What's On in Rome – September 2017 Edition
After a long, sleepy, (and definitely too-hot) August, Rome is waking up just in time for September. Now that we are not all holed up inside from 10am and 5pm making love to our air conditioners, it’s finally time to take advantage of all the city has to offer. This month is so jam-packed with stimulating things to do that you’ll probably have a hard time narrowing down your options.
September’s intriguing events kick off with something that makes my romantic heart go all a-flutter. If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you know what a huge impact the Merchant Ivory film A Room with a View (and E. M. Foster's novel) had on my adolescent years and eventual obsession with Italy. And who could be more romantic than the quietly passionate George Emerson, played exquisitely by Julian Sands? That kiss on a Florentine hillside with Puccini in the background still makes my girlish heart swoon. Now, admittedly, over 30 years have passed between the making of that film and now (how did that happen?), but according to a quick Google Images search, Mr. Sands is still as dashing as ever—if perhaps not so boyishly slender. For all you incurable romantics and A Room with a View-lovers out there (I know I’m not the only one!), this event is for you: Julian Sands will be reciting select poems by romantic poets par excellence, John Keats and Percy Shelley, at the Keats-Shelley House on Saturday 2 September at 3pm, 5pm, and 6:30pm. This small museum is one of Rome’s true little-known gems, and a visit to it is well spent, even without the presence of Julian Sands. But believe me, Julian helps. Tickets cost €5; pure liquid romanticism injected directly into your veins has never come so cheap.
For a drastic change of time and place, we hop over to the National Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulia, also on Saturday 2 September, where they are reviving their “3 Hours for 3 Euros” event, which sees the museum stay open until 10:30pm. A balmy, late-summer night might just be the perfect moment to tour the lovely Renaissance villa, and—more importantly—the world-class collection of Etruscan art and artifacts inside. The theme of the event is “The Fascination of History,” and it includes free guided tours (in Italian) of the highlights of the collection.
Night visits are also taking place at Trajan's Markets, one of the most evocative corners of the city, a place that embodies so perfectly that moment in Rome's history when the ancient city began to bleed into the medieval one. This site will be open until midnight on Saturday 2 September, for the unbelievable price of €1. In addition to the extended hours, the ancient market will be hosting the Roma Tre Orchestra, presenting a program of Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Schumann, Mozart, and Verdi. Performances continue on the 3rd at the Carlo Bilotti Museum and the Capitoline Museums.
Remember that the first Sunday of every month (this month it’s the 3rd), Rome’s state-run museums and archeological sites are open free of charge to all visitors. And there are a TON of state-run museums and sites, such as the Borghese Gallery, the National Gallery of Modern Art (GNAM), the National Roman Museum (with all four of its locations: Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, and the Baths of Diocletian), and the National Gallery of Ancient Art at Palazzo Barberini, to name just a few. (Price reductions only for the Colosseum, the Castel Sant’Angelo, and the MAXXI). In addition, the city-run museums and sites are free of charge to all legal residents of Rome the same day, and include the Capitoline Museums (my personal favorite museum in the city), Centrale Montemartini, the Ara Pacis Museum, the MACRO, and so many more. Find the full list of sites here.
Starting 8 September, the Spanish culture center Istituto Cervantes is presenting Inmensa Luz, an exhibit of the Enaire photography collection, which has never before been displayed in Italy. The collection features images by such storied Spanish and Ibero-American photographers as José Manuel Ballester, Alberto García Alix, Chema Madoz, Daniel Canogar, Javier Riera, Almalé Bondía, Dionisio González, and Maider López.
If you love Shakespeare and don’t mind seeing it translated into Italian, the Silvano Toti Globe Theatre is putting on The Merchant of Venice until 10 September and Macbeth from 15 September. Located in Villa Borghese, the circular, open-air theater is a near exact replica of London’s Globe, and the atmosphere is enough to transport you back in time.
From 8 to 14 September, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma hosts Soirée Roland Petit, an unmissable homage to the legendary French choreographer whose work changed the face of ballet. As a bonus, the cast includes one of Italy’s most renowned ballerinas, Eleonora Abbagnato, as well as many rising young stars on the international ballet scene, such as Alessio Rezza and Rebecca Bianchi. The program features excerpts from L’Arlésienne, Carmen, and Le Jeune Homme et la Mort. The performance takes place at Teatro Costanzi.
