Under Construction: Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI

Last weekend, Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum in Rome opened to the public. This two-day “architecture preview” proved so popular that museum administrators had to extend the event to a second weekend, and I was quick enough to reserve a ticket for round two.

For the past week, the architecture blogosphere (twitterverse?) has been flooded with critiques of the building, each blogger/journalist/theorist trying desperately to put the MAXXI in context. Nicolai Ouroussoff casts Zaha Hadid as a modern-day Bernini – bonding with an “ecstatic” Pope over caffè – making plans to transform the Eternal City (for the better). Aaron Betsky (channeling Mark Wigley) sees the work as an “instant ruin,” the “spatial magnificence” of the empty galleries providing as good a lesson to would-be architects as the fragmentary remains of antiquity. Rowan Moore (of The Architects Journal UK) attempts to place the MAXXI in Hadid’s oeuvre.

While none of these authors make definitive statements about the eventual impact of the project, there is a palpable sense of conclusion in their writing, mirroring the completion of the MAXXI’s signature building. The long-awaited opening seemed to be a signal to journalists: the incisive reviews (with their decisive conclusions) poured forth like celebrity obituaries after a beloved actor’s demise.

I believe it’s too soon to assess (or predict) the impact of this (undeniably-important) piece of architecture. After all, the building is not yet complete, and we must wait until spring for a proper exhibition. I’ll no doubt return to the MAXXI at some point (both physically and theoretically), but for now I’ll leave you with some fragmentary thoughts – and photos – from today’s opening.

1. On Hadid’s Oeuvre

The competition for the MAXXI was announced in 1998, after Hadid had completed the Vitra Fire Station (1994) and the CAC (1998). Formally, this does seem to have a lot in common with these early projects, and little in common with the latest proposals that veer towards more complex geometries. Some have suggested that this is due to a shift in her design process from hand-drawing (and painting) to digital modeling, and I think the clarity of the design reflects this. The form seems to evolve primarily in plan, with the curved gallery bands referencing the local infrastructure, deflecting around existing buildings, and shifting vertically when needed. The relative simplicity of the design is more appealing to me than the “parametricism” Hadid’s partner (and MAXXI’s lead designer) Patrik Schumacher now advocates. It will be interesting to see the public reaction to MAXXI: will the expected enthusiasm (coupled with economic constraints) cause Hadid to revisit her earlier work?

[Plans from Aaron Betsky’s blog post. Probably copyright MAXXI]

[Google Maps, Showing MAXXI under construction]

2. On Context

Hadid has said that the MAXXI should act more as a “field” than an “object” (lifting lines, no doubt, from Stan Allen, Rosalind Krauss, etc), indicating that the MAXXI should embody an “urban” condition, tied to the surrounding city. This is simply not the case. Until last weekend, of course, the MAXXI complex was hidden behind construction fencing, physically and visually disconnected from the surrounding area. Today – though ostensibly open to the public – the campus is just as secluded, surrounded by a permanent security fence. The curves of the gallery walls seem to explicitly reference the nearby streets, but automated gates apparently open only for installations, and access to the MAXXI campus is allowed only through the main entrance.

Ignoring the lack of connection to the immediate urban conditions, one could say that the MAXXI is contextual – when context is considered as an international condition; as (in the words of Jeff Kipnis) a “metropolitan field.” The curves of the gallery walls mimic the local infrastructure, but this local condition is regional, national, continental, and global. The concrete structure of Hadid’s LF1 in Weil-am-Rhein, Germany doesn’t only resemble the typical highway overpass in southern Germany – it resembles the typical highway overpass everywhere: the infrastructural city is a global condition, and the MAXXI references and contributes to this conception of urbanity, without regard to its immediate surroundings.

3. On Bilbao

The MAXXI competition was organized shortly after the completion of Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao. It may have been to soon to tell if the “Bilbao Effect” would work for Rome, but the potential for a spectacular project by a world-renowned architect to regenerate cultural interest (and economic activity) in the city must not have gone unnoticed. Though I don’t know the politics, I think Rome must have felt a tinge of jealousy as 90s/00s “starchitecture” largely bypassed the Eternal City, and the completion of the MAXXI does feel a bit late, at such an ostentatious construction seems to belong to an era before last year’s financial collapse.

