Colours of Alternative Rome

rome flowers girl
Terracotta, shades of burnt orange and warm stone-beige might be your first thought when thinking of the colour palette of Rome, but there’s actually a lot more to say. Although the city is made up of travertine stone, rippled marble and grey Roman concrete, modern Rome lives with enthusiasm in the same streets.

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In the Ostiense district, where I live, Technicolor street art adorns walls, bridges and as I’ve mentioned before, entire buildings. This set of photos was taken by the awesome April Nicole during our day out wandering the nearby neighbourhood of Testaccio, which is likewise splattered with graffiti and street art.

rome macro site ostiense

We began at the old mattatoio, or slaughterhouse of this once industrial part of Rome. Until the doors were closed for good in 1975, this was a busy complex of buildings all dedicated to the slaughter of animals and production of meat. Signs of its gruesome past are entirely evident today – atop the entrance stands a statue of a winged man grappling with a horned bull.  rome citta dell'economia
Workers’ salaries were supplemented with leftover offal (and other bits!) from the slaughterhouse known as the quinto quarto, the fifth quarter. As a result, the locals became experts in cooking with otherwise unwanted cheap cuts of meat. Visit any Testaccio trattoria and you’ll realise just how expert they became. Today, Testaccio is a foodie’s heaven and you’ll find coda alla vaccinara (oxtail stew), trippa (tripe) and pajata (suckling lamb intestines) still on many menus.
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Parts of the mattatoio have now been refurbished in order to house the Macro Museum of Contemporary Art and Città dell’Altra Economia, a space for all things sustainable. These photos come from the still unused grounds of the slaughterhouse which we thought would make a great, industrial background for some alternative snaps of Rome.
rome blogger rome ostiensemacro mercato 99102 Thanks again to April for catching some funny moments on camera, you can see more of her snaps by visiting her Facebook page. If you’re interested in finding out more about street art in Rome, you can read an article of mine about street art tours by Rovescio here.

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IMG_0104In free magazines, leaflets, through Facebook, word of mouth; there’s so many ways to find out what’s going on in this city. I often make a mental note to visit a new bar or buy tickets to an exhibition, fast forward a few months and have I been there? Have I got off my arse and done it? Of course not.

I am getting better at it though, the pursuit for self improvement continues; tickets are bought, outings organised and days well spent. Here’s some snaps from one of those days. IMG_0107IMG_0109TelephoneCallSecurity GuardIMG_0118IMG_0240We spent some fast-passing hours roaming around the Maxxi, to see the Transformers exhibition. Some of the photos are from other exhibitions of this modern art museum, but worth including nonetheless.

The idea of the exhibition is to use art and design to highlight social causes and to create discussions about them. For example, we saw a mechanical orchestra made from weapons confiscated by the Mexican Army. Notes created by hitting a xylophone made from gun parts show the potential to transform even the most dangerous of objects.  IMG_0125IMG_0121IMG_0133I particularly liked the idea of using everyday materials, albeit in a new way, to create art which is easily accessible to everybody.  Hubble Bubble, the green ‘suspended forest’ below is made from plastic colanders, while Life Life, this walkway of long swirling balloons, continually transforms as visitors pass through it. IMG_0126IMG_0145IMG_0127IMG_0142IMG_0147IMG_0151More than meets the eye – this is usually true isn’t it? It seems to me inspiration and ideas are out there for the taking, it’s the ‘doing’ part that’s difficult. But the transformation into something concrete and tangible makes you realise getting up and getting organised is well worth it.

More stuff soon.

1750m Above Sea Level

IMG_5894IMG_5902Oh dear, it’s been another one of those long silences for my blog. I’ve lived in Rome now for about 18 months and I’ve only posted a minuscule amount. Embarrassing stuff.
I could tell you about how I’ve had the best intentions to keep posting here, but the fact remains, I haven’t posted a single word for eight months. Instead, lets take future posts as sporadically as they come and for now, enjoy some snapshots from a trip I took last month to the North of Italy. IMG_5896DSC_0218DSC_0222IMG_5903These photos were taken up in the clouds on Monte Grappa where you’ll find a military memorial monument. As you can imagine, it’s one of the most tranquil places I’ve ever visited and the history of the spot forces life’s contemplations and deliberations upon you. IMG_5904IMG_5906IMG_5913IMG_5971IMG_5975I was lucky enough to stay with friends in a beautiful house in the tiny village of Fietta. Venturing out to the mountains or the neighbouring town of Bassano del Grappa in the daytime, we spent evenings clustered around the fireplace indoors or making pizza in the wood fired oven outside. At one time the villagers would bring their own bread here to be baked, and the toasty room above was even used to put up those in need of a bed for the night.
IMG_5957stone wall backgroundIMG_5939Pizza OvenIMG_5961 Here’s to more venturing into the Italian unknown next year!

