domenica 20 luglio 2014

Testaccio, the cultural district of Rome

Yesterday I pinned all the travel posts I wrote so far on a Google map and with this map I replaced the old "label" list (which was becoming way too long to be considered a simple way to browse the blog). 
While doing so, I noticed that between one urban safari across the most unconventional neighborhoods of Rome and a graffiti hunting through the suburbs, I almost never wrote about those neighborhoods where I am more likely hanging out, because they are closer to my office, to my place or to my best friends' place, those neighborhoods where my routine Real Life is mostly located and therefore they are not “exotic” to me, which happens to be the reason I wasn't never too enthusiastic to write about them. 
But I can always fix that, right?
And so, after showing you Garbatella neighborhood, this time we will have a walk across Testaccio, another neighborhood very close to my office where I happen to hang out often. 

former slaughterhouse in Testaccio, Rome
former slaughterhouse in Testaccio, Rome
testaccio, rome

testaccio, rome

My favourite place in Testaccio is the Protestant Cemetery, where Keats, Shelley as well as many other artists and poets rest in peace. As you can guess, it is a very peaceful and relaxing place and as all cemeteries in the Protestant tradition it is conceived as a garden (at least the most ancient part). 

protestant cemetery in testaccio, rome

It might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place” wrote Shelley, not long before he was buried here. 

The Protestant Cemetery is located behind the Pyramid Cestia, which also marks the beginning of Testaccio neighborhood. 

pyramid cestia rome
Just in front of the entrance of the Cemetery there is one of my favourite secret spot in Rome; it is just a little alley leading to via Marmorata, but I have always found it extremely romantic and -given my fetish for artsy lofts- I especially love the first yard on the right, where you will find this beautiful artist's studio: 

artist's studio testaccio

Another thing I really like to do in Testaccio is entering its many courtyards, some of whose are still a meeting point and sometimes a playground for local kids as they were during the industrial development of Ostiense area when all these typical council houses were built. 

testaccio, rome

My favorite ones are along via Volta, while the most important ones from the historic and architectural points of view are along via Marmorata (n° 131 – 149, the Sabbatini-Costantini complex, built between 1929 and 1930) and on Piazza Maria Liberatrice (the Pirani-Bellucci complex, built in 1917). 

testaccio, rome

testaccio, rome

As many former working-class districts, Testaccio is now considered part of the historic centre of Rome as it gained new life during the past decades, especially night life. 

The artistic soul of Testaccio is pretty prominent too: here you can find one of my favorite art galleries in town, 999Contemporary, which also takes care of some major street art interventions in the neighborhood, such as the mural by the Belgian artist ROA at the end of via Galvani. 

ROA street art testaccio rome
ROA at work!
But the ultimate cultural project of Testaccio is the re-qualification of the former slaughterhouse, a vast complex of wings and pavillions covering an area of 25.000 sqm. Now it hosts the Architecture Faculty of Roma Tre University, the contemporary art museum MACRO Testaccio (the son of MACRO in via Nizza) and La Pelandra, where I just visited the current street art exhibition Urban Legends

Raffaella Carrà by C215 - Urban Legends Exhibition - La Pelandra, Rome
Raffaella Carrà by C215 - Urban Legends Exhibition - La Pelandra, Rome
Still within the ex-slaughterhouse complex there is La Città dell'Altra Economia (town of a different economy), which right now hosts the summer music festival EUTROPIA, where last Tuesday I attended a Goran Bregovic concert! :) And there you find some beautiful street art too! 

Alice, street art, città dell'altra economia, roma
Alice @ Città dell'Altra Economia
Last thing you really can't miss when visiting the former slaughterhouse complex is the amazing view from the top of Big Bamboo, a MACRO Testaccio installation of thousands of pieces of bamboo connected and interlocked, reaching a height of 25 meters! It has been created by two American artists, Mike and Doug Starn, and you can climb it for free and enjoy a breath-taking view from above. 

view from Big Bamboo, testaccio, rome

view from Big Bamboo, testaccio, rome

Eating out in Testaccio: 

Mordi & Vai, the ultimate sandwich bar in Rome, my favorite place to grab a quick sandwich stuffed with a Roman traditional recipe. It won't be a light lunch, but definitely a tasty one!

mordi e vai, mercato testaccio, food

La Creperie di Testaccio is a nice bistrot where you can have both salty and sweet crepes, as well as ethnic meals.