4. On “Instant Ruins”

Formally, aesthetically, visually, experientially, the MAXXI is a tour-de-force. The Piranesi references are all well-deserved. It’s an amazing space, and successful on a pure, visceral, sculptural level, regardless of functionality. In this regard, Betsky and Wigley are right: it could remain empty forever, standing vacant as an example of what architects and artists are capable, a contemporary counterpoint to the Baths of Caracalla, or Hadrian’s Villa, or the Colosseum. If today’s event was any indication, people are more than willing to wander around the space, taking photo after photo, their glazed expressions no different from the tourists in the Forum. They pre-registered in advance for the privilege. Does the MAXXI need a collection? Why not market it as a modern ruin? Charge admission for the building itself. Who needs art?

5. On Function

Obviously, we need art. As an art museum, the MAXXI has to function. We’ll see the system of hanging partitions next spring when the first exhibition opens, but it seems to me that the galleries have spaces that are varied enough to provide appropriate viewing environments for (perhaps) every type of art… while the continuous gallery spaces may seem too dynamic for traditional shows, I believe the continuity of the gallery space will ultimately prove beneficial. The spaces Hadid provides are varied, but the main gallery spaces are restrained. There seems to be ample room for traditional curation, but endless opportunity for more ambitious exhibition design.

///

It’s a complex building, a complex political, social, and cultural climate, and – perhaps most presciently – a complex issue for architecture journalism. I feel it’s impossible to give a proper summation of the project at this point in time – as it’s still incomplete – but we can all hope that the successful realization of this project will lead to a careful re-evaluation of Zaha Hadid’s early work and an amplification of the discourse of contemporary art and architecture in modern Rome.

Until then, I’ll consider the MAXXI – and my opinions – to be “under construction.”

///

-More of my photos on Flickr.

Poste Italiane

The Fascist era in Rome (1922-1943) was characterized by massive civic projects. From the draining of the Pontine Marshes to the construction of new roads in the historical center, Mussolini’s government brought massive changes to the character of the city. These urban projects reveal an oddly contradictory attitude toward history: on one hand respectful (the excavation of the Forum); on the other, dismissive (the re-burial of three quarters of the Forum for the construction of Via dei Fori Imeriali).

We’ve seen this attitude expressed stylistically through the strange synthesis of neoclassicism and modernism at EUR, but the post offices constructed in 1933 represent an earlier step toward that synthetic style, where classic elements may be present, but are not monumental.

The Poste Italiane on Via Marmorata [Map], by architects Mario de Renzi and Adalberto Libera (1933), is a composition of classically-proportioned volumes, stripped of ornament.  It’s worthwhile to note that architect Adalberto Libera  participated in the Weissenhofsiedlung Exhibition in Stuttgart (1927) at the request of Mies van der Rohe, an indication that these Italian modernists were not as disconnected from the international scene as it may sometimes seem. In this post office, there is clear evidence of international influence.

The abstracted colonnade provides a pedestrian pathway set back from the busy street, and establishes the entry piazza as a public space. Though is could be read as a classical element, it is clearly present for functional reasons. Libera & de Renzi’s post office is a good example of an synthetic style that has not yet been co-opted by monumental/rhetorical neo-classicism.

The post office at Piazza Bologna [Map], by architects Mario Ridolfi and Mario Fagiolo (1933), is more difficult to place in the narrative. The building is an oblong bar, whose curved facade deflects to emphasize the adjacent piazza. The sinuous line of the plan reveals a Baroque sensibility not often seem in Italian modernism, but with precedents dating at least to the early renaissance (the curved facade of Palazzo Massimo comes to mind), and reappearing even today (in the curves of Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI, for instance)

Angiolo Mazzoni was one of the most prolific Italian architects of the 1920s and 1930s, and his biography should show the competing influence of classical precedent and contemporary international culture. His Ostia Post Office (1934) [Map] should demonstrate the potential of a style drawn equally from both.

As the chief architect for the Ministry of Communication and for the State Railway from the early 1930s until the war, Mazzoni designed many post offices, train stations and other public buildings, aided by close family ties to Mussolini’s fascist regime.


He earned his architecture degree from the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna (around 1919), where the instructors were heavily influenced by Wagner and the Vienna Secession. This is evident, especially if you compare his work to Sant’Elia: the tower here could have been taken straight from La Citta Nuova. Mazzoni was involved with the Futurists for long enough to co-author the “Manifesto of Aerial Architecture” with Marinetti in 1934, but by this time he was already building prolifically, and developing his own unique, if eclectic, style.

