Mad Dash Across Too Much - Rome

Old Dec 6th, 2013, 03:54 PM
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Mad Dash Across Too Much - Rome

We've rented out our house for another three months and have hit the road. We're currently in Rome for three weeks, but this is part of a far longer trip that is taking us on, you guessed it, "A Mad Dash Across Too Much". In January we'll be heading to Bangladesh, Burma and other point east which I'll be covering on the Asia board.

Anyway, to the matter at hand, Roma. In case you saw our trip to Paris earlier in the year you'll know the format, an ongoing trip report with some details and links to my blog where I post pictures of walks, restaurants and museums, along with some opinion/discussion.

I love Rome, it has long been my favorite capital in Europe but after getting to know Paris a little better my hierarchy is under reconsideration. So I have three weeks to catch up on loving La Dolce Vita! I really appreciated the recent thread on sites in Rome that are slightly off the beaten track and I've already followed some of your helpful advice.

We've been to Rome many times over the last fifteen plus years but have never stayed for more than five days. This time our goal is to orient ourselves in the center and to see some areas a little further out. Essentially we want to develop a better sense of the city and what it has to offer beyond what we've enjoyed before. We've rented a flat in Parione not far from both the Campo die Fiori and the Pantheon. We're close to the Torre Argentina which is great as we want to use the buses and perhaps the tram too. I love waiting for the bus right next to Roman Ruins, it never gets old .

The flat worked out because it was in between rentals, however if we were staying longer I would probably have opted for somewhere like Monti or Testaccio. However we're happily ensconced here and thrilled to be staying only a few doors from Roscioli (the bakery) which I'm loving. In their deli around the corner they have fabulous wines, burrata, cheeses and cured meats too.

A couple of recommendations just off the bat. I'm finding Elizabeth Minchilli's Eating Rome App to be excellent and I highly recommend it. I also downloaded Katie Parla's App, the content is great but I find it harder to use, the interface isn't very user friendly to me which is a pity.

The bus and metro are 1:50 euro, you can buy the ticket at any tabacchi, don't forget to validate your ticket when you get on. It's valid for 100 minutes on any public transportation within the city but remember this includes only one metro ride.

I was a bit busy before we came so I didn't spend as much time planning as I normally do, however once we got here I made a reservation for the Palazzo Farnese tour which is offered in English once a week, currently on a Wednesday at 5pm. It was booked about ten days in advance and I believe in a busier time of year you'll need to make your reservations further ahead of time. The building houses the French Embassy and I've long wanted to see it, so I'll let you know what the tour is like.
Here are the details for booking if anyone is interested.

I'm a great fan of walking everywhere and I brought along four walking tour books which we've already taken out and used. Because we've been to Rome before we're less interested in reprising the Forum, Vatican or the Colosseum so walking tour books are a great way to find an itinerary that contains something new and something we may have seen before. Usually we don't remember we've seen it until we get there!

On our first day we took a tour of various Palazzi which took us in a meandering path over and back Via Corso. There were lists of churches and palaces and you can see pictures of them on my blog which incidentally is completely non-commercial.

I particularly liked the Chamber of Commerce Building which was previously Hadrian's Temple. As usual we made the newbies mistake of departing just when all the churches close in the afternoon, why do we do this every time?!! Then we were distracted by food which is another repetitive move!

We took the recommendation made by several of you to go out to see EUR, which Mussolini built between 1938 -1942 in anticipation of the 1942 World's Fair which didn't take place because of the intervening war. It really is an extraordinary place and an absolute must for any architecture fans. We were stunned by the buildings which have stood the test of time, they are neoclassical but also deeply modern. Ultimately it was utilized for the 1960 Olympic and is used as an out of town business park though the city has now grown out to meet it. I took us back to our trip to Brasilia which has the same modern planned community feel about it, albeit without the Fascist overtones. I took a lot of photos so it may take me a while to put the walk up on the blog but I'll add a link here when I do.

I may be heading back out to EUR as there's an interesting Ethnographic Museum out there too. Incidentally iIt was easy to get to on the number 30 express bus from Largo Argentina around the corner from our flat. It takes you out via Testaccio. We took the Metro back which was easy and fast.

If you're interested in our full itinerary or how to build a crazy route round Asia on frequent flyer miles I have a post, "The Anatomy of A Mad Dash" on my blog

This link should take you to all the Rome content when it's posted!

That's all for now but more later, let me know if you want to follow along...
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Dec 6th, 2013, 04:16 PM
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Thanks! I am following your blog!
willowjane is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2013, 01:25 AM
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Thanks willowjane, Id better get posting!
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Old Dec 7th, 2013, 06:49 AM
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I enjoy both the comments/info and the pictures, looking forward for more. We'll be in Rome in May, but I will check your blog to read about your other adventures. SOunds interesting!
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Old Dec 7th, 2013, 09:02 AM
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We also struggled with church closings in Rome (when we weren't lost)!

