Rome Travel Guide

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Art where you find it

Rome, being well, Rome, is home to absolutely stunning locations for art installations. Art in situ is fantastic for, first the places themselves - often places you might otherwise not get into, and second for the creativity of the artists in applying their talent to these awe-inspiring (even awesome) locations.

It takes a lot of guts, too, for these spots in Rome to let the artists have their way. Some of our favorites of the past few years include the Villa dei Quintili, 5 (of course) Roman miles outside of the dead center of Rome; the Swiss Institute, just off via Veneto; the Villa Medici (the French Academy); and the area of the Sabine Mountains (more like hills - the Monti Sabini.

The Villa dei Quintili hosted a group show of contemporary artists throughout its immense archaeological site a couple years ago as well as works this year by Itto Kuetani, the Japanese-born "environmental sculptor" who has studied and works in Rome. The villa is a ways out of Rome, and the address is on via Appia Nuova (1092), but you also can get there off via Appia Antica - so take the buses (including the Archeobus) that go there. We wouldn't miss it. [Photo at right above with "chicken" sculpture + Roman villa buildings in background from group show; Kuetani's is the single white sculpture in the photo below right.]

The Swiss Institute sits high on a hill near the via Veneto and, when the art is displayed all over its grounds you can freely roam the grounds and villa, including its high tower with fabulous views of the city. [Photo at top of post with plastic dragon over the Institute's "grotto" and at right through a small sculpture on its rooftop wall.]
The Sabina area has had a program each of the past three years featuring young foreign artists who put up 20 installations in various small towns in the region, including the stunning Abbey of Farfa ( - only in Italian). On weekends during the art show, art students from nearby Rieti give free tours of the installations (our 2 guides in photo). It's not easy to get in and around these small towns, but worth any effort you make. There's a frequent train running between the Fiumicino airport (and Rome stations) to one of the towns, Fara Sabina, and Rome bus service to the towns as well. You may want to reserve your lodging - there are almost no hotels in the region. The website above lists some nearby B&Bs.

The French Institute at the Villa Medici (top of the Spanish Steps-- a few steps north of the church) periodically opens its 6th century AD cistern for art installations. One of these installations was a dark pool of water full of Euro centesimi (pennies) that equalled the artist's stipend for his installation (sorry, too dark for our camera!).

Earlier this year we went to installations at the Austrian Cultural Forum in Valle Giulia (near the National Modern Art Gallery (Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna) at viale Bruno Buozzi, 113, and especially liked the ribbon-wrapped fence and statues outside the institute building. [Photo right + see post of 5.20.09]

Don't miss a chance to see any art in situ. Push aside Dan Brown and pale attempts to use Rome's fabulous sights (and sites) for literary schlock. Let's hear it for the real artists. Dianne

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