On Overtourism

Yesterday I took a train to a small town outside of Rome to spend the day with my son who recently moved there. Descending, I notice a number of passengers greeted in English by a smiling hostess. “Are you here for the wine tour?” Soon a dozen mostly Americans (a fact gleaned from the “where are you from?” chatter I heard in passing) were following her up into the town. They probably had a great experience and tasted some lovely wines, but it left me reflecting on the problem of “turistificazione”, a term I had just read in an article about airbnb and its effects on our cities.

Winter in Rome – 3 Reasons

Any season has its reason, and every city shines under different lights at different times. Aside from whether or not that really means anything, Rome is worth visiting, even (especially?) in winter. Here are three reasons and a bunch more photos to explain why. 1. Far Fewer Tourists If you think of yourself as a tourist when you come to Rome, you might note the irony of trying to avoid …

A Rome away from Rome

On Sunday I went out on my bike with the intention of filling some pages in a little sketchbook, pages that have been empty for too long. Somehow I found myself leaving Italy to enter Vatican City, inside St. Peter’s Basilica for the first time in years. I live less than a mile from Pope Francis but it is rare that I drop in on his little nation. The few …

A Modern Itinerary in Eastern Rome

On a recent architectural walk we stopped in to visit Villa Torlonia, ducking out of a downpour just in time to take shelter in the grand palace. Remodeled by Valadier in the early 19th century for Prince Torlonia (and later inhabited by Benito Mussolini), today this well-restored building hosts a beautiful collection of neoclassical arts and crafts and, on the second floor, a collection of Scuola Romana paintings.When the rain …

Spring Explorations

I actually suggested to friends the other day that there should be a special tax on visitors to Rome in April and early May. The city is just too beautiful this time of year. Flowers bursting into bloom, bird songs, crisp mornings and warm midday sun, vibrant evenings, the energy of new exhibits planned over winter months, a host of cultural events, artichokes. To relieve the potential guilt of experiencing …

Studio Rome

Join our small group (no more than six), off-the-beaten-track workshops. Hands-on experience working with maps and measurements, timelines and time travel. The geographic area we cover is between Castel Sant’Angelo and Piazza Navona The historic periods run from the Etruscans to today’s Romans. These walks are carefully choreographed but, as Rome is unpredictable, they are also inevitably improvisational. Signing up for the Studio Rome workshop unlocks a whole world of …

Rome’s Tiber “Beach”

Rivers are amazing resources for cities, but they need ideas, projects and above all maintenance and regulation. With the localized exception of Piazza Tevere with site-specific art projects such as William Kentridge’s Triumphs and Laments,  Rome has had none of these for years.  So I was happy to hear word of the city’s plans to make a riverfront beach resort, Tiberus, in the abandoned Marconi area. It opened late this summer (the delays …