11 June 2012

There's A Special Place in Rome...

Now there's a really special place in Rome. I know, all places are special here, but chances are that unless you live here, you haven't made it to this one: Garbatella.

Oil on Linen Panel

© Kelly Medford, 2012

What's so special about this place? So many things, it's hard to know where to begin.
To tell the truth, this fountian could be in many parts of town, and that I happened here was by chance. What I stumbled upon here was a semi-time portal, back into a Rome that can be hard to find these days.

This little paradise was at the end of a road up on a hill. What I didn't realize until I spent the entire day painting here, is that it's a little village of it's own. Everyone looks after the children playing in the street, everyone knows everyone and where they're going and what they're up to. I felt an intruder into this quiet life, but no one shooed me away. Instead they watched me at first without saying anything and then slowly one person talked to me and then another and another. When I was packing up at the end of the day, several people came out to talk and crowd around the easel, curious to know more about how I was going to manage all that stuff on my bike, but also just about who on earth I was! They even still speak in a heavy Roman dialect here, something you hear slightly around town, but this was thick and almost unintelligble to me, even though my Italian is good.

This entire neighborhood was built by the city in the 1920's as primarily public housing. It was mostly built in the Rococo style (except for where I was painting, which was just built as square buildings with the leftovers from the other buildings, one resident told me) and each building was built to have its own garden or central area inside of it like a large courtyard to provide space for its residents to get together. Although no longer public housing, the neighborhood has retained the small village feel and is farily isolated from the rest of the city, with its Metro stop located a good walking distance from the heart of the neighborhood.

This is one of the many gems nestled within the city. You get lost walking the winding streets that seem to have no geographical rhyme or reason. There are buildings that look like little castles and they all have luscious, elaborate gardens.

I plan to paint more here to attempt to capture more of the feel of this place. It seems nearly impenetrable in its multi-layered wonders.


  1. Agree with you Kelly. Garbanta (slang name for Garbatella) it's truly a special place. I'd like to live there.

  2. Garbanta! Who knew? (only a Roman of course..) I'd love to live there too, it's like a magical fairytale. Come sketching there soon?

  3. Yes kelly. One time I was here : http://www.notnottana.blogspot.it/2011/03/teatro-palladium-garbatella-roma.html ... sometimes I'll back again ... I live in latina, and sometimes I sketch with friends of the Skechtcrawl Roma group (find NotNot Tana on FB)

  4. ops ... bette "Once" in english, I think

  5. Wonderful! I must say it is very hard not to fall in love with Garbatella.
    It was lovely meeting you tonight.

  6. OK, so I just got back from a trip to Rome and am kicking myself for not finding you before hand. I used to live in Rome, but never got to Garbatella, so that is on my list for the next trip, as well as taking one of your sketching excursions. I love to travel with my sketchbook and even though I'm not an artist, I love to look back on my drawings/paintings and recall special memories. Having a little professional guidance would help immensely. Your work is lovely.

  7. Hi Nathalie, thanks so much for checking out the blog, and you're right, it's pretty easy to be enamored with Garbatella..

  8. Linda, thanks for finding me now, and how DID you find this blog? I love your blog and it looks like you most likely will come back to Rome! Please keep in touch and thanks again, I look forward to sketching with you on your next trip here.

  9. I've lived here for a while now and didn't know about this neighborhood. I learn a lot from your blog since I don't have time to get around the city as much as I would like. Wonderful painting. I love the colors and you captured the fountain wonderfully and enjoyed the story as well.

  10. Hi Celia and thank you for leaving your comments. The reason I invented this project for myself to paint Rome, was just for this reason, to get to know the different parts of the city better, otherwise I may have never been there either!

    I'm so glad to know that you enjoyed the painting and its story- since you live in Rome I hope that I will get you meet you. Maybe at my exhibition of Rome paintings this fall?!

    Thanks again.

  11. Great painting & find!

    Come & discover Calabria in August when I'm there?

  12. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.