Great location if you are right by Roscioli....I'd be stopping in a bunch! We also loved Elizabeth's food app...very easy to use and very comprehensive. We took a tour with her that was incredible!
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Old Dec 7th, 2013, 12:20 PM
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Following along here and on your blog. How great to have such an extended visit in Rome. I'll be interested to hear your evaluation of the walking tour guidebooks. I only have 4 days in Rome this April, but since I've already seen the top tier sights on previous visits, a self guided walk sounds ideal. Also will be interested in your Burma trip - that's on my calendar for November! Janet
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Old Dec 7th, 2013, 12:48 PM
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Thanks for all the encouragement and glad you're all enjoying it.

It was another gloriously sunny winter day here in Rome and I headed over to the Galleria Spada in the Palazzo Spada just off the Campo die Fiori. It was market day so I took a look around the market because it was hopping on a Saturday.

The Palazzo Spada is one of my favorite building in this area (just off the Piazza Farnese) and is wonderfully decorative. The small gallery has only a few room but it give one a sense of the sumptuous decoration of the period. In addition you can see Borromini's faux colonnade which was built to make the gardens look larger than they are. It fools the eye with a sloping floor and ceiling. It's a good place to visit if you have plenty of time and are in the area, I enjoyed my visit but it isn't something you'd want to go far out of your way for.

After a glass of wine at the congenial wine bar L'Angolo Divino (off the Campo die Fiori) we walked across town to the Palazzo Barberini to visit the Capuchin Crypt. It's a fascinating sight a series of small chapels decorated entirely with human bones. The decoration is Baroque in style but the overall feeling is of course gothic horror. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Marquis de Sade are the two people quoted on the wall as you come in. There's also a small museum on the history of the Capuchin order. It's an extraordinary site and quite moving/disturbing in its own way. Don't come here if you've been through a recent bereavement.

We dropped by the Bernini Bristol hotel, which is located very near by, hoping to have a drink at the lovely roof bar which has a great view but it was closed for a wedding party. We wandered back in a circuitous route stopping in a churches along the way which is half the charm of being here.

That's all for today, we intended to go out this evening but had walked ourselves out so we scavenged through goodies from the deli at Roscioli which was no hardship!

Denisea - we are enjoying the food app with is very well designed and comprehensive as you mentioned. We would have loved to have done a private tour with her but to be frank we were a little shocked by the cost, but I'm glad to hear it was incredible .

Janetd5 - I'll certainly be able to give you a heads up on the walking guides as we're trying out a variety. I'll let you know. After Burma it may take me a while to blog it all as we'll be traveling but I should have done it long before next November!

xyz99 _ thanks for the comment, May's a lovely month to be here.
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Old Dec 9th, 2013, 01:41 PM
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Last week we took a food tour of Testaccio with Eating Italy and I've finally managed to put a whole report up on the blog. If you want to see the details along with pictures and discussion of several other tours here is the direct link.

We very much enjoyed the tour which takes you through Testaccion to the market, Volpetti, the Protestant cemetery and to various other restaurant and food venders. It was a mountain of food and I learnt a lot. There are so many things you pass when you don't speak the language and it was a great opportunity to ask lots of questions, for example what was it they were preparing in the market? It turned out to be Puntarelle a bitter salad green eaten at this time of the year. It's delicious with an anchovy vinaigrette and we've ordered it several times in the week since we went on the tour.

Yesterday we went back to Testaccio and ate suppli (fried rice balls larger but similar to arancini) at Pizza 00100, then we had pizza at De Remo which was very good and gelato at the small Gilotti Cafe with cream - fabulous!

As you can tell we've been eating like kings, today we did a walking tour of the Ghetto which was fascinating. If you haven't been I highly recommend visiting the museum and synagogue which is fascinating (we did it on another trip). The museum also offers an English language walking tour. Of course we were immediately sidetracked by food and dropped into Sora Margherita where we had incredible grid artichokes, polpette and the fresh pasta they are famous for though I found the Cacio e Pepe con Ricotta too rich. This is a bare bones place filled with locals and foodie tourists. It's packed to the gills. We'd read that you have to wait but there was one table at 2:15pm, again the advantage of traveling in December. The service is brusque but friendly and I'd recommend it if you can walk in, I wouldn't wait in line because I hate to wait in line anywhere.I find waiting tends to breed anticipation and disappointment, though sometimes hunger trumps disappointment!

