Wanted in Rome » News http://www.wantedinrome.com Accommodation in Rome, jobs vacant Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:28:54 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.5 Rome’s summer sales begin on 4 July http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/romes-summer-sales-begin-on-4-july/ http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/romes-summer-sales-begin-on-4-july/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 06:46:12 +0000 http://www.wantedworldwide.net/?post_type=news&p=199645 Shoppers should be wary of discounts more than 50 per cent.

Summer sales in Rome and throughout the Lazio region begin officially on Saturday 4 July with discounted prices on offer for the following six weeks.

Italian business association Fismo-Confesercenti is cautiously optimistic that the region’s summer sales will build on the marginal success of the winter sales which registered a 4.9 per cent increase on the year before. If the trend continues it could signal the start of a recovery for the region’s retail businesses after five bad years for the sector, according to the Rome and Lazio branch of Fismo-Confesercenti.

Consumer watchdog Codacons points out that shoppers should be aware of the regulations regarding sales and should check whether prices have actually been lowered. Consumers to be wary of shops advertising discounts of more than 50 per cent. It says that only shops at the very high end of the market could afford to offer such a discount, and that if consumers suspect a scam that they should contact Codacons or the police.

Shopkeepers are obliged to display both the full and discounted price of all items on sale; they must accept the credit cards displayed on their windows as payment during sales; unless the item is damaged shopkeepers do not have to accept returns on sale items, nor are they obliged to allow customers to try on items.

Sales in Italy are governed by regional laws, with sales in Lazio beginning on the first Saturday in January and July every year.

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Rome city council backs 2024 Olympics bid http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/rome-city-council-backs-2024-olympics-bid/ http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/rome-city-council-backs-2024-olympics-bid/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:09:14 +0000 http://www.wantedworldwide.net/?post_type=news&p=199923 City administration votes in favour of Olympic plan.

Rome city council voted 38-6 in favour of the capital’s bid for the 2024 Olympics, during a special session at the Campidoglio on 25 June.

The vote makes Rome’s candidacy official and came two days after Paris announced its bid for the games, joining the other candidates, Boston and Hamburg, with Budapest also expected to put its name in the hat. The host city will be selected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2017.

Following the Rome vote, which took place under a flag of the city’s 1960 Olympic games, the capital’s mayor Ignazio Marino said the 2024 Olympics would leave a “renewed, modern and sustainable identity for our city.”

The six no votes came mainly from the opposition Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), which has been against the bid since its announcement by Italian premier Matteo Renzi at the Rome headquarters of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) last December. Among those who voted in favour was the former mayor and opposition politician, Gianni Alemanno, who said that voting yes “wasn’t a question of being for or against Marino but rather about giving a present to Rome.”


Evento «100 anni del CONI»


Organisers behind the bid are reportedly considering a budget of €6 billion – of which about €1.5 billion would be supplied by the IOC. This “cost-conscious” budget, which would work out at roughly half of what London spent in 2012, would make use of the city’s existing sporting infrastructure such as Stadio Olimpico and Olympic swimming pool. However Rome would still need to build an Olympic village, most likely to the north of the city. The proposal could include Naples, Florence and Sardinia, thanks to recent rule changes by the IOC.

Also in Rome’s favour is the fact that the games would coincide with many construction or renovation projects in preparation for the city’s 2025 Jubilee, or Holy Year, which occurs every 25 years.

Rome considered hosting the 2020 Olympics but the idea was dropped in February 2012 by then-premier Mario Monti who said that Italy could not afford to host the games due to its economic situation. The proposal to bid for the 2024 games was first mooted by Monti’s successor Enrico Letta in 2013.

Rome’s candidacy has caused many to question whether Italy’s economic situation has changed much since Monti’s “painful” decision to drop the 2020 bid. The prospect of corruption has also been raised, following the recent scandal at the Milan Expo 2015 and the escalating Mafia Capitale case involving alleged criminal infiltration of Rome’s city administration.



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Six new stations for Rome’s Metro C http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/six-new-stations-for-romes-metro-c/ http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/six-new-stations-for-romes-metro-c/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 10:30:30 +0000 http://www.wantedworldwide.net/?post_type=news&p=195754 Route extends from Centocelle to Lodi from 29 June.

