What’s on in Rome this Summer

People have been writing to ask me about special events around Rome this summer, so here is my hastily drafted list of a few exhibits I’ve seen recently.

Again this year contemporary art appears amidst the ruins of the imperial palaces on Rome’s Palatine Hill, with the exhibit Da Duchamp a Cattelan. Part of the regular admission to the Forum/Palatine/Colosseum sites (€12, daily from 8:30 until 18ish), in the courtyards and rooms of the Severan arches and Domitianic palace, works by Marina Abramović, Gino De Dominicis, Marcel Duchamp, Gilbert & George, Joseph Kosuth, Barbara Kruger, Richard Long, Allan McCollum, Vettor Pisani, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Remo Salvadori, Mario Schifano and Mauro Staccioli feature side by side with leading artists of the younger generations such as Mario Airò, Maurizio Cattelan, Anya Gallaccio, Cai Guo-Qiang, Claudia Losi, Paul McCarthy, Sisley Xhafa, Vedovamazzei and Luca Vitone, together with pieces by designers and architects such as Ugo La Pietra, Gianni Pettena and Denis Santachiara. Please don’t even think about attending the trash rock opera Nerone in the eco-mostro nearby, should they win their lawsuit and perform.

Until the end of July a large retrospective of New York street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat fills the Chiostro di Bramante. A greater contrast could not be imagined, but the curators have managed to recreate the world of the New York City subway in the Renaissance cloister’s rooms, as a suitable backdrop for the artist who died of an overdose at age 27. (I had just been to see Caravaggio and Raphael in the nearby Sant’Agostino and couldn’t help think how many artists die prematurely.) The exhibit, from the Mugrabi Collection, contains 100 works: acrylics and oils, drawings, important collaborative works with Andy Warhol, silkscreen prints and ceramics produced between 1981 and 1987. Save time for the wonderful caffè in the cloister.

Nearby, on the other side of Piazza Navona, in the beautiful Palazzo Braschi, a massive exhibit called Piranesi. La fabbrica dell’utopia is well worth a visit. Although I had seen most of these in Venice at the Fondazione Cini a few years ago, it was great to see the Carcere (prison paintings), the Campo Marzio fantasies, the Vedute, the architectural details, and even some built pieces based on the 18th century architect’s designs. The 3D fly through can be skipped. A special treat: several fragments of the Marble Plan from the Severan age are on display. Website only in Italian (same for the official city tourist website; why is it so hard to translate these into the common language of a majority of the visitors?)

Finally, before it is too late, be sure to see William Kentridge’s Triumphs and Laments frieze, produced from the South African artist’s drawings by selectively cleaning the walls of the Tiber embankment. Inaugurated in April 2016, this historic piece will gradually disappear back into nature so see it while it is there. Between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini, on the Tiber Embankment walls below Trastevere, open 24/7.

For summer drinking and dining, I’m not a big fan of the quality-challenged stands along the river’s edge, but there are now a couple of excellent options near the Tiber above water level.

Piano Strada has opened in the hip location formerly belonging to ZOC, just off of Ponte Sisto on the Via Giulia side. Serving good local food with a creative flair in a young setting. Via delle Zoccolette 22

Borgo Ripa in the garden of the Doria Pamphilj property at Santa Maria in Capella in Trastevere. You enter through the gate on Lungotevere Ripa, 3 to find this lovely garden restaurant complex, containing both a hip bar/aperitivo location and a fine resaurant (run by Luciano whose bar we have been going to for years). Borgo Ripa also contains a hostel and a hotel.

Finally, if you want a rooftop aperitivo experience near the Tiber, go to the top of Dom Hotel, a 5 star luxury hotel set in a 17th Century aristocratic palace along the Via Giulia, in the heart of Renaissance Rome.  Via Giulia 131

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