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 …

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 …

New Underground Rome

I got a chance to check out the new metro station just before it opened to the public on Saturday. Absolutely spectacular! The finds on display tell the story of Rome through stratigraphy (graphically marked with a clear indication of level below modern ground), chronology (with key dates popping up as you descend) and themes (color coding of themes dear to Sustainable Rome readers: water, reuse, etc.). The lighting is …

A Day in the Dig

Here is a short video I made at the excavation I am working on this summer in the Roman Forum, with ISAR (The International Society for Archaeology, Art and Architecture of Rome) www.isarome.org If you know anyone interested in supporting our fundraising efforts, and leaving a positive mark on ancient Rome,  please pass on the link. http://isarome.org/donate

Once in a While, Orvieto

Rome is great, especially in the spring, but once in a while I find an excuse to escape to Orvieto, in southern Umbria, one of the closest cities to Rome that has managed to free its historic center from automobiles. Once was on our honeymoon; although we were directed to Firenze we got a late start and Orvieto seemed a nice town along the way. The last time, a few …

Discovering the Prati-Trionfale Neighborhood

The Prati-Trionfale neighborhood is a bustling European-feeling part of Rome. Apart from the ever-present Vatican City (technically not in Prati or even in Italy) and Castel Sant’Angelo, there is not much in the way of cultural highlights to attract people here. Instead, Prati thrives on business and daily life and this can be a welcome respite from the Stendhal syndrome which strikes the visitor exhausted from seeing a famous monument at every …

Just Outside Rome: Hill Towns and Aqueducts

The countryside around Rome, while not quite as picturesque as Tuscany or Umbria, is rich with fascinating destinations for exploration — and eating. This weekend I drove out to visit my friends Jenny and Umberto in Palestrina and was rewarded with an in-depth tour of one of the most densely layered towns in Lazio: from prehistoric settlements (now lost),  alleged Pelasgian roots evidenced by massive walls of opus poligonale,  and most importantly the imposing sanctuary of Fortuna, all …

Trastevere East: Resolving a Dysfunctional Site

This semester I have tasked my students from the Cal Poly Architecture Program with studying a neighborhood of Rome that has always fascinated me, Trastevere East, opposite Ponte Palatino. After years of looking at unwieldy and problematic sites, from Porta Portese to Testaccio to the Fori Imperiali archaeological park, I decided to move back to the historic center, to focus on the dense urban fabric that makes Rome great. I …