7 January 2021-
Do not fritter away your time perusing this post if you envision the wonderfully romanticised Trastevere of a pre-COVID world: the kind where, for some reason in everyone’s imagination, Spring and Summer are the only seasons. The streets are vibrantly splashed with bohemian Italians, market stalls and tourists thinking they have found the “real Rome”. Buldings are cloaked in Insta-worthy crimson-flowered vines, sporadic religious shrines and politically vocal street poster art. One day, I am certain that this is the Trastevere I will experience in virologically purer air sans the face mask and decidedly better skies. My recent roaming of the area, however, felt more like a dystopian maze of carbon skies as I coiled around peeling façades, closed restaurants, and vacant squares.
Relishing in a tourist-free Rome is a wonderful feeling at times, but a people-free Rome is altogether unnerving. This was one of the first times since landing in this version of Roma that I craved life. I missed seeing people overflowing from bars, sitting at Piazza Trilussa playing music and simply hanging out. I zipped past the few open restaurants, ashamedly averting my eyes from the waiters outside cheerfully imploring me to dine there. Normally, this would irritate me no end. Today, it just made me feel pity. So many small businesses have suffered at the deathly hands of COVID-19. While the government has offered financial support, ultimately the lack of tourist Euros in the economy is being bitterly felt. Restrictions fluctuate here in Rome. Currently, you can eat out until 6pm after which time you can only order takeaway. That said, at the end of last year this was impossible and you could only order out from the comfort of your own home.
This dismal mood was mirrored by the acute cold in the air that swaddled you, restricting movement. Through this wintery gaze, the street-art was, nevertheless, incredible and took on an eerie potency. Rome is, in fact, well known for its poster street art. The art in Trastevere is much more spontaneous than the rest of the street art throughout Rome, because the historic buildings of the district are considered “cultural heritage” and are therefore protected by architectural constraints that make it very difficult to obtain the necessary authorizations to intervene with large murals. As is often the case, this limit has been interpreted as an opportunity by the street artists of Rome who have made Trastevere the centre of the capital’s poster art.
Walking through the alleys of Trastevere you find posters of very active artists in Rome, such as Kappa2Emme, Merioone “Fishes Invasion”, Qwerty, Ablup, Eiknarf, Guaro, Mimì le Cown, Elia900 and Harry Greb. Traveling through the veins of this city, Trastevere did feel like an edgy open-air exhibition. Despite this sombre mood, it was an honour to have it all to myself.
Un bacio x