Muri Puliti, Popoli Muti: Walls, Graffiti & Roman Tradition

lutero

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Muri puliti, popoli muti (“clean walls, dumb people”) is a famous saying that has accompanied Rome’s long social and political history, extending beyond the walls of the beautiful capital to encapsulate a trend common to the entire Italian peninsula: graffiti.

The history of graffiti, or generally-speaking writing on walls, is not rooted in modern times.  Furthermore, the spontaneous practice of wall graffiti provides clear evidence of a population’s need to make openly make social commentary and explain concepts.  Italians call it scrittura di strada e di piazza (“street and piazza writing”), a means of communication, engaged in by various members of society from different social strata, that is equivalent and parallel to official and institutional forms.

Graffiti came to be seen as directly expressing popular thought, and covered a wide range of topics, many of which were incised into the walls of ancient Rome.  The curious passerby was treated to numerous graffiti that represented men, women, political caricatures, blatant erotic scenes infused with ritual and religion.

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The Other Roman Art: Our Top 5 Places to View Street Art

Leaving aside the politics of whether to call it street art or graffiti, 2014 was a great year for Rome’s alternative art scene.  Both Italian and international street artists have made the Eternal City their latest canvas for cultural and self-expression, and many of the city’s more residential neighborhoods.

In the recent years, websites that represent the street artist community, such as Street Art Roma, Street Art News, and 999 Contemporary Street Art, have emerged and are growing in popularity, giving new understanding to the art form by creating educational dialogue.

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Superstition in Ancient Rome: Crossing the “Bridge of the Dead” (10/31-11/2)

Ponte Sisto

Ponte Sisto. Click the image to learn more about our Rome Walking Tour!

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October 31st to November 2nd marks a span of time that most Italians view with superstition.  It is known as the “Bridge of the Dead,” beginning with Halloween and ending with the Celebration of the Dead—a 72-hour period steeped in occult tradition, stemming from ancient Roman history.

Lost souls, the dead returned to life…masks, witchcraft, nursery rhymes and much more: are they really dark magic or mere superstition?  Or are they simply old wives tales that contain a grain of truth from some forgotten time?  In Rome, with its worshipping of ancient gods, there has always been special attention paid to these dark tales.

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