His work was incredibly varied, ranging from neo-classical (such as the flanking buildings at Rome’s Termini station), to vernacular-Italianate (La Spezia post office), to streamline modern (the Sabaudia Post Office, luckily undergoing restoration). The Ostia post office, however, is an incredibly interesting synthesis.

The  fountain with circular colonnade here has a clear classical precedent in Hadrian’s Villa, but also shows some modernist influences. Notice the lack of capitols on these ‘piloti’, the portal windows, and the unadorned light fixtures: ornament through functionality. Materially, everything is rendered in Roman brick and travertine, though the architect makes some interesting moves with those materials, like the detail on these columns (brickwork that could be his own invention, perhaps under influence from the Amsterdam School?).

The more I look at Italian architecture from this period, the more I’m fascinated by the ways the architects mobilize historical forms and materials, and the ways that modernism is filtered through the lens of Roman history. It often leads to incredibly interesting work. Though this use (and abuse) of history is conspicuously absent from some recent projects in Rome (Meier’s Jubilee Church, Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI), in others (such as Renzo Piano’s Auditorium) the recognition that historically-charged materials and referential forms can be used in the service of architecture leads to work that is contextual yet contemporary, where the incredible burden of history is seen as a blessing, not a curse.

EUR & La Sapienza

Most travel guides will, briefly, mention the EUR district to the south of Rome. An exemplary collection of Fascist-modernism, the guides suggest that curious tourists take a few hours to wander down the wide boulevards, and experience the contrast between this area and the ancient Roman streets of the city center.

The EUR district was designed as a campus for the Esposizione Universal Romana 1942, located towards the south of the city as part of an attempt to reconnect Rome with the sea (through its port at Ostia). Taken together with new towns built on the drained Pontine Marshes, the EUR district is evidence of a larger plan by Mussolini’s Fascist regime to modernize and reclaim the underutilized lands to the south of the city. Though some of this plan was carried out in the 1930s (as evidenced by the construction of towns such as Latina and Sabaudia), EUR had to wait for completion until after World War II. Stylistically it represents the culmination of Italian fascist-modernism.


Laid out on a cardo & decumanus (a rational urban planning technique used for ancient Roman military camps and colonies), and constructed in travertine and brick (a conscious material choice intended to echo the grandeur of Ancient Rome) the EUR district is almost oppressively grand. The massive scale of the complex is intimidating to anyone on foot: on the few occasions I’ve visited the major axes have been devoid of life. The typically Roman water fountains are conspicuously absent – especially noticeable on a hot August day. Though there is some relief to be found on the tree-lined side streets, it is clear that this district was not designed for pedestrians, a fact reinforced by the ample parking – another contrast with the historic center.

Architecturally, the EUR district is a great example of late-stage fascist-era Italian modernism. Even if completed after the War, the unique synthesis of modernism and neo-classicism perfectly reflects the policies of Mussolini’s regime. There is a conscious effort to strip the buildings of unnecessary ornamentation and to place an emphasis on basic platonic forms. These rational principles from the modern movement are augmented by stylistic reference to ancient Roman architecture, a theme that appears again and again in the work of Italian architects from the 1900s to present day. Here in the EUR district, the major landmarks all make reference to classical precedents. The “Square Colosseum” (the Palazzo della Civilita Italica by architects G. Guerrini, E.B. La Padula, and M. Romano) is of course the most obvious example, and the other major public buildings all feature colonnades, at various levels of abstraction.

The EUR district was designed primarily by architect and urban planner Marcello Piacentini, who was director of the magazine Architettura and a key figure in the Fascist regime. By the time of the EUR design, his style had clearly been codified and adopted by the architects given these landmark commissions, but a few years earlier in the masterplan for the Università di Roma – La Sapienza (1935), he seems to have given the young group of invited architects much more freedom.

Piacentini’s own design for the main building at La Sapienza represents the same principles seen later at EUR, but here the scale is much more manageable. As a university campus, it embraces housing and public space in a way that EUR perhaps could not, but the result is a pleasant, human-scaled, and pedestrian friendly campus. While not in the heart of the city, it is close to Termini station, and a much quicker visit for architecturally-inclined tourists.


It is especially interesting to look at the work of other architects on campus. The curved facade of the Faculty of Chemistry (by architect Pietro Aschieri), is a near-Baroque interpretation of the monumental entry to Piacentini’s main building. Painted in a vernacular burnt sienna, and detailed with rationalist handrails and window details, the building is a playful and eclectic mix of the vernacular, the rational, and the neoclassical that would not be tolerated a few short years later.

