Paintings of Pigneto by Kelly Medford.
Just as the ancient ruins of Rome paint a picture of what life was like inside the Aurelian walls thousands of years ago, venturing outside the historical center offers a fresh perspective and insight into what makes this modern metropolis tick. The Eternal City’s characteristic neighborhoods represent the many facets of urban contemporary life, Roman style.
Pigneto is one of thirty five quartieri urbani (urban neighborhoods) that together form the Italian capital. Lying just beyond Porta Maggiore, its border stretches from Piazzale Labicano, between Via Prenestina, Via Casilina and Via dell’Acqua Bullicante. Once considered the outskirts of the capital, Pigneto is a former shantytown that’s emerged from its difficult past to become a community known for it’s creative flare and broad-mindedness.
Famous Italian movie directors like Roberto Rossellini (Roma Citta’ Aperta) and Pier Paolo Pasolini (Accattone) shot their neo-realistic films on these mean streets. In fact, Pasolini once described Pigneto as “The crown of thorns that surrounds the city of God”.
Katrina Tan Conte and Francesco Conte are independent filmmakers raising their son, Adamo in Pigneto. When asked why they chose this particular spot, Kat explains, “I like that it’s not in the center of Rome, but also not far from it. The morning farmers’ market, the occasional communal lunch out in the street with the neighbors, weekend activities and random performances (musical or other) outside bars, street art and cinema – I could go on.”
Its main drag, Via del Pigneto, is a pedestrian-only boulevard with a mishmash of shops, bars, cafes and multi-ethnic restaurants. The early morning produce market snakes through its center and in recent years this zone has attracted an impressive and edgy street art scene – these creative installations can be found plastered and spray-painted on nearly every building’s exterior. To underscore Pigneto’s Rock N Roll vibe, Kat adds one last observation: “Pigneto is street hipster-punk world-alternative-underground-mundane-gay-locals.”
People say neighborhoods are the soul of a city, but in the case of Pigneto, it’s the heart of Rome.
Watch a clip from Accattone here, filmed in Pigneto:
Thanks so much for sharing the paintings, Kelly. And thanks, Toni, for the fun note and photos!