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  • Future City Guide Rome.

Future City Guide Rome.

Rome. The Eternal City. And also a place of constant renewal. One of the people driving these innovations is architect Francesco Colarossi. We caught up with Colarossi at his studio in Testaccio, a working-class district that makes Rome’s renewal tangible like no other. The perfect starting point for a tour to Rome’s hippest places.

Francesco Colarossi at his “Coffice“: brimming with ideas, as always.

Francesco Colarossi at his “Coffice”: brimming with ideas, as always.

Meeting point: “Coffice”.

We find Francesco in one of Rome’s characteristic old city mansions, perched on a plain chair at an elegant 1960s conference table. The room’s windows and shutters are wide open. A warm breeze wafts through the bright “Coffice”, the sustainable architecture and urban planning studio co-founded by Colarossi. His designs and models provide a sharp contrast to this traditional setting: they are modern, eco-friendly, and straight-forward in both form and concept.

The future Rome.

It is these ostensible opposites that drive and inspire the passionate city planner. Francesco’s vision aims to unite old and new, to create a green city with ubiquitous e-mobility. The future Rome. His “Solar Wind” design, which integrates wind turbines in the supporting structure of highway bridges, already received the prestigious World Infrastructure Energy Award, bringing global attention to Coffice.

One of the many typical trattorias populating the hip Pigneto quarter.

One of the many typical trattorias populating the hip Pigneto quarter.

A quick coffee at the bar awakens the senses. And our sense of humour.

A quick coffee at the bar awakens the senses. And our sense of humour.

Tour start according to local custom.

Since it’s impossible to really experience a city from behind a conference table, Francesco takes us on a tour of present-day Rome. According to local custom, we start the day like any self-respecting Roman: by refuelling with a quick shot of caffeine at the nearby Gran Caffè on Piazza Testaccio. From here, it’s only a quick hop to the city’s former main slaughterhouse, the Mattatoio Testaccio.

A lively urban (sub-)culture.

After its closure in 1975, this expansive complex played host to a lively urban (sub-)culture. Rage Against the Machine, Eric Clapton, Zucchero and others have played here, flanked by organic farmer’s markets and temporary structures. Over time, the old industrial buildings have undergone extensive renovation. Now, the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma (MACRO) uses the Mattatoio Testaccio for exhibitions while the city’s university has created lecture halls and a library. It’s the perfect place to experience Rome’s ongoing evolution first-hand.

Rome also has a vibrant urban cultural scene.

Rome also has a vibrant urban cultural scene.

Just before sunrise: the perfect time for a trip to the gasometer.

Just before sunrise: the perfect time for a trip to the gasometer.

A new quarter.

From Mattatoio, we enjoy an excellent view of a nearby gasometer on a former refinery site, right on the banks of the Tiber. Over the next few years, this area is set to transform into a lively quarter of its own – and Francesco can’t hide his enthusiasm when sketching out his vision of zero-energy homes, friendly, inviting green spaces and a welcome opening towards the river.

The National Museum of 21st Century Art.

The city’s main waterway defines many of the new developments: around 8 kilometres upriver from the Gazometro, the MAXXI – Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, the National Museum of 21st Century Art, has found a home on a decommissioned army barracks site. Zaha Hadid’s incredible design sensitively complements the district’s existing structures. The complex, which also houses Italy’s first ever museum of architecture, doubles as a laboratory for contemporary art. Besides exhibitions, the institute regularly stages workshops, conferences, lectures and performances, flanked by a wide spectrum of pedagogic events.

One of the late Zaha Hadid’s most harmonious designs: the MAXXI.

One of the late Zaha Hadid’s most harmonious designs: the MAXXI.

No pasta without plenty of pane. Plus a glass of dry white.

No pasta without plenty of pane. Plus a glass of dry white.

Pranzo.

After this intense onslaught of impressions, we have worked up an appetite and planto take our pranzo – lunch – in Pigneto, an up-and-coming district just outside the old city walls. Here, countless of small trattorias offer incredible Roman pasta: classiccacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) or equally delicious carbonara and spaghetti allagricia. We also order fresh chicory, braised in the pan with plenty of garlic. Not to forget a glass of chilled white wine from Lazio, the region around Rome. Wonderful.

The Città dello Sport.

Refuelled and refreshed, we head even further south-east to leave the city. Just outside the beltway, we stop at Santiago Calatrava’s unfinished masterpiece, the Città dello Sport. This phenomenal sporting palace was designed for the 2008 World Swimming Championships, yet didn’t get finished in time for the competition. Francesco is clearly moved by the masterly craft of the extremely well-made, organic concrete elements that could easily double as raw, powerful sculptures.

The “City of Sports”. A bold design by Santiago Calatrava.

The “City of Sports”: A bold design by Santiago Calatrava.

Francesco overlooks the Testaccio quarter from his office. It’s the place where he feels most at home.

Francesco overlooks the Testaccio quarter from his office. It’s the place where he feels most at home.

The EUR district.

Before we explore their antique counterparts in the heart of Rome, we first return to the Tiber. In the city’s south-west, the EUR district awaits, a centre for economics and administration that includes the Nuovo Centro Congressi, a modern steel and glass congress centre by Roman architect Massimiliano Fuksas. The towering structure is otherwise known as La Nuvola – the cloud – in reference to its unique inner shape.

The first E-Prix of the Formula E.

It’s the perfect setting for a glimpse of the future: on April 14th, EUR plays host to the first European E-Prix of the 2018 Formula E season. As part of the event presented by EQ, solely e-powered racing cars will cause a stir on the streets of EUR.

On this beautiful Roman day, however, La Nuvola remained the only cloud in sight. So, we decide to soak up the last sunny rays at the Trevi fountain and above the Colosseum before taking our cena (or dinner) at local hotspot Pianostrada – laboratorio di cucina on nearby Via delle Zoccolette. After grilled aubergine cakes, foccacia variations, a cod burger with a sepia-tinted bun and seasonal fresh salads, we still have room for several delicious dolci.

Enchanted light at the Trevi fountain. A classic captured from an unusual perspective.

Enchanted light at the Trevi fountain. A classic captured from an unusual perspective.

The Pianostrada on Via delle Zoccolette is a great place to end the day in style.

The Pianostrada on Via delle Zoccolette is a great place to end the day in style.

Emission-free traffic in the city.

Before a final coffee rounds off this impression-rich day, Francesco once again vents his enthusiasm. “Just imagine how great it would be for my city if we could restrict city centre traffic to emission-free electric cars, electric busses and e-bikes or bicycles.”

Concept EQ and EQA.

To explore further intelligent ideas on future mobility on April 14th, head to the EQ booth at the Formula E Allianz E-Village and experience the Concept EQ and Concept EQA cars first-hand.

Later that evening, Mercedes-Benz hosts an EQ night for 300 influencers and opinion leaders at the Madre restaurant in the old town of Rome. Fortified with beats, drinks and finger food, guests are invited to discuss tomorrow’s mobility – and meet and network with like-minded trailblazers to give these ideas a tangible headstart.

The Colosseum, the most monumental symbol and landmark of the Eternal City.

The Colosseum, the most monumental symbol and landmark of the Eternal City.