When I was a child, I used to spend all my summer holidays at my grandparents' house in Nepi, a little village near Viterbo (Lazio). For three long –and somehow exhausting- months my whole world was relegated to the house's garden; obviously I didn't like to go to the countryside, because once there I was trapped and I remember I was always longing for some car-equipped adult to bring me outside the place, even if only to do the grocery at the village.
Time passed and since I've got my own driving license every visit to my grandparents’ house in Nepi is full of surprises, as I’m getting to know the surrounding area of Tuscia, with the beautiful town of Viterbo and many enchanting villages from the Etruscan time, the unspoiled countryside and several beautiful lakes (such as Lake Martignano or Lake Vico) perfect to escape the beach crowd during the summer; and I must say that this beautiful area of central Italy is really underrated!
And so, after my visit to Bomarzo and its "Monster Park", this time I drove around the area of Viterbo looking for ghost towns and abandoned places.
Street art, by definition, is “in the streets”; urban spaces are its framework and murals are for everybody passing by, a gift to the community. But what happens when the street art leaves the street to enter an art gallery? Is it still street art or does it turn into something else? And if it changes, what does it become?
Every Roman art gallery specializing in street art has faced this dilemma, coming up with its own solution of this tricky matter: from making the gallery’s white walls available to the artists for site-specific works to challenging them to paint on canvas, or even by sponsoring huge murals in the gallery’s neighborhood, Rome’s street art galleries have committed themselves to spreading the message that Art is Art, whatever the framework.
Last year I published a post about my graffiti hunt in Arcidosso, a medieval village near Grosseto (Tuscany). As I got a great feedback on that post, I thought to share more information about this colourful summer festival, asking to the guys behind Alterazioni Festival a few questions about their project, especially regarding the street art theme.
Enjoy the interview!
Here we are at the last post of this Athens series, wrapping up my amazing trip to the capital of Greece. Before going to Athens, I wrote that my “mission” would have been to investigate how Balkan is Athens and now I can say that, despite an initial scepticism, I found a lot of Balkan vibes in Athens indeed. Food markets, bazaars, kiosks, shoe-shine men and vendors on the streets… you will spot the Balkan side of Athens just strolling around the city centre; for a further investigation, you can attend a live music concert, look for the Ottoman architectural heritage or eat at one of the many street food kiosks, where you will find the best Balkan recipes and –it goes without saying- the ubiquitous meat.
But the Balkan feature I’ve been especially happy to find in Athens is the warm, welcoming attitude of its inhabitants: everybody was extremely nice with me, from providing me with very detailed information on where to find street art in Athens, to suggesting me traditional restaurants where to try the best of Greek cuisine, or introducing me to a local street artist and arranging an interview…without considering the countless times I’ve been helped to find an address or to catch the tram in the right direction!
Ok, enough with rambling, let’s review few more places in this very welcoming town.
Athens is a motley town: each neighborhood has its own characteristic traits and atmosphere, a distinctive soul you can breath with a simple walk across its streets. Downtown Athens can be easily explored by walk, strolling from one district to another in less than few hours, leaving you the time to jump on a train or a bus and head to a suburban area. I really liked Athens’ suburbs and I was amazed by that fact that it didn’t take me long to get there: in fact, Athens public transport is really well-structured, which allowed me to explore so many areas of Athens in just one week, with an efficiency that could not have been possible in –let’s say- Rome.
…which unfortunately, this year, I will miss! :-(
(but I won’t miss the opportunity to ramble about how much I love Slovenia, and so… here we go!)
Kurentovanje is the traditional Carnival festival taking place in Ptuj, the oldest city of Slovenia located in the North-Eastern area of the country. When I was living in Slovenia, Ptuj was one of my favourite day-trip destinations: next to a beautiful lake (Ptujsko Jezero), Ptuj has many interesting churches and monasteries, a Castle, Slovenia’s oldest wine cellar, a great thermal spa (Terme Ptuj), lots of storks nesting on its red roofs and, during this time of the year, the coolest carnival ever!
Athens, street view, is a very colourful town: posters, installations, kiosks and a lot of street art (a lot! Really!), including several large outdoor murals.
Some of them were possible thanks to many creative projects undergone by the Athens Municipality (especially before the Olympic Games of 2004) which involved some major local street artists, often coming straight from the Athens School of Fine Arts (which runs a programme of street art studies, by the way).
If this effort of beautifying the city is the sparkle which transformed Athens’ street art from a niche subculture into something the whole town can relate to, the economical crisis is the fuel which made Athens’ street art grow and evolve.
Nowadays the scenario is that of a town full of (colour-washed) energy: graffiti hunting around Athens can reveal both large, colourful and majestically painted murals and rebellious, most spontaneous and protest-driven street art, sort of “social messages” on walls; and the most amazing thing is that often the same talented street artist could be making both.
From the very heart of the Mediterranean basin, Greek cuisine is made up of a wide variety of dishes mirroring the long history, the variegated landscape and the crossroads’ nature of this country. From my personal experience in Athens Greek cuisine is full of meat (it was literally everywhere!) as traditional fish dishes are more likely to be found on the islands, vegetables and tasty savory pies (tyropita –the one with cheese- and spanakopita –filled with spinach- a.k.a. the Greek version on my beloved Balkan burek). Wandering around downtown Athens you will find plenty of nice restaurants, taverns and cafés: here is a selection of my favourite ones!
Καλή σας όρεξη!
Enjoy your meal!
Stamatis loves Toulouse-Lautrec, Rembrandt and Dalì, but also fellow street artists such as Blu, Roa and the Greek artist Alexandros Vasmoulakis.
Walking around downtown Athens you will surely notice his paste-up works: large and colorful sketches of children’s expressive faces.
Thanks to a common friend, I had the chance to meet Stamatis while I was in Athens and we had an interesting talk about his art and the overall Athens’ street art scene.