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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

Alla Ricerca Di Un'Identità – Sketches from Rome

This was my third time in Rome, but I was delighted to actually have time to explore the city on this trip (as the previous two trips were more of a mad dash through to get to other locations).

On the evening I arrived, I wandered around for half an hour and took a photo of this vine growing out of a crack in a wall - just before it got dark. I took this photo of the sun setting behind the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano - I am unreasonably proud of the way the light illuminated the statues in a heavenly glow.

Nearby I found a shop which sold all manner of items, including a scrunchie (I forgot to bring any hair ties with me) and a vast array of art supplies. I picked up four different pens in the hope that one of them would be waterproof (my waterproof ink pens all ran out in Poland) - and as luck would have it all four of them turned out to be water resistant!

The following morning, I ventured out - it was a cloudy day and finally got to see the Colosseum. I felt obliged to make a sketch of it using the new pens!

I also drew this odd little chapel (or at least that's what I assumed it was) which was located on the road side.

I then wandered down to the river and made a sketch from sight (the previous three were all made from photos). I stood on a bridge which had a lot of pedestrian and vehicle traffic and the constant hustle and bustle made me feel a bit panicky - so, it was difficult to concentrate. Just as I was finishing, an Italian woman passed by a said "Brava!" to me - which I assume meant she liked it (my Italian language skills are non-existant).

At the end of the day, I made a very dynamic watercolour of a ruin near my hotel - I think I was tired by this point and had run out of patience for detail. I'm not sure it worked too well.

I made this very inky sketch from a photo of some ruins, which I took in a high-traffic tourist area (it wasn't possible to stop on location and sketch).

This ruin, on the other hand, was perfectly situated opposite a tram stop where there were benches and since it was sunny - I sat and sketched it from site. There was the odd bit of cat calling, whilst I was sketching outside, but it was mostly wolf-whistles or guys shouting "hello!" which is more annoying than intimidating. I got a bit sunburned because I am English and stupidly forgot to bring any sun-cream.

This last sketch I made from a photo which I took on my way to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary art, which I visited on Tuesday. I didn't realise the Duchamp urinal was exhibited there, but now I have seen it in-real-life, I think I can die content that I have seen everything I need to see in my life.

Street Art

I saw a piece of street art which I absolutely love; a social commentary on migration, borders, protest and the politics of wealth (basically everything I love). But it made me feel guilty for essentially staying in the city as a tourist and contributing to the gentrification issue...

The event

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the event I was speaking and performing at in Rome. It was organised by an old friend of mine, Roger Casale, a former Labour party MP (who I have campaigned with for many years through his organisation New Europeans), as well as a French man called Eric (who leads another organisation, Europa Now!) – who proudly told me that he was granted Italian citizenship just a few days ago.

The event took place in a very stylish, Italian café, which had the most beautiful black and gold mural on the wall. It was a small space, which was perfect given the size of the audience – the sound system which had been set up probably wasn’t necessary. Eric had leant me his daughter’s guitar to perform a few songs – unfortunately it was a classic guitar, which I am not used to playing – but I managed okay. The main difference is the fret board is much wider than a steel string guitar – but I picked it up the day before so I could practice and get used to the finger positions.

I arrived at 6pm when the event was due to start and Eric informed me that in Rome, people always arrive later. He said that if you are invited to a dinner and you show up at the agreed time, it is considered rude because they will still be preparing the dishes! I appologised for committing this faux pas and arriving on time!

I hadn’t been briefed on the format of the event, so I hadn’t prepared what I was going to say. I had assumed that Roger / Eric would ask me questions to respond to – but they actually wanted me to monologue. Fortunately, I had to stop frequently to allow Roger to translate into Italian – which gave me a few moments to think about the key points I wanted to make. In the end, I think the event went well and I had the opportunity to chat with most members of the audience afterwards. They were all very complimentary about my home city of Leicester, which I found amusing because I am not particularly fond of it myself (but I think Italians are particularly proud of their families / home towns). One Italian woman said that she visited Leicester by accident because her train was cancelled and she had to stop en-route to her final destination – I remarked that the best thing about Leicester is that it is located in the middle of the UK, so convenient to get to other places – which made her laugh.

I didn’t know how many songs they were expecting me to perform, in the end I chose three; ‘We Are Europe’, ‘We Won’t Go Down Without A Fight!’ and ‘Betrayal In Your Eyes’ which are all upbeat as I didn’t want to put a dampener on the jovial mood. Afterwards, another member of the audience, a French man who also spoke German commented that I had pronounced the difficult word ‘gleichberechtigung’ (equality) very well in the German translation of the ‘We Are Europe’ chorus. I had apologised that I only had the chorus translated into French and German – but the audience enthusiastically promised to translate an Italian version for me next time I perform in Rome.

Update on the bug bites...



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