The stretch of Rome’s third underground railway line Metro C between Centocelle and Lodi will open on Monday 29 June, according to the municipal transport company Roma Metropolitane.

Six new stations will be added to the existing 15 on the easternmost section of the line, from Pantano to Centocelle, which opened in November, going in the direction of S. Giovanni. The six new stations – Mirti, Gardenie, Teano, Malatesta, Pigneto and Lodi – cover just over 5 km, and will bring the stretch of Metro C in operation to about 18 km.

The president of Roma Metropolitane, Paolo Omodeo Salè, describes the upcoming opening as “significant” as it means commuters arriving at Lodi will be “just a few hundred metres from S. Giovanni station and the A line.”


metro c lodi
Lodi on new Metro C should open in July


The Metro C project, which was originally meant to run from Pantano across the historic centre of Rome to a new station near the Vatican and even beyond to Piazzale Clodio, has been beset with difficulties since it started in 1990. These have included funding overspends, lengthy delays and the abandonment of planned stations across the historic centre caused by the discovery of archaeological remains underground.

Last year Italy’s audit court accused the project’s consortium of cost overruns that were neither accounted for nor agreed, on the Pantano-Centocelle section. The court said that over €360 million of public funds were wasted between 2006 and 2010, and that the system was “designed to reward delays.” In 2012 the court’s president Luigi Giampaolino said that Metro C seemed set to become “the most expensive and slowest public works project in Europe and the world.”

Since construction began a quarter of a century ago, the cost of the project has risen from €1.9 to over €5 billion. Completion of the S.Giovanni-Fori Imperiali section is scheduled for September 2020.

For full details of opening on 29 June see Muoversi a Roma websiteSee also related article

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Rome to move mobile traders from historic centre http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/rome-to-move-mobile-traders-from-historic-centre/ http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/rome-to-move-mobile-traders-from-historic-centre/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 08:53:47 +0000 http://www.wantedworldwide.net/?post_type=news&p=199898 New plan to rid tourist sites of snack bars and street hawkers by 10 July.

Rome mayor Ignazio Marino has launched yet another plan to move street traders from areas of archaeological and historic importance in the city centre by 10 July.

Similar plans have been announced before, both by Marino and his predecessor Gianni Alemanno, but never came to pass. Stressing his determination to succeed this time, Marino says he wants the Colosseum to appear as it did in the photographs of the visit of US president Barack Obama in spring 2014 – without a street trader in sight.

Under the new regulations, mobile snack bars, souvenir stalls and flower sellers operating in tourist areas of the centro storico will be required to relocate by the July deadline, or face having their goods and vehicles seized by police.


souvenir colosseo


The sandwich bars will be moved to various points along the river at Lungotevere and to Via della Piramide Cestia, which runs from the Aventino area to the city’s pyramid, while the souvenir sellers will move to Via. S. Gregorio, which runs between the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus.

The plan will affect tourist sites such as the Colosseum, the Circus Maximus, the Roman Forum, Piazza Venezia, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, and the Tridente area, which incorporates Via del Corso, Piazza del Popolo and Piazza di Spagna.

The proposal is likely to face opposition, primarily from the powerful and politically-connected Tredicine family which owns the majority of the sandwich bars. However Marino has taken on the traders before and won, in his clampdown on the Christmas market in Piazza Navona last December.



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Eataly’s second Rome store opens in July http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/eatalys-second-rome-store-opens-in-july/ http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/eatalys-second-rome-store-opens-in-july/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 13:42:03 +0000 http://www.wantedworldwide.net/?post_type=news&p=199845 Outlet takes place of McDonald’s in Piazza della Repubblica.

High-end Italian food mall chain Eataly will open its second food emporium in Rome, in Piazza della Repubblica, on 7 July.

The new 1,500-m store is located in the former site of American fast food outlet McDonald’s, to the right of the piazza, coming from Via Nazionale.

The opening comes three years after Eataly launched its first Rome mega-store at the old air terminal beside Ostiense station in 2012.

The Piazza della Repubblica outlet will comprise seven eateries, will have 2,000 high-quality food products available, and will be open daily from 07.00-02.00.

The capital’s commerce and tourism councillor Marta Leonori has said the store will help regenerate the area around Termini station and boost tourism in that part of Rome.

