© Giorgio Benni
© Giorgio Benni

Rome, an open-air street art gallery

4 minutes to read

Rome was defined by a magazine of art and contemporary culture as "the European capital of street art." There are different areas of Rome where you can meet street art. The art of producing murals is one of the most active artistic expressions in contemporary Rome. This is how real open-air art galleries are born. In the wake of the great European capitals, the Eternal City became one of the most sought-after destinations for street artists from all over the world.

A more modest form of street art in Rome may concern all the subway lines. These decorations on wagons are produced clandestinely, but often reveal the great artistic ability of their authors, who remain in the shadows, or launch messages of protest.

© Graffitizero
© Graffitizero

Street art was, in fact, born as a protest action, and over time it has become a true expression of postmodern art. Employing this expression, gray buildings and neighborhoods, especially in the suburbs, have taken on life and color, and have had a sort of architectural re-development. International artists, such as the American MoMo, the German Clemens Behr, or the Italian Hitness, have often been compared to the great geniuses of classical art.

Currently, Rome offers a real street art itinerary, with the possibility of taking guided tours. The first neighborhood, object of this new art form, is the Ostiense district. Some Italian and foreign artists have given life to the “Ostiense District” project. An itinerary has been created to admire and appreciate these works painted on the facades of buildings, walls, and even abandoned barracks. Those are works absolutely heterogeneous, expressing the personality of each artist who created them. Via Ostiense, via del Gazometro, via del Porto Fluviale, along with other adjacent streets, have been decorated and colored with creativity and imagination, often with improvisation.

It is impossible not to notice the extensive work by the writer BLU in via del Porto Fluviale, which covers a former military warehouse.

© Flavia Giordano
© Flavia Giordano
Murals by BLUE Via del Porto Fluviale Rome
Murals by BLUE Via del Porto Fluviale Rome
Via del Porto Fluviale, 4, 00154 Roma RM, Italia

And, again, in via dei Magazzini Generali, a wall 60 meters long has been entirely decorated by the writer JB ROCK with the faces of celebrities from history, from Dante to Obama, Pope John Paul II, Zorro, and many others.

© Tomas Mancin
© Tomas Mancin
Murals "Wall of Fame" Rome
Murals "Wall of Fame" Rome
Via dei Magazzini Generali, 17, 00154 Roma RM, Italia

But street art also means ecology. At the corner of Via del Porto Fluviale and Via del Gazometro, the Italian artist Iena Cruz has created a 1000 square meter mural. The paint used for the work is a very special ecological paint. Twelve square meters of surface painted with this particular paint can absorb all the polluting substances produced by a car in a whole day. This large mural created in Rome is, therefore, able to purify the air like a forest with thirty trees. The wall in question is titled "Hunting Pollution" and represents a tricolor heron, an endangered species.

© Airlite Murales
© Airlite Murales
Murales "Hunting Pollution" Rome
Murales "Hunting Pollution" Rome
Via del Gazometro, 70, 00154 Roma RM, Italia

Not far from the Ostiense district there is the Tor Marancia area, which runs along the Via Cristoforo Colombo. Here, starting in 2015, the "Big City Life" project was born. Twenty internationally renowned artists have painted and decorated with 22 large murals, 11 buildings belonging to social housing. With this intervention of art, a complex of gray houses with no joy has been transformed into a huge open-air museum, a magnet for tourists, art lovers, and curious people. The "Big City Life" project was awarded at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016.

© 999 Big City Life
© 999 Big City Life
Museo Condominiale di Tor Marancia - The Big City Life project
Museo Condominiale di Tor Marancia - The Big City Life project
Viale di Tor Marancia 63, 00147 Rome, Italy

In the gray hamlet of Trullo, instead, the redevelopment through art took place with a mix of poetry and drawings. An artistic movement was born, "I Poeti der Trullo," which, with their verses in Roman dialect tell the story of suburban Rome, where life is anything but easy. These verses, which in any case retain their function as messages, are supported by shapes and colors, giving rise to pleasing ornaments and perfect examples of visual arts.

© Artribune
© Artribune
Murales "Poeti der Trullo"
Murales "Poeti der Trullo"
Via del Trullo, 361, 00148 Roma RM, Italia

Getting to know the street art in Rome means getting to know a different city, made up of culture that comes from life experiences, from social difficulties and the desire to take back what has been taken away- to redeem themselves socially. In the neighborhoods of Serpentara, San Basilio, Ottavia, Rebibbia, San Lorenzo, etc., we find murals of beautiful colors and shapes, which give a sensation of distress and pain, but also hope and optimism. It's an open-air art gallery in continuous evolution.


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The author

Mara Noveni

Mara Noveni

My name is Mara, I am Italian, born in Rome and raised in the wonderful Tuscany. Always in love with reading and writing, I completed this way of expressing myself through photography, especially street and travel photography. Thanks to my many and long travel experiences, I have enriched my mind and my inner life.

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