Bertani Seaside Day

[Guest post by Fabio Colonese in Rome]  

‘Dai’ is an invented word to say giorno but sounding like the English ‘day’ to evoke the sense of a festival that is international and domestic at the same time. This year I have been there with my family and my small sketchbook, of course.

Bertani is the name of a little street near S. Cosimato’s square in Trastevere, Rome. Every year this street is closed for a day to house a domestic festival managed by the B5 Association and other local organisations.

On a warm sunny morning, my wife, my children and I were engaged in a number of curious attractions. In the shadow of a white tent, the artist Roberto Capone invited kids to use his tempera colors and large brushes to paint his fantastic fishes made with old newspapers, water and glue. The fish were not there by accident – this year, the festival has been dedicated to the seaside.

Close to Roberto’s tent, a large sandy shore with two umbrellas had been arranged in the middle of the street to welcome children. Most of all, a wooden theater had been assembled in the upper part of the street, with a huge white octopus sleeping over it and paper jellyfishes hanging from the wires linked to the windows of the buildings.

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Most of the graphic decorations and scenic panels had been arranged by the team of the bookshop Gocce d’Inchiostro/Tic Edizioni and the people attending to their art workshops. Musicians and actors alternated on the stage singing songs, mimicking and telling fairytales to the families sitting on the sampietrini pavement that had been cleaned the night before.

Other kinds of “underwater creatures” could be found near the theater. A strange machine made of several interconnected mechanisms in wood and ropes had been literally besieged by children. By hitting a panel with a ball, one could make a child sitting on the top of a slope fall into the water pool below, and friends and relatives enjoyed this effect very much.

Added to these were stands of non-governmental organisations alternating with gastronomic and toy stands, in a very peculiar way.

This kind of self-made spontaneous district festival is quite unusual in Rome where most of the events have gradually become too institutional and tourist-oriented while large parts of the inner city are no more inhabited by Roman families. The Bertani Dai is a small but vivid public expression of a community living and working in Trastevere and I hope it may become a model for other domestic festivals oriented to families elsewhere in Rome.

Fabio Colonnese is an architect based in Rome, Italy. He is a “silent” member of Urban Sketchers. You can see Fabio’s sketches здесь.


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