La dolce vita a Roma.

A guided visit through the streets of the Eternal City.


La dolce vita a Roma.

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 17, 2004

It’s really hard to write about Rome because so much has been said about it already. But everything you’ve heard is true: beauty, culture, history, weather … it is really, really difficult not to fall in love in Rome. History is everywhere and different periods are intimately mixed together: Renaissance churches built on the remains of Roman temples for instance. It is a city that is both pagan and deeply religious.

It's the long nights spent strolling down the streets, going to a bar and enjoying a limoncello before going dancing and the Sunday afternoons paying a visit to the Vatican, surrounded by masterpieces.

More than 2000 years of history… it’s a lot and it can be overwhelming if you feel rushed and that is why Rome is best discovered if you give it time; beware of information overdose! Between churches, piazzas, fountains, Roman ruins, museums, shopping, and eating, it's a lot to take. Give it at least four days and that’s a strict minimum. It’s also the best way to enjoy "La Dolce Vita". I had ten months to enjoy it so… I hope this helps getting the most of it for those who have less time. ${QuickSuggestions} If you travel in summer, be sure to bring a bottle of water. Rome has a lot of fountains and the water is drinkable but at least, you can refill. ${BestWay} The Atac, Rome's public transportation, is very efficient. Rome has two main subway lines, hundreds of bus lines, and a few trams.


Della Palma

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 22, 2004

Just off Piazza della Rotonda, this ice-cream parlor is not the best in Rome, although it’s in the top five, but it has the most extensive chocolate selection (chocolate, truffle, orange-chocolate, Milky Way, sacher torte…)! Getting into a gelateria is like entering a dream… there are so many flavours to choose from (50+, I think), and with flavors unknown to foreigners. Yummy!!! They also serve coffee and sodas. My favourites are tangerine with orange-chocolate, sacher-torte and pistachio, limoncello (lemon liqueur typical from Italy) and coconut, Rafaello and tiramisu. I usually love mixing a creamy ice cream with a fruity sherbet for a kick!

The, you can walk back to Piazza della Rotonda and enjoy your ice cream while people-watching.

Della Palma
V. d. Maddalena
Rome, Italy

Sant' Eustachio

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 22, 2004

On the small and cute piazza San’Eustachio, you will find this coffeehouse. Now, I haven’t found a single bar serving bad coffee anywhere in Italy, but Caffé San’Eustachio is the very best in Rome. And you can buy the beans. It’s a tiny bar but very popular. The coffee is served black and the barista serves it with the exact amount of sugar required for their coffee. That’s called perfection. I remember seeing one rolling his eye when the tourist in front of me requested milk and more sugar. Better order something else if you think you can’t handle it. So, it’s a stop for purists and real coffee lovers! I know I only grind my beans for great occasions.
Sant' Eustachio
Piazza Sant' Eustachio, 82
Rome, Italy
(06) 686-1309

The Forum

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 17, 2004

The Roman Forum: With Athens’ Acropolis and Gizah’s Pyramids and Sphinx, the Roman Forum is a member of the Holy Trinity of Antiquity remains. It best viewed first from the overlook of the Campidoglio, where Rome’s city hall is located.

If you go behind the building, you will have a complete view of the Forum and further away, the Coliseum. And it is huge. I guess that everybody looking at it is imagining how it must have looked like at the time of Rome’s splendor. It was the center of Roman life, a place of trade, discussion and worship.

The first thing you notice is the Temple of Saturn, whom according to the myth, after being banished by his son Jupiter, found a haven in the area, and offering its help to the king, made the city so rich that period was to be called the Golden Age and was remembered during the Saturnals, a wild holiday time for Romans.

You can also see the Basilica Julia (dedicated to Emperor’s August’s daughter), the arch of Septimus Severus. The remains of the temple of Vesta (easily recognized by its round shape) where the flame of the city was kept alive by a cast of virgin priestress, the arch of Titus where his campaign against the Jews and the sack of Jerusalem is recorded in stone. The list just goes on and on. …

If you want to visit the ground, go down the hill and the entrance is on Via dei Fori Imperiali. The entrance is 3.50 Euros and for that price you get a guided tour.

