Rome Travel Guide

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Friday, April 26, 2013

An artists' colony thrives in a Rome industrial suburb

Contemporary art in Rome seems to get better and better.  One marker is a group of artists who have studios in an old warehouse in a decidedly unfancy Rome suburb - Portonaccio.

Pinzari with her horse sculpture made of her own hair.
We spent a great afternoon talking with about 6 of the artists, and visiting their studios.  The art ranged widely, including "sculptures" with her own hair by Francesca Romana Pinzari.

We also were fascinated with Seboo Migone  who does large oils and also small sculptures.  He posed for us with both (above).

di Silvestre easily talked about his work with Dianne
The subjects, as well as the painting, by Maura di Silvestre (above) might have been our favorite.

And, perhaps most interesting are the blue beds by the felicitously named Veronica Botticelli.

And there's more.

 The artists have been "found" by the powers that be.  The first to recognize them as a group and give them publicity was Shara Wasserman, who is a professor of art history at Temple University in Rome and also an independent (and, we say, the best) curator (see Shara's new Web site at  More recognition came when perhaps the most famous of Rome art critics, Achille Bonito Oliva, curated a show for them  (and got the publicity and produced the catalog).  That show, complete with a glossy program that is lovely in itself, brought more recognition (and visitors, like us).

The artists
The area is definitely of the run-down, but not dangerous or macabre, variety.  One contemporary describes it as "a bridge over a railroad, a quarter of poor people."  It's not hard to get to with public transportation, and interesting in itself for truly local shops and people.  Take the 409 bus from the Tiburtina bus station.  Portonaccio, and particularly the area where the artists work, has been surrounded and in some ways very compromised, by transportation - rails, thruway exits, wide fast with fast-moving traffic, etc.  It was an industrial area pre- WWII, but it also sparked an artistic group after the war - "the group of Portonaccio" - in a way, harbingers of the current artists.
the "condominio" - ordinary from the outside

You might be able to find some artists at work, as we did - but it was special, almost open-studio, weekend.  The building is at via Giuseppe Arimondi 3.  You can also try emailing

The artists refer to themselves as "in condominio" - in other words, working together and renting together in a common space.  Recent articles in the Rome newspapers indicate they are still making waves, and are represented in efforts to enhance - or perhaps just support - Rome's contemporary art community.

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