Although ancient art is what it is known for, Rome’s street art scene is a lively one. In recent years, a number of urban art projects mushroomed around the outskirts of the city, such as in San Basilio – a neighbourhood often associated with a high crime rates, but which is amazingly genuine and somehow a little poetic.
San Basilio’s council estate buildings were built in the 1940s and are organised into open courtyards, painted in the same ochre shades of the prettier buildings downtown.
One by one they are being colour-washed thanks to the SanBa Project, which aims to redecorate the neighbourhood from the imagination of its own inhabitants.
Take this self-guided walking tour of Rome’s San Basilio district with a distinct Italian flavour (all barring one of the artists call Italy home), and decide for yourself whether you’re ready for the high octane finishing destination…
Explore the SanBa Project
Liqen double bill
The SanBa Porject kicked off in 2014, when the Spanish street artist Liqen painted two murals about the relationship between man and nature, a theme that the artist explores along with the evolution of man and the diversity of species through most of his work.
You can catch the first of these pieces at the crossroads of Via Fabriano and Via Fiuminata, where this tour starts, and also at Via Fabriano and Via Maiolati – the second stop.
In El Devenir the earth carries on without humans, with Mother Nature gaining back her supremacy over humas, represented by this idyllic scene of plants and insects.
Whereas in El Renacer Liqen depicts rebirth as the result of a general raking up all the detritus of the industrial economy. Humans have a more active role than in the previous El Devenir – perhaps the cause of rather than solution to the great mess created.
You can bump into both Liqen’s walls by walking along Via Fabriano, the main street crossing this authentic and genuine neighbourhood.
Agostino Iacurci’s minimalism
Walking a bit further, and on your left on Via Osimo you will spot a work by Agostino Iacurci. Also in 2014 and for the same project, he painted two murals representing the relationship between the neighbourhood and its inhabitants.
The first one, titled The Blind Wall, depicts a man watering the plants, taking care of his neighbourhood in the flat and minimalist style that the artist has become renowned for.
The second mural by Agostino Iacurci is the second last stop on this tour (we’ve jumped ahead a little here, but bear with us). Wander back along the street that runs parallel to Via Fabriano (Via Recanati) and at the end of it you will find the piece below, or take the full loop and catch it later on.
In this piece, The Globe, the ‘hood is depicted as a globe held in great esteem by its inhabitants.
Hitnes – six murals for the price of one
In 2015 SanBa invited Hitnes to paint six different facades overlooking Giulietto Minna park. Hitnes’ work is highly surrealist, almost dreamlike, and depicts six different animals as if they were the guardians of the neighbourhood.
Get ready to use your panorama camera for this one!
Check out the video below to get a little insight into how these murals all came together.
Too BLU for the Polizia
Head north-east from Giulietto Minna Park along Via Recanati to catch the second of Iacurci’s walls, but before that, a controversial mural by the legendary BLU. Although this particular work isn’t part of the SanBa project, it pays tribute to the neighbourhood through the representation of the saint that gave his name to the area.
In September of 1974, a militant of the extreme left, Fabrizio Ceruso, was killed during a clash between police and squatters. He died during clashes between the police and protesters, and this piece – through various allegories and metaphors – spells out the attitude of many to the episode.
This work isn’t completed, though, having been partially censored for depicting the policemen like sheep and pigs – this bit has now been covered.
Luckily there were some snaps taken before that part was erased…
Bonus round – the abandoned factory
Feeling adventurous? Stray into the abandoned factory at the end of Via del Casale di San Basilio, not for the faint hearted, and it may or may not be classed as trespassing.
This factory is very popular among streets artists, who leave their tags and other freestyle pieces. Among the local artists who painted here there are Jerico, Gomez, Atoche, Qwerty and Rain.
Worth a trip for the real San Basilio graffiti vibe for sure! Check out the pieces below by Gomez (top) and Jerico (bottom) to get an idea of what lays in store.
This tour was put together with the valuable local knowledge and photography of Giulia at Blocal Travel Blog, check out more of her street art blogs on Blocal Travel.
Giulia is an Italian blogger who covers unconventional destinations, abandoned places, street art, suburbs, urban landscapes, weird spots and basically all the places she happens to visit.