18 April 2011

Il Manicomio

Oil on Panel
© Kelly Medford, 2o11

While this place may be well known to Romans, I happened upon it by chance, or luck as the case may be. Intending to go somewhere else to paint, but unable to find the correct bus, I ended up jumping on a bus going to Rome's highest spot, Monte Mario.

I never mind not having a plan, but fate helped me out this day. An old woman got on the bus and sat right next to me and began to ask me a series of questions about where I was going with my big easel. When she discovered that I didn't really know where to go to paint, she took the lead and told me to follow her. We changed buses and made our way up the mountain.

We got off and walked into what is now a large public park along with public health services. The painting is titled after the place: the mental hospital for the entire region. The place is comprised of one large main building and then several smaller ones dotted throughout the property. The grounds overlook the city, and while there are fantastic views, the place itself is what I focused on, as it was both quiet, beautiful and yet unsettling. The unsettling part came from the abondened buildings, like the one I painted. Left in their original state, but now with vines sneaking up along the walls and into the broken windows slowly covering their subjects, these buildings could not be mistaked for anything but old hospitals for mental patients.

Everyone else seemed to be enjoying the place, as if there were nothing strange or eerie at all, while jogging, visiting with friends or walking their dogs, but it left quite an impression on me. Rome is a hauntingly beautiful place, full of the past meeting the present, where one can almost hear their whispers.


  1. Kelly, what a beautiful story and painting. What happened to the woman, did she just leave? Your description of the place is very painterly. I can 'see' the 'vines sneaking up along the walls...' in my mind, as well as your painting. Well done!

  2. Elaine, thanks for your comment, and you're right, I didn't say what happened to the old woman. She left me there, but she gave me her number. I was thinking that I could call her to go for a walk in the park sometime. I love painting in Rome, there's no other place like it! Thanks again for following the blog.

  3. Yep there's no other place like it!
    Nice work kelly!
    cheers Marcello

  4. Thanks Marcello, truly a great discovery for a painting spot. How's your blog coming?