Suburra, Netflix’s first Italian Original Series, shows a side of Rome that tourists would do well to steer clear of.
While the Eternal City is a gorgeous backdrop for the new series, the secret of Suburra lies in mixing classic sights with Rome’s seedier spots: the kinds of places that seem only too likely to harbour crime, corruption and dodgy cardinals.
The clue’s in the name: ‘Suburra’ is the name for the ancient Roman red light district, a notorious working class area just north of the Colosseum and within striking distance of the city’s centre of power.
Find out more about where in Rome Suburra was filmed below.
Suburra proves its pulling power in the opening scene, when a single car driving down the Via della Conciliazione, the main avenue that connects the Vatican with the River Tiber.
In the background is St Peter’s Basilica, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church.
From here, however, the drive takes a decidedly less holy turn. It turns out that the church dignitary driving the car is heading to an orgy organised by his financial advisor for him to ‘let off steam’.
When in Rome…
City Hall – the Palazzo Senatorio
Suburra begins with the resignation of the Mayor of Rome. It sets off a ferocious bidding war for a portion of land on the city’s outskirts. Everyone, including the Mafia, wants a piece, and politician Amedeo Cinaglia (below) finds himself in the middle of it all.
Early scenes see the mysterious Samurai meet him outside Rome’s city hall, situated in the Palazzo Senatorio.
Look out for the distinctive pattern of the cobbles in Campidoglio square.
Far from the tourist city centre, this is the area that crime gangs want to get hold of. This area is run by the local Adami criminal family, but the coastal region has caught the attention of more powerful forces.
The Mafia want to develop the area and turning it into a major port – a port through which they will eventually smuggle drugs into the heart of the city.
The plan is appropriate: Ostia is located near Rome’s ancient port, and is home to an extensive archeological site sometimes referred to as ‘Rome’s Pompeii’.
Rome’s abandoned ‘Sports City’
In episode two, the three main protagonists meet to discuss a blackmail plot amongst a towering structure of white steel and seemingly abandoned arena seating. This is the half-built shell of Città dello Sport, a giant sports complex designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava for the University of Rome Tor Vergata.
The complex was never completed, after costs reportedly spiralled to four times the original budget. However, it serves as a particularly cool backdrop for certain clandestine meetings in Suburra…
Suburra is available to watch on Netflix from Friday 6th October 2017