Saturday, 30 December 2017

12 Riones of Rome - Pigna

Rione della Pigna takes its name from the bronze pine cone that once stood in the Baths of Agrippa and now can be found in the courtyard of the Vatican Museums.

The district incorporates the Pantheon ......

....and a street (Via dei Cestari) where the best dressed clergy buy their vestments.

The area is also home to Bernini's elephant ....

......and a cat that was originally from the nearby Temple of Isis

Our 'Rione Refreshment' tip is Caffe Doria, part of the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj but with a separate entrance on Via della Gatta.

Here you can enjoy your preferred coffee in luxurious surroundings watched over by a golden dolphin.

12 Riones of Rome - Prati

The symbol of Rione dei Prati is an outline of Castel Sant'Angelo, Hadrian's Mausoleum.

This area was once vineyards and fields and was not developed until the 19th centuy when the administrative offices of the Kingdom of Italy were built here.

The streets are named after figures from Republican and Imperial Rome and heroes of the Risorgimento. The main square is Piazza Cavour.

Via Cola di Rienzo is an ideal shopping destination. This long, wide, tree lined street is packed full of both popular chains and one-off speciality stores. Some of my favourites include Castroni, an Aladdins cave of foodie items from all over the world. Right next door to Castroni is Bertozzini Profumeria, a veritable temple to perfumes and cosmetics.
A little further down on the opposite side of the road is Coin Excelsior, a department store with a basement supermarket. If you are shopping for teenagers  then Brandy Loves Melville & Subdued are right next door to each other on this street.

Our 'Rione refreshment' tip is Be.Re on Piazza Risorgimento.
Here you will find over 20 craft beers on tap and snacks provided by Trapizzino.

Friday, 29 December 2017

12 Riones of Rome - Campo Marzio

In ancient Roman times Campo Marzo or Field of Mars was used for military training. in the middle ages it was the most densely populated area of the city.

The district includes the Spanish Steps.....

....and Piazza del Popolo.

One of the monuments to be found here is Ara Pacis. Built by Emperor Augustus in 13BC to celebrate the peace established in the Empire after his victories in Gaul & Spain. It didn't always stand on this spot but fragments were reassembled here in the 1930's to celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of Augustus's inauguration as Emperor.
You can experience Ara Pacis with augmented reality where the fully glory of the monument with its original bright colours comes to life right in front of your eyes and you also get to see its transformation over time. More information here

The area is also associated with the sculptor Canova who lived and worked here. His house on Via Antonio Canova is studded with statuary and a plaque commemorating him.

Our 'Rione Refreshment' tip is actually the studio where Canova worked.

Caffe Canova- Tadolini can be found on Via Babuino. Enjoy sipping your cappucino surrounded by classical sculptures.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

12 Riones of Rome - Parione

The coat of arms of Parione is the griffin, chosen as a symbol of pride and nobility. The main square of the district is Piazza Navona.

The piazza retains the shape of the ancient stadium of Domitian over which it is built.

It is possible to visit the excavated remains of the stadium below the piazza (information here)

This district is also home to Pasquino, one of the Talking Statues

Our 'Rione Refreshments' tip is Vivi Bistrot set in Palazzo Braschi on the corner of the square. The window seats offer a glimpse of the comings and goings in the piazza.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

12 Riones of Rome - Sant'Eustachio

Rione Sant'Eustachio takes its name from the church at the centre of the district. The coat of arms is a head of a stag with a cross between the antlers, the symbol of Saint Eustace.

The area contains one of Pietro Lombardi's fountains on which is depicted a stags head alongside piles of books. making reference to the nearby Sapienza university.

Works by the artist Caravaggio can be seen in two of the churches here, Sant'Agostino and San Luigi dei Francesi.

Our 'Rione Refreshment' tip for this district is Retobottega, Via Stelletta 4, where innovative dishes are served all day.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

12 Riones of Rome - Celio

Celio is located on one of the seven hills on which Rome was founded, Mons Caelius.
It was home to the legionaries who followed Scipio on his African campaigns, hence the coat of arms of this rione which depict an African wearing a headress of elephant tusks.

