Lost and Found: Roma

27 - 30 April 2007

Rome really is the Eternal City if even after five visits I still discover new things about it.

Obviously, being slightly useless at reading maps helps.

Eat at:

  • Da Michele, the only kosher pizza takeaway outlet in town. 
  • San Crispino for gelati served out of sci-fi steel lidded bins.
  • Lo Zozzone. Down a secluded alleyway, its a local panini and pizza bar run by a bunch of Filipono Italians. You get a ticket, pay your 3 euros, get to pick 3 ingredients for your giant panini. They slice all of their proscuitto, mortadella and other cold cuts on the spot and the mozzarella is delicious.
  • Fior di Luna for organic, fair trade gelati. You can also buy a chocolate hazlenut spread named after my mum (Dominica)!
  • La Tana de Noantri serves homemade pappardelle and tortellini.
  • Da Nazzareno for certified authentic Roman food (Ristorante Tipico). Pile your plate with antipasto from the buffet selection then go with the proscuitto with melon and spaghetti vongole.
  • The cafe at the top of the Vittoro Emmanuel monument for fantastic views of Rome in the sunshine.

Shop at:

  • Ai Monasteri, a treasure trove of beauty products, jams, honey, wines and liquers supplied by monasteries from all over Italy. Who would have thought that monks produced 'love potions' and anti-cellulite cream? I had a long discussion with the girls behind the counter about the differences between the Franciscan vs Benedictine olive oil (I bought both).  
  • Porta Portese, Trastevere's mammoth flea market every Sunday morning,. Prepare to fight with the battleaxe matrons for vintage clothes. I still regret not buying that sequinned mini dress!
  • The little boutiques along Via del Governo Vecchio, just off Piazza Navona. I bought a cream wool coat for 5 euros from a green jewel box of a vintage store, presided by a flame-headed doyenne.
  • Cartoleria Pantheon. Cheaper and more unique than Il Papiro, a dimly lit shop piled from floor to ceiling with delightful Italian stationary.

Make sure you:

  • Throw a coin over your shoulder at the Trevi Fountain to ensure that you'll return to Rome. Hey, it's worked for me so far....I'm looking forward to my 6th visit!
  • Hire a bicycle and enjoy the Villa Borghese park with your 50s style Audrey Hepburn dress flying behind you.
  • Avoid the Vatican crowds and visit Galleria Doria Pamphilj.  This aristocratic family's palace is filled with gorgeous paintings because the owner decreed in his will that the collection was to remain intact forever and never sold off. There's an incredibly lifelike portrait of the Pamphilj pope by Velaquez. It sits next to a bust of the same pope by Bernini, apparently finished in a week (after the first bust cracked) as he wanted to show off how talented he was.
  • Look carefully at the mosaics inside Santa Maria in Trastevere. Bizarrely, Jesus has his arm draped casually over the Virgin Mary, like they're taking a holiday snap.

Memorable moments:

Watching two nuns in at the Porta Portese holding up enormous beige underpants - presumably discussing the merits of each brand's stomach-sucking qualities.

Stumbling on a random Roman column in the middle of a tiny misshapen cobblestone square....which had been turned into a carpark piled high with Fiats. 

Da Michele: Via dell'Umilita, 31, Trevi Fountain

San Crispino: Via della Pannetteria, 42, Trevi Fountain

Lo Zozzone: Via del Teatro Pace, 32, Piazza Navona

Fior di Luna: Via della Lungaretta, 96, Trastevere

La Tana de Noatri: Via della Paglia, 1-2-3, Trastevere

Da Nazzareno: Via Magenta, 35/37, Termini

Ai Monasteri: Corso Rinascimento, 72, Piazza Navona

Cartoleria Pantheon: Via della Rotonda, 15, Pantheon

Galleria Doria Pamphilj: Piazza del Collegio Romano, 2