Roman Forum
Largo Romolo e Remo
Rome, Italy, 00186
+39 066990110

Campo dei Fiori

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 17, 2004

This Piazza is schizophrenic! By day, it is the seat of Rome’s flower market (as the name indicated) and it’s really worth seeing as it is the more "traditional" face of the Campo. By night, it’s a meeting point for Roman youth and tourists and the Campo manages to be even more cramped that the Porta Portese market at peak hour! So much that some resident are really, really not happy about the loud and rowdy crowd invading the Piazza every night. Although, it’s a lot of fun… let’s admit. But don’t hang out there for too long as you might become dizzy or claustrophobic. Though, a lot of good bars are located here (if you can find a seat!).

Usually, people make a meeting point of the statue that’s in the middle of the square. The bent and cloaked head of Giordano Bruno, Dominican priest, philosopher, mathematician and scientist, who dared contradict the Church about the infinity of the universe (Galileo was more lucky, he publicly renounced his theory under the pressure while still believing it). He is represented with his hands tied up, ready to be taken to stake where he would be burned alive by order of the Inquisition. It is a reminder of darker times, but also of courage in the face of adversity and the power of Enlightenment.

Campo de' Fiori
Piazza Campo de' Fiori
Rome, Italy, 00186

Piazza Navona

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 17, 2004

Perhaps the most beautiful piazza in the city, Piazza Navona used to be a Roman circus (that’s why its shape is elliptical). This elegant area, surrounded by beautiful houses, the Church of Sant’Agnese and adorned by three of Bernini’s fountains, is a Roman trademark. And of course, let us not forget the mandatory obelisk! I recommend you take a moment to sit down and enjoy a coffee while looking at people passing by -- very relaxing and enjoyable.

The main fountain is La Fontana dei Quatri Fiumi (1651) or Fountains of the Four Rivers -- and what are those? They are the Danube, the Nile, the Ganges and the Rio della Plata (in that order). Now, the face of the allegoric figure of the Nile is veiled and it’s been subject to different interpretations. One of them is that, at the time, no one knew where the source of the Nile was. The other has to do Bernini’s career. Borromini, who designed the Church of Sant'Agnese was his rival and the Nile and Rio della Plata figures were designed to shield their eyes from the church, as a sign of disdain. If you look at the statue of Sant'Agnese on top of church, you'll see her gaze goes way over the piazza, another sign of disdain. Though, this first part of the story doesn't seem likely because the fountain was finished before the construction of Sant'Agnese began. .... I don't know.

You will find a lot of street vendors will sell their fares (fake soccer jersey, fake bags). If you really, really have to have one, don’t forget to barter or you’ll be ripped off.

Piazza Navona

Rome, Italy, 00186

Piazza della Rotonda

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 17, 2004

This is another meeting point. The first thing that strikes you is the Pantheon. This jewel of Roman architecture just dominates this charming place. It is very busy, filled with terraces, restaurants and bars (and Mc Donald's handling tourists), this cool little piazza is also a nice place to stop and relax along your journey through Rome’s streets.

In the middle of the square, is another fountain, this time by Giacomo della Porta (and another obelisk). As you may or may not know, most of Rome’s fountain water is drinkable and you’ll probably notice those little "nose"-like fountains you can find almost everywhere in Rome (and it’s most welcome with Rome’s hot summers). Put your finger in the nose and the water will spring from a little hole on top so you don’t need to use some acrobatic positions to refresh yourself.

Explore the streets around, especially on the right side of the square, turning your back to the Pantheon where you will find little jewelry and vintage clothes stores. And oh, don’t forget the Pantheon!

Piazza della Rotonda
Piazza della Rotonda
Rome, Italy

Pantheon

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 17, 2004

The Pantheon is without a doubt the best-preserved Roman monument. It is also one of the most copied pieces of architecture in the world. People who know Washington DC will see similarities with the Jefferson Memorial and if you look at the ceiling of Union Station, you’ll notice it’s the same motif used in Pantheon's dome!