...and for your night cup: 

Tram Depot, where you can order your drink at an old tram transformed into a cocktail bar and enjoy it in the open air garden.

tram depot, cocktail bar, testaccio, roma

Oasi della Birra, only for beer lovers. 


Which are your favorite spots in Testaccio?

Let me know in the comments area below! 


martedì 15 luglio 2014

Burro & Alici, Franciacorta & beyond

I arrived at Burro & Alici in the early afternoon. The courtyard was especially sunny and the long table under the porch, together with the colourful chairs, was screaming both summer and seaside, even if Pasquale and Gaetano Torrente's new restaurant is far away from their hometown Cetara on the Amalfi Coast, but it opened in the farthest north of Italy, halfway between Bergamo and Brescia, in the renowned wine region Franciacorta.

Burro & Alici, Gaetano e Pasquale Torrente, Franciacorta, Italy, food

The kitchen was closed and so, after a glass of sparkling wine, I decided to go for the next thing I love more after good food: on exploration of the beautiful surrounding area, which is full of interesting places to discover, from the historical towns of Bergamo and Brescia, to Lake Iseo and all those pretty villages within Franciacorta wine region.

BURRO & ALICI, in ERBUSCO (BS)

Dinner at Burro & Alici was exquisite. 

Burro & Alici, Gaetano e Pasquale Torrente, Franciacorta, Italy, food

The atmosphere of the restaurant is homey and genuine, with the caption "Locanda di Mare" re-evoking a simple cuisine and the sea. I had paccheri with anchovies, anchovies with provola cheese, anchovies meatballs with pine nuts and raisin, tuna steak with stewed vegetables, rum baba and figs pie... no need to say it was an especially delicious dinner!

Burro & Alici, Gaetano e Pasquale Torrente, Franciacorta, Italy, food

Burro & Alici, Gaetano e Pasquale Torrente, Franciacorta, Italy, food

Burro & Alici, Gaetano e Pasquale Torrente, Franciacorta, Italy, food

The restaurant itself is extremely cute, with a sunny courtyard, a bar where you can taste the best of Italian sparkling wines and three colourful rooms.

Burro & Alici Restaurant is in Erbusco, a small village of nearly 8.000 inhabitants well-known for the production of the renowed DOCG Franciacorta sparkling wine. 

erbusco, franciacorta, italy, sparkling wine

I had a nice walk across its characteristic alleys admiring both its stone buildings and the elegant historic mansions of noble families from Brescia and Milan.

erbusco, franciacorta, italy, sparkling wine

erbusco, franciacorta, italy, sparkling wine

erbusco, franciacorta, italy, sparkling wine

What else can you visit before or after a delicious meal at Burro & Alici?

ISEO (BS)

Iseo is a nice village on the south-eastern lakefront of Lake Iseo, still part of the Franciacorta region. I arrived just in time for a relaxing walk along the lake on the sunset, which reminded me of several summer evenings spent strolling with my family in a similar background: elders chatting on a bench while few of them were fishing, families strolling on the lakefront, the smell of grilled meat coming out from the many restaurants in front of the lake and vintage speakers all around the village radiating some Italian popular songs from the ‘70s, those cross-generations songs everybody knowns -and whistle. The lake was magnificent, nested calm among high mountains (which are the beginning of Alps mountain range) and radiating a spectacularly warm sunset light.

lake iseo, italy

lake iseo, italy

lake iseo, italy

lake iseo, italy

After the sun went down, I adventured into the inner part of the village, discovering hidden courtyards and secret alleys, fascinated by all those rough and scraped walls just few streets away from the fancy town center. 