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Rome patron saints’ day on 29 June http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/rome-patron-saints-day-on-29-june-5/ http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/rome-patron-saints-day-on-29-june-5/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 08:49:20 +0000 http://www.wantedworldwide.net/?post_type=news&p=199785 Rome celebrates its Sts Peter and Paul.

Rome celebrates its patron saints, Peter and Paul, with a public holiday in the capital on Monday 29 June. All public offices will be shut, as will many shops, while supermarkets may close at lunchtime.

Because the feast day falls on a Monday many Romans use the long weekend (or ponte) to leave the city for the beaches or the surrounding countryside. Traffic will therefore be heavy out of the capital on Friday evening and back in again on Monday evening.

There are liturgical celebrations scheduled in many of the city’s churches including at 09.30 in St Peter’s Basilica where the Mass has traditionally seen the pope confer the papal pallium, or white woollen stole, on 46 new metropolitan archbishops to symbolise the union between the successor of St Peter and the leaders of local churches.

However, following a further simplification of the ceremony, Pope Francis has decided that the newly-appointed archbishops will no longer receive the pallium in Rome but will be vested instead at a ceremony in their own archdiocese, by their country’s apostolic nuncio. Despite these changes to the tradition, the Mass will be con-celebrated by the new archbishops, whose names are expected to be announced shortly.

Later that evening the annual Girandola fireworks display, introduced in 1481, lights up the sky above Castel S. Angelo at 21.00.




The idea of Michelangelo, perfected later by Bernini, the ancient spectacle has inspired writers and artists such as Dickens, Belli and Piranesi.

It fell out of use at the end of the 20th century but is now very popular and the Lungotevere embankments and bridges around and opposite Castel S. Angelo are packed.

The best places to view the show, which features a giant spinning Catherine Wheel, include Via Banco Spirito, Lungotevere Tor di Nona, Lungotevere Altoviti, and from the bridges of Vittorio Emanuele II, Principe Amedeo Savoia Aosta and Umberto I.

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Leonardo da Vinci self-portrait comes to Rome http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/leonardo-da-vinci-self-portrait-comes-to-rome/ http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/leonardo-da-vinci-self-portrait-comes-to-rome/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 10:21:53 +0000 http://www.wantedworldwide.net/?post_type=news&p=199761 Priceless work transported by armed guard from Turin.

Leonardo da Vinci’s only known self-portrait, dated 1515, is on display in Rome for the first time at the Capitoline Museums.

The celebrated work is on display along with 11 other pieces by the Renaissance genius (1452-1519), as part of the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: L’Autoritratto, running until 3 August.


Leonardo's only self portrait.
Leonardo’s only self portrait.


The multimedia exhibition is divided in three sections, providing insights into various aspects of the artist’s life, and culminating in the recently restored red-chalk portrait.

The fragile work is on loan from the Royal Library of Turin where it is stored in the vault and is not normally accessible to visitors.

The masterpiece was transported to the capital on board a high-speed train under armed guard, and the move was not announced in advance for security reasons.

Capitoline Museums, Piazza del Campidoglio, tel. 060608.

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C’è la crisi: 180-305 AD http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/ce-la-crisi-180-305-ad/ http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/ce-la-crisi-180-305-ad/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 07:23:30 +0000 http://www.wantedworldwide.net/?post_type=news&p=199733 An exhibition at the Capitoline Museums reflects on the turbulent decline of the Roman empire.

“C’è la crisi” is a present-day refrain often heard in Rome. Following on from the more positively-titled Age of Conquest and Age of Balance, the Capitoline Museums’ latest exhibition Age of Anguish offers a timely antidote and reminder that things could be significantly worse. Think plague, coups d’état on a yearly if not monthly basis. Then add “imperial overstretch” as the Sassanids in the east grew stronger, eventually taking hapless Emperor Valerian captive.

At the same time, dramatically falling population levels back in Italy led to a reliance on foreign auxiliaries, while the financing of the top-heavy army led to rampant inflation and rising taxes. These were just a few of the ills which third century AD Romans had to put up with. Hence the title, inspired by the W. H. Auden poem Age of Anxiety from the 1940s. One might be excused for seeing that emotion on the splendid but crinkle-faced lion at the exhibition entrance (actually the lion is meant to symbolise the triumph of life over death). Less ambiguous are the faces on some of the busts.

