I spent a blissful hour lounging on the banks of the Tiber today, taking in the September sun after several days of rain. I had put off my “site inspection” of the much awaited urban beach but I chose an excellent day to visit.
The recent installation of grass, beach chairs and cafe furniture along the left bank between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini should be seen as a pilot project for future river improvements.
Like any urban riverfront, the Tiber offers an enormous opportunity for urban green, for relaxation and exercise, and for safe outdoor socialization during the pandemic. I’ve always insisted that a central park such as the Tiber (potentially) would soften the experience of tourists overwhelmed by the chaos and crowds, giving them a place to recharge their batteries and prolonging their stays (the principle measure of the tourist economy).
In addition to the chairs and tables, almost 5,000 m2 of lawn have been rolled out, 40 potted plants complete the “green infrastructure” The installation will last until the end of October (25/10/2020) and hopefully be repeated.
The operation carried out by the Ufficio Speciale Tevere di Roma Capitale, coordinated by Agenda Tevere Onlus and designed by Associazione Italiana di Architettura del Paesaggio (AIAPP). Sponsors include Acea, Italgas, Terna, Rainbird, plasticWOOD.it, and Associazione Tevereterno.
While lounging in the sun on a red “sedia sdraio” or deck chair, I called various old friends from the days I helped Tevereterno implement the Triumphs and Laments project. Although 4 years had passed since I stepped down as Director, and William Kentridge’s works were barely visible across the water, it was great to catch up from the public space we all worked so hard to make a reality. I remember thinking on the night of the T&L inauguration that this piece of riverfront would never be the same, imagining its new attractiveness due to the international spotlight. It took a while, as everything in Rome does, but that vision has finally come true.