Roman street art is achieving international and global acclaim through its contemporary murals. Talent from all over the world continues to flock to its urban landscapes, but do you know where to go?
Check out the top five of Rome’s progressive districts to see a modern spin on the Eternal City’s artistic legacy.
Romans celebrate San Lorenzo for its street art and murals. In fact, the vibrant and innovative narrative of its walls have reached international acclaim.
With her work in over one hundred cities the world over, Roman visual artist Alice Pasquini has graced its walls with her innovative and vital masterpieces.
Additionally, the chic veneer of the historical centre lies in stark contrast to the urban and gritty feel of this colorful yet informal neighborhood. An alternative to the quaint cobblestones of the downtown area, it reveals a creative, contemporary (and cheaper!) side of Rome.
Also regarded as the student district of the city, San Lorenzo is well-connected in regards to public transport, and is located east of Termini train station.
Pigneto and Tor Pignattara
While San Lorenzo is traditionally favored as the hub for Roman street art, the district of Pigneto is proving to be a worthy competitor.
Also located near Termini, it lies behind the train station and is east of the Colosseum.
Once described by Vanity Fair as ‘Rome’s Brooklyn’, Pigneto is an artistic microcosm set to burst with emerging talent and vision.
However, Pigneto’s contribution to Roman street art was inspired by a tragic event over forty years earlier.
Poet, writer, film director and intellectual Pier Paolo Pasolini regarded Pigneto as one of his favorite haunts. Loved for his work by Italians and fans worldwide, his untimely death in 1975 is still shrouded in mystery. He heavily criticised the Italian government of corruption, and collaborating with the mafia. For some, his condemnation of these two powerful fractions led to his demise.
Regardless, his memory is as strong as his legacy, and is captured in various murals throughout Pigneto.
Artists such as Ominio 71, Mr Klevra, and Maupal (Mauro Pallotta) have rendered stirring homages to Pasolini, and draw inspiration from his works.
As such, one of the most haunting of the murals is ‘The Eye’. Maupal created it in one day, using only black and white paint with dirty water. A poem by Pasolini called ‘The Cry’ inspired Maupal: ‘[The] eye is the only one who can see the beauty.’
As an extra treat, try the local “trenino giallo” (yellow train) and reach the multicultural Tor Pignattara for a really immersive experience in a growing multicultural rome filled with murals and parfumes from all over the world. There you’ll find also incredible archaeological remaind such as the Mausoleum of Elena, mother of the Emperor Constantine with catacombs underneeth and an entire “EcoMuseo” to explore
Undergoing a revitalisation process of new and refurbished bars and restaurants, Ostiense’s street art scene is also something to behold.
Bordering the neighborhoods of Testaccio and Garbatella, this modern district is home to the first power station in Rome.
However, it solidified its reputation as a contemporary source for art during the 2010 Outdoor Urban Art Festival. Since then, over 30 looming installations stand as testaments to Rome’s progressive artistic identity.
Furthermore, Osiense’s street art has captured global attention. Attracting the artistic likes of BLU, JBRock and C215, supporters have compared it to Miami’s Wynwood Walls, Brick Lane in London, and Belleville in Paris.
In fact, BLU’s ‘Fronte del Porto’ (below) is one of the most iconic and recognisable masterpieces in Ostiense. The Observer recognised the artist one of the top 10 urban maestros in the world. Vehicles of social and political commentary, BLU’s murals also combine elements of the architecture into their narrative.
Holding up to 400 people, the many windows of the ‘Fronte del Porto’ become the eyes of the monsters depicted. War, housing conflict, and pollution are the dominant themes of the work.
Behind the quaint cobblestones and intimate piazzas of Trastevere, lies an up and coming source of contemporary urban works.
Visitors can locate the diminutive district on the west bank of the famed Tiber River.
In the same fashion as its contemporaries, Trastevere is a meeting point of visionary urban artists.
The exhausting and steep stairway off of via Ugo Bassi provides the canvas for a black and white portrait of Elena Sofia Ricci. Continually influential and Roman street artist Diavù (David Vecchiato) rendered the Italian actress as in her youth.
Other venerable names include Space Invader, the pseudonym attached to a French artist of cosmic creativity.
Highlighted as one of the most profound influences on the international street art scene, the artist added Rome to his portfolio of indelible works in 2010.
Unfortunately the heavily pixelated icons of his style were removed or stolen from Trastevere.
However, enthusiasts can find his mark in other districts throughout the Eternal City, including near the Vatican, and in Pigneto.
The district of Quadraro represents a successful movement of revitalising communities through creative pursuits.
Furthermore, its urban landscape provides a fertile layout for contemporary art that includes both local and international talents.
In 2012 the MURO Urban Art Museum of Rome dreamed up the goal to combine street art and community. Supported by the Comune di Roma, it’s been a staggering success ever since.
Accessed by the Line A metro stop Porta Furba, Quadraro’s street art is truly a melting pot of various nationalities and cultural influences.
Artists from the US, Mexico, France, and Italy collaborate together to revitalise and redefine the dark and ominous past of this closely-knit neighborhood.
However, it still struggles to throw off the tragic memories of 1944.
On April 17 Nazi soldiers sent almost 1,000 men to concentration camps in Poland and Germany. As such, most of the artwork in this urban project deals with that subject, where colour and expression aim to process and come to terms with that fateful day.
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Roman street art combines the past and present
The artistic legacy of Rome is one that continually delights and informs visitors from all walks of life. In addition to the dynamic frescoes and monuments of bygone eras, it’s also a cradle of artistic progress and innovation.
Explore this evolving and contemporary side of the city through Joy of Rome’s Street Art in Rome tour. Witness first-hand the sweeping murals that bring Rome international acclaim. Furthermore, discover the names of both Italian and global artists who ensure the city’s modern legacy.