Rome's walls--the walls of buildings, the sides of trains and Metro cars--are full of graffiti, some of it reaching the level of art, some of it powerfully political, much of it juvenile scribbling.
Much less common than wall writing, street and sidewalk graffiti appear here and there, most often on the city's ordinary and ugly asphalt sidewalks, but sometimes on the cobblestoned streets. This form of writing is seldom political, and never artistic--at least not in the bold letters/colorful sense that one normally associates with the best graffiti. The streets and sidewalks are a space for personal statements: congratulations and best wishes, vows of commitment, and poems of love.
|From a street in Monteverde Vecchio|
The love poems proved surprisingly difficult to translate, and we sought help from our friend Massimo, a professional translator.
15.09.11 September 15, 2011
Guardami negli occhi Look me in the eye
Dimmise non Tell me [dialect=dime se non] if you don't
Vedi che io See that I
Sono sempre Am always
Qui X te Here for you
Massimo notes that X means "per"--that is, "for"--a custom that derives from the way Italians learn their multiplication tables: 2 X 2 is recited "due per due."
|A Garbatella manifesto|
ora che 6 con me now that you're with me
io vivo questo attimo I live this moment
io vivo fino in fondo I live fully [to the end of time?]
con te with you
Here "6" means "you are" because, in Italian, "6" and "you are" are both spelled and
And our final example:
Prego..non guarda Please do not look [see below]
..Nella mia testa Into my most personal thoughts
Ce un mondo da
Ignorare! There is a world to ignore
28.10.11 Ti Amo October 28, 2011 I love you
Massimo suggests that this poem might have been penned by a non-native Italian: in the second line, "non guarda" should be "non guardare." Or perhaps the letters "re" are on the white curb and not visible--or the author ran out of space.
When we found this last poem, it had been on the sidewalk for about 8 months--obviously written with indelible paint.