The original building was ordered by Agrippa, one of Emperor’s Augustus’ most trusted general and was built in 26 AD. In fact, it was the Emperor Hadrian himself who designed the building we see now and had it built almost a century later but he preserved the heritage pf Agrippa as you can read his name on top of the building. It is a temple dedicated to all the gods (Pan-Theos, which in Greek means all-the-gods). It used to be covered in shimmering marble, decorated with numerous statues and it has a huge bronze door. In 605, it was converted as a Christian Church (it still today) as Santa Maria ad Matyram. The Pantheon was stripped of most of its riches partially by order of Pope Urban VII who had the door stripped and melted the metal to make the canopy for the high altar of the Basilica of Saint-Peter, partially to make cannons for the Castel Sant'Angelo.

The first thing you notice are those huge pillars and when you get in, the dome with its center hole designed to let the light flood in is striking. As a whole, the Pantheon is just impressive in its simplicity and the purity of its lines. In it, you will find the graves of different kings (Umberto I and Vittorio-Emmanuelle II) of Italy but also the genius painter Raphael who died really young. There is also the grave of queen Margherita (after which the famous -- and patriotic -- pizza is named after).

Pantheon
Piazza della Rotonda
Rome, Italy, 00186
+39 0668300230

Trevi Fountain

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 17, 2004

You’ve heard it all … You know the scene with the luscious Anita Eckberg in Fellini’s "8 ½"… Blah, blah, blah… I can only add platitude about the Trevi Fountain. This huge sculpted 18th Century fountain by Nicolo Salvi is a landmark. It represents Neptune, god of the sea, and his court. It’s beautiful, it’s big, it's theatrical in all its rococo splendour.

It’s also packed with tourists, of course, who are all dutifully casting their Eurocent in the water. To do it properly, turn your back on the fountain, put your coin in your right hand and throw it over the opposite shoulder. Throw it once and you’ll come back to Rome, throw it twice and you’ll fall in love in Rome, throw it three times and you’ll get married.

Trevi Fountain
Piazza di Trevi
Rome, Italy, 00187

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 17, 2004

This is my favourite Roman church! It is located on Piazza della Minerva, 5 minutes away from the Pantheon. There is a sculpture by Bernini (again) of a small elephant supporting an obelisk (another one). It is one of the cutest and most surprising of Bernini's sculptures. Santa Maria is built on the site of a Roman temple wrongly attributed to Minerva, goddess of wisdom. You can visit the crypt where the ruins are for a small fee. Built by the Dominicans in the early 13th century, it is the only gothic style church in Rome (although the facade has been rebuilt in the 19th century), it is complete with the typical gothic stained glass window. The ceiling painted in night blue with golden stars gives it a mystical vibe. It is also the home of one of Michelangelo’s earliest works. A sculpture of Jesus Christ the redeemer is represented with his cross. The remains of St-Catherine of Sienna are also here. Look in the carafa Chapel and you'll find a beautiful fresco representing the life of St-Thomas Aquinas. And talking of painting, Fra Angelico is also buried there.
Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Piazza della Minerva, 42
Rome, Italy, 00186
+39 (06) 6990339

Piazza Venezia

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 18, 2004

Yes, Rome is full of beauty. It’s always one visual pleasure after the next ... until you get to Piazza Venezia. In fact, you can't miss it because it is a central point in Rome and a good geographical reference to see the sights along the way.

It starts okay with the Venetian palace: Palazzo Venezia (it used to be the Venetian Embassy to the Pontifical states). Pope Paul II, who was from Venice, had it built when he was still a cardinal. It truly represents the architectural style you can find in the Canals City. Mussolini had his offices there and was addressing the crowd from the balcony. He also had Via dei Fori Imperiali built so he could see the Coliseum from his office. Via del Corso, a central axis, runs from there all the way to Piazza del Popolo.

And then, you turn around towards the south side, and bam! The colossal Monument to Vittorio-Emmanuelle II, a white stone building most commonly known as "the wedding cake", a turn of the century structure that his now the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is a sore sight for many Romans and travelers' eyes alike, and you can't deny that it's impossible to forget the Monument. Also, you can see it from afar, which helps while walking on your Roman discovery. Traffic is chaotic at this huge square and you will often find a policeman on their pedestal directing the traffic and looking like an angry orchestra director!

It's also a hub for many bus lines.