The Romaeuropa Foundation is a cutting-edge cultural institution promoting and disseminating contemporary art, theater, dance, and music, culminating each year with a much-anticipated festival that brings together some of the freshest talent on the continent. The Romaeuropa Festival is one of those events in Rome that I try to make it to every year, and it never fails to present some of the most original, thought-provoking, and visually stunning performance art around, particularly the modern dance. German choreographer Sasha Waltz’s Kreatur kicks off the festival from 20 to 23 September at Teatro Argentina. Renowned Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui returns this year with his company Eastman, performing Fractus V at the Auditorium Conciliazione on September 26 and 27. Other highlights include Dada Masilo’s modern interpretation of the iconic ballet Giselle beginning 28 September at Teatro Olimpico, and Jan Fabre’s edgy Belgian Rules/Belgium Rules, opening on the 30th at Teatro Argentina. Find the full program here.
If you’re not into modern dance, stick to the classics with a purist version of Giselle, performed by the principal dancers, soloists, and ballet corps of Teatro dell’Opera di Roma at Teatro Costanza from 20 to 24 September.
Yeah, so a loooooot of dance happening in Rome this month. But that’s not all! We also have Picasso! The Scuderie del Quirinale is presenting Picasso: From Cubism to Neoclassicism: 1915–1925, opening on the 21st. In a nutshell, the exhibit looks at Picasso’s work shortly before and in the decade or so following his transformative trip to Italy exactly a century ago. Stay tuned for a more in-depth preview from me a bit closer to the opening date.
If your tastes run more to food than to art, you are in luck. Imagine getting all of Rome’s most celebrated chefs together in one place, where they whip up their most famous creations right before your eyes, and—best of all—sell them for a fraction of what their high-end restaurants charge for the very same dishes. The annual Taste of Roma food and restaurant festival, now in its 6th edition, runs from 21 to 24 September at the Auditorium PDM. Chef superstars such as Heinz Beck, Cristina Bowerman, Angelo Troiani, Daniele Usai, Francesco Apreda, Fabio Ciervo, and many more will be on site to offer master classes and demonstrations. Buy your tickets online or at the door, and bring your appetite.
On the 22nd of the month, the PDM also plays host to two different but very complementary ensembles in the same event: Riccardo Ascani’s jazz flamenco quintet, and Corde Oblique, one of the most important Ethereal Progressive Neofolk bands in Italy. Both ensembles find inspiration in non-musical culture. The Riccardo Ascani Quintet’s pieces have been inspired by the works of writers from Homer to Lorca to Hemingway, and Corde Oblique (whose founder Riccardo Principe has a Ph.D. in art history), has drawn inspiration from the Villa of Poppea, the Greek temples of Paestum, and Giovanni Bellini’s Transfiguration of Christ.
An exhibit I’m particularly looking forward to is Enjoy at the Chiostro del Bramante, opening on the 23rd. It promises to be an innovative exhibition of playful contemporary works that are intended to both delight visitors, and urge them to challenge their pre-conceived notions about art. According to the press release, visitors can get lost in the endless labyrinth of Leandro Erlich’s mirrors, immerse themselves in Martin Creed’s play-concept installations, or dare to come into contact with the deformed bodies of Erwin Wurm. Sounds intriguing! As the exhibit’s curator Danilo Eccher says, “The dimensions of pleasure, play, fun, and excess have always been the central components of art.” Considering the whimsical nature of the exhibit, I think I will bring my two-year-old with me. The very first exhibition he went to was at the Chiostro (the gorgeous James Tissot show back in January of 2016), but as a five-month-old in a Moby wrap, he was decidedly easier to wrangle. I’m terrified that if I let him walk (read: run) around he’ll try to touch (read: destroy) all the art on exhibit. And since his tolerance for the stroller is about five minutes, I think I’ll have to resort to carrying him on my back with my trusty ErgoBaby. I’ll keep you posted on that (mis)adventure.
One final note: don’t forget that the fascinating exhibit Pinturicchio, Painter of the Borgias: The Mystery of Giulia Farnese Revealed, on at the Capitoline Museums, ends on September 10th! If you love a good art mystery as much as I do, don’t miss it!!