Rome

On April 14th, 2013, ROME FOR A DAY…

pausing at the Tiber heading from Testaccio to Trastevere

…on the way from Amsterdam to Abruzzo for the final seasonal chapter of Domestic Integrities at Pollinaria is warm sunny summery deep breath of ancient urbanism before we head East for the hills.

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By Fritz Haeg on April 14, 2013 | Rome
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On July 9th, 2012, FCO>LAX…

leaving Fiumicino over Ostia

…from Rome to L.A. was only part of a much longer day, starting with getting in a car at the Pollinaria farm in Abruzzo at 1am to a Fiumicino bound bus in Pescara and ending with a long meeting and dinner at the Hammer Museum in Westwood right off the plane, followed by immediate collapse at first sight of welcome bed.

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By Fritz Haeg on July 9, 2012 | travel
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On June 27th, 2012, ROMAN EDIBLE ESTATE PROGRESS AT EX-SNIA…

Edible Estate #10: Rome at Ex-SNIA community center

…was the first stop this afternoon from Fiumicino where I was picked up by my friend Marco (who had been involved with the rooftop Edible Estate at SALT in Istanbul) where it was gratifying to see the garden welcomed and cared for at it’s new community center home (for local residents, unemployed, and immigrants – situated in an abandoned factory near Termini, where the garden moved after it’s original home on my roof terrace at the American Academy in Rome) up close and personal, one year later, evolving and growing with it’s original resourceful spirit of using what is immediately available, expanding well beyond it’s original wooden fruit crate containers into other found materials like pallets and scavenged wood boards for raised beds – which was all inspected before a meeting and video interview with a couple of young architecture students who are doing a report on the neighborhood and garden for their class, and finally back on the road for the two and half hour dramatic drive through the Appenine Mountains on our way to the Abruzzian farm Pollinaria where the European edition of Domestic Integrities will officially begin, while I’m in residence for the next ten days.

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On February 16th, 2012, BUS FROM ROME TO PESCARA…

Montagne Maella viewed from the bus from Rome to Pescara

…took me from Tiburtina station (after landing at Fiumicino – followed by a quick detour to Piramide where I met with friends and collaborators about the upcoming Roma Mangia Roma book from Nero still in the editing process) – through the white mountains to this city on the Adriatic under a fluffy white blanket after weeks of record snow, which will be my home base for the next few days while snooping around for my upcoming spring residency and project at the nearby Pollinaria farm.

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By Fritz Haeg on February 16, 2012 | Italy
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On July 28th, 2011, CIAO ROMA, CIAO, CIAO, CIAO…

leaving Fiumicino and flying up the Lazian coast

…was sad to say this morning at 10:15am as we took off from Fiumicino, USA bound for a couple of weeks before returning to bounce around Europe for projects, talks, research, and even a little recreation for most of the rest of the year.

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By Fritz Haeg on July 28, 2011 | Rome, travel
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On July 27th, 2011, THE STREETS OF ROME…

streets of Rome, on our way to the last interview and handmade street signs proclaiming that 'we have all become Americans'

…were savored today on this, my last day living in the city, with last bike rides to last interviews – today near Piramide – for the Roma Mangia Roma book, and a last day biking by the crazy elaborate hand lettered signs of rant/protest which I finally took the time to read today, starting with it’s headline proclaiming/lamenting that “we have all become Americans”.

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By Fritz Haeg on July 27, 2011 | Rome
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On July 26th, 2011, A NEW HOME FOR THE ROMAN ROOFTOP GARDEN…

a happy new home on the ground at the Ex-SNIA community center for the Roman rooftop garden

…on the ground of the former parking lot at the Ex-SNIA community center – a vast abandoned industrial complex east of Termini being reclaimed by trees and meadows and groups like Ciclofficina where you can get your bike fixed for free, also known in the 90′s for it’s raves, but now more frequently offering a place for the local unemployed and immigrant communities to gather, meet and hold events – so yesterday a big truck showed up at the Academy on the West side of town to haul the entirety of the Roman Rooftop garden to Ex-SNIA on the east side of town where local organizer installed it in a smart new arrangement working around a few existing plantings (such as a few small fruit trees and zucchini in bathtubs) and integrating locally scavenged materials in the spirit of the original garden (like wood palettes for enclosure and to lift the planting beds off the ground since this is highly contaminated soil), which was born and raised in high isolation on top of a building on top of a hill on the other side of the river, and will now continue to thrive down on the ground as the center of meals and community activities.