Piazza Venezia
Piazza Venezia
Rome, Italy, 00187

Campidoglio-Capitoline Hill

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 18, 2004

In the 16th century, a gem of Roman structure was discovered: an equestrian statue of emperor Marcus Aurlius, emperor, but also philosopher. For centuries, this statue will become THE reference for any equestrian sculpture. Such a treasure deserved to be displayed in the best of settings.

It just happened that the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was paying a visit to Rome. Worthy of this emperor title, Charles's procession would go on the Capitoline Hill, the Campidoglio. In Roman times, this hill overlooking the Forum was the center of Roman civic life. Michelangelo was put in charge of the design of the Campidoglio and he started in 1536, once again demonstrating his abilities at multi-tasking (remember, he was a sculptor, painter, architect and even a poet).

You access it by walking on gentle flight of stairs that slowly reveals the statue, put in the center and the building of the Campidoglio (now Rome's City Hall). It is graceful and harmonious and it's pure Renaissance style. Although, Michelangelo never saw it finished, his plans have mostly been respected. The famous marble "star" design surrounding the statue (you have to go up to the entrance of the City Hall to really admire it) is Michelangelo's design but was finished in the 20th century!

Go behind the city Hall and you'll find balustrade overlooking the Forum and giving you an extensive view, all the way to the Coliseum.

Campidoglio
Campidoglio
Rome, Italy

Knights of Malta Keyhole

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 18, 2004

Up on the Aventine hill, above the Forum, there is a nice walk to do … first visit the church of Sant' Anselmo with its lovely courtyard. Pass the Santa Sabina Church. Soon, you will see a building with a green door. This is the retreat of the Knights of Malta . The door is seldom open but you will surely notice some people peeping through a hole. They are not being too curious or impolite, they are just having one of Rome’s best views of St-Peter’s. I won’t say much about it; you’ll have to discover for yourself, but to me, it’s one of Rome’s little treasures.
Knights of Malta Keyhole
Aventine Hill
Rome, Italy

Orange Park

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 18, 2004

Carry on your walk from the Knights of Malta Keyhole and you will soon reach the Orange Park, an old orange trees grove overlooking the south side of the city. You can have a great view from there, and in May-June, when the orange trees are in bloom, the fragrance and the thousands of white flowers feel like you’re in a fairy tale. You’ll probably find some oranges still attached to the trees. Don’t try to eat one. I did and discovered they are bitter oranges. They are well suited for perfumes and pastries but not for eating!
Orange Park
Aventine Hill
Rome, Italy

Roseto Comunale

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by melissa_bel on July 13, 2004

June is the best month to visit the rose garden. If you walk down from the Orange Park, not far from the Circus Maximus, you will find the rose garden. It has 2 sections. The most beautiful one is with the tea roses. It is a real enchantment. They come in every color and shape imaginable: yellow, red, orange, white, pink, even blue! Climbing roses, dwarf roses, bush roses… You can go smell them, but don’t touch! The flowers will wither faster if you do.
Roseto Comunale
Via Vale Murcia
Rome, Italy

Piazza di Spagna & Spanish Steps

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by melissa_bel on January 18, 2005

Well, everybody who comes to Rome for the first time wants to see Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps). Those beautiful staircases dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church, the azaleas (only from mid-April to mid-May), the fountain, the people, the street vendors... it's dizzying. And although beautiful, it is not my favourite part of Rome. Even during low season the place is mobbed.

Although the Trinità dei Monti church and Piazza di Spagna has been paid for by the French, the square has been named after the Spanish embassy to the Pontifical States that was based here.

To me, the steps and the square are best approached from the church, either coming from Piazza Barberini or the Pincio Garden. The Trinità dei Monti is a beautiful baroque-style church built mainly in the 16th century and designed by Carlo Maderno. It's a great stop to take a break from the Roman sun and look at the painting (search for the "Assumption" by da Voltera, in which this pupil of Michelangelo painted his master in the scene). The square and steps were built later by architect Francesco de Sanctis between 1723 and 1725. In front of the church, you will notice many street vendors selling anything: painting, jewelry, food and drinks, postcards... Admire the view from the balustrade and take in the steps... you'll realize how crowded it is.

