Saturday, 31 May 2014

Madonna del Parto

The day starts in our usual Roman fashion, enjoying strong espresso on the roof terrace whilst watching the swallows swooping over terracotta roof tiles in the morning sunlight.

Today there is a city wide transport strike so we plan to stay close to home this morning.

Er Baretto for coffee and cornetti. As the WiFi in our apartment is poor we take advantage of the free WiFi here and enjoy a leisurely cappuccino at the same time.

We walk through the market on Cesare Balbo to our first church – San Paolo inside the Walls. The apse contains stunning mosaics by Burne-Jones including a beautiful set of Pre-Raphaelite archangels. In a nod to the Renaissance tradition portraits of real people of the time are depicted including Garibaldi & Abraham Lincoln.

Next is San Carlo alle Quattro Fontaine. This exquisite church, flooded with light is a masterpiece of the architect Borromini who cleverly made the most of a tiny space.

In total contrast is San Andrea al Qurinale designed by Bernini for Cardinal Pamphilj whose family emblem of a dove can be seen as well as angels, cherubs and the figure of St Andrew.


Three churches equals lunch. Today we  are sampling the €13 set lunch at L’Asino D’Oro. For the quality of food and service this has to be the best value in the city.


After a visit to one of our favourite shops in Monti, Podere Vecciano where we stock up on wine & olive oil from their own vineyards.
Then back to the apartment where we plan our late afternoon/aperitivo walk.

As yesterday, we cross Piazza Quirinale and head to the Trevi which is mobbed by several cruise tours. Fortunately we threw our coins in yesterday so make our way through the crowds to Piazza Colonna, Piazza Montecitorio and finally Piazza Sant’Agostino. The church here contains a Caravaggio (Madonna of the Pilgrims), a Raphael (Isaiah) and the Madonna del Parto (birth) which is of great significance to us as our daughter is to become a mother in December, making us grandparents for the first time.

Piazza Navona too is very busy but we escape the masses to the underground remains of the Stadium of Domitian which have recently opened to the public. The ruins are made understandable with 3D reconstructions.

We celebrate the results of our daughter’s 12 week scan at a favourite bar near the Pantheon with views of ancient columns covered in ivy and the stag of Sant’Eustachio.

We are a little peckish so we pick up fried baccala from Il Filetti and eat it under the brooding gaze of Giordano Bruno in Campo di Fiori accompanied by saxophone music (‘Summertime’ by Gershwin – perfect)

We have booked tickets to see ‘Augustus 2000’ in the Forum of Augustus. The presentation turns out to be very good but was marred by the fact there were technical problems and was an hour late.
Fortunately La Carrette are happy to provide a ‘pizza to go’ at this late hour so we end the day on a happy note.




Friday, 30 May 2014

Home in Rome

Here we are in our ‘home in Rome’ and, for a fortnight at least, we can pretend that this tiny apartment in Monti is all ours.

After dropping our luggage we went straight out to lunch – pizza at Al Carette, a favourite of Elizabeth Minchilli. This is pizza that you dream about with the characteristic thin Roman crust. Enjoying a long lunch in a shady courtyard it is hard to believe that a few hours ago we were in a rainy UK.


Bought our weekly transport pass & essentials from the supermarket and, after unpacking and settling in, set out for our ‘first night walk’ – Piazza Quirinale for our first view of St Peters then Trevi fountain to throw in our coins. We pause in the beautifully tranquil cloister of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte.......
..... and move into the church to see the two original Bernini angels.

Then on to Spanish Steps where we enjoy aperitivo that we have brought along with us.

As this is Thursday we have to have gnocchi for dinner. According to Katie Parla the best is to be found at Arcangelo in Prati so we head over the river, pausing to admire Canova’s home/studio on the way.

Although we have been to Rome many times we have never eaten supplizio so we choose this as our appetizer. Goodness these rice balls are delicious!
The gnocchi are delightfully light – little pillows of heavenly potato in a wonderfully flavoured amatriciana sauce flecked with crunchy guancale.

What a wonderful culinary start to our time in Rome thanks to two amazing apps – EatRome & Rome for Foodies.

We walk back across the river, this time over the Ponte Sant’Angelo. I love this bridge, the Bernini angels that line it and the wonderful view.

The little electric bus takes us from Via Giulia to Via Nazionale from where it is a short walk back to our apartment and one last glass of wine on the terrace.


Friday, 16 May 2014

Far from the Madding Crowd

Need a short respite from all that sight seeing? Then try one of these tranquil spots to revive flagging spirits.
If you are close to the Spanish Steps or Piazza del Popolo then the obvious choice is Villa Borghese. The area around the lake is especially pretty with plenty of benches close by. Refreshment can be found at Pic Nic the little green kiosk at Piazzale delle Canestre.

If you should find yourself between sights at Termini station why not walk outside, cross Piazza dei Cinquecento and step in to the tranquil gardens of the Museum of the Baths of Diocletian. You don't need to pay the entrance fee as the gardens are before the ticket office. There are benches in shady areas and a fountain tinkles away in the background. If it is around lunch time you could pick up a panini  from Mr Panini or picnic provisions from one of the supermarkets before exiting the station.

After a morning spent exploring the Colosseum hop on the metro from Colosseo to Circo Massimo. Transfer on to the number 118 bus as far as Basilica San Sebastiano on the Appia Antica. A short walk will take you to the Tomb of Cecilia Metella.
A little further on is Bar Appia Antica where you can enjoy lunch after which you can stroll on along this ancient Roman road. Explore the grave stones that line the road accompanied by the sounds of birdsong.
Occasionally you will snatch a glimpse through a gateway to a beautiful villa beyond.
It is hard to believe that you are so close to the city in these tranquil surroundings.
Retrace your steps to Bar Appia Antica and pick up bus 660 to Colli Albani where the metro will take you back to Termini with connections to all parts of the city.
Would you like an al fresco lunch after touring the Forum? Then cross Via Dei Fori Imperiale in to Via Madonna dei Monti . At number 16 you will find Dall' Anto where you can pick up a ricotta filled chestnut flour crepe, a wedge of faranita - a chick pea flour pancake or a simple bruschetta made with artisan bread & drizzled with fragrant extra -virgin olive oil. Take your portable feast to Piazza Santa Maria dei Monti , find a spot on the steps of the fountain and enjoy!
After a morning in the Vatican Museums you will feel the need for respite in a quiet corner of Rome. My final suggestion involves a little effort to reach but is well worth it.
Walk from the museum exit to Piazza Le Degli Eroi then take bus 913 for 7 stops to Monte Mario.  For detailed directions to your destination, Lo Zodiaco, see my previous post 'Romantic Rome'
Take a seat on the terrace of Lo Zodiaco, overlooking the 'Lovers Walk'
Order lunch and sit and drink in the view.