Rome Travel Guide

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Grass comes to Rome

Captive grass in Piazza Venezia

There is no grass in Rome.  Not until recently, anyway.  For years what passed for grass in Rome consisted mostly of weeds, trimmed now and then (mostly then).  The "grassy" spaces in public parks and piazzas consisted of dirt, stones--and trampled weeds.

Piazza Cavour
Things have changed.  Grass has arrived!  Here and there, the keen observer will see signs of the emergence of a new grass aesthetic.  Piazza Venezia now has two grass-as-spectacle areas, both featuring grass so perfect, and so perfectly maintained, as to provoke envy in any American suburban homeowner.  The Scotts Turf Builder look, the grass protected from the public by short, decorative fences.  Casa del Jazz offers a grass lawn, populated by signs telling you not to walk on it.  There's plenty of grass in EUR (after all, it was built as a suburb), but also plenty of weeds.  And elegant Piazza Cavour, behind the grandiose Palace of Justice, has some very nice grass. 

Real grass in Piazza dei Rei di Roma.  Not for dogs or humans,
according to the sign.

Piazza dei Re di Roma has some natural grass that actually looks like grass, though there, and elsewhere, the "grass aesthetic" also includes artificial grass--some sort of astroturf (love that spaceage term), immune to dogs. 

Rotary project, Trieste

In upscale Trieste, the Rotary Club maintains a small plot of genuine grass, perhaps so that children can grow up knowing what it is. 

They painted the grass green

In Piazza Sant' Emerenziana, in the neighborhood  known familiarly as the "Quartiere Africano," city authorities spruced up a huge subway ventilation unit by covering it with grass and then, as the grass lost its color in the heat, spray-painting it green.   

Keep off the grass couch!

Even the Rome art world has come to appreciate grass.  A fellow of the American Academy showed the way several years ago with a work of grass so tempting that Dianne assumed, incorrectly, that it was designed to be walked on.  More recently, the Casa dell'Architettura (also known as the Aquario,
because it's a former aquarium), showed off a grass-covered sofa, chair, end table, and lamp.  For those who have everything!


Artificial turf in Piazza dei Re di Roma.  Twenty years ago, the piazza was a dump.


Marco said...

Excellent article... just a minor correction, though: that district is known as the "Quartiere Africano" (because of its street, which are named after Italy's ex-colonies) - not "Africana".

Alex moner said...

The Scotts Turf Builder look, the grass protected from the public by short, decorative fences.The Scotts Turf Builder look, the grass protected from the public by short, decorative fences.