It was interesting to learn about the Ghetto and the history of the Jewish community in Rome, which helps you learn a lot about the geography of the city and the transformation of the areas around the Tiber and the swamp areas were drained. There's also a fair but of Roman history in this area.

After the walk there was of course more food! My husband is a biscuit fiend (in fact he comes from and entire lineage of biscuit lovers) and we stopped to refuel at the end of our walk at Mondi di Laura right on the main drag and stopped for a cup of tea nearby watching all the children leaving school along with the heavy security you see in the area following a deadly bombing in 1982 .

On the walk home we stopped at Bepe e i suoi Formaaggi for supplies. This is a lovely cheese shop and we sampled and then bought some lovely cheeses and a fabulous bottle of wine. The French woman we helped us was charming and they gave us a lovely glass of mulled wine which was very seasonal, I'm looking forward to going back.

That's all for today I still have lots to catch up on on the blog as this is all tumbling out in no particular order, typical really.
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Old Dec 9th, 2013, 02:44 PM
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I looovvee biscuits! Following along and enjoying your posts. Hows' the weather?
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Old Dec 9th, 2013, 03:43 PM
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Following your journey.

I rented an apt close to Roscoli's in October. Being able to pop down the street for piazza bianca was one of the best parts of the trip.
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Old Dec 9th, 2013, 04:06 PM
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OMG, I would be in heaven if I were right around the corner from Roscioli - I would be having their semi-dried tomatoes for every meal!
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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 01:47 AM
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Thanks for your responses, we are indeed enjoying Roscioli though I'm also a big fan of the sandwiches made from pizza Bianca at forno campo dei Fiori which are incredible. You get them at the food counter which is on the corner across from the main shop.

The weather has been extraordinary, sunny almost every day and sun predicted for the next week. We have had a couple of moments of very light showers but overall it has been as lovely as I could have hoped for. We were in December years ago for couple of days with my brother and ran into similar weather but I think we've been very lucky. Startlingly it has been warmer ( mid 50s) than the Bay Area which is going through a cold snap!

Off to see the museum at Trajans market....
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Old Dec 11th, 2013, 10:07 AM
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We are just back from a visit to the Palazzo Farnese, also known as the French Embassy! It ia a magnificent building and they now have three tours a week including one on Wed at 5pm in English. You need to make reservations in advance but the cost is very reasonable at 5 euro and it's a fascinating opportunity to see the building. The decorations are extraordinary and I was pleased to see the small garden too. It's a quick tour as you're seeing only the public rooms and the main staircase, but it's very much worth it if you're keen on architecture and have seen much of the other things on offer in a Rome.

Tickets are book able thro a third party

We're hoping to make it to the country house the Villa Farnesina across the river, to see both Farnese homes before we leave.
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Old Dec 13th, 2013, 03:02 PM
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We've had a couple of very busy days and I'll need to catch up on my blog, first Ostia Antica which we loved- why has it taken us so long to make it here? Then today we went out to San Lorenzo which is an up and coming area north of Termini near Sapieza University. This is an area that's both grimy and somewhat trendy.
We went there to check the neighborhood out, see some street art and visit a renovated chocolate factory called S.A.I.D. Which was fabulous, anyway more about that later when I get around to the blog. we also ended up checking out the large cemetery nearby which was fascinating and leapt on a tram with little idea where it was going. We re loving the fact that a bus ticket gives you 100 minutes to cruise around. Finally we're liberating ourselves from the historic center.
When we should have just gone home to collapse instead we headed to the Palazzo Altemps near Piazza Navona. Part of the National Museums this is a lovely sculpture collection in a stunning palazzo. I enjoyed both the art and the interiors. Once again we found the museum was almost empty which we have found everywhere in Rome. It seems most people spend only a few days here and with the exception of the Vatican Museum most other museums seem underutilized, but maybe it's the time of year.

I've just posted something new on the blog, a walk around Monticello which is a very nice district on the other side of the Colosseum. We also ate at the very enjoyable Trattoria Monticello where we had a splendid lunch. Lots of pictures and more details on the blog.
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Old Dec 16th, 2013, 06:15 PM
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WE've been busy here in Rome revisiting some favorites and seeing some new things too. We had a great visit to the main museum the Palazzo Massimo Terme. I just love the top floor here which has incredible Roman frescoes and mosaics. This is a must for me when visiting Rome. The reconstructed dining room from Livia's palace is probably my favorite museum room in the world. It's just so extraordinary to sit in a room that is still in such incredible shape and to appreciate the same aesthetic over 2000 years. The naturalistic images of birds, flower and trees would look great in any of our dining rooms today. Once again the museum was empty which we've found all across town. I waited a short while and had the room all to myself. In a way it reminded me of the Monets at the L'Oragerie in Paris where the art surrounds you on all sides.