With an average one-year life-span for each emperor, it is not surprising that the faces of the barracks emperors looked wrinkled and vexed. More reassuringly, the first bust in the Protagonists section is of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD), the same to be seen dispensing clemency to a Barbarian in the frieze as one climbs the stairs to the exhibition entrance. Yet even Marcus Aurelius’s legions suffered plague. Across from him primps Commodus, villain emperor from the Gladiator film and philosopher’s son gone wrong, bedecked as Hercules, complete with club and lion-skin headgear, two giant paws for clamps. Flanking him, two Tritons sport seaweed. Along with the Esquiline Venus, the group came to light in 1874 during excavations under Piazza Vittorio, the one-time Horti Lamiani. Such self-glorification did not prevent Commodus from being dispatched in a plot hatched by his concubine Marcia. Pertinax then found himself catapulted to power, only to be speared to death by the Praetorian Guard 87 days later; his austerity plan, however necessary, having proved less than popular.


Commodus (180-192 AD) as Hercules.
Commodus (180-192 AD) as Hercules.


Didius Julianus then bought his way to power, lasted for three months, and was deposed and killed by military strongman Septimus Severus (193-211), who set about restoring order. Spin-doctoring being nothing new, he is on display in various guises, his hairdos (like those of his son Caracalla) modelled after Marcus Aurelius’s to give the stamp of legitimacy. One of the three busts of Severus on display is of translucent alabaster fashioned during the emperor’s journey to Egypt in 199 AD (statues often substituted the emperor’s person at public ceremonies). Caracalla’s murdered younger brother Geta also puts in an appearance, as does infamous and sun-worshipping Heliogabalus, whose imperial excesses included marrying a vestal virgin, suffocating dinner guests with rose petals, and, the grossest pleasure of all, prostituting himself in the royal palace.

The Severan dynasty – Rome’s last – ended with the army’s election of Thracian giant and ex-wrestler Maximinus Thrax (235-238). The 18th-century English historian Edward Gibbon devotes a whole chapter in his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to his wickedness, partly evident on the bust here: first of the “barracks” emperors. After him, “no emperor could think himself safe upon the throne, and every barbarian peasant of the frontier might aspire to that august, but dangerous station.”

Other barracks emperors follow like skittles. The empire’s golden age had turned to rusty iron. No more godlike or philosophic poses but, as in the bust of Philip the Arab (244-249), short hair and rough-and-ready stubble, or in the case of Trajan Decius (249-251) a “tired and distressed” look, to cite the catalogue. Maybe he had foreseen his death at the hands of his once trusted general Trebonian Gallus (251-253), he of the massive bronze body and disproportionately small head appearing in the exhibition courtesy of New York’s Metropolitan Museum.

Opposite Decius a male civilian “with a rightward twist of the eyes” portrays “the pain of living though such times” while a row of arm-chaired philosophers from Dion, in Macedonia, sit in inscrutable silence.

Some stability is resumed with the Tetrarchy, when Emperor Diocletian (284-305) decided that the rule of the empire had become too unwieldy for one man and therefore divided it into four; two emperors (or Augustae) – himself and his general Maximinian – and two Caesars, Galerius and Constantinius Clorus.

Adding to the new sense of stability was a series of reforms, the subject of Room III in the exhibition, entitled Learning from the Crisis. Albeit this comes with the proviso that things were so far gone that, to quote Gibbon, “internal weakness invites calamities for which the remedies are themselves harmful.”


Military strongman Septimus Severus (193-211).
Military strongman Septimus Severus (193-211).


This symmetrical version of power-sharing was introduced, here represented by casts of the famous statues embedded in Venice’s S. Marco cathedral. Bearded Augustus and un-bearded Caesar embrace twice over, eagle-hilted swords for now safely in their sheaths. “Their principal distinction was the imperial or military robe of purple, and …a style of government closer to Persian absolutism,” wrote Gibbon. Significantly, the statues are the same colour, their porphyry coming from the eastern Egyptian desert and probably carved in the same province before being transported to Constantinople.