Several churches can be found here including San Clemente, Santi Quattro Coronati and Santi Stefano Rotondo, whose feast day it is today.

At the highest point of the hill is Villa Celimontana,  a peaceful park which hosts a jazz festival in the summer months.

Our top 'Rione Refreshment' tip is Caffe Propaganda Via Claudia 15, where expert mixologist Patrick Pistolesi prepares carefully crafted cocktails.

Monday, 25 December 2017

12 Riones of Rome - Campitelli

The district of Rione Campitelli includes Campidoglio, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum and Piazza Venezia.
The coat of arms depicts a dragon's head which alludes to the legend of Pope Sylvester slaying a dragon that inhabited a cave in the Forum.

The  area contains many churches, including Santa Maria in Aracoeli which was built on site of Temple to Jupiter where, according to legend, the Tiburtine Sybil foretold the birth of Christ to Emperor Augustus. 

There is also a 'Secret Garden', which is surprisingly easy to find if you head to one of the three entrances of Palazzo Venezia. Here is a wonderful oasis of calm right in the middle of a major traffic intersection.

Our top 'Rione Refreshment' tip for Campitelli is the Capitoline Museum Cafe. You can access this without visiting the museum by walking through the arch on the right hand side of the staircase where you will find the door to the cafe. The terrace affords wonderful views of the rooftops of Rome.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Santa Maria dell'Orto

The origin of Santa Maria dell'Orto in Trastevere is based around a miracle. In the 15th century the area in which the church stands was made up of vegetable gardens, indeed fruit and vegetables feature in decorations  throughout the church.

Tradition says that a seriously ill local man had prayed to the image of the Madonna on a wall of a vegetable garden and asked that he might be cured. The image is preserved and can be seen over the main altar.

When he was miraculously healed the inhabitants decided to build a small chapel to celebrate the event which was later enlarged to become the church we see today.

At the time the Port of Ripa Grande, the area in which the church is situated, was full of merchants (called universities) who contributed to the construction of the church. They are remembered in marble slabs set in to the floor.

With no papal or princely patronage this church really was built by shoe makers and poultry sellers.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Mercato Centrale

To say Mercato Centrale is a food hall inside Termini station would be giving the wrong impression. Yes, like  a food court within a shopping mall you can choose from different vendors and eat at central tables but where Mercato Centrale differs is in the quality of the food offerings.

We bow at the altar of Gabrielle Bonci and have to visit Pizzarium every trip but now we no longer have to make our way to Prati. We can get our fix from the 'Michelangelo of pizza' right here.

Another favourite food vendor featured  is Beppe Giovale with his gorgeous cheeses from Piedmont.

His store in the Jewish ghetto, Beppe e il Suo Formaggio is a great choice for lunch or aperitivo but a selection of cheeses from the counter here would make a delicious train picnic. They also have salads and sandwiches.

Stefano Callegari is well known for his clever invention of the portable snack, trapizzino, a cross between a pizza and a sandwich. 

If you are in the mood for fritti these can be supplied by Martino Bellincampi. Normally you would have to make your way to Montesacro to sample his fried delights.

As a change from Italian cooking you could try the hamburgers made with chianina beef from Enrico Lagorio.

If you are eating in the Mercato, once you have your food, you can ask the staff at Luca Boccoli to recommend a wine by the glass to compliment your choices.

We have yet to try the Oliver Glowig restaurant but aim to put this right on our next trip. The recently introduced Sunday Brunch comes highly recommended.

From the vantage point of the restaurant you get a birds eye view of the massive marble canopy that dominates the ground floor space. Another star of Mercato Centrale is the Fascist Era architecture. The building was used to prepare food for trains and workers so it is sweetly appropriate that its use continues in the same vein and in such a successful way.