We arrived this morning (October 8th) on an all-night flight at 9:00 am in Rome. Unfortunately despite two glasses of wine and an Advil PM, my record of never sleeping on planes remained unchanged. However, Leslie and I resolved to stay the course and not take a nap after checking into our hotel, Villa Pinciana. We set out immediately in what proved a great day of walking all over Rome. I have included some of the pictures from my iPhone from today.
We opted for a car service from the airport, which was a great decision. It is actually cheaper than a cab and you are met at the airport for 45 euros. We used romeshuttlelimousine, which proved very helpful. There are a couple of options in companies if you go this route.
The first order of business after checking in was of course to eat. The food on USAirways was some of the worst that we had ever encountered. They served a barbecue chicken that was a single tiny piece of desecrated chicken and an almost frozen roll and dehydrated greens. Leslie noted that the school lunches at our kids’ schools was a big improvement over USAIR’s food. Heck, I have literally had better food when I used to do the rounds at prisons to visit clients.
Suffice it to say, we were hungry. A local restaurant had been recommended to me: Ristorante Cesarina near our hotel. This is a restaurant specializing in the foods of Romagna, particularly known for its boiled meats and fresh pastas. It boasts such notables as Marcello Mastroianni and Federico Fellini as regulars who loved the cuisine. We were met by Sandro who was the consummate maître d in the Italian tradition: helpful, warm, and absolutely accommodating to every customer. The entire staff is incredibly charming and Sandro spoke wonderful English. We watched the staff serve up boiled meats for one patron including sliced tongue. However, we went with a less adventuresome lunch. When Leslie debated on which of the tortellini to order, Sandro immediately created a new dish with different samples for her. The Tortellini (including Tortellini alla panna; Tortelloni burro e pomodoro; and Tortelloni di zucca burro e salvia) was magnificent. I had the Tagliatelle alla bolognese, which was very fresh but I liked the tortellini a bit more. We both started with the antipasti bar which was awesome. The restaurant is not pretentious and is easy to miss on a side street in Rome on Via Piemonte. We were the only non-Italians in the place. However, it was a genuine culinary experience that I would recommend.
We then walked over to the Galleria Borghese, which is one of the world’s most incredible art collections and most beautiful museums. This collection was started by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V (1605–1621). Borghese (right) was one of history’s greatest art lovers but also someone who pursued art pieces with a lethal passion. He would engineer the arrest of individuals to force them to turn over their paintings in exchange for pardons. Borghese was an early patron of Bernini, but the collection also contains impressive works from Caravaggio, Titian, Rubens, and others.
The museum incorporates new art as part of its collection and one of the more incredible pieces was Mat Collishaw’s zoetrope, inspired by The Massacre of the Innocents paintings. As the piece spins faster and faster, the figures come alive like a moving pictures. The images are grotesque of beatings and even the throwing of a baby off a balcony. However, people gasp when the figures begin to move.
I was less thrilled by his contemporary work of the Black Mirrors, which showed images from classic paintings. It comes off as a bit Disney and incongruent in the gallery — reminding me of the disastrous modern pieces mixed in the pieces at Versailles. Other pieces are however incredible at the gallery. I could not recommend it more highly as well as the use of their excellent audio tour. You do have to make a reservation in advance however. When we arrived, tickets had already been sold out until the middle of the month. They control the number and time of visitors (including a limit of two-hours, which is sufficient to see all of the work.
Leslie and I then walked to the Spanish Steps and through the various neighborhoods. We then stopped at a wine and prosciutto bar for a Super Tuscan wine and a board of cheeses and meats. We then walked over to the Trevi Fountain and then Pallazio Venezia, shown above and surrounding areas for an evening walk. All of the ruins are lighted at night and make for a wonderful hike.
We then about a bottle of Rosso Di Montalcino and retired to our room with a wonderful terrace to cap out the first day. It is now about 10 pm and we are beat . . . but delightfully happy here in Roma Capitale.