27 Faces

1Coming from what sometimes feels like the most average city in the UK where any form of artisticness has to be unearthed and separated from the humdrum of ordinary life, imagine my excitement to find this marked and quite frankly enormous example of public artwork in Rome. On one of my first days in the city I remember being driven along the river, passing the ancient monuments I’d come to love as a tourist when this giant palazzo came into view. It was so different to what I expected, and what I thought I knew about Rome.

35Call me easily distracted, but it took me almost a year to find out that the building is a ‘centro sociale’. Which in this case, from what I can work out, is halfway between a squat and a space for communal organisations. The rules for occupying buildings must be different in Italy as it doesn’t match up with the idea of squatting I have in my (British) brain as something dingy and detrimental to the local area.

On the morning we were poking around, the space was closed but according to a man we met there it is possible to go inside in the afternoons. We were even invited to take part in circus classes later that day. Next time, Francesco. Next time.
6OstienseBluMural8ViaPortoFluviale72Painted by an Italian known as Blu, the mural took around two years to complete and was finished in 2014. You can see a photo of how the building looked before, on the artist’s website here. I’m impressed at the vision needed to transform a rather industrial building into a bold and striking focal point of the neighbourhood.

Blu Mural Close Up9If you want to see the 27 painted faces in all their glory, you can find the building on Via del Porto Fluviale in the Ostiense neighbourhood.Porto Fluviale

Forbidden Fruit

You might have forgotten what I look like…yes it’s been a long time. What can I say? I’ve been busy. Rome has the ability to swallow you up and hypnotise you. Before you know it, an embarrassing number of months have passed since your last blog post.

Let’s just get right back into it with a trip to Giardino degli Aranci.

Giardino8Tree ClimbingFirstly, I suppose I should say that you’re not allowed to pick the oranges! And that’s certainly not a photo of me climbing a tree in order to satisfy my desire to take home a souvenir! I always find myself cringing at the typical ‘Brits abroad’ behaviour, but this time it was me being somewhat disorderly. At least I didn’t carve my name into the Colosseum or ravage a historic monument. Compared to some, I’m not so anarchic.

Giardino10Giardino6Giardino9One of those slightly hidden green spots in the centre of Rome, Giardino degli Aranci is where (if you haven’t already guessed from the name) you’ll find a garden of orange trees, which at this time of year are flush with bitter fruit. If you visit for some tranquility from the city, be sure to walk just around the corner and take a peek through the Aventino keyhole for a really special viewpoint of Rome. One of my favourites. FountainMiPacMoving country with only one suitcase in tow means I now choose from a more limited wardrobe. Less choice can be liberating, but it’s fair to say I’m getting sick of living in the same clothes all the time. Being light on outfits is probably one of the reasons my posting has dropped off the radar, however, I do want to say a little mention to my MiPac backpack – it deserves it.

I’m now a convert to the convenience of the backpack, this one comes with me on overnight stays, airport check-ins and faithfully carries my language books to and from school everyday. It’s also the bag that a friend of mine declared as ugly, suggesting one of MiPac’s usual canvas offerings instead. Always an advocate of animal print, I remember my friend’s differing opinion when I sling it on my shoulders.

Giardino12OrangeCakeAs you’re not supposed to take the oranges, you’re probably not supposed to eat them either. But cooked and added to cake mix, with a little extra sugar than usual, they’re really delicious! Plus, cooking and eating the day’s loot completes the story in a rather satisfying way.

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If you do want to know more of what I’ve been up to during this hiatus, send your eyes to my Instagram page where you’ll mainly find things I’ve seen and things I’ve eaten.

