La Romita

Colonia Roma has become one of Mexico City’s trendiest neighborhoods, filled with chic boutiques, clubs, and gourmet restaurants, it’s been suffering from gentrification (or enjoying it, depending which side you’re on) since the late ’80s. But there’s still a part of the neighborhood that has remained under the radar and has resisted gentrification, which is almost a miracle for this trendy part of town. It’s called La Romita and it sits between the streets of Morelia, Puebla, and Durango. In the middle of La Romita still stands a cobbled plaza that includes a little church and is surrounded by old houses. The neighbors of La Romita still know each other and the traffic of cars inside this enclave is minimum, businesses are small and local, such as small mom and pop stores and a chicken retailer called Los Olvidados, because this is where Spanish/Mexican director Luis Buñuel filmed in 1950 some scenes of the movie of the same name.

The narrow streets of La Romita have been, over the years, the subject of spooky myths and legends, some were told as children that this is the place where a kidnapping bogeyman lived, and also where robbers in costumes would run to hide their loot after a big heist.

La Romita has its origins as a small pre-hispanic town called Aztacalco, which was later renamed Romita (before the Colonia Roma received its name). When the neighboring Roma neighborhood was divided into large plots for the upper-class La Romita resisted and remained its own enclave. It contrasted with the rest of Roma as it was mainly a settlement for the poor, hence its reputation as a dangerous place during the XX century. Today the area isn’t really poor or unsafe, but its residents still pride themselves in being different and separate from the much larger Roma.

La Romita got its name because people said one of its roads, Chapultepec, which was lined with huge trees resembled a similar road in Rome, Italy, and the name stuck, even in 1752 the name La Romita was already present in official documents of the city. Walking the narrow streets of La Romita is an experience filled with nostalgia for another era, the small church with one tower, named San Francisco Xavier church, is a reminder of this city’s humble origins. And the charm and friendliness of its inhabitants is a good example of the comfort provided by friendly neighbors.


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