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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 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. We 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. I 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. More 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.
Coming 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.
Call 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.
Painted 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.
If 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.