Last weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity of going to Rome, Italy. It was my first time in the country and in mainland Europe, and I’ve never been to such a beautiful yet historical place in my life. Walking in a place that spans a history of more than 2,000 years gave me a special feeling, but opening my eyes further to realize that Rome has been heavily gentrified gave me another feeling I can’t quite put my finger on. The only locals I saw were shop owners/workers, and I wondered if any Italians that weren’t involved with tourism lived within Rome at all.
Italy is most arguably known for the birth of the Renaissance (14th to 16th century), a cultural movement where classical learning and wisdom was brought into many areas of human life: art, politics, science, religion, and music. Roman art and architecture has spread all over the world and is very recognizable and respected. London has its fair share of Roman-inspired buildings, particularly because the Romans founded London in AD 50.
It could be said that the Renaissance period was a type of counterculture. It went against the social and cultural normalities of the Middle Ages. London also has a history of counterculture, beginning in the 1960s and continuing to the present. Now, counterculture is commonly expressed as street art. Various forms of street art can be found all over London, but a main hub for it can be found in a neighborhood called Shoreditch. Heavily gentrified as well, Shoreditch is known for its hipster vibe and quirky shops. It’s hard to find a blank wall on its streets because artists of spray cans, paper, paint, and rubber have taken to express their views on them. Below are 2 of my favorites from a street art tour I was on earlier this week:
For more information on London counterculture, click here: Spirit of the Underground
For more information on Roman influence in London, visit the Museum of London: London Before London