There's A Special Place in Rome... Art & Culture

10/15/2012 by Kelly Medford United States

How there's a really special place in Rome. I know, all places are special here, but chances are that unless you live here, you haven't made it to this one: Garbatella.

Afternoon at the Fountain, Garbatella, Oil on Linen Panel Kelly Medford, 2012

What's so special about this place? So many things, it's hard to know where to begin. To tell the truth, this fountain could be in many parts of town, and that I happened here was by chance. What I stumbled upon here was a semi-time portal, back into a Rome that can be hard to find these days.
This little paradise was at the end of a road up on a hill. What I didn't realize until I spent the entire day painting here, is that it's a little village of its own. Everyone looks after the children playing in the street, everyone knows everyone and where they're going and what they're up to. I felt an intruder into this quiet life, but no one shooed me away. Instead they watched me at first without saying anything and then slowly one person talked to me and then another and another. When I was packing up at the end of the day, several people came out to talk and crowd around the easel, curious to know more about how I was going to manage all that stuff on my bike, but also just about who on earth I was! They even still speak in a heavy Roman dialect here, something you hear slightly around town, but this was thick and almost unintelligible to me, even though my Italian is good.
This entire neighborhood was built by the city in the 1920's as primarily public housing. It was mostly built in the Rococo style (except for where I was painting, which was just built as square buildings with the leftovers from the other buildings, one resident told me) and each building was built to have its own garden or central area inside of it, like a large courtyard to provide space for its residents to get together. Although no longer public housing, the neighborhood has retained the small village feel and is fairly isolated from the rest of the city with its Metro stop located a good walking distance from the heart of the neighborhood.
This is one of the many gems nestled within the city. You get lost walking the winding streets that seem to have no geographical rhyme or reason. There are buildings that look like little castles and they all have luscious, elaborate gardens.
I plan to paint more here to attempt to capture more of the feel of this place. It seems nearly impenetrable in its multi-layered wonders.

Kelly Medford United States

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