We went across the street (across from termini) to the Diocletian Baths and cloister by Michelangelo. It was interesting to see but wouldn't be on my must see list.

Among a large number of churches we've visited we returned to Santa Prassede (in Monti) which is just incredible. It's a jewel of a place with wonderful mosaics and it takes my breath every time. I love these small churches which have an intimacy about them. On this visit we went to a couple of the very large churches here in Rome including St. John Lateran and St Paul's outside the walls. I was happy to see them but I probably won't return to either. I find these very large pilgrimage churches far less moving in the haughty grandeur.

I have a lot of posts to catch up on for my blog but here's a new one on Italian pastries!
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 03:53 PM
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Just realized my computer seems to have spell checked Monti for Monticello above. I was talking about a stroll around Monti and a meal at Trattoria Monti NOT Trattoria Monticello

It's always a mistake to write these things late at night on a iPad!

We're wrapping up our trip to Rome and I haven't begun to describe all that we've done, seen or eaten. I'll be blogging about the museums, food and walks for ages. Yesterday we did our own food walk around Prati and I LOVED Castroni and Francini which are great destinations for foodies. They were packed with Italians buying specially food products in the run up to Christmas. I really enjoyed exploring a different area of Rome and escaping from the ancient Roman/ Renaissance/Baroque nexus!

Today I hit several house museums which I will be blogging about, heads up I highly recommend the Mario Praz Museum if you are a design, interiors or neoclassical fan. The Chiroco Foundations house museum is also fascinating for art lovers and a wonderful way to see an apartment at the Spanish Steps. I found either of these far more interesting than the Keats-Shelley House which was of limited interest as there is very little to see. Though I would recommend going out to the Protestant cemetery to see Keats and Shelley's graves which are very atmospheric.

I've posted another walk on my blog so if you fancy a stroll around the Campo die Fiori click here...

Is anyone still following along?
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 03:57 PM
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me! Sounds like a great time in Rome.
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Old Dec 18th, 2013, 06:18 AM
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I'm following and enjoying, too! I look forward to more, and y our blog updates.

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Old Dec 18th, 2013, 04:22 PM
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Me, three! Very much enjoying your jaunts in Rome on this site and your blog. Both the Praz and Chiroco museums are covered in a book I've had, but now mining for ideas for my trip (Little Known Museums in and around Rome by R Kaplan). It mentions that each need pre-arranged tours. Did you find that true?

Also reading HV Morton's A Traveller in Rome, very interesting coverage of the Bonaparte family in Rome, and there is a Napoleonic Museum in Rome! By any chance have you visited it? A 'must-see' for me will be to visit the national museums, and Livia's palace frescoes. From your description, they must be as incredible as the frescoes in the House of Augustus on Palantine Hill!

Looking forward to more of what you've 'done, seen, or eaten!'

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Old Dec 19th, 2013, 02:24 PM
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Thanks for your replies, now we are in London and I can recommend the Isabella Blow Exhibit if anyone is thinking of it it is very well done.
Anyway back to Rome, the book on small museums sounds great. We used the Blue Guide which has a good list of small museums in the back, it's very comprehensive but a little heavy to carry around during the day.
Janet, the Napoleonic Museum is right next to the Mario Praz, in fact I went in there looking for the Praz. At that stage I had run out of time so I didn't see the collection.

At the Chiricco you will need to make a reservation, it's easy to do online, they offer three tours a day and you pay when you arrive. We made the reservation the day before and ended up with a private tour which was fantastic. The Mario Praz has tours on the hour during the morning and once an hour on the half hour in the afternoon. I arrived a few minutes past 3:30 ( I had no clue when they did tours). I wasn't keen to wait for an hour and was worried I may have missed the last tour so I called the number on the sign. Anyway, the chap was so kind and hadn't started the tour so came down to collect me, rather like a package. They are very keen to have more visitors.

We intended to make it to the Baracco but ran out of time, there were also several museums of interest in EUR that we'll go to next time. But this time the weather was so good we did fewer museums and more walking. There were also some good exhibitions on including one on Augustus and another on Modigliani, but we didn't make any of them.

I did make it to the Palazzo Colonna which is very much worth visiting though criminally expensive at 25 euro for the main rooms plus the downstairs apartments. They are amazing interiors, very lavish with room after room of pictures, frescoes etc. it's only open on a Saturday morning till 1pm with an English tour at noon, which I enjoyed. Clearly they open for as short a time as they can to get the tax break and enough funds to keep the pile going.

Overall we found the museums very quiet in Rome, perhaps the weather or Christmas shopping people outside but it isnt a museum city like Paris.
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