Goodbye Via Alessandrina

This post is a reflection on a road which from the 16th century until recently traversed the Imperial Fora in central Rome. It wasn’t a great road like Via Giulia, and in fact in recent years it was often closed, abandoned, overgrown. But like any road it was a connection, it offered a path for people in the city. Until the 1930s it was the central artery of the Quartiere …

Transition

As the coronavirus lockdown continues into its second month in Italy the mood has changed from the early collective sense of urgency and participation to a more reflective consideration of what could happen next. It is much easier to focus on the present and to repeat the mantras of “stay home” and “wash your hands” than it is to envision the world as it will change when the immediate medical …

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.

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 …

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 …