photography by alessandro ciapanna

Archive for ‘May, 2012’

FIESTA! – rome’s latinos

yesterday was mother’s day in bolivia. so, guess what happened in rome? we celebrated! well, the latinos did – i just crashed their party. a glimpse on some of rome’s very welcome guests.





a group of bolivians celebrating in a roman park.





when old trees are cut down, sometimes some logs are left for use as benches. why? real benches tend to get carried off…





a small generator, two porta-potties, a dj and a few cases of beer. what else do you need? fiesta!





food. you need lots of food. no problem: everyone brings something, everyone shares, everyone tastes their own food from back home.





five cans of ice cold beer go for ten euros. this lady also had some home made ice-cream thingies that the kids seemed to love.





there are not enough bolivians living in rome for a really big party, so several people from peru and ecuador also attended, along with their italian spouses and kids.





latin mamas joke around with their slim husbands. it’s their day today.





kids were everywhere. thankfully, the more rowdy ones were off in the distance, chasing a soccer ball between the roman pine trees.





the squatting lady getting her hair combed saw me pointing my camera and flashed me a lovely, lovely smile. in the background, a young roman wonders what the ruckus is all about.





part italian, part latino. totally stunning. this small child had the brightest eyes i have ever seen.





reacting to a photographer: ‘oh no!’ – ‘maybe…’ – ‘oh yes!’ – ‘to a what?’





no, latin americans are not obsessed witrh food; it just so happened it was lunchtime when i crashed their party, on a lovely roman sunday afternoon.





the food was followed by long hours of dancing and cavorting. hey, we may be living in rome, but that won’t keep us from being latinos!



theĀ  loud music coming from the nondescript little park between the old and the new via nomentana was the only evidence of life in a sunday-siesta-ing rome. i locked the bicycle to a lamppost, and entered the park, then the party. uninvited. waiting to be invited is a waste of time, imo.


anyhow, i donned my broadest, most foolish grin and started poking my camera here and there. everyone clammed up at first – this is a tight-knit community. and i am not one of them. but broad smiles and thumbs up work wonders. especially in convincing people that you are either a fool or an idiot. the smiles came back in a matter of minutes.


and though i prefer to be ignored when i shoot – some of the smiles these people flashed me still warm my heart. it is wonderful for a city like rome to have such polite, friendly guests.


happy bolivian mother’s day!


alessandro ciapanna




DOLCE VITA – in a Roman piazza

Piazza di Santa Caterina della Rota is a little rectangular piazza tucked away in Rome’s huge historic center. There is really not much remarkable about this place. Which makes it the perfect place to show a glimpse of how Romans still enjoy la dolce vita.




As in all of Italy, most public life revolves around the local bar. Even in a huge city as Rome, you often get the feeling that you’re in a small town.





Unusually for Rome, this bar will not charge extra for sitting at the tables, or at the benches outside.





All kids have cellphones, but they can hardly afford to call, so it’s a little texting and long hours playing videogames on the touch screen.





Everyone drinks in italy, but you’ll almost never see a drunk. When you are in company, it’s good manners to tap glasses or bottles and say ‘salute!’ or the more onomatopeic ‘cin-cin!’





Nearly every piazza in Rome doubles as a parking lot. Some, also as a living room. These kids are enjoying a beer in the streets, but out of fancy glasses.





Jobs would have been proud: the seated kids have four iphones between the three of them. The one standing is green with envy.





Roman roofs have been added to over many centuries, resulting in odd juxtapositions of lines and curves.





Sometimes, very different archtectural styles meet in the same piazza.





The reason i was here in the first place: historic Dibartolomei bicycle sales and repair shop: i had a flat tire…





Dibartolomei pumping up my rear tire. Note the size of the guy’s hand…




In Rome’s city center bicycles move faster than cars. Unless they get a flat tire, that is. Then it’s off to the nearest bike shop, in my case historic Dibartolomei’s, in Piazza di Santa Caterina della Rota. While i waited, i had a beer, and caught a few random glimpses from a place few tourists ever venture.

I hope you enjoy.

