Rome Travel Guide

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

RST Top 40. #8: Monte Testaccio and l'ex Mattatoio - play among Roman ruins

Looking down into Testaccio from the Monte

We’ve always been intrigued by Monte Testaccio – the “mountain” made of ancient Roman castoff earthen vessels that sits in the eponymous neighborhood. The Monte, combined with the ex-slaughterhouse now art museum l’ex Mattatoio, is easily in the top 10 of Rome the Second Time’s Top 40, coming in at #8. 

Footpath made of "cocci" or
broken shards

The archeologists finally got wise and fenced off Monte Testaccio. You now can only go with groups – and we recommend a tour, tho’ they are infrequent in English. Some photos from the top and a video clip of Marcello Mastroianni and Monica Vitti from an Ettore Scola film are featured in an earlier post. The caves built into the mountain from around the outside now feature hip bars and cafes. Ah, progress.

Graffiti on grounds
The ex-Mattatoio has had an amazing conversion to art space. New halls opened even this past year. Modern art exhibits show well in these halls. We never miss a chance to see a show here. The gallery, run by the city and now called MACRO Testaccio (nee MACRO Future) used to be free, but even at Euro 5, the shows and space are worth it (note – the gallery is open 4 p.m. – midnight, Tuesday – Sunday). See the link here for information in English on a current exhibit.

One of the gallery halls in MACRO Testaccio
The ex-Mattatoio grounds also feature extensive graffiti, an ecologically driven café, market, meeting hall, etc., and rather permanent squatters from Eastern Europe, enjoying their beer.

Bill, getting "into" the art
The neighborhood –working class and gritty, historically-- keeps getting gentrified, including a new market about to open. See Bill’s post on the gentrification of Rome's markets.

Inside MACRO Testaccio are plenty of bar and cafe' places, amid what used to be slaughterhouse pens.

A trendy restaurant built into the caves of Monte Testaccio

Lots of places to eat and drink here, but the locals’ favorite for a glass of wine is just across the street from the entrance (if you could get in) to Monte Testaccio, at the corner of via Zabaglia and via Galvani. 


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