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On July 23rd, 2011, INTERVIEWS OFF VIA APPIA…

an old family house hidden in the woods and fields off Rome's Via Appia

…for the Roma Mangia Roma book take us this morning to a house in the most remarkable location on extensive grounds covered with thick woods, picturesque meadows, modest fruit orchards, and casual vegetable gardens, right off the ancient Roman road, where our thirty-something Roman subject grew up, where her parents continue to live on the top floor, where her brother lives downstairs, and where she shares the neighboring quarters with her Japanese boyfriend who used to work in an Italian restaurant in Tokyo (but has now lived in Rome for 7 years, the first few months of which he tried to make Japanese food, but when he realized that the proper ingredients just couldn’t be found, he surrendered and eats a typical contemporary Roman diet now, starting every day with a cornetto and cappuccino) – all of which made for some good talks about food, cities, culture, Rome, Tokyo, and what it means to share a house with your family, grow your own food in the city, and be dislocated from your homeland.

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By Fritz Haeg on July 23, 2011 | food, Rome
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On July 22nd, 2011, Y.A.P. AT MAXXI…

lawn and laterns in the MAXXI courtyard by local architects stARTT

…is the Young Architects Program originated at NYC’s PS1 and now a new summer fixture at Rome’s MAXXI, where young Roman architects have created rolling mounds of lawn, punctuated by red tulip-like lanterns, where this evening people are lounging, dogs are running, kids are playing (one in particular seeming to be around six who is consumed with creating what would seem to be a stop-motion video animation with a doll that he will pose, run to the top of a near-by mound, take a photo, then run back to slightly change the pose – maybe the hope for the future of Italian cinema?), and other like us have come to listen to the final installment of an evening of music organized my Roman friends – the amazing boys of Nero.

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On July 21st, 2011, PIGNETO…

the old Pigneto man and his domestic street art

…is the working class but now newly cool-ish youthful-ish (for this city at least) neighborhood of Rome, just beyond Termini and Porta Maggiore, where word is that things are happening, but I never seem to make it there – since it is a bike ride to the other side of town for me – but today we went to visit a possible home for the rooftop garden (to be donated to a local organization when I leave town) which happily happens to be in Pigneto, leading us to a tranquil walk through it’s streets, culminating in the acquaintance of an old man making himself comfortable on a chair out his front door next to his domestic street art creations that involve intricate paintings on his post box, gas meter panel, front gate, door…where we struck up an impromptu conversation.

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By Fritz Haeg on July 21, 2011 | art, Rome
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On July 18th, 2011, ‘ROMA MANGIA ROMA’ INTERVIEWS #18-21…

the family home on the ground floor of this newish apartment building with underground parking also features a vast hidden orto

…took us to a family of three generations living in a newish housing development about 8 km south of central Rome – still within the Grande Raccordo Anulare, bordered by a few other housing developments, a few isolated farms, and to the east by the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica (the vast greenbelt flowing from the countryside into Rome and terminating at the Circo Massimo) – where they are lucky enough to have the space for a big orto (too bad we don’t have such a specific word in English for the homegrown kitchen/vegetable garden) tended by the definitive cook and oldest member of the family (who grew up Bagheria, Sicily – the picturesque coastal town where the 1988 film Cinema Paradiso was set – in the 1930′s and 40′s in a completely self-sufficient household where they even ate the bread made with wheat grown on their own land) where he is playing out his nostalgic memories of his childhood garden with mammoth Cucuzza Sicilian squash and Sicilian tomato varieties, and at his own family table he is adamant that all are seated together each night at the precise moment that his culinary creations are ready – which his 18 year old son tolerates less and less, as he is out most nights with his his friends (sometimes enjoying quick fast food, that he even convinved his father to try once when they were on a road trip) and his girlfriend of Veneto decent, though in a separate interview acknowledging his appreciation for that one occasion each day that the whole family is together and grudgingly admitting that he will likely require the same of his own family in the future.

