Rome Travel Guide

Rome Architecture, History, Art, Museums, Galleries, Fashion, Music, Photos, Walking and Hiking Itineraries, Neighborhoods, News and Social Commentary, Politics, Things to Do in Rome and Environs. Over 900 posts

Monday, August 28, 2017

More than the Trevi Fountain: Prosciutto, Palazzi, Prints and Paintings within a coin's throw.

The Trevi Fountain is definitely a Rome the First Time experience--and many more times after that, we think. So don't miss it.  (And some advice on visiting it below... it's not so simple these days.)

But there's more!
Three historic Renaissance palazzi, more than three free exhibition spaces, and great food abound in the small streets to the right and left of the fountain.

To fuel yourselves for fighting the crowds and police that now surround the fountain, try the mouth-watering, tiny prosciutteria off the piazza. I must admit I wasn't keen on meeting our family there, expecting something trending on Yelp or Facebook, with little local flavor.  I was so wrong, as the "before" and "after" photos illustrate. La Prosciutteria Trevi, via della Panetteria, No. 34,11 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Sonia Delaunay print
Now for some art.  The Trevi Fountain overwhelms everything near it; thus, it's understandable that three or more (depending on how one counts them) art exhibition spaces are almost on top of the fountain and yet usually quite devoid of visitors. Istituto Centrale per la Grafica - the Central Graphics Institute - is contiguous with the building on which the fountain is built.  Go along the street on the right of the fountain and you'll find the entrance on your left.  It has excellent shows.  We've seen many there - from Piranesi's fantasy prints to Sonia Delaunay's work.  Free.  Via della Stamperia, 6.
Piranesi - from his fantastica "jails" series.

Borromini's 17th-century frieze at
Accademia di San Luca, with an Ontani
sculpture in the niche inside.
This is one of several exhibition spaces behind the fountain. The main one is in Palazzo della Calcografia - an 18th-century building by Giuseppe Valadier.  A second one is in Palazzo Poli, with an entrance on the left side of the Trevi Fountain (as we recall), and which is considered to house the Trevi. Some of the space is devoted to a permanent exhibition of older print-making machines and explanations of the techniques then and today.  You might be lucky, too, as we were one day, to find yourself on the second floor of the palazzo and looking out the window right onto the fountain itself.

Across from Palazzo della Calcografia is the main building of Rome's exclusive arts academy - Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, founded in 1577.  In this palazzo, Palazzo Carpegna,you can simply walk in to see the famed Borromini ramp and friezes from the mid-17th century.  Prominent exhibits often are installed on the ramp and elsewhere throughout the building.  We've seen excellent architectural drawings by contemporary Italian Starchitect Renzo Piano,who also designed the New York Times headquarters in New York and the newer buildings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

That's Ontani in the shimmery pale blue silk
 suit and pony tail.  We caught a glimpse of
him touring his own exhibition
while we were doing so as well.

This summer the Accademia's primary installation is of works by an Italian sculptor and painter of whom we hadn't heard - Luigi Ontani. We found his capricious sculptures technically superb as well as fun and a bit bizarre. The exhibit is open until September 22 of this year. The building also houses a permanent exhibition of works donated by some of the famous members of the Academy, including Bernini.
Ontani's version of the lupa, Rome's she-wolf, with himself as the wolf.

Part of an Ontani sculpture channeling
Gertrude Stein.

Okay, advice on the Trevi Fountain.  Try to go very early in the morning or late at night.  Otherwise, it's a mob scene.  Don't try to wade in the fountain ala Anita Eckberg in La Dolce Vita.   There are police patrolling and pushing tourists to obey an unwritten code of conduct.  Eating lunch isn't in the code (see below).  Nor, for some of the fountain police, is sitting on the edge of the fountain. 
Trevi Fountain code police:
The couple is being told to put their food away.

Last photo - Curator and professor (Temple University, Rome) Shara Wasserman --she with the gold purse -- takes a group to the exhibition space in Accademia di San Luca.


Monday, August 21, 2017

RST's 700th Post. Holy Cow!

We've been writing this blog for more than eight years, but it remains surprising--no, astonishing--that we have managed to produce 700 posts.  Yes, 700!  If you figure it takes about 8 hours of work to produce one post (some are less, some much more--like days), that amounts to 5600 total hours spent making content.  That's like having a 40-hour-a-week job for almost 3 years.  Yikes!

To celebrate our 700th, we're offering links to some of our most popular posts (those with the most page views, and some others with lots of traffic).  Click on the link to see the original post.

Richard Meier's Jubilee Church.  The all-time page-view champ at over 15,000.  A ways out of town, but worth the trip.  #17 on RST's Top 40.

Europe's Largest Mosque--in Rome.  We may have a lot of Muslim readers, but the building is quite something no matter what religion you are.  Also on RST's Top 40 - at #24. Interestingly, a post we did on Rome's Kebab was also widely seen.

The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A Moral Act or Not?  Philosophy professor Raymond Belliotti examines the ethics of the murder by evaluating it against 7 moral criteria.

