Delight of Discovery: Free Art in Rome

There is a side to every city that Tourists miss. Often it’s a side Locals spend time commuting, biking or running through. In New York City, it’s Riverside Park north of 90th street in the Upper West Side. In Rome, I dare say it’s the Tiber River.

While I was a first time tourist in Rome, Bello was returning to a city he had once called home. Since his compass pointed true, I was free to wander with childlike curiosity, taking everything in. After visiting the Vatican, we headed towards Trastevere for lunch.

With Bello’s gentle nudge and “over here Piccola,” we dodged foot traffic and street noise by descending heavily graffitied  steps. On reaching the bottom, the air cooled, the noise ceased and Rome magically vanquished all lost souls nose deep in Fodor’s. We were among Romans, riding, strolling and walking by their fair flowing Flavus “the blond,” The Tiber River.

Bello Leading the Way
Bello Leading the Way

The walls along Tiber River are tall, throwing shade that relaxed our gate to a slow amble. A couple in love, holding hands we had stopped to kiss when I spotted a scene from La Dolce Vita larger than life behind the love of my life. A poetic moment to say the least, I pointed with excitement oblivious to what was about to unfold in front of us.

Fellini's La Dolce Vita
Fellini’s La Dolce Vita

Artists Kristin Jones and William Kentridge partnered with Non-profit TEVERETERNO to create a free Art Exhibit Alfresco aimed at revitalizing Tiber River’s Urban waterfront park. Stretching 500 meters (about the length of 5 football fields) the Contemporary Art Exhibit snuck up on us. It had launched just 10 days before our arrival and was an unplanned serendipitous discovery.

Delighted enough with the first find on came the next, then another scene and by the third, I was riveted. I recall murmuring “I think this must be some kind of an art installation” earning back my Tourist badge.

William Kentridge's “Triumphs and Laments”
William Kentridge’s “Triumphs and Laments”

Yes, yes it is some kind of Art Exhibit, my favorite kind. One that’s beautiful despite Artistic ignorance. An exhibit that leaves you asking questions, wishing you knew more. How was this done? Who did this? What does THAT one mean?

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On returning to our hotel later that night, I summoned societies shared Google brain and received my answers. The most fascinating part for me, was the How. Each picture was created through “reverse graffiti” or power-washing over a stencil. I couldn’t help thinking, that’s one big stencil!

Kentridge's “Triumphs and Laments”
Kentridge’s “Triumphs and Laments”

Eventually, this art will fade as pollution and grime reclaim their space in the heart of Rome. While our discovery was unplanned, based on the enjoyment it brought, here are two things I would recommend planning now:

  1. When in Rome, go see “Triumphs and Laments” before it fades.
  2. When Roaming a new city, find out where the locals run. You’re bound to see the reason the real city, the reason to all it home.

References: 

Additional Bloggers Stories of Discovering “Triumphs and Laments”

 

 

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