Return of Rome's drive-in cinema

Europe's largest drive-in cinema reopens at Casal Palocco.

The long-abandoned drive-in cinema at Casal Palocco, a southwest Rome suburb, is reopening thanks to the efforts of the committee behind the Cinema America Occupato in Trastevere.

Organisers are holding two screenings over two evenings: Grease, the 1978 smash-hit musical by Randal Kleiser on 11 September, and the 1973 classic American Graffiti by George Lucas on 12 September. Gates open at 18.00, with screenings at 21.00, and entry is free.

The drive-in cinema, the largest in Europe, has a 540-sqm screen with 700 car spaces, and was the first of its kind built in Italy. It opened in 1957, at the height of the golden age of open-air cinema, and thrived throughout the 1960s. However by the 1980s it had fallen into disuse and, apart from a brief reopening in the late 1990s, the 60,000-sqm site has remained largely abandonded for three decades.

Valerio Carocci, president of the Piccolo Cinema America association, told Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica: “We decided to bring the cinema back to Rome's suburbs and reactivate this space, to demonstrate that another [kind of] city is possible."

Carocci's association comprises former occupants of the Cinema America Occupato who were evicted from their cinema building last September, before moving into a disused bakery next door on Via Natale del Grande in Trastevere. Their new building is not being "occupied" however, and has been given to them on loan, without having to pay rent.

Rome's mayor Iganzio Marino recently promised he would help the committee's cause by negotiating with the owners of the 1950s-era Cinema America building who want to develop it into 20 mini-apartments and two floors of parking space, and whose plans have been on hold since 2004. However so far there have been no developments announced and the committee has kept busy by hosting popular open-air cinema events around Trastevere, as well as at Castel S. Angelo and the Giardino degli Aranci on the Aventine hill.

The original Cinema America ceased screening films to the public in 1999 and was abandonded until 13 November 2012 when it was taken over by the activists.

For more details of the group and the upcoming screenings at the drive-in cinema, see the Facebook event page.

In mid-October another drive-in cinema opens in the Ponte Milvio area, outside the Multisala Farnesina on Lungotevere Maresciallo Diaz.

Two films will be shown each night until Christmas, with tickets for both screenings costing €5 per person. The programme is organised by cinema association Arena di Roma and will feature classics and new releases. There are spaces for 150 cars. For details see website.


General Info

Address Via Eschilo 215, off Via Alceo coming from Via Cristoforo Colombo

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Return of Rome's drive-in cinema

Via Eschilo 215, off Via Alceo coming from Via Cristoforo Colombo