Other buildings range from the severe to the downright odd. The Institute of Minerology and Geology (an early work by Giovanni Michelucci, architect of the incredible Chiesa dell’Autostrada del Sole outside of Florence) is surprisingly restrained….

http://www.flickr.com/photos/evandagan/3956401838/in/set-72157622459326316

… while the Institute of Mathematics (architect Gio Ponti) is composed of clashing forms that somehow manage to define a classical entrance….

… and the Institute of Physics (by Giuseppe Pagano) best represents the synthetic style of the campus as a whole, with its clear geometric forms rendered in brick and travertine, augmented by details (such as the entry overhang) that owe a debt to streamline modernism.

In conclusion (and to extend the conceit that this blog could possibly be used as a travel guide) for visitors to Rome seeking a little modernism with their antiquities, I can definitely recommend either EUR or La Sapienza for a quick visit, and preferably both as I believe the subtle differences in style are fascinating.

EUR can be reached on the Metro: Line B to EUR Magliana, EUR Palasport, or EUR Fermi depending on what you want to see first. Be sure to print a map ahead of time or take a guidebook, as this is off the typical tourist track. [Map]

La Sapienza is just a short walk from Termini station. [Map]

Sperlonga

In Rome, one of the most popular day trips out of town is the short trek to Lido di Ostia, the small beach town south of Rome, easily accessible by regional rail, and only about a 30 minute ride from the Piramide Metro stop. The beach at Ostia is somewhat disappointing, and with a little extra effort you can reach Sperlonga, a gorgeous beach town on the Tyrrhenian Sea midway between Rome and Naples.

Apparently, the town can be reached on a regional COTRAL bus, but when we went we took the train. The trip from Termini station to Fondi-Sperlonga was 6.20 euro each way, and took about an hour and fifteen minutes. From the Fondi-Sperlonga station there is a local bus (1 euro each way) that runs from the station to the beach. It was a bit confusing, as the bus times were not posted, but we asked workers at a local market and they were able to tell us where to catch the bus back to the station. The buses don’t run very often, and so we were worried we might be stranded for the night… but the bus came eventually and we made it back to Rome fairly easily. However, when I go back I’ll be sure to check the schedule carefully ahead of time.

The beach at Sperlonga is really amazing. There are two main stretches of beach, divided in the middle by a large rocky projection capped by a small tower. From what I could tell, both sides were equally appealing, though there seemed to be more free public areas on the south side of the tower. There were numerous beach clubs and restaurants, but being on a budget we simply bought supplies for sandwiches at a local market, and had a picnic lunch in one of the parks overlooking the beach.

One of Sperlonga’s main attractions is the Grotto of Tiberius, a natural cave at the southern end of the beach, and the ruins of the villa the Emperor Tiberius built there during his reign (from A.D. 14 to A.D. 37). The complex is unfortunately fenced off from the beach, and to access the ruins and the museum (containing artifacts found on site and large plaster casts of the statuary that used to stand in the grotto) if from a small road half a mile inland. While the grotto and museum were interesting, I would recommend skipping them both for more time at the beach, or to wander through the streets of the small hill town, something I didn’t get the chance to do.

In the end, definitely a worthwhile trip, and a relatively cheap one if you’re willing to use the free areas of the beach, and assemble your own lunch. I’ll definitely be going back as soon as the weather’s warm enough for a swim.

Sperlonga [Map]

To find a route from Sperlonga from Rome, search for Fondi-Sperlonga on the Trenitalia website.

Auditorium Parco della Musica [Renzo Piano]

Over the past few years, a handful of architects have managed to complete new projects in Rome, despite resistance from certain factions of the government and general population. While I wouldn’t call it a renaissance of contemporary architecture, these few new projects seem to be signaling a renewed interest in architectural experimentation, and a willingness on the part of the civic leaders and clients to give architects a free hand – as long as they respect whatever ruins they find on site, and are willing to go through the arduous process of building construction in this generally conservative, historicist climate.

Renzo Piano, arguably the most well-known Italian architect of his generation, was surely aware of this political climate, and it seems that he designed his Auditorium in such a way that he could easily argue for its sensitivity to context, appropriateness of materials, and potential to revitalize an area of the city that had been in decline since the 1960 Olympic games.

