Colours of Alternative Rome

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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.

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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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Transformers

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.

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…

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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