photography by alessandro ciapanna

Archive for ‘May, 2012’

McROME – fast food, Italian style

Who would ever want to go to a Mcdonald’s when in Rome? Right. So, to spare you the experience, i have done it for all of us. Buon appetito!





Same shit different name. French fries are called patatine fritte, ‘small fried potatoes’, regardless of the size of the helping.





A glass of soda, to a European, is a glass of soda. An American would consider this dinky paper cup of Coke way too small. (And in Italy you pay for refills, by the way).





Plastic chairs? Plastic tables? Oh, no. not in Rome. Finely upholstered furniture is a must. And how about a little artwork on the walls?





Ok, the furniture is of very good quality. But this is Mcdonald’s. so the stools are bolted to the floor.





Why make a Mcdonald’s so fancy? To attract a crowd older than the penniless teenagers who tend to hang out in these places all day while purchasing nearly nothing.





Everyone loves a burger. Occasionally, in Rome sometimes you still spot someone eating their Big Mac with knife and fork, but they are becoming increasingly rare.





University students appreciate the possibility to hold round tables and to grab a cheap bite to eat. Several sandwiches sell for one euro.





In civilized countries, restaurants are not allowed to sell toys. In Italy they still are (even though they are disguised as gifts), thus attracting little children to their hideous meals.





The occasional professional will slip in through the door and sit quietly at a corner to enjoy the a/c and make use of the provided wifi.





Another lure: free daily papers in fancy arsty stands on the walls for public use.





No way chicken nuggets and strawberry milkshakes will attract a huge crowd of fine-palated Italians. A fine display of great pastries, on the other hand…





No proprer Italian meal can end without a caffe’. This Mcdonald’s has a real coffee bar, and an espresso costs 80 cents of an euro. Normally served in ceramic cups, some people prefer theirs ‘al vetro’, in a small glass.





Imagine this. You have to open a restaurant in Rome that sells mostly food that people in Italy are not particularly attracted to for cultural reasons. And not in the city center, where you can at least count on the steady stream of torusits looking for something familiar to stuff down their gobs. What do you do?

As the above photo story shows, they have chosen to work on the environment. Comfy seats, spotless cleansiness, wifi, free papers, a decent coffee.

I normally steer clear of Mcdonaldses. Last time i was in one, they had plastic furniture and disgruntled zitty staff. So when i saw this one in true Italian style, i felt i had to share it with the rest of the world.

Pictures shot from the hip in the Mcdonald’s on Rome’s Viale dei Prati Fiscali.

Alessandro Ciapanna

STONY WORDS – quoting Roman statues

If the statues of Rome could speak, what would they say?





The soap did say “removes blackheads”, but this is ridiculous!





Ok, lean back. a little more. a little more. Ok that’s great. Hold it right there. Now throw your head back just a bit. Ok – that’s it! Don’t move… got it.





No nose, no fingers… spare some change? Please, spare come change…





No, my trunk was not always this long. I had it stretched so i could reach the peanuts people give me.





You call that dinky thing in your lip a ring? Ha! This here is a rrrrrring…





Hey boss – your shoes with the animal faces… i think they’re scaring the hell out of the dog!





Oh, brother: another fool with his camera. Let’s all make funny faces at him!





I hate it when the wind ruffles my skirt.





Hey, you can’t turn there! Oh, you are so busted: i’m writing down your plate numbers…





Photographs taken in Rome.

Locations, top to bottom: Via del Babuino (blackheads), Piazza della Repubblica (girl posing), Salita di Montecavallo (spare change), Piazza della Minerva (elephant), Piazza della Repubblica (wolf), Piazza del Popolo (hey boss), Pantheon (monster fountain), Piazza di San Silvestro (skirt), Piazzale di Porta Pia (busted).

Hope you enjoyed.

Alessandro Ciapanna

MADONNINA – rome’s little shrines

the mother figure has been worshipped all through history. in today’s rome, the tradition continues in the form of  adoring the figure of mary. these little shrines which romans refer to as ‘madonnine’ – little madonnas – are erected to invoke protection, and they are everywhere in rome.





most madonnine are located between two to five or six meters up from the pavement. this one bears an inscription thanking mary for sparing (most of) rome from the bombs in world war II.





some are simple paintings, while others, like this one, is elaborately sculpted in marble. the thich coat of dust adds charm and character to this infinitely patient figure.





this madonnina on via nazionale is a favorite hangout with the ubiquitous roman pigeons





‘spes nostra’ – our hope – is the caption in latin to this exquisite clay madonnina, who is normally portrayed with the baby, but sometimes goes it alone.





this one truly elaborate madonnina was not on the main face of the building but discreetly tucked away in a dark and narrow side alley, perhaps to honor mary’s modesty.





‘ave maria’ – hail mary – is another very popular inscription. this one looks particularly aggrieved.





this one is a little creepy. in this madonnina there is – unusually – a male figure kissing the baby’s feet, but time has taken its toll on the fresco, and the figure has ended up looking rather like a zombie…





this madonnina on piazza farnese is a mosaic composed of tiny stone pieces. the brighter tiles are gilded with a very fine layer of real gold.





the technique of the fresco involves painting on fresh stucco or plaster, so the color can penetrate the surface. this makes for intense and extremely long-lasting paintings.





someone has left a rose into the slot for the offerings.





in many cases, the light is left on all through the day. this madonnina faces rome’s parliament building





recycle, recycle, recycle. this stone madonnina is far older than the building it has been attached to. as the modern cameras show, the vigilant eye of the madonna is obviously no longer sufficient to ensure adequate surveillance.





this one, on a nondescript wall along the via nomentana is an exquisite ceramic sculpture. older devotees – usually ladies – replace and water the modest little flowers.




this is a photo essay about love. in the religious sense, of course. but it is also about the far more common and understandable love most of us will ever feel: the love towards our own mothers. a deeply felt affection mixed with devotion mixed with respect


my country is rattling right now. we have had earthquakes every day for over a week. people are dying. historic buildings are collapsing. people are losing their homes, their businesses and their hard-owned belongings at an alarming rate. just what nobody needs while already in dire economic straits. today i chose this photo essay because when the earth moves under your feet, if there is one person an italian will turn to, she is portrayed above.


and now to lighten up i will prove to you something you probably never realized. jesus christ was italian.

just look at the evidence: he was still living with his mother at the age of 33. he believed she was still a virgin. and, especially, she was convinced that he was god



alessandro ciapanna