The photo above is of a section of the Lungotevere, the multi-lane street along the Tiber (here, the east bank, going upstream). The street looks nearly empty here, but that's only because we waited until the traffic had cleared to dash into the street to take the photo. Just behind us, to the right, a hundred cars and scootes are waiting for the light to change. The building on the right is Richard Meier's "box" for the Ara Pacis, an ancient treasure. The box is not popular with many Romans, for understandable, if not universally shared, reasons. (See Dianne's caveat at the end of this post.) It cost $25 million, a lot of money for a storage container. It diminishes the nearby churches. It clashes with the Mussolini-era buildings that line two sides of the Piazza Augusto Imperatore (see an earlier post where we listed that much-maligned piazza as #9 on our RST Top 40 list - see list at right). And it sits too close to the Lungotevere.
That last complaint is about to be addressed--by another controversial project. As we understand it, the authorities are proposing to create a piazza on the Tiber side of the building, right where the traffic now flows--just beyond the people standing in the left of the photo. This will allow tourists and other visitors to the box to step out into the piazza and enjoy a view of the river below. Not a bad idea. But what's to be done with the cars, trucks, and scooters?
|The Passeggiata di Ripetta, view|
from the north end of the Ara Pacis
Even now, most of the traffic exits the Lungotevere right after the Ara Pacis, passing down a busy, two-lane brick road that eventually bypasses Piazza del Popolo. As the traffic descends on this brick road, it streams cheek-by-jowl along the Passeggiata di Ripetta, which carries traffic the other direction (south) and emerges at the Ara Pacis. On the photo at right, you can see the Passeggiata di Ripetta, as it skirts the Ara Pacis, which is behind the photographer in this view.
|Looking north on the Passeggiata di Ripetta|
|Protests from apartment dwellers on the Passeggiata |
PS from Dianne - I think more positively of Meier's "box" than does Bill. I was there for its grand opening. Bill and I have climbed up and around and in it (with the managing architect). It's a very popular building site in Rome, and houses a museum. It's among the top 3 visited sites now in Rome, as I recall.