Rome Travel Guide

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Monday, December 26, 2022

Via Casilina Vecchia: the "Funky" side of Rome

If you're searching for Rome's "funky" side, you can't do much better than a stretch of via Casilina Vecchia, running southeast off via Castrense, a street that connects the Tuscolano neighborhood with Pigneto. (We're not talking about via Casilina, a nasty street for walkers that runs parallel with "Vecchia" on the other side of some railroad tracks). 

The first thing you'll see is the massive complex of Casa Santa Giacinta--a Catholic charity serving the poor and elderly

And next to it, tucked in a bit, a cute 20th-century chapel in something akin to mission style. 

Just beyond, as the street narrows, there is (or was just months ago), a mural by Alice, a prolific Rome street artist. Part of Alice's original work (she's known for painting young women) is visible behind the cars that are usually parked there, and part has been covered by graffiti "artists." A portion of her mural is visible upper right. 

The lower left portion of this wall proved fertile territory for this "accidental art"/found art photographer, a portion of it (below) ending up as his business card.

Following the road, you'll come upon an arch, usually highly decorated by the spray-paint crowd. Why it exists we have no idea. Here is Dianne, photographed with the arch, though from the other side. 

Ahead, the centerpiece of the journey, the aqueduct Acqua Felice. It's not ancient. Dating to the late Renaissance, it was constructed under Pope Sixtus V. Still it's very cool, and here are there it utilizes the columns of Aqua Claudia (of ancient origin). "Felice" is over 28km long--and you can see it rise from ground level a few miles out at the Parco degli Aquedotti (Park of the Aqueducts). 

Just as the road looks like it's going to go through an aqueduct arch, it turns sharply left, crossing the tracks--just one lane, and quite a bit of traffic. Not the safest spot for a pedestrian. 

Then the road turns again, runs through the aqueduct--and you'll find yourself walking on its western side. 

Although most of the arches date to the late 16th century, a few--they will be obvious--were constructed at the turn of the last century to allow access for trains.

Further along, you'll find homes on one side of the street, the aqueduct (and apparently some homes and businesses) on the other. 

One of the businesses, located in and through an aqueduct arch, specializes in copies of statues and other ancient and Renaissance pieces:

This staircase seems to lead through the aqueduct to a home:

Inside one of the arches, someone has created a devotional tableau:

When via Casilina Vecchia dead ends, turn left, through the aqueduct, then immediately right onto via del Mandrione. Poet, novelist, and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini spent a lot of time in the Mandrione neighborhood, seeking the "real" Rome.  [D: all signs of inhabitants where he once strolled are now gone. No doubt in the name of "slum clearance."]

About 200 yards ahead, there's a narrow passage-way off right. 

Turning left out of the pass way, a few yards down you'll find another lane off to the right, leading to a staircase--and beneath it, the Tuscolano 'hood. Turn right at the first street and work your way back to  Piazza Lodi--and through the wall to via Castrense, and your starting point. 

Another side of Rome. Sweet!



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