Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

Centrale Montemartini (Rome Capitoline Museums satellite site)

This electrical plant, the first in Rome and built 1912, has been converted recently (1997) into a secondary museum space for the Capitoline Museum collections of sculpture during the main site’s rennovation. I admit, I was skeptical about this museum – I thought it would house “leftovers”. I was very pleasantly surprised and would recommend this to any interested tourists or scholars, especially fans of Ancient art. Not many people make it out here but it is worth it, and not really as out of the way as it seems. The power plant has been beautifully restored and interesting elements have been recuperated and duly labelled, providing for fascinating juxtapositions of the modern (all dark metal) and the ancient sculpture, usually not all that fun to look at in white rooms. If anything you’re bound to get good photos.

Greek statue and Tosi

Barberini Togato

Amongst the more quality items in the collection is the famous Barberini “Togato“, a standing male sculpture of the first century representing a patrician man holding the busts of his ancestors – reflective of contemporary practice and privilege of the patrician classes to have these items made. However, since it is in itself a white marble sculpture, to us there is not much differentiation between the “real” and the “sculpted”, so that it rather disconcertingly looks like this man is holding two severed heads. His own head was also severed; the one on this sculpture is not the original.

dieselmotor2My photos show some of the most interesting sculptures juxtaposed with power plant machinery, such as the sign that says Franco Tosi (1933) with a greek maiden, and the dials from a 1930’s diesel motor here.

Lunch Suggestion: “Doppio Zeroo” wine bar, (via ostiense 68). A stylish but reasonably priced pizzeria/tavola calda/wine bar frequented by office workers (always a good sign).

On your way back to Piramide metro station, you can’t possibly miss the Piramide di Caio Cestio, a 27 metre high brick pyramid faced with white marble, and tucked into the city walls, which kinda takes away from the original effect.

Official website and opening hours at: www.centralemontemartini.org
Open Tuesday through Sunday (closed Monday), 9.00-19.00.

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By: arttrav

Alexandra Korey aka ArtTrav is a Florence-based art historian and arts marketing consultant.