One last thing, I want to introduce you to the lovely Rosie and her blog Ragazza a Roma. If you look closely you’ll also spot me in an apron making pasta by hand…

Last Pop Of Summer

Rome Vintage Outfit 12It’s officially the end of Summer. This Tuesday was the Autumn Equinox, that time of year where I usually look forward to wrapping up in layers and digging the woolies out from the back of my wardrobe. Checking my Instagram feed I’ve began to see hot chocolate instead of ice cream and ankle boots instead of flip flops from you all back home.

In Rome, we’ve still got temperatures in the high twenties so I’m a little disconnected from the usual routine. That said, last night we had a crazy thunderstorm (they really are so much more intense here and they go on for hours!) so Autumn should hopefully be here soon.

So, in contrast, introducing the last post of the Summer!

Rome Vintage Outfit 17Ask an Italian and they’ll tell you this Summer was much colder than usual and rather disappointing. If that’s true, then thank god!  It was bloody hot, I’m not sure how I would have survived anything much hotter.

As for clothes, I lived in bikini’s, sandals and loose cotton dresses to cover up when sighting seeing or walking to and from the beach. Not actually owning much of this type of clothing (there just isn’t the demand for it in Coventry), everyday was an easy and rather liberating choice.
Salt Water Sandals 3Rome Vintage Outfit 4skirtThis has got to be one of my favourite vintage dresses, originally bought from Freshmans Boutique in Sheffield (remember that uni friends?!) it started out allocated to the party dress section of my wardrobe. These days I find the 100% cotton and loose cut makes it perfect for scorching hot days. Label by Pop Vintage so I suspect it’s remade from vintage fabric – good work on find that kaleidoscopic pattern guys, I’ll never get tired of it.

It’s an uncomplicated outfit, simply paired with a pair of white Salt Water Sandals which I treated myself to a few months ago. I love their traditional style and they’ve really withstood a battering of sun, sand and seawater. Recommended.

Rome Vintage Outfit 25So let’s wrap up with some postcards from an Italian Summer…San Felice Circeo Old Town The view from the old town in San Felice Circeo. I also spent a few weeks further afield and travelled to the region of Puglia which (think of a map!) is the heel of the boot. PugliaPuglia sunsetPuglia DolceGood food is everywhere you look in Italy – and in every place I’ve visited I’ve been told “Oh, the mozzarella is very famous here”. Everytime.

Locorotunda PugliaScooter South ItalyTrulli Puglia Puglia is well known for this type of white brick building called Trulli, the distinctive dome rooves are topped (and sometimes painted) with different symbols, each from different religious meanings. Puglia Puglia StreetPuglia ChurchIMG_1791italian tilesIMG_1863If beautiful towns comprised of maze like streets is your thing, then Puglia is the region to visit. I also think it is impossible for Italians to be far from the sea in Summer, so of course there’s plenty of gorgeous beaches too.
Puglia rock beach

Burnt Sienna

Emma (14)Just when you think you’ve got the hang of this living in a new country thing, when you no longer get stumped by public transport and when you can find your way through a maze of side streets by instinct, Rome likes to remind you that you know nothing! We were all set for a day away from the tourist filled streets with a visit to Villa Doria Pamphili, Rome’s largest park. Well, that was the idea anyway.

We got pretty close, but the walls of the park and roads which twisted away as soon as we got near did a good job of keeping us out! Rome is full of delights though, with things previously unseen hidden around every corner. We ended up at Gianicolo (if you know Rome, you know just how close we were) so the day wasn’t wasted by any means. It also means you get this blog post in a lovely shade of burnt sienna, what a treat. Emma (2)As much as I love piling on the layers to keep out the English chill, it’s a welcome change to wear a simple summer dress with just a liberal spray of factor 50. To my eyes, this lemon shift dress looks very vintage in shape (and in that delicious print!) although it’s actually from Topshop via eBay a few years ago.

Emma (4)The white pumps are a happy accident of my limited wardrobe here in Rome – none of my sandals went with the dress so a fresh pair of white trainers it was. Not only had I forgotten how satisfying that pristine white canvas is, I’d forgotten how quickly they get grubby. Not ideal for pounding the pavement in a dusty city.Emma (7)Emma (8)Emma (9)And if you look closely, you’ll see no Roman outfit is complete without a smattering of mosquito bites around the ankles. Yum.
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I Wanna Be EUR’s

16It might be the Brit in me, but I want to talk about the weather! These photos were taken last week when we were hitting around 33° here in Rome.  In the city it somehow feels hotter too, the heat seems to bounce off ancient marble turning the streets into a giant greenhouse.