The basic configuration is based around three enclosed auditoriums of varying size, which are linked by an outdoor arena theater that pins the center of the composition, with lobby spaces, back-of-house areas, and other services located in a plinth beneath the auditorium volumes, wrapping the perimeter of the arena. The complex could be seen as growing out of this arena, a contemporary interpretation of a classical Roman theater: updated with the latest amenities.

The additional auditoriums are designed to be read as discrete volumes, and while their shapes do not seem to represent their function, their distinct forms do act as a landmark for the auditorium complex.

The material choice for the auditorium volumes seems to echo the cladding of many church domes across the city, and the red Roman brick is another clear tie to the architecture of the past.

Though the complex was built on a site (formerly that of the 1960s Olympics) that was not historically-charged, there were ruins uncovered during excavation work. Piano takes a sensitive approach to these historical artifacts: he doesn’t touch them.

Some ancient walls are brought into the building, covered, and treated as a part of a permanent exhibition that also includes shards of pottery and other artifacts found on site.

Other, larger areas are left exposed, outside, where the form of the building has been cut away, turning these archaeological areas into open courtyards.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/evandagan/881539923/in/set-72157605182642837

While this seems like a perfectly fine way to deal with the ruins, it’s unfortunate that the design did not engage them on a higher conceptual level. I hope to write more on this topic later.

See more of my photos on Flickr.

Auditorium Parco della Musica [2002]
Architect: Renzo Piano
Viale Pietro De Coubertin, Rome, Italy [Map]

Palazzetto dello Sport [P.L. Nervi]

Palazetto dello Sport, Pier Luigi Nervi, 1957-1958

Built in preparation for the 1960 Olympic games, this concrete dome structure hosted boxing matches and other events. It looks run-down today, but apparently is still used on occasion. I was unable to get inside on the day I visited, but the structure was still impressive. Nervi was as much an engineer as an architect, and in addition to several other stadiums in Rome, he was the designer for highway overpasses and other pieces of infrastructure.

Here’s a great interior view from Flickr user kompot.photo.

The stadium is located to the north of the city, in an area that’s not considered very historically-sensitive, and so is (relatively) rich in modern and contemporary architecture: Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum and Renzo Piano’s Auditorium Parco della Musica are both within walking distance.

——

Palazzetto dello Sport
Architect Pier Luigi Nervi, 1957-1958
Piazza Apollodoro 1
00196 Rome, Italy [Map]

Palazzetto dello Sport [1957-1958]
Architect: Pier Luigi Nervi
Piazza Apollodoro 1, Rome, Italy [Map]

La Rinascente [Franco Albini]


As promised, in the next series of posts, I’ll be covering modern architecture around Rome (and throughout Italy), and analyzing the “old stuff” when it seems relevant. I feel no need to cover the typical guidebook topics (though I’ve been through every page of Rick Steves’ Rome ’09 and have the photos to prove it…), but there does seem to be a lack of info out there on the best modern & contemporary sights.


So, without further ado, thus starts my own hastily-thrown-together Guide to Rome, highlighting what I believe are the best off-the-beaten path architectural sights.

First up: La Rinascente, Architect Franco Albini, 1957-1961


La Rinascente is an upscale Italian department store chain. The company had had a presence in Rome since 1887, when their impressive building on Via del Corso [map] became the first department store in the city, but 1950s Rome was considerably larger than 1880s Rome, and the location of Albini’s building at the northern border of the imperial town suggests an interest in re-centering, conceding to this sprawl.

[La Rinascente, 1887]

Albini’s work had always dealt with history and tradition (from exhibition designs inserted into existing spaces, or the adaptive reuse of existing structures), but here even with a tabula rasa he looked to the past, using varied historical references in concert to produce something contemporary. Perhaps taking the meaning of “la rinascente” – “the rebirth” – too literally, his design maintains the basic massing of the 1887 building (perhaps a functional requirement for the program, or perhaps predetermined by block size and required floor area), and incorporates the geometry of the cornice profiles, but transmutes the material into steel.



The expressed steel frame structure is complemented by red masonry infill panels whose material mirrors the immediate context. However, these are not simply flat infill panels, they are folded, and the subtle geometry suggests engaged columns: a renaissance facade redone with contemporary technology.