Rome has already become sidelined from its own empire. Within just one generation the Tetrarchy would dissolve into civil war, Constantine, son of the Tetrarch Constantius Clorus (see the trademark hooked nose) emerging victorious over Maxentius, son of another Tetrarch, Maximinian, before the empire’s capital shifted definitively to Constantinople in the east.

If the busts of the emperors tend toward uniformity, the room entitled Religion is as varied as one can get. Death being rife, strange cults from the east became more popular as the traditional public gods lost ground. (As meat prices sky-rocketed, sacrifices to the old gods diminished.) From Egypt came Bellona, Isis, Osiris and Apis, all on display here. One sarcophagus features a marine parade and another, of a dead soldier, is carved with a mounted knight fending off a throng of marble lions.


Trajan Decius (249-251).
Trajan Decius (249-251).


From Thrace came the weird cult of Sazios, physical contact with the god simulated with the use of sacred snakes and lizards, represented here by a tiny hand with animal growths seeming to emanate out of it.

From Persia came the cult of Mithras. One of the sculptures, with the god’s original gold and red coating still intact, is a reminder that most marble statuary to an ancient Roman would have appeared multi-coloured. Riding a chariot, Mithras kills a bull, with a snake sucking the animal’s blood and a scorpion clutching its genitals. Rather more decorously, Cautes, bearer of light, with a raised torch and rooster, announces daylight on the left; off right, Cautopates, genius of the dark, accompanied by an owl, turns his own torch upside-down.

In the quest for resurrection and personal (rather than public) salvation, none of these cults would be able to compete with Christianity, Christ here being depicted as raising Lazarus, in others as the Good Shepherd, an iconic archetype actually going back to ancient Greece.

A graffito of a donkey-headed crucifix might point the way forward to persecution of the Christians under Diocletian, but the massive head and raised right hand of Constantine, the first emperor to recognise Christianity, dominates this space of the exhibition.

However, easy to overlook, the exhibition’s arguably most impressive piece of statuary lies at the back of the last room: the 230 AD sarcophagus carved with larger-than-life Cupids.

An earlier section featuring military funeral monuments, which were becoming more and more common as, with ever increasing militarisation, soldiers climbed the social ladder, has another sarcophagus featuring the deceased on horseback fending off a throng of marble lions. Both works prove that what the geniuses of the Renaissance could achieve, the Romans had done previously, crisis notwithstanding.

Martin Bennett

The Età dell’Angoscia exhibition runs until 4 October at the Capitoline Museums, Piazza del Campidoglio, tel. 060608.

This article appeared in the May 2015 edition of Wanted in Rome magazine.


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Key Rome councillor resigns http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/key-rome-councillor-resigns/ http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/key-rome-councillor-resigns/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 08:46:59 +0000 http://www.wantedworldwide.net/?post_type=news&p=199638 Pressure on mayor after resignation of Rome transport councillor.

Rome’s transport councillor and key city council member Guido Improta announced his resignation on 22 June but denied his decision to step down was urged by Italian premier and close ally Matteo Renzi.

Improta is the first member of Rome’s council to resign in the wake of the ever-widening investigation into a mafia syndicate allegedly operating within the city’s administration.

Improta, who worked closely with Marino to usher in a range of traffic reforms and pedestrianisation plans in the city centre during the last two years, said his decision to leave was “personal, not political.”


marino improta 2
Ignazio Marino and Guido Improta


His resignation is another blow for the city’s embattled mayor Ignazio Marino, whose council has already lost several members in the so-called Mafia Capitale scandal, which is investigating more than 100 public officials and business figures, including Marino’s immediate predecessor Gianni Alemanno.

Another key member of Marino’s team, the councillor in charge of the city’s budget, Silvia Scozzese, is also reportedly considering her position.

Marino says he intends to see out his current five-year term of office, which ends in 2018, and then stand for re-election until 2023. His defiant remarks were made on 18 June following a tepid endorsement of his leadership by Renzi who described the mayor as a “good person” but said he should remain in office “only if he shows he can govern.”

Photo Corriere della Sera


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Europe’s street art capital http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/europes-street-art-capital/ http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/europes-street-art-capital/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 13:06:21 +0000 http://www.wantedworldwide.net/?post_type=news&p=199581 Big City Life is the latest in a series of street art projects boosting morale in neglected Roman neighbourhoods.

