Conversations on Rome and Architecture

As part of my teaching for the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Rome Program in Architecture this year I have worked hard to bring as many voices as possible into the (virtual) classroom. My small group of students, working from home (in California for the most part) are already feeling isolated during these difficult times and listening to me for hours on end isn’t going to solve that. I have …

Piazza Tevere Rising

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 …

Learning from Afar

As an American living in the heart of Rome (for almost thirty years now) and involved in teaching and travel consulting, the changes that I’ve seen since the start of the year and their impact on me have been enormous. In February I was scouting a program in the southern Italy and heard people on the Naples subway jokingly commenting about the Asian tourists they saw and the disease they …

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 …

Pandemic in Rome

Lockdown

Italy has been in the headlines and the attention of the world is focused on the European country with the most (though not the first) cases of the Covid-19 virus. We have an excellent public health care system and the medical profession moved quickly to extend Coronavirus testing wherever there was suspicion of outbreaks (one of the reasons for the particularly high numbers of positive results). For a country famed for often …

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.

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 …

Jane’s Walk Rome

Last Sunday a small group of intrepid walkers, some from La Sapienza where I teach, joined me in commemorating the great urban thinker Jane Jacobs by exploring Rome’s Tiburtino and Nomentana neighborhoods. I had designed a similar walk years ago as part of a series I dubbed “ecological itineraries.” The idea, in keeping with the mission of the annual world-wide Jane’s Walks events, is to walk the city as an act of …