Now, avoid walking on people's hand or feet when going down. It used to be a place for artists and models to be picked up and well... it's still a place to be picked up and to see and be seen Just give in, buy a gelato, and enjoy!

At the end of the staircase is Fontana della Barcaccia, the Little Boat Fountain. It is not known which one of the Berninis (Pietro, the father, or Gianlorenzo, the more famous son) created the fountain (maybe they both worked on it). You'll often find lots of people there cooling off. The water is drinkable and it's a good idea to refill.

Resource for Tourists:
American Express has its office here.
Although I don't recommend eating there (come on, you're in Rome), check out the interior of the McDonald's. They established themselves in an old palazzo, causing the ire of the Romans.
Have a tea at Babington's or Caffe del Greco (on swanky via Condotti... check out the autograph by Buffalo Bill), where sophisticated British ladies and other rich foreigners were indulging during their mandatory pilgrimage to Rome.
From there, hit the designer shops of Via Condotti (if you have the wallet for it) or Via del Corso (more democratic), or reach the Trevi Foutain.

Spanish Steps (Scalinata)
Piazza Di Spagna
Rome, Italy, 00187

... A bere birra

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by melissa_bel on January 19, 2005

Getting Wissal, my flatmate, to get out was always kind of difficult...

We were living on the southern side of town, and "downtown" was always too far. But for some reason, she was always willing to go with me to …A bere birra. Located close the Trastevere train station, the name (drinking a beer) would make you think this is drunk-infested pub... not at all! It's more a quiet "beer-garden"—green is the dominant color here. It has a charming terrace overlooking Viale Trastevere but is far enough from the busy part of the neighbourhood. We would always stay inside (as we would try to catch "calcio" there). This bat is on the small side (even the tables are smallish), but it’s cute, with a narrow second floor overlooking the rest.

The particularity of this place is that you can actually pour your own beer from tap. They have special tables with all the equipment. I never tried myself (my grandma used to own a bar), but it seemed quite popular with groups.

Unfortunately, for a locale with a name like this, the choice of beer was not the best... at least, not what I expected. The specialty of the house? A green beer. The idea was so bizarre for a beer purist like me that I never brought myself to try it (I should have, though). They also have a menu (I tried the bruschetta, and it was good), but the prices are not that great.

In short, it’s a nice little pub to share with a friend or two who have passed the age or are tired of noisy pubs and binge-drinkers.

A Bere Birra
Viale Trastevere, 284
Rome, Italy

Abbey Theatre

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by melissa_bel on January 19, 2005

During our exploration of Piazza Navona's surroundings, Esther, Anne, and I came across the Abbey Theatre, one of the many Irish pubs in Rome. We were new, and Irish pubs are always a reassuring place to find abroad (no surprise, probably other foreigners there).

The decor is utterly Irish-pub, with dark woods, a parquet that looks like it has seen it all, high stools at the bar, dark corners... During the afternoon, it's pretty quiet, but at night and during the weekend (when there is a football or rugby game in the British Isles), it's PACKED! The bar has many TVs where expats (and locals, during international competitions) can watch the game.

The bar staff is friendly and efficient, and the prices are on the expensive side, but if you need to have a Kilkenny or a Guinness,it's a nice place to have one!
I have a very nice memory of going to a chock-full Abbey just to watch a game Italy had to win during the European Football Championship... Italy's victory was just the cherry on top. It was awesome, but then again, there's nothing like watching a football game in Italy when the "Azzuri" are playing.

Abbey Theatre
Via del Governo Vecchio, 51/53
Rome, Italy, 00186
+39 066861341

Taverna del Campo

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on January 19, 2005

Yes, Campo de' Fiori is one busy piazza, and places to drink abound, most of them catering to young adults. For those who still know how to party but feel jaded or fed up with the "trendy" scene invaded by throngs of 18-25 green tourists or students on vacation, this bar is for you!

There is nothing fancy in this small bar: exposed bricks, a small counter... but the mood is always great, and wine barrels are full of peanuts for customers to take (olives and cheese are also available).

