Deredia in Rome

I’m not sure if you could find a better setting for collection of these pieces by Costa Rican sculptor Jimenez Deredia. I finally made the time to spend some time at the Colosseum a few weeks ago, and the timing couldn’t have been better.

Above is Recuerdo Profundo, below a closer view. Chocolaty, no?

Deredia a Roma – La Ruta de la Paz opened on June 22, there through November.

From Deredia’s website:

This occasion will also be used to introduce “La Ruta de la Paz”, a project conceived by Jiménez Deredia that includes the realization of nine sculptural complexes which be placed in nine countries of the American continent: a symbolic red thread will be unrevealed from Canada to Tierra del Fuego going through the United States of America, Mexico, Yucatan, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru and Chile representing a link between populations and legends, myths and traditions.

A few more photos are here.

Rome 021, originally uploaded by pirano.

Mussolini’s Bunker Transformed Into an Art Gallery

The bunker, built under the Palazzo degli Uffici which was to serve as the site for the cancelled 1942 World’s Fair, is located in Rome’s EUR (Esposizione Universale Roma) neighborhood.

Via Artdaily:

In the 475 square meters that the underground shelter occupies there now is an exhibition of paintings and installations made by Italian artists Alfredo Rapetti, Fabiana Roscioli and Riccardo dalla Chiesa, which are part of the exhibition titled “Confrontations” organized by the city of Rome and the art gallery Ca D”Oro.

It’s an oppressive space, that contrasts with the pleasures of the arts, with large and narrow halls divided by cement pillars and separated from the exterior by a wall 20 centimeters thick and a vacuum measuring 1.25 meters between the exterior and the bunker.

More on the Galleria Ca’ d’Oro website (in Italian).

July pic(k)s

I had an accordion forced upon me at an early age. I wanted to play guitar, but my parents insisted I be a good little Slovenian-American boy and bought me a squeeze box. I was never very good, and peaked in the fourth grade. Certainly not as good as this gentleman, plying his trade around the tourist trap restaurants near Rome’s Termini station, one of my personal favorite pics from July.

The month also included regular stops in Paris and Milan. Along with more unpacking.

squeeze me, originally uploaded by pirano.


30 Second Cheap hotel Advisor – Rome

Hotel Luciani
Via Milazzo, 8
00185 Rome, Italy

Luciani is one of the dozens (or perhaps hundreds?) of little hotels that appear in every nook and cranny near Rome’s Termini (main) train station.

A tiny room, Spartan bed, old bedstand, barred windows and rickety closet gave this place the feel of prison chic. But looks can be deceiving, since you are allowed to come and go as you please and you don’t have to share a shower. Breakfast –a pile of bread washed down with coffee from a cheap machine– lends itself nicely to the incarceration theme.

In fairness, you can’t expect much more in Rome these days for 50 EUR/night to enjoy 2-star comfort.

Upside? It’s less than a five minute stroll to platform 6 at the Termini station. Wifi is available, 5 EUR/6 hrs.

I will not stay here again.

Luciani – Rome, originally uploaded by pirano.

30 Second Cheap Hotel Advisor – Rome

Via Castelfidardo 51

Stayed three nights, 11-14 July 2007.

There’s no shortage of relatively cheap places to lay your weary head in the Italian capital. There seem to be hundreds of hotels and pensions just within a four or five block radius of the main Termini station. That’s always most convenient for me, and that’s where I look.

The Stella (60 EUR/night) is a leisurely 10-minute walk from Termini, close enough for convenience sake and just far enough to escape the loud bustle. Clean, if somewhat small rooms, polite and helpful staff (although they’ve yet to master the difference between Slovenia and Slovakia). The shower is tiny. You can check your email for free in a room next to reception. Breakfast is >very< basic, but enough to get you moving. The closest metro stops –Repubblica and Termini– are about a 10-minute walk away. There’s a decent pub next door, and a terrific “African” (read, Ethiopian) restaurant just around the corner.

I shall (probably/maybe) return.

Stella’s page.

Scab cab ride.

ROME — So, yeah, I rode in a scab cab. I didn’t know it though, when I got in. It was a relatively long ride, 20 to 25 minutes or so, but it didn’t really get interesting until we began to weave our way around a small roadblock on the road parallel to the Circus Maximus. The obstruction consisted of a handful of cabs, a half-hearted attempt at best.

“Signore, is there supposed to be a strike?” I asked the driver.

“Yes,” he said, “will be big problem.”

That came as we approached the Piazza Venezia, the enormous square filled with massive marble structures that celebrate the glory that was Rome. There were lots of cabs, hundreds perhaps, blocking roads on every side of the square, while drivers stood in small groups chatting, smoking, drinking coffee, and making plans for more glory.

Until my driver tried to to get through one of the roadblocks.

That was when the taunting began, at first playful, before the anger amplified. Pretty soon things were being said about my mother, my grandmother and her mother.

“We go another way,” the driver said.

Yup, brilliant idea.

He slowly wormed out in reverse, but the glares continued in our direction, so clearly visible despite the darkness of night. We wound up several blocks out of the way, weaving in and out of narrow streets, barely squeezing by cafe tables and walking drunken merrymakers. Several tapped our hood along the way.

When I finally reached my hotel 25 euros later, the driver wasn’t particularly at ease, but did seem relieved. As I got out, two young American women, dressed for clubbing, approached.

“Sorry,” the driver said, “he was my last ride.”

Rome’s basement

ROME — Got into the Italian capital earlier this evening, a day after reading about Rome’s basement in the current National Geographic. Unlike its northern cousin Venice, the Italian capital has steadily risen over the centuries, with new being built atop of old.

From the story, describing a speleologist’s descent into one of the countless “caverns” that make up the world’s largest undiscovered museums:

“Despite his optimism, the blackness emits a sickening aroma: a melange of urine, diesel, mud, the rotting carcasses of rats. In short, it smells just as you’d expect a 2,500-year-old continuously used sewer to smell.”

rome-office.jpgIt doesn’t stink where I am at the moment, at my cheap hotel on the Via Nazionale, a stone’s throw from the Piazza della Repubblica, itself a few stone throws from the Termini rail terminal. But it is hot. A subterranean stroll –minus the stench of a two-millenia-old sewer– would be nice.

Shock! Silvio Berlusconi, with an estimated worth of $12 billion the richest man in Europe, is in trouble again. Besides the soccer match-fixing scandal that involves his team AC Milan (decision to be handed down on Friday), he’s also been ordered to stand trial for tax fraud and other charges involving his media company.

My prediction? He’ll survive. Just like the age-old sewers I’m sitting atop of now.