Bourdain’s Field Notes

ROME, December 2016—You should know right now, if you didn’t know already, that what drives the team behind “Parts Unknown” is not to do what we did last week or last month—or ever. We are delighted when our viewers like an episode and even more delighted when they love one. But we are compelled, just the same, to avoid repeating what we’ve done before. If we fail, we want to fail outrageously, foolishly, gloriously—giving it everything we’ve got in the cause of making something new and strange and hopefully, awesome.

Our latest Rome episode is, perhaps, the most ambitious example of that compulsion. My longtime team has for years discussed the possibility of shooting an episode entirely in wide screen, letterbox anamorphic format—like so many of the movies we admire. And for this episode, we finally got our way.

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Travel like Bourdain

As so many have found throughout history, it is easy to fall in love with Rome. She is seductively beautiful. She has endured and survived many things.


Stornello: (Plural, Stornelli) An Italian folk poem or song

Li mortacci tua: “To your dead relatives”—Can be used as a phrase of endearment or an insult, depending upon hand gestures and context

Bomba: Slang for bombolonas (plural, bombolonases), filled donuts

Know Before You Go

The Via del Mare—comprised of high speed straightaways, punctuated by sharp turns with no shoulder—was central to Mussolini’s dream of connecting Rome to the Mediterranean. Today, it’s Italy’s most dangerous road. It ends abruptly in the beachfront Roman suburb of Ostia.

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