Friday, 30 December 2016

New Year's Day

Our ideal New Year's Day in Rome would be a combination of good food and some of our favourite sights in the city.

Our leisurely morning would start at Caffe Sant'Eustachio, in every guidebook and most definitely on the tourist radar, but, never the less, we love this spot

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With the forcast set to be a sunny 12 degrees (positively tropical to us from the Edge of Empire!) we would take a seat outside to admire the stag atop the church opposite. Ordering a cafe corretto would ensure we are warmed from within.

A short walk would take us back 2000 years to the Pantheon.

The Corinthian columns at the Pantheon’s entrance are each cut from a single stone, bought all the way from Egypt, and were designed to hide the dome from view. The architects planned that by obscuring the dome they would provoke a sense of wonder as people walked in & saw the perfect hemisphere inside. Unfortunately, our sense of wonder will have to wait until later as the interior is closed on New Year's Day.
Another short walk will bring us to the lovely Piazza Sant’Ignazio. The piazza is built like a stage set and the best view is from the steps of the church.


Crossing the Via del Corso and walking along Via Muratte will bring us to Baccano, our lunch destination. This has more of a Parisian vibe than Roman but it serves seriously good cocktails, wine & craft beer - oh yes, and food too! The menu has a mix of local and international dishes.They are serving lunch from 12.00 - 4.00 on New Year's Day (we will have booked beforehand by emailing Cecilia at

After a long, leisurely lunch it will be time to brave the hoards at the Trevi Fountain. Inevitably it will be crowded but it is a ‘must see’ and is looking even more magnificent after a refurbishment that has taken place over the past couple of years.

From here our walk takes us to the Spanish Steps. As we are walking up Via Nazareno, on the left hand side, we will see remains of an aqueduct, the Aqua Vergine. Although built in the first century AD, this still provides the water for the Trevi and also for another fountain we will see shortly.

As we pass by the Column of the Immaculate Conception, just before we get to Piazza Spagna, we will look up to the wreath that is held by the statue of Mary.

It was placed there, early in the morning of December 8th, by firemen, to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Beyond the Christmas tree in Piazza Mignanelli we will see the facade of a palazzo twinkling with thousands of tiny white lights. This is the headquarters & home in Rome of the designer Valentino.

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The boat fountain in Piazza Spagna has also been recently restored. This fountain was the last work of Pietro Bernini, father of the more famous Gianlorenzo Bernini and commemorates the great flood of Christmas Day 1598 when a barge from the Tiber was washed up on the slopes of the Pincio Hill. The design of an old leaking boat is a very clever device that hides the fact that the water pressure from the aqueduct, the Acqua Vergine, is extremely low.


The Christmas tree at the top of the steps is sponsored by Bulgari and is pretty spectacular as you can see here

To the right, at the bottom of the Spanish Steps, is the house where the Romantic poet, John Keats, died at the age of 25

We will walk up Via Babuino to Piazza del Popolo, passing the statue of Silene on the way. He is nicknamed the baboon - thus giving the street its name.


Walking across the piazza we will come to the entrance of the exhibition of 100 Presepi. We visited this last year and saw cribs from all over the world and made out of every kind of material.

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I’ve described some of the cribs we saw in ‘12 Days of Christmas’.

We will walk back down picturesque Via Margutta, one of our favourite streets in the city. Artists, composers and writers have all had studios on this street including Debussy, Liszt, Wagner, Stravinsky, Picasso and Truman Capote.

Perhaps the most famous recent resident was the film director, Federico Fellini, who lived at number 110 with his wife Giuletta Masina.

Many films have been shot in this street, the most famous being ‘ Roman Holiday’. One of the main characters in the film, Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) had his apartment at number 51.

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The fountain, Fontana degli Artisti, is surmounted by a bucket of paint brushes, representing the artists studios in the street.

Our last port of call will be Antico Cafe Greco on Via Condotti. This is the oldest cafe in Rome and was frequented by Casanova, Goethe, Wagner, Stendhal, Baudelaire, Shelley and Byron. Opposition to the French Occupation of 1849-70 was planned in this cafe.

Information on the art works lining the walls, many donated by the artists who drank here, can be found on the website.

We will head to the room at the back to soak up the historic atmosphere and enjoy a cocktail - expensive but oh so worth it!

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