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By Fritz Haeg on July 18, 2011 | books, food
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On July 9th, 2011, GARBATELLA VS. CORVIALE…

ochres of Garbatella (left) and grey of Corviale (right)

…was the story of the day as we made long anticipated pilgrimages to both planned communities just outside of the Roman center, starting with the 11-story 1 kilometer-long crazy Corviale housing block of 1200 apartments and 6000 people in this endless concrete Le Corbusier Unités-d’Habitation-gone-wild folly designed by a team of Italian architects headed by Mario Fiorentino – and a 1 km long building in the middle of the Roman countryside might sound like a neat idea, and it might look amazing from a distance, but of course the closer you get, the sadder it is, and the best that one might be able to say about it now is that the otherwise penned-in tenants enjoy either views of Rome out one side or else they get to look at rolling fields and cows out the other…and from the grey it was on to the ochre baroque rococo fascist Garden City (Borgata Giardino) inspired delights of Garbatella, the working class fantasy land designed and built through the 20′s and 30′s by many hands to suggest the intimate small town rural living environment which many of the original residents where moving from, which you can still feel as you catch glimpses down certain streets when the sun is low, the sense of being in a small Lazian farming village, but in a sophisticated Roman baroquey sort of way – but the treasures are the variety of garden courtyards that each of the blocks face in to, originally meant to be vegetable gardens, they are now untended (I just want to get my hands on one of those big empty round ones) – but I suppose that just adds to it’s rough romantic patinaed lived-in state which, wow, really feels charged and magic. (some Corviale videos here and here)

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On July 4th, 2011, INDEPENDENCE DAY…

cutting of the American Academy 4th of July cake & 'Le Cercle Rouge' at Villa Medici

…American Academy-style involved an Americanissimo coleslaw, homemade potato chips, grilled hamburger with fixins, potato salad, and watermelon lunch (making for a strange greeting for newly arrived guests who heard so much about the amazing seasonal local Roman RSFP cuisine) followed by the dramatic arrival of an elaborate patriotic blueberry and strawberry decorated American flag cake – but for the evening we defected to the French Academy – Villa Medici - overlooking the city for a firework-free evening for the first night of their outdoor summer film series – kicking off with the stylish but seemingly endless (2’20″ – including a half hour heist scene that would be hard to imagine coming out of any a.d.d. Hollywood editing room today) 1970 crime thriller ‘Le Cercle Rouge‘ directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and starring Alain Delon, Gian Maria Volonté and Yves Montand.

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On July 3rd, 2011, TRAJAN’S FORUM…

Saturday night at Trajan's Forum

…on a Saturday night all lit up in lavenders and yellows looked a little Roman-themed Vegas Strip mixed with gladiator-themed gay disco – but I’m not complaining, it’s fun to see the Italians really occupy their cities in the summer, when every public park, villa, ruin, sanctuary, etc. can boast it’s own summer stage with scaffolding and black velvet – and even the lungotevere is temporarily occupied, by an endless chain of circus-like white tents housing trattorie and bars creating a line of wild nightlife where there is typically a refuge of tranquility -the birds down there must be confused.

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On July 2nd, 2011, A WILD BOUQUET…

wild morning bouquet on the table

…of lavender, yarrow, and other colorful back garden finds was assembled this morning in anticipation of old friends arriving from the other side of the planet for their first visit to Italy.

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By Fritz Haeg on July 2, 2011 | flowers
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On July 1st, 2011, THE BEAN POLE WIGWAM…

bamboo bean pole wigwam dramatically on axis with top floor AAR corridor

…I placed on axis with the top floor Academy corridor – where I live and work – is providing some drama in the distance this morning as I wake up and head down the hall for coffee and morning garden watering.

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On June 30th, 2011, TEATRO DELLE ESPOSIZIONI 2 AT VILLA MEDICI…

the mysterious couple from the show, and Villa Medici with St. Peter's in the background

…which I arrived to from an earlier opening at Unosunove this magical warm summer evening by bicycle – locked up below at Piazza di Spagna to hoof it up the 132 Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti steps for shows presented by the French Academy fellows incluing films, a wandering bassoonist, an installation in the magnificent Islamic room on top of one of the towers, carefully arranged and spotlit plaster statues and period furniture in studio windows, (ugh, we missed the naked hula hooping performance from the Monday show) the highlight being an elaborate performance by Rémy Yadan in the formal salone overlooking the city where a cast of around ten formally dressed performers arrived – the rest remaining impossible to describe, but involving standing around for a long time making subtle tsking noises, moving a piano around, walking hurriedly across the room, operatic singing, energetic dancing, monologs directed face to face at particular audience members in French, opening of windows and then closing of windows, mooing, crying with backs to us, and towards the end, the doors to the terrace overlooking the city opened and in walked a mysterious couple who proceeded to walk out of the room onto the the back loggia where they stood still for the rest of the evening – so people looked at them and took pictures – some were mystified, especially those who hadn’t even seen the show.