Over the last couple of years Rome’s international reputation as a major player in global street art has grown in leaps and bounds, driven principally by several ambitious urban art regeneration schemes across the city.

A key factor in this welcome development has been the willingness by the administration of Rome’s mayor Ignazio Marino to engage with the organisers of these public art projects. The movement received a further boost a month ago when the city produced 50,000 Roma street art maps – available from tourist information offices – detailing the locations of 330 of Rome’s murals.


Roma street art maps at tourist offices
Roma street art maps  available at tourist offices around the city.


Marino’s open-arms approach to street art is in contrast to the stance of his dour, right-wing predecessor Gianni Alemanno, part of whose election campaign rested on ridding the city of graffiti. However, the difference between street artists and graffiti vandals, or “writers”, who spray illegal and often illegible “tags”, should be underlined. The Italian and international street artists currently making their mark on the capital are creative, highly skilled, and leave a legacy that has widespread backing from the city and local residents.

Under Marino, Rome has weighed in wholeheartedly behind street art, making buildings available to artists and giving the green light to a succession of large-scale projects. This approach has resulted in Rome becoming a world leader in combining support for artists with the need to regenerate morale in neglected city neighbourhoods.

Wanted in Rome, which has always had a policy of promoting local art and local artists within the city (see our Cover Art project 2010-2011), began following the street art projects early on, as well as giving them cover space in recent years.

Since then the phenomenon has been reported by heavyweights such as TIME magazine and The New York Times, while The Art Tribune lauded Rome as “the European capital of street art, for the quality and quantity of works, for their even spread between the centre and suburbs, for the outstanding work conducted by cultural associations in synergy with local government, aimed at producing works that are legal, planned and well integrated with the fabric of the city.”

Rome’s latest, and arguably best, street art project to date ticks all those boxes. Big City Life in the southern Tor Marancia district, near EUR, was inaugurated by Marino in March and has since put the virtually unknown suburb on the tourist trail. The scheme features 18 gigantic murals on 11 façades, measuring 14 mt in height, and covering a total of 2,600 sqm. It involved 18 street artists who, over 70 days, got through 756 litres of paint and 974 spray cans. The result is spectacular.

The neighbourhood itself is just off the busy Cristoforo Colombo highway, opposite the Regione Lazio headquarters, and can be reached directly from Piazza Venezia by the 160 bus.

Nearing the address – Viale di Tor Marancia 63 – two German girls are taking photographs excitedly of a four-storey gable wall which features a mural of two feline-faced wrestlers by Argentinian artist Jaz, entitled Il peso della storia.


ll peso della storia by Jaz
ll peso della storia by Jaz.


To the bottom right of Jaz’s mural is a little doorway leading to several large blocks of flats off the street; once inside first-time visitors will be awed by the scale, inventiveness and beauty of the vision that greets them. No matter how much the murals are expected, the sensation is still surreal, like stepping into an urban secret garden.

It is easy to spot the newcomers: they all crane their heads upwards, admiring this extraordinary open-air art museum in the most unlikely of places. Quietly observing the arrivals are clusters of local teenagers and elderly people chatting on corners or staring out of windows.

Big City Life was organised by cultural association 999contemporary, with the backing of the city and the Ater social housing body. The project blossomed under the guiding hands of Francesca Mezzano, Stefano Antonelli and Gianluca Marziani, the same team that oversaw the Urban Legends street-art restyling of the Spagna station on Rome’s Metro A line a year ago.

Mezzano, who “fell in love” with Tor Marancia, set out to meet every single resident of the flats, getting locals involved and sharing their opinions with the artists. She said the objective was to “transform the neighbourhood” and hoped that the murals might “help people to meet, talk, solve old conflicts.” Before the project, the residents didn’t interact together and also complained that nobody “from outside” visited them. Now they speak to each other and have a steady stream of Rome residents and tourists arriving, curious to see what the fuss is all about.

Built in 1949, the 11 social housing units host 500 families who have long bemoaned a lack of services and facilities, claiming they have been ignored by the city. This is evident if one lowers one’s gaze from the magnificent murals. Below lie unkempt lawns, broken railings, an upturned tree trunk, rat-traps dotted discreetly here and there.

