Once the power center of the world, the Eternal City shines and inspires anew if you take your time with it. (Just don’t order cappuccino afternoon.)
Author Joe Keohane Photography Mark Read
Architecturally, Rome is best known for works from the ancient world (the Colosseum) and Renaissance (St. Peter’s Basilica), punctuated by Baroque masterpieces (Bernini’s fountains) and some forbidding Modernist blocks (the train station). But over the last decade the city has brought in some leading architects to spiff up the place. Renzo Piano designed Music Park with a large amphitheater and three concert halls, which vaguely resemble a trio of insects or a pod of whales, depending on your angle. Zaha Hadid contributed her prize-winning Centre for Contemporary Arts. And American Richard Meier designed both the sleek travertine and glass structure housing the Ara Pacis, a pristine 1st century altar (below), and the striking Jubilee Church, with its bright white concrete shells and glass. The boom hasn’t been without controversy—Meier has come in for a drubbing—but the Eternal City is nonetheless (gradually) embracing some new architectural ideas.
Pliny the Elder may have called them “nature’s monstrosities…which even the animals instinctively avoid” in A.D. 77 and infamous Baroque painter and criminal Caravaggio once got in trouble for hurling a plate of them at a waiter in a tavern on the Via Maddalena. But despite their unsightly appearance and unseemly associations, the artichoke is king in Rome, whether prepared Roman-style (pan-fried until tender) or Jewish-style (deep-fried twice until crispy). The best place to get them is in the Ghetto, but they can be found all over the city, particularly in spring, when you’ll see wooden crates of them stacked up outside restaurants complemented by the tantalizing aroma of garlic wafting into the streets.
THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM THOSE IN THE KNOW
“There’s a restaurant in the Center of Rome called La Parolaccia, where the waiter comes to your table and makes a joke of you. You have to be prepared because they are mean sometimes, but it is very funny.”
Concierge at Hotel de Russie
“Browse the Ponte Milvio Antiques Market, which takes place along the Tiber on the first Sunday of every month. Afterward, stop by Pompi, just steps away, for the best tiramisù of your life”.
Maurizia De Bellis
Professor, University of Rome
“On Saturday mornings, I go to Palazzo Madonna dei Monti, in Monti. There are kids playing football, dogs running around and a lot of people reading the papers around the fountain.”
Executive editor JOE KEOHANE is learning to cope with life without Roman breakfasts.
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