Alessandro Ciapanna

PS: my post from yesterday did not show up in the ‘topics’ page, and has gone largely unseen. bit of a shame, as i really did put quite an effort into that one… anyhoow, please click here to take a look.

3 PRICKS LATER – Ara Pacis Augustae

Please follow me as we journey into the senseless.

I mean – who would think of preserving a beautiful building by building an ugly building around it? A prick. And then it snowballs from there.





Rome’s Ara Pacis Augustae – Augustus’ altar of peace – is now shrouded by this enormous concrete, stone and glass monster. Plenty of steps for sitting, at least…





Plenty of steps but no accessible ramps anywhere to be seen. I mean, can’t everybody walk, in this day and age? No.





Doesn’t the outer building appear to be just a tad oversized compared to the far more modest ara pacis itself? Aw who cares – it’s not out of our pocket, anyway. No, wait, it is…





Seen from the side facing the river, across one of rome’s most congestion-prone street, the Lungotevere.





Through glass – you can hardly even tell what you’re looking at. Want to go inside to take a closer look? Stand in line and buy a ticket. Yeah, right…





The decorations on the ara pacis are truly exquisite. Unfortunately, they will never be photographed properly again, as the monster structure casts all kinds of nasty shadows all over the place.





The man, the myth, the bas-relief. Through the shadows, the family of Augustus is portrayed in great detail.





The man is holding up his hand in a typical Roman gesture which means ‘just look at this hideous piece of shit.’





If i sit here and think about it long enough, maybe i’ll figure out what it all means.





Hey, while we’re spilling concrete all over Rome, why don’t we add a museum, too? Great idea! Let’s add an auditorium, as well. And let’s include an artsy-fartsy library so we can sell them books about the architect responsible for this mess…





Augustus would be so proud of us…





Oh, don’t worry. it will fit right into the surroundings.





Concrete encroaching on the classics.





…and it’s got to have a little river rushing by the steps…





…and a waterfall! Wouldn’t an artificial concrete waterfall finally turn Rome into a pretty place?





…and spouts. Lots of them…





But hey, boss: won’t people want to step in the cool water? We’ll tell them not to. And what about the Italians? We’ll tell them it’s dangerous.





This massive, thick wall separates the building complex from the road along the river.





Am i incorrect in assuming this architect is not too fond of churches?





There is hope. Artist Fausto delle Chiaie has been using these spaces as an open-air art show since the ’80s. This piece is called ‘Miss Italia’. Across the street is a piece called ‘La giuria’, the jury. Genius.





Augustus was one of those kick-ass emperors that movies are made about. One day he called his people and said: ok, listen up. I want this thing built. It’s gotta be so and so. It’s got to be beautiful, and it’s got to be massive. Also, you gotta get it done fast: an old witch foretold me that in 13 years’ time a little kid is going to be born in Judea, and he’s really gonna rattle things around…

Exit Augustus. Enter two thousand years. Enter prick number one.

Benito Mussolini was a prick (and Italy was a nation of pricks for even listening to him, but that is a different story…) who did all kinds of stupid things. One day he calls his guys and says: there’s this massive thing buried under four meters of silt, somewhere off the Via Flaminia. Ok. I want you to dig it up. No, wait, don’t complain yet. I also want you to dismantle it piece by piece. I want you to carry all the pieces about ten kilometers into the city center and put it back together. No, i’m not finished. I then want you to build a huge great thing around it to preserve it. And try not to scratch it!

Exit Mussolini. Enter prick number two: Rome’s mayor Gianni Alemanno. Who has mussolini’s thing torn down and replaced by this. He first inaugurates the building and then, when all of Rome complains about the hideousness, he blames everyone else. Above all, he blames prick number three; American architect Richard Meier who designed this graceless, massive contraption.

Prick number one was trying to out-emperor Augustus. Prick number two wanted to one-up prick number one. who also happened to be history’s number two Jew-hater. So prick number two chooses to let the out-pricking of prick number one to be carried out by prick number three. Who also happens to be a Jew. some people hint that this was his revenge for the horrible, horrible things that prick number one’s Italy did to his people…

The result? Just great. Never before had a mayor been able to get so many Romans to agree on any one thing.

Alessandro Ciapanna