309.85 miles is the amount I walked during my 3 month stay in Italy. This may not sound so impressive; it’s roughly 3.5 miles a day. But I work from home. I don’t get out much during the week. My iPhone registered a total of 17 steps one day! 17! Which I promise is not accurate. But I try to make up for my sedentary lifestyle on the weekends. And in a new place this means grid walking – usually in search of street art. This time… Rome Street Art.
I’m not sure why but I wasn’t expecting much from the urban arts scene in Rome. Probably because I’ve been conditioned by my husband. He jokes about the need for lowered expectations. I’d like to believe it wasn’t so much aiming low, but rather we were just extremely busy. Tying up loose ends before we hit the air for our one year Euro Tour. [#spearseurotour2016 !!] I didn’t have time to think about what we’d be doing in Rome. Just that we needed to get there.
ROME STREET ART PROJECTS
So, fast forward three months and I’ve walked and discovered the art. It’s not hard to find. There are a few projects underway in the city helping to produce many of the pieces. Probably the most well-known is Big City Life in the Tor Marancia neighborhood. The project was curated by 999Contemporary gallery and brought 22 international artists to the ‘neglected’ neighborhood. The murals, painted on the sides of a cluster of apartment buildings, are intended to beautify and transform a residential area into a contemporary art district. It’s a little outside centro Roma, and barren by way of other noteworthy attractions, but easily accessible by bus if you’re keen to make the trip. You won’t be disappointed by the art and will probably be accompanied by a dozen other visitors [all equipped with very impressive cameras].
999Contempary also has a part in drawing attention to the area between Piramide and San Paolo – the Ostiense District. A once booming industrial neighborhood, these giant factories provide the perfect canvas for large-scale murals. Not a typical ‘tourist’ destination, but the area is gaining popularity with its high concentration of street art. Added Bonus: visit Centrale Montemartini – a museum situated in a defunct power plant which takes discarded, ancient Greek & Roman sculptures and places them next to the looming remains of industry. The contrast is captivating.
An ongoing project established by local street artist, Diavù, is the Museo di Urban Art di Roma (MURo) – there’s no brick and mortar building but rather an open-air collection of murals. It’s citywide but many of the pieces can be found in the Quadraro & Torpignattara neighborhoods. Through social media and public meetings, Diavù works with residents to agree on artists and, other than himself, the project appears to be free of curators, funders, or sponsors.
San Basilio is a suburb in northern Rome. Locals don’t often venture this way and as a visitor you’re unlikely to ever go near it… unless you’re searching street art. A project is underway in the area, Sanba, and carries some deep social and civil goals as San Basilio has a bad rep for crime and loose morals. Sanba brings an introduction of art and workshops into the schools, community, and the streets. The project is curated by WALLS, a Rome based organization, which is founded on the principle that art is a tool for interaction. Sanba is two-fold in that it’s hosting contemporary workshops with students of all ages – including screen printing workshops – and creating beautification within the neighborhood. The project remains a work in progress which attempts to reactivate and strengthen the residents. There’s a real feel good aspect of Sanba and reminds me very much of the work of Swoon and other artists in Braddock, PA.
I was fortunate to stumble upon Galleria Varsi. In all honesty, the husband found it and we visited for the soft opening of the Pixel Pancho gallery show, Androidèi [amazing, by the way!]. But what we learned by visiting is that the gallery curates some work around Roma. Basically, if an artist is presenting in their gallery you should expect to see a mural go up. I want to put a small plug in for them because I thought they were unpretentious and super chill. If you have some extra time while in Roma, stop by and see what they’re up to.
Finding Rome street art was easy and, in part, it’s because the city has decided to fully support the movement; essentially stating it’s the new, free museum in town. The city produced a street art map that you can pick up at the tourism office [or download HERE] with the catchy slogan: ‘Change Perspective. The street is your new museum.’. And there’s also a Roma Street Art app which I utilized heavily. While the app was great it’s not all encompassing. So, my friends, I’m going to help you out. Big time. Take my GOOGLE MAP and use it. I’ve added a lot more than the app currently has and tried to separate by project. If you find any updates, pieces no longer there or wrong location, please comment and let me know!
Part of my flickr gallery is below – scroll through for inspiration or just out of curiosity. Happy Grid Walking! 🙂