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Imagine you walk in the night on rain-sleek cobblestones that have been there forever, in the old trastevere area in Rome, Italy.
Just another turn an you are between trastevere's last houses and a verdant hill.
The smell of rich wet earth.
A tiny wooden door, a few steep steps down into a cellar.

Friendly hippies with ponytails and greying beards welcoming you.

Bare light bulbs.
A bar of sorts with a couple of bottles, a few glasses.

Another room somebody soundproofed decades before by nailing sacks to the walls.
Folding chairs before a low stage built of a few raw boards.
A couple of stage lamps in the corners.

This was the legendary Folk Studio of Rome, in the incarnation I came to know as a kid.
The place, patroned as a private hobby by the enthusiast Giancarlo Cesaroni has been very influential in Italy, as quite a few sacred cows of the Italian songwriting and rock community made their first appearances on stage there.

A few of the better known names are Antonello Venditti, Francesco de Gregori, Lucio Dalla, Giovanna Marini.

It is said that in the early 60'es a still unknown Robert Zimmerman did a gig there.

The folk studio pressed quite a few fine vinyl records of Italian and international artists in its 30-odd years of activity.

Difficult stuff to come by nowadays...

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