Really nice. To me the most interesting thing about the project (and about 20th century architecture in Italy in general) is how it deals with history. In Albini’s case, he’s managed to mobilize historical precedents without resorting to historicism. We’ll see later that this is not an unique achievement: Albini’s synthesis of the classical and the modern has a precedent in the work of earlier Italian architects, whose approach to Modernism was perhaps more restrained than in other countries, due in part to the rich architectural heritage of the country, and in part to the pre-war government’s demand for architecture that recreated the glory of Imperial Rome.



As a final note, it’s amazing how contemporary this still looks today. The connection between the department store and the adjacent apartments wouldn’t be out of place on Berlin’s P
otsdamer Platz. But maybe that’s simply because Renzo Piano knows his history….

In the next few weeks I hope to travel to Genoa, where there are four museums by Albini, at which point I can pick this thread back up… meanwhile, there are a few more photos here.

La Rinascente [1957-1961]
Architects: Franco Albini & Franca Helg
Piazza Fiume, Rome, Italy [Map]


Times: New, Roman


[Let’s call it “The Flavian Amphitheatre”]
I’ve been living in Rome since July 22nd. Is it too late for first impressions? When I first arrived, I booked a week in a hostel near Termini Station, planning to use their free WiFi to find an apartment. It worked like a charm (thanks craigslist!) and I found a decent place almost immediately. I needed something relatively cheap, and I wanted something close to my workplace (near Campo di Fiori), and I was lucky to find something that met both requirements, off Piazza Trilussa in Trastevere, for 500 euro per month.

[This is the door to my apartment ]
Everyone tells me I’ve gotten a good deal, and I really can’t complain. Quarters are cramped compared to sprawling American apartments, but it’s only a little smaller than my old apartment in Basel, Switzerland, and I relish the challenge of living in a smaller space. I only packed one suitcase when I moved here (a function of the preceding OSU trip through Europe, I suppose, where I had to haul my luggage to a new hotel nearly every night), and I’m making a conscious effort to avoid accumulating more *stuff* while I’m here… though books may be inevitable.
A few days before embarking on the study abroad trip in June, I received work from my future employer that they wanted me to start on September 1st, rather than August 1st as we had previously discussed. I decided that rather than waste money on a flight back to the States, I would simply get to Rome early, and use the time to work on learning Italian, doing graphic design for a book project I’m working on, editing and uploading photos, and most importantly, just relaxing after the hectic pace of the OSU trip (and before the inevitably long work hours at a world-renowned architecture firm).
While I’m a bit disappointed in myself for not pushing harder on my Italian lessons, the month of August was productive in another way: it allowed me to get a real sense of the city, gave me time to contemplate what I’m even doing here, and finally, taught me why Italians all take the month off.
[Ponte Sisto]
Having traveled extensively through Europe, and having lived in Switzerland, I knew what to expect in the way of business operating hours, weird toilets, tipping conventions, public transport, etc, so there was really no “culture shock” to speak of, though it did take me a while to figure out where to find cheap socks (MAS, Piazza V. Emanuele). The most shocking thing about Rome in August is the heat. It’s the peak of tourist season, yet most Italians vacate the city. It’s an odd situation where almost the entire population of the town is replaced…. yet, despite the tourists on summer vacation, the town is quiet, the traffic is slower, few shops are open, and those people that remain tend to move slowly, and I found myself mirroring them, taking my time to explore the city, or (after a cafe or two) running quickly between shady patches of sidewalk.
The heat, in fact, was so intense that it largely determined my explorations. I would sleep late, often past noon, then venture out to the city center to sightsee in the mid-afternoon, returning at dusk to Trastevere to see the nightlife. I was lucky to have an enabler in this regard, my temporary roommate who’s since moved back to Bologna.
Since I had been to Rome several times before, I felt no need to see all the ruins and museums, so during August I mostly wandered, getting lost in the urban fabric, and finding my way back home. I think this is absolutely the best way to get a sense of the place, even if you never can remember exactly where you were….
Anyway, not much to report for August ’09 besides heat and relaxation. After starting work in September, my time somehow seemed more precious, and I started taking day trips out of town on the weekends. In the next few posts, I’ll chronicle a few of those, making a point to include directions and relevant information, so expect this to morph into a kind of travel guide for the next few updates…..
But if you simply can’t wait, check my continuously-updated Flickr sets, where I’ve organized Rome by era….
stay tuned for Sperlonga, Tivoli, Frascati day trips, followed by some commentary on Modern Architecture in Rome………..