In the afternoon, it's pretty quiet, and you can have lunch there with their tasty crostini, but at night... with the Campo being what it is, it's full of carefree patrons enjoying wine or limoncello (theirs is particularly excellent) to get the night started. The terrace gets full, and soon enough, the crowd just overflows around the piazza.

And the prices are not outrageous! This is one of my favourite bars in Rome.

Taverna del Campo
Piazza Campo dei Fiori, 16
Rome, Italy, 00186
+39 066874402

Il Vecchio Gandalf

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by melissa_bel on January 19, 2005

If the San Callisto hadn't been so packed, I probably wouldn't have paid attention to this pub.

During the one night that we were in Trastevere, Esther, Hubi, and I couldn't find a place at the San Callisto and looked around the piazza to find another refuge.

A banner for Belgian beer Stella Artois caught my eyes... We went in. What a difference from bustling San Callisto! I must say that I didn't even know about the Lord of the Rings at the time (I am now addicted to it), and I don't remember anything that was particular to the book here, but after reading about it, the pub decided to play on the theme full blast and brings devotees of the Tolkien saga when they visit Rome.

This pub is small and narrow but cozy, with an arch and a second room. Music was playing (fortunately not too loud) in the background, and there was a benediction for me: Belgian beers are available (I heard they extended their selection)!

There is also a pub-fare menu available (I never tried it, so I can't say).

What struck us the most was that the staff was all female, and for some reasons, they seemed to be in a competition about who was wearing the shortest skirt. It became kind of a running joke for us, as we would go have a drink there just to see if they kept at it... and they did! But the waitresses were all very friendly.
In short, it is a nice place for the Fellowship fans, beer amateurs, and those who want to take some time off from bustling Trastevere.

Il Vecchio Gandalf
Piazza San Callisto
Rome, Italy

Beach Life: Lido di Ostia

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by melissa_bel on February 13, 2005

Yes, when you look at the map, the sea is not far away from Rome! Even if, sometimes, if feels a world away in this bustling town. But catching some rays is just a matter of will, because the frolicking sea is easy to get to.

Ostia is the obvious choice and has always been the seaside extension of Rome since Antiquity times (Ostia Antica page coming soon). Take the metro line B to the Piramide, San Paolo, or Eur Magliana stations and follow the directions for the train to Lido di Ostia. I recommend taking the train at Piramide, as it is the start of the line. The train can get very crowded. The train there is also part of the experience. I don't think there's been a weekend where I would not find myself in a wagon with a bunch of teenagers and their boom box blasting music (usually bad techno). It's part of the package, I guess. The fare should be 2,50€. I used to go there every weekend because it's so easy, BUT it's definitely not the prettiest place! Just pick a stop between Lida and Cristoforo Colombo (I used to stop at Stella Polare, approximately in the middle).

If you don't feel like going or if it's not open, Ostia will be fine. Now, be warned, most of the beach in Ostia is privatized, which means that beach clubs get money from the city to take care of their part of the beach, but people have to pay to use it. It’s not too expensive to get in, though. Of course, loungers and umbrellas are extra. I went there for the first time in late April and it was free, but in May, you had to pay.

The advantage? You have facilities, bars, toilets... There is only ONE little slice of public beach in Ostia, and it's, of course, the one piece nobody wanted. The beach in Ostia is already not THAT spectacular.

The prettiest beach in the Roma area is a little farther: the presidential estate of Castelporziano. I discovered the Spiaggia Libera at the end of my stay and regretted not going earlier. The president relinquished part of it for the use of the people, and it's a very pristine environment. The beach has big dunes, it's free and very beautiful, and they have facilities in some areas. It's a nature sanctuary, and beside the beach, you'll find an extensive wooded area.

The beach is only open during the summer months, though, from 9am to 7pm. You'll have to take the train to Ostia until the C. Colombo stop and take bus no. 061 to the domain. Attention, that bus runs only every hour (there might be additional buses during the summer). Check out metrebus.it for schedule details. For a list of the beach clubs of Lido di Ostia and segments of the Spiaggia Libera di Castelporziano, here's a link: http://www.ostiaonline.it/stabilimenti.htm

Ostia Lido
Ostia
Rome, Italy, 00122

Beach Life: Fregene

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by melissa_bel on February 13, 2005

Another possibility? Fregene. It's a nice seaside town. In the 60s and 70s, it used to be the hotspot for the beautiful, rich, and famous Romans, and it still plays that old glamour card.

