Dicono di noi:
Sotto Le Stelle, Via del Faro, Fiumicino, Rome, Italy
Review covers open-air dance/dining area; not the swim-pool/reception area next door.
Three years, three reviews and counting … but we’ve been enjoying the dinner/dance routines at Sotto Le Stelle for more years than we can remember, having explored a host of different venues along this section of the coast within easy reach of Rome. So, the current review is much like those that were submitted earlier; in other words: ‘plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.’*
As-we-said-before, this place provides great entertainment, a reasonable choice menu and good value local foods. It is not your regular tourist venue but the haunt of the locals of all ages, social groups and dance capabilities.
So familiar is the Sotto Le Stelle over the years that you can see the changing dance routines, the dance groups that form and reform when people move on, the pleasure of an open dance floor and the exotic/unusual atmosphere of the music playing with the aircraft overhead. Now there’s a novel feature – this place is under the landing/take-off path of Fiumicino’s north-south runway closest to the seashore. (The second north-south runway is further away and adjacent to the Rome-Civitavecchi autostrada.)
You don’t hear the aircraft after 20.30 h when the dancing/music begins – half-hour of tuition for those interested in learning some (new) ballo di gruppo routines – before the formal musicians and/or the audio deck/jockey takes over for the evening’s entertainment. But you get all the visuals – landing lights, tail-light/airline logo, etc. and … whoosh … there’s this glimpse of an enormous shadow passing overhead. On a clear night with a sweep of stars in the dark sky, there’s the exhaust glow of the engines as the plane climbs.
The music, rhythm and speed of the dance tends to dominate – the dancers lost to themselves as a couple spin their quickstep through a corner or, people in groups, feet sliding/tapping/hesitating/turning as they dance in synchrony with those around them. You’re not here to watch the aircraft, but to escape into the music and dance – you’re on an open floor next to the beach a short distance from the defunct Fiumicino lighthouse, where the Tevere exits into the Mediterranean.
This review covers a Friday – probably the more popular dance evening of the weekend. We’d arrived for 20.00 h to catch a meal before dancing began and to talk with friends at our shared table. Once the dancing begins, the music is too loud for talking easily.
Looking back through those earlier reviews (June16 & Aug17) choice of food/prices seem to be much the same – leastways for our preferred choice of meals. You pay €8.00 each for entry (with the option of a pizza/pasta deal together with the entry ticket). This evening, however, we were chasing different foods – insalate di mare and spaghetti alle vongole – which cost €10.00 and €12.00, respectively. A bottle of frizzante complemented the meal - €1.50. So, our evening’s entertainment and meal, respectively, came to €16.00 & €23.50.
Get to the venue for 20.00 h and order immediately, and the food arrives quickly – less competition. Then you don’t have to take time out from dancing to eat (when you food gets cold). The young cameriere – mainly men - zip around the tables balancing their plates/bottles.
Our meals were good – food well-presented and attractive to look at - neither large nor small and with the majority vongole complete shells.
There was a noisy party at the swimming pool/reception area next door – the reason that the car park was full when we’d arrived. You don’t notice this, however, after 21.00 h when the formal dance music begins. There’s a stage at one end of the floor and, this evening, it featured ‘NonStopBand’ comprising a singer with a pair of backup musicians – all men - the musicians accompanying the singer with an accordion and an electronic keyboard.
Great music and vocals, with the singer using his stage choreography – animated, full-of-life, entertaining - across the width of the stage and stepping down on to the dance floor to sing microphone in hand surrounded by dancers. Post-Ferragosto and there were perhaps less than 60 people on hand that evening – other times the place is heaving – with plenty of space available on the dance floor.
We enjoyed our usual mixed stranieri/locals table – half-dozen couples – people whom we had known for many years. The table/venue exemplifies images of Italy in summer – sure, it can be warm/humid (it was that evening) – but you stack this against the pleasure of the music, the people around you and the dance routines that captures your joie de vivre.
We’ve said it before, but mid-summer in Rome is all about pleasure, festivals and holidays for many; this is where eating al fresco and dancing to popular Italian music captures you – the sense of pleasure when moving to well-known routines. Fiumicino Airport simply provides those exotic sounds and sights off-stage - Sotto Le Stelle at its best.
05 May 2020
*Satirical statement attributable to Alphonse Karr, and from his satirical monthly journal Les Guêpes (aka ‘the Wasps’) (July 1848).
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