A visual story about the rebirth of a neighborhood in Rome
Wandering the old and gold neighborhoods of Rome is truly amazing!
The cobblestone streets and the colorful window shutters gently touched by the warm light make it a very cinematic city even during the cold season.
Art lovers will be thrilled to finally see venues like the Vatican Museums, Coliseum, Villa Borghese, and Palazzo Altemps with their own eyes, especially since these places abode hundreds and even thousands of years of history within their walls.
But Rome is much more than that…
Searching for authentic places in my journeys is something I love doing, probably because it gives me a sense of exploration accompanied by the thrill of uncovering a hidden gem.
Most of the times, I wander the streets with no goal in mind, other times I try to find interesting buildings in remote neighborhoods, and there are trips for which I dig much deeper in order to find the most popular places among locals.
I think the time spent on travel research is never wasted, even if it leads nowhere in particular, and that’s because you get to learn a lot of history and details about places you otherwise wouldn’t find out about.
Still, to me, people make a city great and also bring a destination closer to the traveler, but they don’t usually hang out in front of the Coliseum. 🙂
This time, my research led me to the most amazing street art & social project in Rome: Tor Marancia.
Tor Marancia – Great Street Art & Social Project in Rome
Sun is casting its warm rays on us as we hop on the 761 bus line to visit Tor Marancia.
It seems like forever to get there from the city center, but it’s actually no more than a 30 minutes’ bus ride.
From my window seat, I can see how Rome’s glowing facades are gradually replaced by grey apartment buildings, but I take it as a sign that we might be close.
Getting off at the right station is kind of tricky, but I feel we’re in the right place. I see the first art pieces right away, even if the trees are shadowing the facades, and begin searching for the entrance.
Not quite what you’d expect, if you’ve only seen three photos of this place and read nothing about it.
It’s quiet around the apartment buildings, so we contemplate in silence.
Gardens look taken care of, flowers and green spaces all around, and yet there’s a peculiar vibe in the air. It’s a kind of sadness that highly contrasts with my enthusiasm at the sight of these stunning facades.
It looks like all the murals are based on the same concept – a brief illustrated history of painting styles. Some even seem to be reproductions of famous art pieces, and I recognize a fragment from the Sistine Chapel.
I instantly feel there’s more to this place than what first meets the eye, so I naturally get closer to the little inscriptions at the base of each wall to find out more about the authors.
The street artists are from all around the world: US, Australia, UK, Portugal, Germany, Italy, France, Argentina, and even China, and the project is sponsored by Ater del Comune di Roma, Atac and Pescerosso.
And so I discover that Tor Marancia is a project aimed at bettering the life in this neighborhood by offering a lovely gathering place for its inhabitants. It’s a public housing complex, so that explains the atmosphere of this place.
The side goal of the project is probably to create a new tourist attraction outside Rome’s city center; the group of Spanish tourists coming in as we left confirmed my theory.
I think it takes a lot of empathy to come up with such a splendid idea – to improve the life of disadvantaged communities through art. After all, we need more than roofs over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food in our bellies; we also need art to fill our hearts with joy.
My belief is that Big City Life Tor Marancia project is a part of something much bigger.
Lately, I’ve been seeing a slow but steady stream of new street art projects in Europe, most of them having a powerful social and cultural impact on local communities and beyond.
One other example that comes to mind is the strong message behind the works of Bordallo II’s, a Portuguese artist who turns garbage into wild animals in order to grow awareness of the negative impact we have on our planet.
To me, these street art projects are signs that urban life as we know it might be changing for the better, making us more aware of our impact in our communities, our cities, and on our planet.
Street Art in Rome – Tor Marancia Project [Photos]
Rome, Italy | January 2016 | All Photos (Mobile) © Ana Matei