The stairway of "The Infinite"

The most recent attraction of Montesacro district in Rome is the long stairway of via Tremiti, ninety-nine steps connecting viale Tirreno to via Brennero, on which the verses of the poem “L'Infinito” ("The Infinite") written by Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) were painted, to celebrate the anniversary of its publication.

The story of a stairway
The building of the stairway is contemporary to that of the neighborhood, between the late 1910s and 1920s. Indeed the street is mentioned in the 1922 "Stradario romano" (Street index) by Benedetto Blasi.
In the past, the stairway had already worked as a support for messages: in 1982 it has been painted in three bands of green, white and red, to celebrate Italy's victory in the football world championship, the following year it was repainted in yellow and red. to celebrate the victory of A.S. Roma in the Italian Football League, in 2000 it became blue and white for the victory of S.S. Lazio, and the following year it returned to the yellow and red for the third title of A.S. Roma. This alternation was described by the writer Marco Lodoli in 2005 in his book "Isole":
"In Montesacro, between viale Tirreno and via Tremiti, there is a stairway of ninety-nine steps that has become the emblem of the ups and downs of football in our city. When Falcao and Conti's Roma won the title, in 1983, some enthusiastic fans painted the profiles of the steps in yellow and red, and in the midst of that travertine climb they painted a big tricoloured shield ... In 2000 it was Mancini and Nesta's Lazio that prevailed: and then, on the first night of the apotheosis, it was the fans of Eriksson's team who wrapped the stairway in white and blue ... the following year it was Capello and Batistuta's Rome that prevailed ... the stairway certainly could not remain to Lazio ... And for now, it is still like this ... ".
A similar story is that of the long (and wide) stairway that connects viale Glorioso to via Dandolo, in Trastevere district, painted in yellow and red for the last two titles of A.S. Roma, in 1983 and 2001, cleaned (but traces remain) aside. of the Municipal Urban Decency Office in January 2015.

After the football splendours, a long period of chromatic neutrality followed for the stairway in via Tremiti, also due to the more than twenty-year absence of titles for the Capitoline teams, and we arrived at the repainting of the steps in various colors, by groups of citizens, including those of “99 non è cento”, who took care of the stairway to save it from decay, especially by collecting the numerous bottles (whole and broken) and cans left by the uneducated people who used it (and still use it) as a night meeting place, and pulling weeds never bothered by the cleaners' staff of the AMA (Azienda Municipale Ambiente) perhaps for the scruple of disturbing the vegetable well-being (some specimens of weeds reached truly impressive dimensions).
Then, from September 2020, the III Municipality carried out a long restoration, which ended in February 2021, repairing the chipped steps, filling the cracks on the treads, replacing the handrails, emptying the manhole halfway up, completely obstructed and cleaning everything, giving back to the stairway a candid and dignified aspect.

Here comes The Infinite
The “Leopardi incontra le scalette” ("Leopardi meets the stairway") project was realized on this blank support, promoted in 2019 by the citizens' associations "99 non è cento" and "Arte e Città a Colori" which had requested the Capitoline Superintendence and the Municipality to be allowed to carry out the work, to celebrate the anniversary of “L'Infinito”, published in 1819.
The two-year delay was due in part to the Covid-19 pandemic and in part to the fact that the stairway is placed under the constraint of the "Quality Charter" of Rome Municipality, which protects certain buildings or urban areas of the city, which required additional bureaucratic time.
The work was finally authorized and created with the collaboration of the III Municipality and "Retake" and entrusted to the young artist Giovanni Cesi, aka Mr. Ent, expert in graphic art and hand lettering, and was inaugurated on Friday June 18
th, 2021 at 7:00pm.
"L'Infinito" is painted from the bottom up, on the riser of the steps, placing one verse every four steps, and reading is possible by climbing the stairway, up to the top. At the base of the stairway a sentence is painted, again by Leopardi, taken from “Il dialogo di un venditore di almanacchi e un passeggere” ("The dialogue of an almanac seller and a passer-by"), from the "Operette morali" of 1827: "Quella vita ch’è una cosa bella, non è la vita che si conosce, ma quella che non si conosce; non la vita passata, ma la futura" ("That life that is a beautiful thing, is not the life that is known, but that which is not known; not the past life, but the future one").
The writing is in a larger font, readable all together from top to bottom from a point on the sidewalk of Viale Tirreno, at the foot of the stairway, marked by the drawing of an eye.

