pre-historic village known as Aztacalco. When the area around the village was redeveloped into housing for the wealthy the village resisted and remained separate socially although officially part of Roma. During the 20th century the area had a reputation for being dangerous as its residents were relatively poor. Today the area is no longer poor or dangerous but its streets are narrower than the rest of Roma and its residents still consider themselves distinct. We walked around this hidden gem area admiring its plaza, colorful houses and street art.
He then took us to Casa Universtaria de Libro. This beautiful place is dedicated to promoting the diffusion of culture through books. They have numerous workshops as well as musical performances. We were only allowed into the first floor but enjoyed the spectacular interior of dark wood paneling, magnificent windows and inlaid flooring.
From here we were supposed to visit a church notable for its beautiful Italian made stained glass windows but it was closed. We next proceeded to another historic building that was due to be destroyed because of extensive damage from earthquakes. It however was saved because a group of famous local artists painted murals on the buildings windows. Since their art could not be destroyed the government was forced to save and restore the building. Next stop was another mansion called Casa Lamm which is now a cultural center and museum. This is the best known landmark in Roma. It was a house built in the early 20th century when Roma was a new neighborhood for the wealthy leaving the historic center of Mexico City. It was meant to be the residence of the Lamm family but they never lived there. Instead they rented the property to the Marists who used it as a school for boys. We enjoyed a wonderful art exhibition by an up and coming Mexican artist, Rafael Cauduro. Also on the property is a lovely restaurant, Nueve Nueve which we made note to come back to.
Claudio then drove us to Plaza de la Ciudadela Parque Baldero where they filmed the student revolt scene of the movie which is also known as the Corpus Christi Massacre. It occurred on June 10 1971, the day of the Corpus Christi Festival. Nearly 120 protesters were killed including a 14 year old boy.Our final tour stop was at 22 Tepeji Street, the home of the family in Roma.
At the end of the tour Claudio dropped us off at ENO restaurant which was featured in Netflix Chef’s Table series. This restaurant was opened by the famous Mexican chef Enrique Olivera. We returned to Roma the next day to see the church Sagrada de Familia as well as to visit the mercado Medellin. We strolled through the plaza Rio de Janeiro and had a delicious leisurely lunch at Nueve Nueve.
Colonia Roma also called la Roma is just west of the cities historic center. It is no longer a single neighborhood but now two officially defined ones, Roma Norte and Roma Sur divided by Coahuila Street. In the early 20th century it was an upper class neighborhood, later it became middle class in slow decline and worsened by the 1985 Mexican earthquake. Currently Roma and nearby Condesa where we live are known to be the epicenter of hipster subculture in the city. The streets are lined with bars, clubs, shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries. Many are housed in former art nouveau and neoclassical buildings. Roma was designated as a Barrio Magico or Magical Neighborhood by the city in 2011. Director Alfonso Cuarón has recently immortalized it with his academy award winning movie Roma.