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

Friday, December 20, 2019

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow....

Rome's winters are often cold and rainy.  But now and then the rain turns to snow.  The kids love it, and the adults find the camera and take pictures before the melting begins, often in minutes.  It happened on February 12, 2010, and our friend Massimo found the camera and took these shots from the windows of his apartment near Piazza Bologna.  That's our beloved Malaguti (below, since replaced by a Honda Forza 300), right next to the sideways-parked Smart car, covered in the white stuff.  Looks like Christmas--soooo, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Bill and Dianne

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Quarto Miglio: 20th-century town, new market

We've known about Quarto Miglio for some time, because our son went to school there in 1993, when RST's Rome adventure began.  It's basically just a small town--population about 11,000--located to the southeast of Rome's center.  The name comes from its location at the 4th Roman mile of the Appian Way (via Appia Antica). The area was settled in Roman times, and many of its streets are named after ancient Romans.

As a modern community, Quarto Miglio dates to the 1920s, when construction of new buildings accelerated. The parish was established in 1935, and the church of San Tarcisio (on the main drag, via di San Tarcisio) was completed in 1939. San Tarcisio was a 3rd-century Christian martyr.

Among those who once lived in Quarto Miglio are movie director Franco Zeffirelli, Gina Lollobrigida, and fashion designer Valentino (though they no doubt lived in large villas on the ancient Appian Way, not in the town center).

Poster announcing the celebration for the opening of the new market and playground
We were ready to touch base once more with Quarto Miglio, because we had read about the construction there of a new market, complete with wall murals by, among others, Luca Maleonte and Diavù .  The opening of the new market had taken place on a Friday evening, complete with music and calisthenics (to celebrate a new, outdoor activity center).  But we couldn't make the Friday opening, so we headed out on the scooter the next day, arriving about noon.

We found the new market easily enough. It consists of about 10 small, separate buildings, designed for individual merchants. When we arrived, only one of them was occupied and open, a fruit-and-vegetable seller.  He told us that heavy rain had pretty much ruined the opening, and then lamented the lack of traffic at the new market.

The nearby exercise area was not much more active--a few mothers with their kids, who were playing on the newly installed equipment.

Playground in foreground, market in background
Behind them, a school wall displayed paintings designed to appeal to children--not art by any means, but pleasant enough:

On the back and side walls of the market stands we found a few more artful pieces (below).

Could be  Diavù -referencing nearby via Appia 
Looks like Luca Maleonte.  Playground is back right. 
Bummed out by the lack of activity at the market and playground, we headed for the "town" center, which was a few blocks away.  More life there, including a caffetteria in a small piazza, with some folks hanging out at unshaded tables, and a sartorie (seamstress), located in a bright storefront.

And we think we found the 1939 church of San Tarcisio:

On a side street, we came across a handsome building in the neo-medieval style, probably dating from the 1920s:

Another small piazza,below, this one featuring some elegant pines, a modernist apartment building with a balcony jutting out over the stone walkway, and a couple of shops.  In one of them, we were lucky to find some tennis balls, for a friend who needed them--and not for tennis.

And a wiry cat, enjoying a high window ledge that it had somehow managed to scale.

That's our Quarto Miglio "adventure."  Disappointing in some ways, modestly satisfying in others--sometimes that's how things work out.  And it's what we do.


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Street Art Comes to the Hospital

To some, the painting above may be familiar.  It's Caravaggio's 1607 "Seven Works of Mercy," the original now in Naples, here replicated on the immense exterior wall of one of the many buildings of the Policlinico Gemelli (Gemelli hospital - more like a small city) in Rome's northern Trionfale quarter.

The artist signs himself Ravo; full name Andrea Mattoni, a Swiss-Italian whose hallmark is replicating the Old Masters or, as Ravo states it, "the recovery of classicism in the contemporary."  The Caravaggio above, completed in December 2017, was the most complex wall painting Ravo had done to date. In an interview, he stated (not my translation): 

Closeup of Ravo's painting; "Visit the
imprisoned and feed the hungry."

“It’s like if I was a conductor who present a symphony drawing from an immense repertoire and my theater is the territory itself. I become a transmission channel that follows the ancient tradition of the copy of the work, a practice that was once widespread for the diffusion of paintings. I try to present them to a larger and unexpected audience, carrying forward also my background: graffiti. In fact, the spray is the common thread that connects with my past, where I come from, and it is precisely for this reason that I chose the spray can as my running stick.”  

(You can see the work in process in late 2017 here.)

He is, of course, speaking our language when he inserts the unexpected - in this case the classical - into an unattractive contemporary landscape - the suburban hospital complex.

Ravo completed a second work at Gemelli this past Spring. We saw it shortly after it was completed.  "Madonna Litta," a late 15th-century painting in the Hermitage, is attributed to Leonardo. Ravo painted it in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo's death.  It sits above a busy road within the hospital complex:

For photos of the Leonardo work in process, see here (article in Italian).

Ravo also has a Facebook page. One of his posts (they are in English) started with this quote: "All art is contemporary, or it was at some point."

One can debate whether replicating great art is itself art. It has been historically. And we like what Ravo is doing to our often isolated and forbidding urban landscapes

We later learned the Gemelli complex has 5,000 employees and hosts about 30,000 people on any given day. Hence, my reference to a "small city" - perhaps not so small.

Getting to Gemelli and finding the works was another issue. The complex is so enormous that we had problems even finding our way in - it's not made for pedestrian access.  Once in, most people - and we asked a lot of them, including at the front desk and in the library - had never heard of Ravo's work, even though he had recently completed the Leonardo.  And, the Caravaggio is in a building quite a distance from the main ones, on a hill. At one point, due to my poor translation, I thought we were looking for 7 works by Ravo (mistaking the "Seven works of mercy" - also a failure of my training in art history- sorry, Mrs. Reinhart from Stanford-in-Italy).  

Bill hauled us out to Trionfale and the hospital complex (no mean feat - these are not roads meant for anything but high-speed autos) on a day when no rain was predicted.  So, of course, it rained (recall, we are on a scooter).  Ultimately, the adventure was successful.  We saw two magnificent pieces of wall art, a glimpse into the life of hospitals in Rome (not that I haven't had others - very close up and personal), and the rather unfortunate story that most people don't even know these paintings exist.

Below, some of our hospital pix.  

Main hospital buildings, with statue of Pope John Paul II (and smokers).
The entrance to the complex is rather unassuming,
though somewhat intimidating for pedestrians.

The hospital seems to have its own highway system.

And its own bridges...Calatrava step aside!

Hard to capture the effect with this small photo, but this
 could have been the largest - and busiest -  hospital cafeteria
we've ever seen. We didn't even try to get a coffee.

No post is complete without a scooterpark pic.
(The sign says "motorcycle exit.") Ravo's Leonardo
painting is up on the right.