The Roman Scenes
The Roman Scenes are pieces of scenography that represent at life size aspects of Roman popular life, using a mixture of authentic pieces and created objects to explore the typical popular culture of the first decades of the 1900s.
The three oldest Roman Scenes (Inn, Saltarello, and Public Scribe) which have been conserved in the Museo di Roma in Trastevere since its construction in 1977, were displayed for the first time in 1930 in the branch of the Museo di Roma in the old Pantanella baker’s near to the Bocca della Verità piazza. In an era in which the urban development necessary to realize the regulatory plans of 1873 and 1883 and the “modernisation” of the Twenties were rapidly modifying the reality of the city, the collections on display in the new Museum, curated by Antonio Muñoz, Carlo Galassi Paluzzi and Antonio M. Colini, were intended to show what life had been like in Rome in the centuries which had just passed.
To represent popular Roman life in as dramatic and realistic a manner as possible, three scenes were created, in a manner which was quite common in the period, with life sized figures, showing an inn, a public scribe with his clients and the saltarello, the popular dance most widely practiced in Rome and its environs.
To set the scene for the popular Roman traditions, which in 1930 seemed, at least within the city, to have entirely disappeared, the curators of the Museo di Roma referred to the drawings and engravings of Bartolomeo Pinelli (1781-1835), the artist who, in the first decades of the Nineteenth century, represented Rome and Roman life better than anyone else.
The first three Roman scenes, therefore, were set in Rome in the early Nineteenth century, planned and created by Antonio Barrera (1889-1970) with the collaboration of Giulio Cesare Reanda. The scenes reused material that came in part from the Exhibition of Costume (organised in 1927 for the Province of Rome by Giuseppe Ceccarelli with the artistic collaboration of Orazio Amato and Antonio Barrera) and in part collected during the procession of costumes and dressmaking of all the regions of Italy (organised by Giulio Aristide Sartorio, with the collaboration of Giuseppe Ceccarelli for the Roman part), which took place on the 8th January 1930 below the Campidoglio to celebrate the marriage of Prince Umberto of Savoy to Maria of Belgium.
When, between 1949 and 1952, the Museo di Roma was transferred to Palazzo Braschi in piazza S. Pantaleo, the three Roman scenes were dismantled and reassembled in a new location. Subsequently Orazio Amato (1884-1952) created the Scenes of pipers, wine carts, stretchers and chemists, using the same criteria that had been used for the earlier scenes. The intention was that they should be “created using all the means and scenographic solutions necessary to give the illusion of reality”. For the pharmacy scene, for instance, Nineteenth century pharmaceutical containers were acquired as a loan from the hospital of S. Spirito.
From 1973 to 1976 the Scenes, together with the crèche also set in Nineteenth century Rome, were reinstalled in the Museo di Sant'Egidio in Trastevere.