lake iseo, italy

lake iseo, italy

lake iseo, italy

lake iseo, italy


BERGAMO

I have the whole town at my feet; its red roofs, its bell towers, its tree-lined avenues, its domes... I can see all Bergamo until the airport, with its planes too far to be heard. What I hear, instead, is the cicada sound and the wind passing through the leafage of the panoramic avenue. Bergamo already sounds amazing to me, even before stepping into its upper city -Bergamo Alta, the historic centre of Bergamo, surrounded by Venetian walls built in the 17th century- and anyway why shouldn't, if only for this amazing view?

Bergamo Alta, Italy

From the panoramic road, I entered Bergamo Alta and wandered across its paved streets, which were surprisingly crowded with tourists! But I didn't find it difficult to avoid them simply by entering some lateral alley, taking some charming stairs leading to secret squares and walking under some archade until a more original point of view from which admire this beautiful town, whose beauty is just the same as it was four centuries ago. 

Bergamo Alta, Italy

Bergamo Alta, Italy

Bergamo Alta, Italy

Bergamo Alta, Italy

Actually I couldn't stop marveling at how, simply turning around a corner, I happened to discover a church or a bell tower peeping from behind an ancient building; the concentration of Bergamo cultural heritage is pretty impressive and the upper town itself looks as a fairytale village... I can’t help wonder how beautiful its skyline can be when seen from the valley on a foggy day!  

Bergamo Alta, Italy

Bergamo Alta, Italy

Bergamo Alta, Italy

Bergamo Alta, Italy

BRESCIA

Brescia is sunny and colourful, dynamic and multiethnic... so far from the idea I somehow had of this town of the north! It is elegant and clean, of course, but still very lively and with several charming ancient corners. 

brescia, italy

brescia, italy

brescia, italy

I stopped in Brescia just for a couple of hours waiting for my connecting train and I regret I didn't have the time to explore it further 'cause from what I saw -mostly the colourful area around the farmers' market- it is definitely worth a longer visit!  

brescia, italy

brescia, italy

brescia, italy


You can see more pictures from this nice weekend in the farthest north on my Instagram account and on Blocal facebook page.
I have also recorded some video material, I will try to edit a couple of travel videos from it...stay tuned! 



////////// MORE ABOUT ITALY //////////



While wishing to move abroad again, I cheer myself up going out of town as often as possible, visiting many different sites of one of the most beautiful countries of the world: Italy.



Here what I wrote so far (from north to south):









Torino Mon Amour! I've been working in Turin for almost 3 years, but sadly I wrote very little about this beautiful town: a love confession, a post about San Salvario (the neighbourhood where I was living), an alternative walk in the suburbs and a graffiti hunting, then it suddenly arrived the moment of saying goodbye -but also later on a reunion trip (impressions and pictures) || PIEMONTE






Eating out in Udine, when I was there for Keith Haring's exhibition || FRIULI-VENEZIA GIULIA



Trieste || FRIULI-VENEZIA GIULIA









Relaxing in the Chiantishire || TOSCANA
Discovering lake Trasimeno and its enchanting villages part 1 - part 2 || UMBRIA















My summer holiday in Sicily: part 1 and part 2 || SICILIA

lunedì 14 luglio 2014

European street-art stands up against deep-sea bottom trawling

Just a quick post to share few pictures I took today at the Deep Street Art event in Rome, a live performance which took place simultaneously across Europe involving seven towns (Rome, London, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Lisbon, Biarritz) and as many street artists to make aware of deep-sea bottom trawling as the most destructive fishing method of all. 
The even has been organized by Bloom Association, a non-profit organization working for marine conservation and protection of sustainable fisheries. 
The appointment was in front of the Ministry of Agroculture with JB Rock, a street artist from Rome popular for his "Wall of Fame" in via dei Magazzini Generali (Ostiense neighbourhood). 
Here some pics from today's performance: 





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