Saturday, April 30, 2011
To capture the colorful exuberance of Art Nouveau, there's no place in Rome better than Galleria Sordi, on via del Corso.
Tivoli, a town in the Alban Hills outside of Rome, has two such quintessential phenomena. One of them, the Villa d'Este, is famous and a mainstay of area tourism; the other, Villa Gregoriana, is not so well known. Yet Villa Gregoriana is in the RST Top 40--indeed, the RST Top 10--coming in at #6. Da non perdere (not to be missed).
Actually, we recommend seeing Villa d'Este and Villa Gregoriana in tandem, because they're so different, separated from each other by almost three centuries (the Villa d'Este was built in the mid-16th century, Villa Gregoriana dates to 1826) and representing distinct ways of looking at nature and the world. Although both are spectacular attractions, we've favored Villa Gregoriana because the 19th-century romantic perspective that it so perfectly captures--the visual equivalent of the poetry of Keats, Shelley, and Wordsworth--is rare in Rome, especially compared to the neo-classical perspective of the Villa d'Este.
The two villas are central to Itinerary 14 in Rome the Second Time, "Walking and Climbing Amid the Waters of Tivoli," where we provide guidance on how to get to Tivoli and what to take with you. We also offer our own, non-guide-book interpretation of the contrasting meanings of the two villas:
"Villa d'Este is all about control, order, precision, repetition, and technology; one gets the sense here of human beings making water do tricks, of water engineers engaged in modern, scientific acts of manipulation, of nature bent to human will, to the logic of science. In contrast, Villa Gregoriana is about an apparent lack of control, about the power of water to erode and carve, about singularity rather than repetition, about a ferocious nature barely restrained. Villa d'Este offers a lesson on the mind, a discourse on reason; Villa Gregoriana provides instructions on the body, on the spirit."
And there's more.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
|A Courtyard in one of Trionfale's Fascist-Era Public Housing Projects|
Rome the Second Time is partly a book about Rome's suburbs. But that doesn't mean we're sending you to Rome's equivalent of Westchester. Our Rome suburbs are outside the Center, to be sure, so they weren't built in the Renaissance. But they are close to the Center, and they feel like Rome: today's Rome, and the Rome of the 20th century.
Some time ago we spent the afternoon in the Rome suburb of Trionfale (Triumphant/Triumphal, the name apparently derived from the city's historic attraction to triumphal arches). Romans would refer to the area as Trionfale or Quartiere Trionfale. It's in Prati.
We can't give you a precise geographical definition for Trionfale. But the center of the quartiere is just to the east of Piazzale degli Eroi ("Large Piazza of the Heroes" - a pretty awful traffic circle, says Dianne), along and a few blocks north and south of via Andrea Doria, which runs into the piazza.
If you're staying near the Vatican, you're in luck, because Trionfale begins just a few blocks north of the north wall of the Vatican. If you're taking the subway, get off at Cipro Musei Vaticani and walk north to Piazza degli Eroi.
|Casa Impiegati del Governatorato|
|The new Trionfale Market--or the Hyatt?|
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
|Nightlife on Pigneto's pedestrian concourse, |
via del Pigneto
When the Metro comes to Pigneto in 2013 (or whenever), this near-in but somewhat difficult-to-reach neighborhood will be the fashionable place for a glass of wine, dinner, a touch of Rome's ethnic side, a walk along its dark, shaded, and somewhat mysterious side streets, or a stroll on Pigneto's almost trendy, almost treeless, all-pedestrian main drag, via del Pigneto. But for now the Metro isn't in Pigneto, and so the neighborhood is likely to have that funky, hardscrabble, on-the-cusp of gentrification, slightly threatening allure for a couple more years. That's why it's at #7 on Rome-the-Second Time's Top 40.
|A small, ethnic-run grocery store,|
trashed by locals, May 2008
|The horrific final scene of the film Roma Citta' Aperta|
|A somewhat intimidating entrance to|
Pigneto, off via Prenestina
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Pirandello, most noted for his masterpiece play, Seven Characters in Search of an Author, won the Nobel prize in 1934, while still a fascist, hough his ties to Fascism are somewhat tenuous. There have been multiple interpretations of his statement “I am a fascist because I am an Italian.”
Pirandello lived only 3 years in this home - the last 3 years of his life. . His apartment, which includes his studio and other artifacts, feels untouched since the day he died here on December 10, 1936. Although Pirandello's home has an authenticity that Goethe's--as a functioning museum--lacks, one has to use imagination here to reconstruct Pirandello’s uninterrupted view from his terrace to Villa Torlonia.
|across the terrace - but Villa Torlonia is not visible|
The web site for the studio and foundation has one section in English – if you scroll down the left bullet points you’ll see “Abstract of this site in English.” The link should take you directly there. And, if you really can’t get to the home in person, there are lots of photos on the site under “Immagini” and a video under “Lo Studio.”
For a biography of Pirandello, see the one on the Nobel Prize website.
We also note his son, Fausto, was a very good painter of the 20th century whose works are in many collections in Rome, including at the state modern art gallery, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in back of the Villa Borghese.
|The playwright at work|
You can try emailing or calling for more up-to-date information. Telephone: 39.06.4429.1853, email: email@example.com.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
|Older model Hexagon (not ours)|
In previous recent posts, we've covered the basics of scootering in Rome: renting, riding, and parking. But what about getting rid of a scooter that's seen its better days? How do you junk a scooter in Rome?
The Italians have a word for it: rottamazione, a word related to other words that have something to do with breaking: rotto (broken), rottame (scrap, fragment), and rottura (breaking). Behind the word rottamazione is a legal and bureaucratic process, and one that we experienced first-hand several years ago when our beloved Piaggio Hexagon bit the dust (or so we thought) on via Cristoforo Colombo. We ended up in a parking lot just off Piazza dei Navigatori, took a bus the wrong direction, and...well, it was a bad day.
|Saying goodbye to the Hexagon|
Anyway, from the looks of Rome's streets and the country roads outside the city, the official process described above is seldom used. When scooters get old, owners dump them in the countryside, where one sees the remains on seldom-used hiking trails (most hiking trails in Italy are seldom used) and in ravines.
|Unofficial disposal method|
Urban disposal, which must take place where ravines and hiking trails are few, is accomplished differently. Inside the city, the standard technique is to leave the offending scooter wherever it happens to be--usually chained to a signpost on the sidewalk--and walk away, confident that months and years of simple neglect, and those eager for free spare parts, will reduce it to a pile of junk. E50 saved. A scooter in the same place, day after day, with a thick layer of dirt and dust, has been junked.
|Almost a work of art|
Junking a bicycle is easier, and always follows the "chain-it-and-walk-away" method.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The ex-Mattatoio grounds also feature extensive graffiti, an ecologically driven café, market, meeting hall, etc., and rather permanent squatters from Eastern Europe, enjoying their beer.
|Looking down into Testaccio from the Monte|
|Footpath made of "cocci" or|
|One of the gallery halls in MACRO Testaccio|
|Bill, getting "into" the art|
|A trendy restaurant built into the caves of Monte Testaccio|
Friday, April 1, 2011
| A poster of Mussolini with the "right" sort of Italian|
woman: plain, with child, humbly dressed
|At left, the Fascist ideal of womahood. At right, the threatening |
woman: thin, dissolute, fashionable. 1931
|Properly uniformed, but dangerously |
emancipated. Siena, 1943