In the summer, some Roman nightclubs hold their summer events there (like Gilda, for instance, which has its Gilda on the Beach all summer long).

To get there, you have to take the metro line A to Lepanto, and then a Cotral bus to Fregene. It's about an hour away. Just make sure you have the schedule with you so you don't miss the bus going back!!! Go here: http://www.cotralspa.it/orari/cot_01002__a04.pdf

I went there once and the buses were so full, they couldn't take anyone anymore! We saw several buses passing us (they had added extra buses) and got lucky enough to catch the last one.

Find more info about Fregene at http://www.afregene.it/

Fregene
Fregene Beach life
Rome, Italy

Bar San Callisto

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on April 23, 2006

In my favourite Rome neighbourhood, Trastevere, in a little square just between Viale Trastevere and Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, lies the Bar San Callisto, an unpretentious, no-fuss bar that became one of my favourite hang-outs. The bar in itself is not much to look at with its bland walls, but the terrace gets filled up at night with students and the local bohemian crowd. The tiny square is quite cozy, it is facing the old San Callisto church, now abandoned. The drinks are cheap, it’s a very relaxing place and it’s easy to make new friends here.By day, their tartufo ice-cream and cappuccino has to be tried and by night, enjoy people watching on the terrace with San Callisto's eclectic crowd.
Bar San Callisto
Piazza San Callisto
Rome, Italy

Sunday in Rome

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by melissa_bel on August 17, 2004

Sunday is one lazy and relaxing day in Rome. Even the traffic seems to calm down.
Even though it's not what it once has, Italians and Romans in particular remains pretty religious and, to my surprise, my neighbourhood church had two services on Sunday morning and it was PACKED. Funny detail, the first stop on the way back home from the mass for a lot of parishioners was... the next-door bar for a little "aperitivo"! I also indulged and loved to the bar when it gets lively with older gentlemen having a sambuca or a martini rosso (the real drink, not the cocktails), kids on their Sunday best enjoying a soda or a hot chocolate...

Then, everybody's off for lunch, usually a family affair on Sunday and everybody gathers at the grandparents to have a four-course home-cooked meal (antipasto, mostly cold cuts and cheese, pasta, main course and dessert).

In the afternoon, if it's football season, most of the family will be glued to the TV to watch a football game (I would hear my neighbours scream about the feats of AS Roma or Lazio di Roma, the two Roman teams).

In the evening, a "before dinner" passegiata is often recommended. The passegiata (simply taking a walk) is a big social affair. In my street, you would find lots of people on their porch or in front of their houses, people stop and chat, enquire about each other and each other’s families... Maybe a stop for a little limoncello at the next-door bar before going back for a small dinner... Or maybe enjoy Rome at dusk, as the sun goes down and bathes Rome in an orange light...

Now that's enjoying your Sunday!


Coffee in Italy for beginners

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by melissa_bel on August 17, 2004

Coffee in Italy is one serious thing. This dark and aromatic brew is strong, fragrant and nothing like people in the US are used to. Even the smallest bar will serve a very good cup of coffee (to start with, they all have a cappuccino machine).

To help the traveller choose the coffee, here are my tips: when you order a coffee or "caffé", don't expect a 20 oz. cup. "Caffé" is the equivalent of an "espresso". You don't even need to call it espresso - if you ask for a coffee, you'll get an "espresso". It is seriously strong and served in a tiny cup (a demitasse). The ristretto is an even tinier cup of coffee, but because it's "stopped short" of a "Caffé", it's not as bitter. On the opposite, the caffé lungo is a tall caffé.

If you crave for coffee, you can order a "caffé doppio", a double shot of coffee, or a "caffé americano", which is basically a shot of coffee with more water added afterward so you have a bigger cup.

"Caffé macchiatto" or stained coffee is a coffee with a little bit of milk, while "caffé con panna" has cream on top instead of milk.

The "caffé latte" is quite popular amongst the tourists too. It's a shot of coffee with a lot of steamed milk and topped with a little bit of foam. While people pleaser cappuccino is a coffee just topped with steamed milk without holding back the foam (tourists add cocoa on top).