Riding a Scooter in Rome.  Actually, RST's post on renting a scooter in Rome was somewhat more popular, but this one's more useful--lots of hard-earned tips about riding a scooter in Rome, should you decide to do it, which you shouldn't.

Italy's Liberation Day: Bella Ciao.  Guest blogger Frederika Randall pulls apart the legendary anthem and examines the history of "Bella Ciao."

 Tracking Elizabeth Taylor.  ET spent some time in Rome, some of it with Richard Burton, while she was making movies.  She's still iconic here, but perhaps less so than Audrey Hepburn, whose image is everywhere.

The 1960 Rome Olympics: An Itinerary.  There's lots to see in Rome related to the 1960 Olympics: the Olympic Village; the Palazzetto dello Sport, where Cassius Clay made his name and reputation; an amazing stadium built by Mussolini where the athletes warmed up.

Garibaldi in Rome.  The darling of Italian unification, Giuseppe Garibaldi fought the French on the Gianicolo and lived to tell about it.

Via Tasso.  To most Romans, via Tasso means "place where the Germans imprisoned and tortured their political enemies," or something like that.  It's not far from the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, and you can visit, even walk into the cells and read the messages prisoners scrawled on the walls. RST Top 40, #3.

On St. Paul's Path.  Cities have their "named saints," saints special to the city.  Rome has two: Peter and Paul.  Paul brought Christianity to Rome, and was martyred just outside the city.  You can visit the sites and try to feel his presence.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"No Bolkestein" Say what?

The sign outside the new Testaccio market said, "No Bolkestein."  What?  What could that mean? 

If you spend much time around Rome's public markets, you'll see more of those "No Bolkestein" signs.  Here's some background:  The phrase refers to Fritz Bolkestein, a former commissioner of the European Union.  In 2006, Bolkestein issued an EU directive designed to create a "free market" for certain services, including food trucks, public markets stalls, and beach concessions.  As Bolkestein saw it, services were monopolized or controlled by only a few organizations or families, which held long-term licenses (some for 10 years) that were automatically renewable.  Competition, he claimed, was stifled. 
The sign on the truck, parked at an open-air market in the Val Malaina/Serpentara neighborhood, might be translated "Get Bolkestein out of the markets" 
As we understand it, Fritz Bolkestein had the authority to issue the directive, but it had to be implemented by national, regional, and local governments.  In 2010, The Italian government implemented at least parts of the directive, applying it to beach concessions and "ambulanti"--that is, licensed street sellers. Under the new regulations, street seller licenses would not automatically be renewed. 

New regulations for beach concessions proved especially unpopular among those already licensed to operate such concessions.  They argued that the Bolkestein directive would change a locally grown, "Made-in-Italy" brand of "beach tourism" into "beach supermarkets" controlled by multinational corporations and foreign investors. 

In Rome,  anti-Bolkestein protests began in 2005, anticipating the proclamation of the directive; some 50,000 workers participated in a demonstration that year.  Street traders again took to the streets--to Piazza della Repubblica, actually--in September 2016.
The No Bolkestein protest march, Piazza della
Repubblica, 2016.  The sign in the middle photo reads
"Salviamo Mercati" (let's save the markets).
Newly elected Rome mayor Virginia Raggi--the local leader of the anti-government party M5S (Movimento Cinque Stelle, 5 Star) was behind the No Bolkestein movement.  Under Raggi's leadership, the Rome council approved (31-7) her motion to postpone the implementation of the Bolkestein directive--indeed, all directives designed to increase competition in the services sector.  The council vote included extending trading licenses for stands to 2020.  Although it looks like Raggi's initiative was intended to help individual small businesses, in fact a majority of Rome's food trucks were (and are) owned by one family group: the Tredicine. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Bar Names, Part III

RST collects bar names.  Why, we're not sure.  Maybe because bars are so obviously at the center of Italian--and Roman--culture: places to eat, drink (espresso, beer, wine, you name it), talk, watch the street, play cards, read the newspapers, gamble, pass the time, and observe the Americans (that's us) pulling up on their scooter, leaving with backpacks and hiking poles in hand, returning hours later to share a large, cold bottle of Moretti at a table outside.  

Here's the latest bunch (links to the first two parts at the end of the post):   

Europa is a somewhat common bar name.  This one specializes in sandwiches, drinks, and porchetta--the latter a pork concoction especially popular in the Alban Hills.  This bar is located in Lariano, on the southwest slope of the Hills.

Cute but depressing.  Bar Snoopy is in  the small hill town of Monticelio, northeast of Guidonia.  
Á suburban establishment.  Unique, and odd, given that JFK died in 1963 and brother Bobby in 1968, and it's unlikely
this one's named after Ted.  Nice outdoor space.  
Caffe' Cleopatra, a roadhouse bar (situated on a busy thoroughfare outside the city proper), probably
(can't recall) on the way to Cinecitta', where the film Cleopatra was made.
Bar Centrale.  Most of the towns in the Roman countryside have a Bar Centrale.  
Bar del Pino (Pine Tree Bar) is named after that huge pine in the background, which sits in
the middle of via Ozanam, on the side of Piazza San Giovanni di Dio.

For Bar Names Parts I and II, click on these links: