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TUESDAY TRAVEL - ROME

By Craig Pierce,2014-07-11 14:58
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TUESDAY TRAVEL - ROME ...

    TUESDAY TRAVEL - ROME

The Greatest City In Europe? It’s a contender.

The Match

    Stadio Flaminio (Viale Maresciallo Pilsudski; tram 225 to Flaminio, subway A to Flaminio) 3km north of city centre; capacity 24,973

Three Things to See

    Colosseum

    Of all the monuments in Rome, the Colosseum thrills the most. It was here that gladiators met in mortal combat and condemned prisoners fought off hungry lions. This great symbol of eternal Rome still excites the imagination as you'll see from the hordes waiting to get in. Its construction was started by Emperor Vespasian in AD72 in the grounds of Nero's private Domus Aurea and it was inaugurated by his son Titus in AD80. Thereafter, inaugural games lasted for 100 days and nights, during which some 5000 animals were slaughtered. With the fall of the Empire, the Colosseum was abandoned and became overgrown with exotic plants; seeds had inadvertently been transported with the wild beasts that appeared in the arena (including crocodiles, bears, tigers, elephants and hippos.) In the Middle Ages it became a fortress, occupied by two of the city's warrior families.

    Damaged several times by earthquake, it was later used as a quarry for travertine and marble for Palazzo Venezia and other buildings. To this day, it remains an evocative place to explore.

    Pantheon Marcus Agrippa's Pantheon is one of the world's most sublime architectural creations: a perfectly proportioned floating dome resting on an elegant drum of columns and pediments. Built in 27 BC, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in 120 AD, it is one of Rome's best-preserved ancient monuments. Its extraordinary dome is the largest masonry vault ever built. The temple has been consistently plundered and damaged over the years; it lost its beautiful gilded bronze roof tiles in Pope Gregory III's time, and in the 17th century, Pope Urban VIII allowed Bernini to melt down the bronze ceiling of the portico for the baldachin over the main altar of St Peter's.

    After being abandoned under the first Christian emperors, the Pantheon was converted into a church in 609 and dedicated to the Madonna and all the martyrs.

    The Italian kings Victor Emmanuel II and Umberto I and the artist Raphael are buried here.

    Trastevere Although its traditionally proletarian nature is changing as the crumbling palazzi become gentrified, a stroll among the labyrinthine alleys of Trastevere still reaps small gems of a bygone past. Washing strung out from the apartments in best Mama-leone tradition has everyone sighing and reaching for the Kodaks.

    The lovely Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere is the area's heart. It's a true Roman square - by day peopled by mothers with strollers, chatting locals and guidebook-toting tourists, by night with artisans selling their craft work, young Romans looking for a good time, and the odd homeless person looking for a bed. The streets east of the piazza is where you'll find the most photographed washing in the world.

Three things to Do

    Walking Through Ancient Rome. A vast, almost unified archaeological park cuts through the center of Rome. It's fun to wander on your own and let yourself get lost on the very streets where Julius Caesar and Lucrezia Borgia once trod. A slice of history unfolds at every turn: an ancient fountain, a long-forgotten statue, a ruined temple dedicated to some long-faded cult. A narrow street suddenly opens to a view of a triumphal arch. The Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill are the highlights, but the glory of Rome is hardly confined to these dusty fields.

    If you wander long enough, you'll eventually emerge onto Piazza della Rotunda to stare in awe at one of Rome's most glorious sights, the Pantheon.

    Taking a Sunday Bike Ride. Only a daredevil would try this on city streets on a weekday, but on a clear Sunday morning, while Romans are still asleep, you can rent a bike and discover Rome with your own two wheels. The Villa Borghese is the best place to bike. Its 6.5km (4-mile) borders contain a world unto itself, with museums and galleries, a riding school, an artificial lake, and a grassy amphitheater. Another choice place for Sunday biking is the Villa Doria Pamphilj, an extensive park lying above the Janiculum. Laid out in the mid-1600s, this is Rome's largest park, with numerous fountains and some summer houses.

    Climbing Janiculum Hill. On the Trastevere side of the river, where Garibaldi held off the attacking French troops in 1849, the Janiculum Hill was always strategic in Rome's defense. Today a walk in this park at the top of the hill can provide an escape from the hot, congested streets of Trastevere. Filled with monuments to Garibaldi and his brave men, the hill is no longer peppered with monasteries, as it was in the Middle Ages. A stroll will reveal monuments and fountains, plus panoramic views over Rome. The best vista is from Villa Lante, a Renaissance summer residence. The most serene section is the 1883 Botanical Gardens, with palm trees, orchids, bromeliads, and sequoias -- more than 7,000 plant species from all over the world.

Churches

    There are more than 900 churches in Rome.

    The skeletal remains of 4,000 Capuchin monks, arranged in hearts and rosettes underneath the Santa Maria della Concezione (Via Veneto 27), make the people who stacked the bones in Pariss catacombs look like amateurs. What appears to be a dome at the SantIgnazio di Loyola (Piazza di SantIgnazio) is actually

    a trompe loeil, The Entry of St. Ignatius into Paradise, by 17th-century painter Andrea del

    Pozzo. Stand on the marble disk in the middle of the floor and look up. From here the dome looks almost real.

And, of course, the mother of them allSt Peters

    In the nave on the right (the first chapel) stands one of the Vatican's greatest treasures: Michelangelo's exquisite Pietà, created while the master was still in his early 20s but clearly

    showing his genius for capturing the human form.

    Under Michelangelo's dome is the celebrated twisty-columned baldacchino(1524), by Bernini, resting over the papal altar. The 29m-high (96-ft.) ultrafancy canopy was created in part, so it's said, from bronze stripped from the Pantheon, although that's up for debate.

    In addition, you can visit the treasury, which is filled with jewel-studded chalices, reliquaries, and copes. One robe worn by Pius XII strikes a simple note in these halls of elegance. The sacristy contains a Historical Museum (Museo Storico) displaying Vatican treasures, including the large 1400s bronze tomb of Pope Sixtus V by Antonio Pollaiuolo and several antique chalices.

    You can also head downstairs to the Vatican grottoes, with their tombs of the popes, both ancient and modern (Pope John XXIII gets the most adulation). Behind a wall of glass is what's assumed to be the tomb of St. Peter himself.

    To go even farther down, to the necropolis vaticana, the area around St. Peter's tomb, you just apply in advance at the Ufficio Scavi (tel. 06-69885318), through the arch to the left of the stairs up the basilica. You specify your name, the number in your party, your language, and dates you'd like to visit. They'll notify you by phone of your admission date and time. For 10? ($12), you'll take a guided tour of the tombs that were excavated in the 1940s,

    23 feet beneath the church floor. For details, check www.vatican.va.

After you leave the grottoes, you'll find yourself in a courtyard and ticket line for the grandest

    sight: the climb to Michelangelo's dome, about 113m (375 ft.) high. You can walk up all the

    steps or take the elevator as far as it goes. The elevator saves you 171 steps, and you'll still

    have 320 to go after getting off. After you've made it to the top, you'll have an astounding view

    over the rooftops of Rome and even the Vatican Gardens and papal apartments -- a photo op,

    if ever there was one.

A St. Peter's Warning

    St. Peter's has a strict dress code: no shorts, no skirts above the knee, and no bare shoulders.

    You will not be let in if you don't come dressed appropriately. In a pinch, men and women alike can buy a big, cheap scarf from a nearby souvenir stand and wrap it around their legs as

    a long skirt or throw it over their shoulders as a shawl. No photographs are allowed.

Where To Stay

    Hotel Santa Maria (Vicolo del Piede 2; tel 06 589 46 26; www.hotelsantamaria.info; doubles

    ?160-300) A gorgeous haven of tranquillity housed in a converted 17th-century cloister. 19

    attractive rooms, set, hacienda-style, round a central courtyard - terracotta tiles, cream walls

    and wrought-iron bedsteads. Young, attentive, English-speaking management. This isnt just

    the best hotel in Trastevere, but one of the best in Rome. It has got the lot - location (right in

    the heart of Trastevere); atmosphere (orange trees, a brick portico and wood-beamed

    ceilings); pretty, well-appointed rooms and an ample wine cellar. That the staff are so friendly

    is the icing on the cake. It's the sort of place you look forward to returning to.

Residenza Cellini (tel 06 478 25 204; www.residenzacellini.it; Via Modena 5; double ?150-

    200; metro Repubblica) Hidden away in a fairly non-descript building is this absolute gem of a

    place. Only six vast rooms with an atmosphere of discreet elegance. Antique furniture and

    modern fittings make a wonderful mix.

Hotel Capo d'Africa (Via Capo d'Africa 45, tel: 06 77 28 01;

    www.hotelcapodafrica.com; room from ?230)

    Big rooms (by Roman standards) in a chic, design hotel with great views of the Colosseum.

    Some might even describe it as an eye-catching ensemble of neutral backgrounds, colourful

    contemporary furniture and bold Rothko-inspired artwork.Throughout great care has been

    taken to incorporate comfort into the grand design, so while beds feature polished-wood

    headsteads they are firm with top quality linen. Similarly bathrooms sport grey marble sinks

    and soft, fluffy towels.

Hotel Bramante (tel 06 688 06 426; www.hotelbramante.com; Vicolo delle

    Palline 24; single/double ?140/197; nr Vatican) A charming hotel tucked away behind St

    thPeters in a restored 16-century building a testament to the art of interior decoration.

    Antique furniture complements wooden-beamed ceilings and the details are just right. Terrific

    spot.

Hotel Teatro di Pompeo (tel 06 683 00 170; www.hotelteatrodipompeo.it;

    Largo del Pallaro 8; singles/doubles from ?130/170; nr Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II) Quiet,

    comfortable rooms in a building that is built over the remains of Pompeys Theatre (55 BC)

    where breakfast is served. Theres no more atmospheric spot to enjoy a cappuccino.

Hotel des Artistes (tel 06 445 43 65; www.hoteldesartistes.com; Via

    Villafranca 20; room about ?150; metro Castro Pretorio) A young and helpful couple run this

    excellent hotel that has all three-star trappings: satellite TV, ISDN lines etc. A terrific roof

    garden. There are cheaper rooms for around ?60 without bathroom An excellent budget option and still available for this weekend.

Hotel de Russie (tel 06 32 88 81; www.roccofortehotels,com; Via del Babuino

    9; single/double from ?418/572; metro Flaminio) Hollywoods visiting superstars (Cruise,

    diCaprio, Diaz etc) is the most beautiful hotel in Rome, with décor that is both sumptuous,

    minimal and tasteful. No expense spared from the massive mosaic-tiled bathrooms to the

    finest linen and a luxurious spa.

Where to Eat

    Good Dining

    Ambasciata dAbruzzo (Via Pietro Tacchini 26, tel 06 8078256; www.ambasciata-di-abruzzo.it;

    Closed Sunday) My favourite restaurant in Europe, and a longstanding recommendation of

    the Right Hook Travel Slot.

Papa Giulio (Via Giulia 14; tel 06 6813 5920; www.ristorantepapagiulio.com)

    Near the Pantheon; excellent Italian food; just ask the waiter to bring you a selection of dishes

    if you dont understand the Italian menu.

For ice cream

    San Crispino. Via della Panetteria 42. Near the Trevi Fountain, (there is also a location on Via

    Acaia, outside the walls). Closed Tuesday.

    It is wonderful, with intense flavors. No cones, only cups. Try the special San Crispino flavor,

    which is full of fruits, nuts and Marsala wine.

For coffee

    For espresso with just the right touch of cream, and a hot cornetto (a buttery Italian croissant),

    or maritozzo (a horn-shaped pastry filled with cream), stop by La Tazza dOro (Via degli

    Orfani 84/86).

Shops

    Start at the Scalinata Trinità dei Monti (Piazza di Spagna), a cascading 1720s staircase that

    overlooks a tight grid of streetsVie Borgognona, Veneto, Condotti, and Frattinawhere

    Armani and Versace, among others, sell designer clothes.

On Sunday, visit the Porta Portese flea market (on streets between Porta Portese, Ponte

    Testaccio and Viale di Trastevere), for authentic (and faux) paintings, antique furniture,

    vintage clothes, hand-painted china, and more. To beat the crowds, arrive when it opens at 6

    a.m.

Shop at the open-air market in Campo dei Fiori for fresh fruit and vegetables (open until 1 p.m.

    Monday through Saturday). In an incomparable setting of medieval houses, this is the liveliest

    fruit and vegetable market in Rome, where peddlers offer their wares as they've done for

    centuries. The market is best visited after 9am any day but Sunday. By 1pm the stalls begin

    to close. For goat cheese, prosciutto, and more than 60 kinds of fine Italian wine, shop at

    Volpetti (Via Marmorata, 47), a gourmet specialty shop.

Listeners Recommendations

Rome is amazing at night, especially the Pantheon.

    The Vatican is a must see

    Church of Capuchuin near Via Vento

    Hotel Carmen in Trastevere

    Hotel Imperio located near all points of interest

    Sabatinis Restaurant in Santa Maria in Travestere

Paolo Tullio Food Critic Irish Independent Rome Recommendations

Known as the Enternal City go and see the glory of Rome 2000 years ago

    The Pantheon is stunningly beautiful

    Keep to the old part of Room, visit The Palintine Hill, The Aventine Hill, Circus Maximus

The Palatine Hill

    Rome first became a city on the Palatine Hill on 753 B.C. It later became a place where palaces were built by the many emperors and the rich lived. On the Palatine hill, you will find mostly ruins of palaces and homes of the rich

The Aventine Hill

    Aventine Hill perhaps the most panoramic of the seven hills of Rome, is today an elegant and discreet residential area. Its ancient use as a site of worship survives in the presence of its churches, of which one of the most important is the basilica of Santa Sabina, famous for its 5th century wooden portal, still in perfect condition. The walk on the hill continues in the Orange Trees garden, from which can be seen a unique panorama of Rome and continues with a stop in the square of the Knights of Malta, a neoclassical masterpiece by G.B. Piranesi

Circus Maximus

    Chariot races were one of the Roman's most popular form of entertainment. Romulus, the first of Rome's seven kings, is said to have held chariot races.

    The origins of the Circus Maximus go back to the 6th century BC when Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of Rome, created a track between the Palatine and Aventine hills. The first permanent starting gates were created in 329 BC. In 174 BC the gates were rebuilt and seven wooden eggs were placed on top of the spina, the central wall in the arena

The Trastevere Area a must see

    Trastevereis named for its position 'over the Tiber'. Separated from the heart of central Rome by the river, the area retained its narrow lanes and working-class population when the rest of Rome began its nineteenth-century expansion.

    Tourists are charmed by Trastevere, although they descend in numbers which slightly obscure the area's personality. Internet cafes are side-by-side with gloomy ancient premises of uncertain function, and you can choose from trendy bars and traditional chocolate shops. Still, despite the influx of foreign money, Trastevere still maintains a strong local identity The heart of Trastevere is Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, a pedestrianised square piazza lined with restaurants and pricey bars, faded palazzi, and the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The steps surrounding the pretty central fountain are a popular hang-out spot for a non-typical crowd Heading up the lane to the right of the church, and choosing one of the right-hand turnings, you enter into the maze of narrow lanes at Trastevere's heart. Plants scramble down walls from garden terraces, washing hangs out to dry, and chipped Virgin Marys look down from shrines on street corners.

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