Other Infinites
A similar initiative, again to celebrate “L’Infinito”, had already been implemented in Bisceglie (province of Barletta-Andria-Trani, in Apulia), on the stairway located between Via Porto and Via Cristoforo Colombo, and inaugurated on 22 August 2019 , on the initiative of the Borgo Antico Association, and called the “readers' stairway”.

How to get there (see map)
The stairway is very close to the "Conca d’Oro" stop of the B1 metro: it can be easily reached from Termini, Repubblica or Colosseo by taking the B1 metro (direction: "Jonio") and getting off at the penultimate stop. Leaving the metro, you should head towards the hill, at the foot of which viale Tirreno passes, which you must cross at the pet shop, continuing for a few meters with the hill on your left, up to the fruit and vegetable shop, which is corner with via Tremiti.
Coming from Montesacro (piazza Sempione) you can reach the stairway on foot, walking on viale Tirreno for 600 meters, or you can go to the stop no. 71574 "Tirreno / Sempione" at the beginning of viale Tirreno (from piazza Sempione turning the corner) and take a bus of lines 86, 311, 336, 337, 338, 343, 351 (or night 92) to the next stop no. 71575 "Tirreno / Isole Eolie" and continuing 150 meters in the same direction as the bus.
You can also get to the stairway with bus line 80, leaving from Piazza Venezia, direction Porta di Roma, getting off at stop 81846 "Conca d'Oro MB1" and following the directions provided for the Metro, or, again with line 80, but leaving from Porta di Roma, direction Piazza Venezia, getting off at stop 81844 "Conca d'Oro MB1", on the other side of the square. The same stops can be reached with line 38, leaving respectively from Termini Station and Porta di Roma.

Sempre caro mi fu quest'ermo colle,
e questa siepe, che da tanta parte
dell'ultimo orizzonte il guardo esclude.
Ma sedendo e mirando, interminati
spazi di là da quella, e sovrumani
silenzi, e profondissima quiete
io nel pensier mi fingo, ove per poco
il cor non si spaura. E come il vento
odo stormir tra queste piante, io quello
infinito silenzio a questa voce
vo comparando: e mi sovvien l'eterno,
e le morte stagioni, e la presente
e viva, e il suon di lei. Così tra questa
infinità s'annega il pensier mio:
e il naufragar m'è dolce in questo mare.
Always dear to me was this lonely hill,
and this hedge, that for a wide part
of the outer horizon the sight excludes.
But sitting and watching, endless
spaces beyond it, and superhuman
silences, and deepest stillness
in my thought I imagine, where my heart is about to be scared. And as I hear,
the wind rustling among these plants, that
infinite silence to this voice
I compare: and I recall the eternal,
and the dead seasons, and the current
and alive, and the sound of her. So among this infinity my thought drowns:
and sinking in this sea is sweet to me.

From the top of the lonely hill Giacomo Leopardi used to see this infinite. (pictures by Alessandra Gaddini) The link between the infinity sung by Leopardi and the beautiful sunsets that are frequently seen from the top of the stairway should not be overlooked, although with a perspective limited by the buildings that limit it laterally and that face it on the opposite side of Viale Tirreno. Even the "infinite silence" can only be appreciated during certain hours of the day.

BLASI Benedetto (1922) Stradario romano. Dizionario storico etimologico topografico. Edizioni del Pasquino, Roma (reprint 1980).
LODOLI Marco (2005) Isole. Guida di Roma vagabonda, Einaudi, Torino.
PERONACI Fabrizio (2015) «Ma che decoro, so’ stati i laziali» Fa discutere la scalinata ripulita. Corriere della Sera - Roma/Cronaca, January 26
th, 2015 link

Websites visited:

I apologize for any error in English translation:
if you want to communicate with me for corrections and/or comments,
click here

page created: February 4th, 2022 and last updated: January 2nd, 2024