The project involved artists from Argentina, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and the US. Among the highlights is the Giorgio de Chirico-flavoured Spettacolo, Rinnovamento, Maturità, by Brooklyn artist Gaia, featuring a floating orange and a bust of a statue with the body of a flying fish, set against a bright blue sky.


Spettacolo, Rinnovamento, Maturità by Gaia
Spettacolo, Rinnovamento, Maturità by Gaia.


Gaia recently held an exhibition Antiquesto Antiquello at the 999contemporary gallery on Via Baccina 89 in the Monti quarter. He also gained recognition for his Man and Water billboard currently displayed on scaffolding in Piazza Venezia, the artist’s memorial “to those who lost their lives traversing the Mediterranean in search of a better future.”

Big City Life is the kind of project that every muralist dreams about; a beautiful community of people in an intimate setting,” Gaia told Wanted in Rome. “The secluded nature of these gorgeous façades makes the project feel unique.”

One of the more unexpected Big City Life murals is S. Maria di Shanghai, a traditional religious image of a Madonna and Child, by Italy’s Mr Klevra, a publicity-shy street artist who also happens to be an expert on Byzantine iconography. The parish priest of Tor Marancia, Don Mauro, was reportedly not in favour of the mural initially, but after meeting Mr Klevra he agreed to bless the image last month.

Other great splashes of colour and design come from Australia’s Reka, with his kaleidoscopic Natura Morta, and the Art Nouveau-themed Hic Sunt Adamentes mural by local artist Diamond, who was the first to start work on Big City Life. “The initial reaction of the locals was certainly not enthusiastic,” he told Wanted in Rome, “but thanks to the guys [at 999contemporary] and more than a few chats, we came to a friendly mutual understanding, which allowed me to work in peace and them to enjoy the spectacle.”


Natura Morta by Reka
Natura Morta by Reka.


Big City Life is the latest in a series of urban art regeneration schemes which come under the umbrella of Roma è tutta Roma, a municipal plan to use culture, social events and public works to enhance the capital’s disadvantaged suburbs.

Rome’s cultural councillor Giovanna Marinelli believes that urban art plays a crucial role in redeveloping neglected areas as well as strengthening the city’s social and cultural fabric. “We have set in motion several street art itineraries, from Ostiense to S. Basilio,” she said, “in an effort to promote lesser-visited areas of Rome to tourists.” The plan is working.

In February, to much fanfare, Rome artist Hitnes unveiled his series of massive cats and birds painted on six buildings in the S. Basilio suburb of east Rome. Hitnes followed in the footsteps of artists Agostino Iacurci from Italy and Liqen from Spain, bringing to an end the extremely successful SanBa regeneration project which, like Big City Life, was sponsored by cultural association Fondazione Roma.


Hitnes murals for SanBa in S. Basilio
Hitnes murals for SanBa in the S. Basilio district.


In April, Spain’s Dulk completed a mural of a surreal panda on Via Antonio Tempesta in the Pigneto district. The project was funded by local city authorities and organised by Galleria Varsi, a small but dynamic gallery near Campo de’ Fiori that promotes street artists.

Other notable murals in recent times include an image of girls and butterflies by well-known Rome street artist Alice Pasquini on Via Stefano Oberto in Cinecittà; window-eyes and ships in stormy waters by Bologna-based Blu on Via Porta Fluviale in Ostiense, and the 32-m-high man surfacing from a rubbish bin and sipping a coffee, by Polish street art duo Etam Cru on Via Pavoni in Torpignattara.

The easiest way to keep in touch with street art developments in Rome is to follow the 999contemporary website, and the Street Art section of the city’s official tourism site, both of which feature interactive maps showing the murals’ locations, documenting a movement which shows no signs of slowing down.

Andy Devane


Just some of the hundreds of murals in Rome worth checking out:

Big City Life project, off Viale Tor Marancia 63. See cover of this issue.
SanBa project by Hitnes, Liqen and Agostino Iacurci around the S. Basilio district.
Alice Pasquini, Via Stefano Oberto, Cinecittà.
Dulk, Via Antonio Tempesta, Pigneto.
Fronte del Porto by Blu, Via Porta Fluviale in Ostiense.
Etam Cru, Via Pavoni, Torpignattara.

This article appeared in the June 2015 edition of Wanted in Rome magazine.


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