Little known "Caffé coretto" has a little bit of alcohol (grappa, whisky for gentlemen, amaretto for the ladies, but you can choose what you want) in it.

Coffee is usually drunk on the spot without even sitting. You'll see a lot of Italians in the morning on their way to work stopping at the bar for a quick fix. But even tiny bars have a couple of chairs, if you want to take your time.

Now... to order the coffee is another thing, so you can follow the link below and you'll be able to order your drink like an Italian!

http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/language/caffes.htm


Public Transportation

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by melissa_bel on August 17, 2004

ATAC, Rome's public transportation company, is quite efficient.

There are only two subway lines and they run from 5 AM to 11:30 PM. Line A, the red line, goes (more or less) east-west and stops near the Vatican (Ottaviano-Vaticano), Piazza Del Popolo (Flaminio),the Spanish Steps (Spagna), Piazza Barberini, Termini Station, and Piazza della Repubblica.

The Line B, the blue line, goes north-south and stops at the Tiburtina Station, Termini Station, the Colliseum (Colosseo), the Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo), the Pyramide (Piramide), San Paolo Basilica (San Paolo) and three stops at the EUR.

ATAC also has some trams (the Tram 8 that you can catch at Largo Argentina will take you Trastevere) and many, many buses! You can easily recognize the bus stops with their yellow posts. The numbers of the buses are on it. If you see a number and an owl, it is a night bus, a great service for all night lovers. They can bear the same number as a day bus but their itinerary may be slightly different. Better check on ATAC's website (they can compute your itinerary for you) or with the driver.

A single ticket (BIT) is 1,00 Euro; a day ticket (BIG) is 4,00 Euros; a weekly ticket is (CIS) 16,00 Euros. You can buy your ticket at the machine in the subway station, in selected supermarkets and (important if you take the tram or bus) at tabacchi and bookstands.

Website:
http://www.metrebus.it/


The Capitoline She-Wolf and The Origins of Rome

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by melissa_bel on January 18, 2005

To the left of the city hall, you will see a little-noticed column and an important symbol of Rome: the Capitoline She-Wolf!

This is a stone copy of an original Etruscan bronze that you can see inside the museum. The figure of Romulus and Remus were added later.

Here is the legend of Romulus, Remus, and the foundation of Rome.

Amulius was a wicked king that was ruling the kingdom of Alba Longo. He had a brother, Numitor, that he fought and sent into exile. Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, was forced to become a Vestal, and thus, not allowed to marry or have children. Mars, the God of War, saw her and fell in love. Soon enough, Rhea Silvia gave birth to twin boys. Furious, Amulius ordered the babies to be thrown in the Tiber. The slave that had to carry the task couldn't do it and just left the babies' basket to float. A she-wolf that had just lost her cubs saw the basket, and out of curiosity, reached for it and saved the boys. She looked after them for a while, the babies feeding on her milk. One day, a shepherd called Faustulus saw the boys with the wolf and brought them back home. He and his wife adopted them and named them Romulus and Remus. When grown, the boys became shepherds like their adopted father.

When guarding their sheep, Remus had a fight with a shepherd that was tending to Numitor's sheep. He was arrested and brought before Numitor. He had Remus tell his whole story and realized that he and his brother were his grandsons.

Later, Romulus and Remus attacked their great uncle Amulius and killed him. Numitor moved into Alba Longa, and the twins were living with him. However, they were missing their previous lives and decided to go to the spot where Faustulus found them and build a city of their own. Romulus favored the Palatine Hill, while Remus wanted to build on the Aventine. They could not agree and decided to build a city each. While Romulus was tracing the limits of his city, Remus came by and made fun of how easy it was for someone to breach the walls of this city and jumped over the line Romulus had just traced. This was an act of an aggression and whoever did it had to be put to death, so Romulus killed his brother. However, as a tribute to Remus's memory, he called his city Rome.
Based partially on fact, Romulus is thought to have been the first king of Rome around 753 BC.


http://www.igougo.com/journal-j33108-Rome-La_dolce_vita_a_Roma.html

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