Rome is where the art is, but not exactly what you are thinking. As much as we love colossal monuments, the millennia-old archeological sites and those gorgeously decorated Baroque churches, the Eternal City is eternal because it is keeps up with today. And that means contemporary and modern art. Grab your black books, open up your iPhones and get ready to drop a pin these three amazing galleries and art places that are making significant marks on Rome.
Palazzo Merulana is former municipal office building underwent a three-year renovation in preparation for the eclectic, 90-piece collection of Elena and Claudio Cerasi, prominent local patrons of the arts. Most of the museum’s works are Italian pieces created between World War I and II by artists such as Giacomo Balla, Giorgio de Chirico and Alighiero Boetti.
Art aficionado or not, you’ll want to hang around at CafeCulture, the palazzo’s boutique and coffee shop. The menu features a variety of fare sourced from local purveyors, such as cheeses from ProLoco DOL, hamburgers from famed butcher Bottega Liberati and sweets from patisserie Cristalli di Zucchero.
Sant’Andrea de Scaphis
One of my favorite places to catch a show is Gavin Brown’s Rome outpost Sant’Andrea de Scaphis— it’s nothing you’d expect. Inside a deconsecrated church on a side street of Trastevere, Sant’Andrea de Scaphis is a single, rustic room of hauntingly charming medieval architecture that usually features a single artist installation. Exhibits rotate every few months, so it’s unlikely you’ll run into the same works twice.
The name Fendi is synonymous with Rome’s fashion scene, but the designers’ youngest sister, Alda, opts for a more innovative interpretation with Fondazione Alda Fendi — Esperimenti, her nonprofit arts foundation. The group’s latest experiment is Palazzo Rhinoceros, a creative hub in the Velabro neighborhood.
Fendi teamed up with architect Jean Nouvel to reboot a centuries-old palazzo into a multi-level gallery, 24 luxury apartments and a rooftop restaurant, without altering the building’s historic bones. And then brought in her longtime artistic collaborator Raffaele Curi to curate multi-media installations, performances and exhibitions, including a program with the Hermitage Museum.
While the interiors are stunning, some of the venue’s highlights are actually found outside, including a can’t-miss portrait projection of Alda by Pierre et Gilles on the façade and a life-sized resin rhino that lurks in the front yard.
A version of this article appeared in Forbes Travel, December 2018.