Next week marks JCU’s spring break, and many of our students are celebrating the end of midterms and the arrival of spring with well-deserved vacations throughout Europe, Africa, and even the Middle East. Although Rome’s proximity to so many incredible destinations makes travel an attractive option for our students, there is still plenty to do for students who remain in Rome this week.
Here are some great options for students who choose to stay local:
March 18th – April 7th: CulturaCibo on Food & Italy’s Identity
Food is not only material: it is also cultural. This holds true nowhere more than in Italy, a country that values beauty, either art or good food. Curated by Italy’s top food historian, Massimo Montanari, the Rome Vittoriano complex is hosting a free exhibition on the role of food in Italian identity. The showing allows spectators to travel through the centuries in the fields, the kitchens and the dishes of Italians. You’ll learn, for instance, that there is no such thing as a “spaghetti Bolognese” or “Alfredo Sauce” in Italy and why they are perceived to be quintessentially Italian abroad.
March 31: NINFA Gardens
Just south of Rome, the beautiful Ninfa Gardens will re-open after winter closure on March 31. After centuries of ruin, marshes and malaria, Ninfa was brought back to its original glory in the 20th century. Ninfa was designated a Natural Monument of the Italian Republic in 2000 and dubbed the most beautiful garden in the world by the New York Times. Take a day trip to Ninfa to relax and enjoy the scenery!
Daily: Borgo Pio
With just 3,500 inhabitants, Borgo Pio stands right next to the Vatican and looks like a small village with its quiet narrow alleys, low-rising buildings and a lovely pedestrian-only area. But for centuries it was populated by many different national communities of Catholics who lived beyond the river, on the other shore of downtown Rome. One of the buildings that you will admire while here, S. Spirito in Sassia, was actually meant to provide shelter to Saxon pilgrims. The executioner of the Popes lived here as the Vatican was a state that enforced the death penalty, in addition to many prostitutes who wanted to be close to their best clients: the bishops and cardinals of the Roman Curia.
Sundays from 7am to 2pm: Porta Portese Market
Porta Portese is the massive flea market that takes over Trastevere every Sunday from 7am to 2pm. The vendors have a wide variety of goods, including antiques, coins, books, furniture, clubbing clothes, fake designer purses, home decor items, jewelry, and a sprinkling of everything else. Most vendors are willing to bargain, with actual selling prices 10% to (if you’re an outstanding bargainer on a slow day) as much as 30% off. Most vendors speak several languages and those who don’t are very forgiving of broken Italian. There are even a few places to sit and eat while you compare bargains or watch the crowds pass by. The flea market occupies both sides of the street for MANY blocks parallel to the Tiber. It could take literally hours to see everything, and while there is a lot of junk, the serious shopper will go home with one or two real treasures. Bartering and patience is a must!
Daily: The MACRO Museum and Market
If you prefer a market for fresh produce and meats, check out the new Testaccio Market right across from the MACRO museum. The market has just been newly built, replacing an older version. It is now a covered complex, making it look quite modern.
Rome’s MACRO (Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome) has converted Testaccio’s former slaughterhouse into a multispace venue for visual and performance art. The complex hosts exhibitions, performances, and events including RomaContemporary, the annual contemporary art fair. MACRO Pelanda is the Testaccio complex’s exhibition, laboratory, residence, and artist workspace. MACRO Testacctio is open until midnight.