Cool Italian Street Art from The Drawing Bike


Rachele del Nevo parks her bike every day on the corner of Piazza Della Rotonda within view of the Pantheon. It is here, right outside of Tazza D’Oro (one of the city’s best known coffee shops) that she sells her one-of-a-kind souvenir drawings of some of the city’s gorgeous landmarks.

When I chatted with her one morning, I thumbed through the artwork stuffed into the basket of her Drawing Bike. There were large illustrations of obelisks and small drawings of details from churches. So many of the drawings were of familiar Roman scenes but they all felt different because of her colorful, pop art style. Rachele’s medium? Marker on cardboard panels, most from the sides of boxes that once held everyday Italian products like laundry soap or pasta.

I was particularly smitten with an illustration of Bernini’s obelisk-topped elephant, a sculpture that sits in a square less than a block from her station. But I would have been happy to take home any one of her panels, some of which integrate brands and logos into common Roman and Italian scenes. She also does made-to-order illustrations. But I doubt you could come up with better ideas than she has already created.

People always talk about Rome being a blend of old and new. But this is really a way to bring the Roman street home with you in a way that is fresh, lightweight—and possibly worth something some day.

Photo of the Day: A Ray of Light in San Giovanni in Laterano

While hundreds wait in lines in the harsh sun to get into Saint Peter’s, the Archbasilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, also known as the Cathedral of Rome, is practically empty. San Giovanni is the oldest and largest papal basilica in Rome, although it has gone through many reconstructions over the years due to earthquakes, fires, and vandalism (by the actual Vandals, in the 5th century).

Admission to San Giovanni in Laterano is free. But you can purchase a ticket to visit the 13th century cloister, located through a door to the left of the altar, and the Scala Santa and Sancta Sanctorum (the Holy Stairs and Holy Sanctum, located across the street), one of the most important sites of pilgrimage outside of Vatican City.

The Pantheon On Pentecost Sunday

Pantheon at Pentecost: Rose Petals

Easter may have come and gone but the ceremonies and spectacles surrounding this holy time continue long after Easter Sunday mass at Saint Peter’s.

Fifty days after Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate Pentecost Sunday, a day when the Holy Spirit is said to come down to earth. Rome celebrates this day by raining rose petals down into the Pantheon through its oculus.

The ancient Pantheon, known since the 7th century as St. Mary and the Martyrs or Santa Maria Rotonda, hosts the event called Pioggia dele Rose (The Rain of Roses) or Pioggia di Petali (The Rain of Petals)  in the afternoon following Pentecost mass. The event is free.

On This Day: ‘La Dolce Vita’ Wins the Cannes Film Festival

Fifty-five years ago today—May 20, 1960—Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Watch “Three Reasons” why this film remains a classic.

For more details on where “La Dolce Vita” was filmed, explore this list of Fellini’s film locations from Rome and Rimini.

Photo of the Day: Mithras in the Vatican

Mithras in the Vatican
Before Christianity became the dominant religion of Rome, many people worshipped Mithras, the pagan God depicted here. Adherents believed that the world was created from the blood of a bull, thus the symbolism here of Mithras slitting the throat of the bull. The scorpion (below the bull’s torso) and a serpent (not pictured on this particular sculpture) represent evil forces in typical depictions of the Mithras story. Behind and to the right of this statue, which comes from Tarquinia, is another, more fully-formed Mithras sculpture group, located in the Vatican Museums’ Animal Room.

I am fascinated by the history of the worship of Mithras and Mithraeums located in Rome and hope to share more about this detail of Roman art history with you in subsequent posts.

Artist Residency in Italy, Fall 2015

If you’re an artist (writer, photographer, etc.), you may be able to get into a residency program in Italy this fall. The nonprofit 33oc.org will host its residency program in Toffia, a small village north of Rome. Cost per artist per month is 250 euros. Follow the link below for more info on the application process and eligibility. Deadline to apply is June 14, 2015.

AUTUMN 2015 RESIDENCY IN ITALY

Source: RU Opportunities | AUTUMN 2015 RESIDENCY IN ITALY

In Rome, Hoteliers In Revolt Over State of the City

On Tuesday, coincidentally Rome’s 2,768th birthday, more than 200 city hoteliers wrote an open letter to Mayor Ignazio Marino about the “embarrassing situation” that the capital is facing.

As reported in La Repubblica, the members of ADA Lazio, headed by Roberto Necci, said that the city is in a state of “filth and degradation” and is not ready for the Holy Jubilee of Mercy, which Pope Francis announced would begin on December 8, 2015. There should also be an influx of tourists traveling south after visiting the Milan Expo, which begins on May 1.

A rough translation from La Repubblica:

“Italians and foreigners who come to town hoping to experience a stay in the style of La Dolce Vita do not find Rome of Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty,” but a capital invaded by illegal stalls of street vendors, mountains of waste in front of the bins and touts offering scams of all kinds. ‘We are very concerned,’ explains Roberto Necci, president and director Ada Lazio Savoy hotel (4 stars), just a few steps from Via Veneto. ‘The image of Rome in international newspapers and websites continues to be associated with degradation and facts such as the chaos of the transport strike in recent days.'”

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Natale di Roma: Rome Celebrates Its Birthday

She Wolf in the Capitoline Museums

Most city foundation stories are pretty straightforward. But the origin story of the city of Rome is more akin to something you would read in a comic book about superheroes.

Today April 21, marks the birthday of Rome (locally called the Natale di Roma). According to city legend, Rome was founded on April 21, 753 B.C. by Romulus. But the entire story is quite complicated.

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The Colosseum, On High and Down Low

"Are you not entertained?" - I couldn't help but ham it up for this once-in-a-lifetime shot! (Note to self: get your roots done!)

One of the things you need to know about touring Rome (and many other places in Italy) is that if you want to see something really special, then you’ll have to pay extra for it by going on a guided tour. While tours can certainly eat into your travel budget, they can also transform a trip into something extraordinary.

I had always wanted to see the dungeons of the Colosseum, those underground niches where once were housed thousands of roaring, barking, gnashing, lumbering wild animals primed for gladiatorial showcases and death matches. The Colosseum dungeons are a gruesome, if not key, part of the Flavian Amphitheater’s history. And the only way anyone can see them today — meaning, walk down into and around them — is by booking a tour with a private guide. This limits the number of visitors into the bowels of stadium, thereby keeping wear and tear on the nearly 2,000-year-old monument to a minimum.

There are a number of reputable tour companies that can take you down into the dungeons (in groups of 12 or fewer). Last month, I was lucky enough to join The Roman Guy, a small but growing tour guide company, as a guest on its Colosseum-Dungeon tour.

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