Not wanting to do anything too strenuous we headed to the EUR district of Rome in the late afternoon for an explore. I wore this beautiful vintage dress (it deserves a more in depth post of its’ own actually – label research in process!) with a DIY cropped T shirt to keeps things casual…and voilà! Throw on the sandals you’ve been living in for the past few weeks and it’s as easy as that! I really rather like it but in truth it was still a little too warm for the blazing sunshine.

3 IMG_0931 12 IMG_0814 1356EUR was commissioned by Mussolini in the 1930’s to celebrate fascism in Italy. As an area designed entirely from scratch rather the usual expansion and redevelopment of cities it feels quite unlike the rest of Rome. Visit the Colosseum for example, and you’ll be impressed its’ the grandness and scale, yet you’re very much aware you’re looking at history, at ancient Rome. Take a trip to EUR and it feels like ancient Rome’s best bits have been revamped for modern eyes.

IMG_0437The district is pleasingly uniform, each building in matching shades of almost white marble or limestone. You’ll see hallmarks of ancient Rome, a stack of columns or a row of arches, in buildings with present day uses. Although I never ventured to this part of Rome before living here, I would recommend spending a few hours taking it in – preferably out of the midday sun!
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Outfit 1It’s been just over a month since my last post, so we’ve got a lot to catch up on. First things first, if you think these photos look a little sunny for the UK then you’d be right! This outfit post comes to you from my new home in Rome!

Standing on the balcony outside my room, I had to get a little inventive with the picture taking whilst I was home alone. I figured if I snapped away then at least one or two would be useable – especially with a little strategic cropping.

This ASOS skirt has been sitting in my wardrobe for a while waiting for some warmer weather – I don’t think it looks as good with tights. Contrasting black and white on the front and back, it’s quite different to the other clothes I own. However it’s the royal blue stripes down the sides which I really love about it. ‘Go faster’ stripes and a curved hem to make me feel a little sporty (although not casual!) so something a bit different from my usual tastes.

Outfit 4 OutfitFor simplicity I paired it with a plain T Shirt and pumps, both grey. Usually, on the blog I’ll show you my snaps from a day trip or whatever sightseeing I’ve been up to. This time though, my outfit and I stayed in the local area so you’ll have to wait until next time for some of Rome’s big sights. There’ll be plenty to see in future though!trainers

For now, here’s a few insights into my day to day so far: L-R: Fresh pizza with a ton of mozzarella; pasta varieties for the tourist crowd, a rainbow of tomatoes from the market at Campo de’ Fiori; another day, another pizza of pancetta, onion and fontina cheese. Italian FoodWalking by the Pantheon on the way home; kaleidoscopic tiles at a language class I trialled, enjoying a rest after my first bike ride in probably 10 years; the limestone palette of Piazza Novona.Rome snapshots

A Million Dead End Streets


Things are changing round these parts! You may have noticed a little bit of painting and decorating going on on the blog, in other words, a new and hopefully improved format. It was starting to look a little tired and dated, but with a little TLC it’s looking perkier and fresher, although it’s very much a work in progress. There’s also some news in the pipeline which should make for some exciting future posts. Watch this space.

I spent yesterday mooching around Oxford and taking in all the (free!) attractions the city has to offer. We saw Dodo’s, dinosaurs and a variety of stuffed animals (which you are invited to touch!) in the Museum of Natural History. I took lots of colourful photos, but for this post I wanted to pare it down and keep the photos consistent too. The sandstone colour palette of Oxford is rather pretty so the technicolor museum snaps are staying under wraps for now. 01
This ASOS jumper has been a staple for me lately. Easy to add layers to depending on the weather and with an interesting side split to keep my fickle attention span happy. A polka dot shirt underneath keeps things fun – sometimes I feel a little boring if I’m not wearing a print of some sort. The boots are from Dune and have been lived in this Winter, a wise investment even if I do say so myself.duneboots Polkadot collarportrait portrait5

Go to bed with wet hair and this is what I end up like, thank heavens for hairdryers eh!
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I only live about an hour away from Oxford so I can’t believe I’d never been before, it’s a beautiful day out. A lot of the museums and university buildings are free to enter, and there’s lots of architecture to see across the city centre. The choice of restaurants and shops is good too, both independent and the usual chains…I can’t think of anything it was missing!White Jumper