Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Railway Station and Museum of Porta San Paolo

If you happen to take the B line of the Rome's underground and get off at Piramide station, take your time to take a peek to this interesting, close-by station and its story.
The railway station of Porta San Paolo is the terminal of the Rome-Lido railway, connecting Rome to the seaside of Ostia.
The building of railway and its stations started in 1919. The achitect commissioned with the task was Marcello Piacentini, who was the son of Pio Piacentini, the architect who designed the Monument of Victor Emmanuel II and the Galleria Sciarra.
As the classical lesson of his father is still noticeable in the beautiful arcs and the elegant decorations, you can also start to get the feel of the Rationalism current that in a few years would be identified as the canon of Fascist Art for which Marcello will be famous.
The attempt here was to adhere to the armonic canons of classicism yet in quite a simplified, "sharp" way.

The artworks that decorate the walls of the station are by Giulio Rosso, a Florentine artist.
The decorations are released as graffiti, simply scratched on the surface of fresh concrete. The themes pertain the seaworld and marine sceneries as the station was seen as the fastest connection that allowed the Romans to the sea on the scorching summers, but it was also an attempt to populate the area of the litorale.
On 1924, the year of the completion and inauguration of the railway, the train took 50 minutes to cover its 29 chilometers. On 1925, with the use of the electrical locomotives, the time was shortened to 30 minutes.

Something that not everybody knows, is that the station is also the site of the little but informative Porta San Paolo Railway Museum.
The entrance can be found on the right once entered the station. The access is free, but as it's located inside the station, you need a train ticket to access.

Inside you can see some restored rolling stocks and documents and informations related to the exhibited trains and trams.

Here is a selection of the wagons and locomotives on display.

Tram STFER series 400, s.n. 404, year 1941.
This tram was used on the Termini-Cinecittà line. The line was suppressed in the 60s, with the introduction of the underground service, which was way faster.

Electric locomotive ECD "Officine Meccaniche della Stanga" TIBB, s.n. 21, year 1931.
This train was used for the postal service. In the locomotive was a little post office. It covered the line from Rome to Viterbo.

Locomotive Breda AEG, s.n. 01 STEFER, year 1915.
This was used to cover the line from Rome to Fiuggi.

Locomotive Carminati-Toselli TIBB, s.n. 05 STEFER, year 1922:

Of course the trains are accessible, and they contain further material on display, besides the completely restored interior.
I wasn't allowed to take pictures, so I can't share what I saw-- But that's another reason to go there!

Around the park are some old signs used to show alerts or the tram's stops!
How nostalgic!

Along the Locomotive 05 you can see another display "on the open" where I could take some pictures.
Here are the shots of the station of Roma Lido on the day of its inauguration and a picture showing quite a curious two-store tram!

And this is all!
Next time you cross Piramide station to get the bus for downtown, make sure to pay a visit!

"Prince of Dreams" Exhibition

Yesterday I got see a recent exhibition held at the Quirinale palace, the residence of the President of the Italian Republic, dedicated to the 20 tapestries commissioned by Cosimo I de' Medici to decorate Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
I must say that I was really excited to enter the Quirinale, as it's usually not open to the public.

--I even had the chance to cross paths with some Corazzieri! How charming--


The exhibition is a must see, as it's the first time that the collection of tapestries, officially known as "The Stories of Joseph the Jew", was gathered as a whole after 150 years-- In fact, half of them was collected into the Quirinale for want of the Savoia in 1882, as the other half was kept at Palazzo Vecchio, their original location.
Another important detail is that, thanks to the mediation of the President, the exhibition is ticket free and free to access.
As pictures were forbidden in the area, I'm sharing here some shots taken from an article of the website of the Corriere, where you can see further pictures of its inauguration.
For larger pictures of each tapestry, descriptions and details, you can check the page of the Quirinale's website dedicated to the exhibition.

The artworks for the tapestries were commissioned to some of the most representative artists of the Italian Mannerism, Bronzino, Pontormo and Salviati.
The wall-hangings were executed by the Flemish masters Jan van der Roost and Nicolas Karcher, members of the Arazzeria Medicea , which was apparently founded in 1546 just to take care of this huge cycle.
The protagonist of the cycle is the patriarch Joseph (not the father of Jesus!) and the story of his life, from youth to death, following his rise from slave to governor of Egypt.
The idea of Cosimo's choice was to produce a huge allegory for the Medici dynasty, as the vicissitudes of Joseph are meant to mirror the alternating fortunes of the great Florentine family.
The exhibition will be held in Rome 'til April 12, 2015.
From April 29 to August 23 will be in Milan and finally it will reach Florence from September 15 to February 15, exacly located in that Sala dei Duecento of Palazzo Vecchio, which was its original location.