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On June 28th, 2011, FANS ON THE STREET…

fans for sale on Via Portuense

…are a sure sign that Roman summer heat has arrived (though locals tell me it is just getting warmed up – wait til August they say) near Porta Portese – where I have come to visit the super sweet guys at Manzo Cicli on the medieval-seeming narrow cobblestone side street just above Via Portuense which is the moto/bici epicenter of Rome – to have my bicycle brakes fixed after a sudden cable-snap while braking and speeding down the Gianicolo yesterday.

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By Fritz Haeg on June 28, 2011 | Rome
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On June 24th, 2011, ROMA MANGIA ROMA INTERVIEW #15…

Baruchello in his studio surrounded by framed photos and drawings, including a portrait with his old friend and hero Marcel Duchamp

…conducted yesterday just blocks from my studio on the top floor of a modern Monteverde apartment building was with Gianfranco Baruchello (b. 1924) – the Roman artist whose book “How to Imagine” and 1970′s farm as art project Agricola Cornelia have been a recent inspiration – and we got comfortable in the living area of his studio while unraveling tales of his youth, war years, counter-cultural bohemian days, early art works (time lapse images of a pizza the shape of Italy slowly being devoured) and up to his present daily life as described through food.

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On June 23rd, 2011, ‘HUNGRY CITY: WILD ROME’…

Carolyn Steel and Mona Talbott (left) digging into desert on a fig leaf at the end of the Hungry City: Wild Rome dinner for 120 with oily bread bag menus (center) and garden scavenged table goods

…was the loose title for this evening’s marathon of activities that I organized at the Academy – kicking off with a rousing talk by “Hungry City” author Carolyn Steel (narrowly arriving in time from London) about the relationship between food and cities – specifically Rome (wheat mills floating on the Tiber – license for a stone slab fish counter at the market worth more than a house – fake food fed to not quite distinguished enough feasting dinner guests only there to fill seats – Monte Testaccio mountain of discarded terra cotta amphorae…) taking us all the way up to present day Roman and global food and city circumstances (20% of meals in America are consumed in a car, one billion people are overweight and one billion are malnourished globally…), and happily ending at her vision of the future which she refers to as ‘sitopia‘ – after that it was responses from members of the Academy community including scholar fellow Michael Waters, architect advisor Carlo Vigevano, and RSFP chef Mona Talbott – followed by a casual reception in the vegetable garden under ripe apricot and susine laden trees – and culminating in a feast for 120 in the courtyard on one long L-shaped table under the arcade covered with coffee-dyed cast-off Academy bedsheets cum table-clothes upon which were scrawled handwritten food-related quotes from Roman residents excerpted from the upcoming Roma Mangia Roma book, then generously sprinkled and piled (like a forest floor) with all of the various random garden and kitchen detritus I had been gathering all year (pine cones; bean pods and leaves; fruits and seeds; dried sage, bay and rosemary cuttings; tufa rocks; all of my empty glass jars full of dirt and candles), plus big hunks of Roscioli bread (which looked remarkably like the lightweight tufa rocks – in a good way) and various courses served on fig leaves and grape leaf lined terra cotta roof tiles scavenged from out back – all enjoyed to the amplified sounds coordinated to the courses by Paul Rudy, and the lighting and central hanging plant branch daisy-chain chandelier by Giovanna Latis – under which the kitchen staff piled all of the goods related to the meal including a controversial lambs head which I – though vegan – was ultimately all for, since it showed those meat-eaters where their meat was coming from. (plus super big thanks to Ben Barron, Walker Williams-Smith, Sarah Ripple, and Eleonora Recupero, the classy, eager, and efficient foursome of local youth who assisted)

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