36 hours in Rome

A view of Rome from the Villa Borghese as evening approaches on November 18, 2022. (Photos: NYTimes)
Rome, usually a city on the verge of an urban breakdown, suddenly seems on the cusp of getting it together. A refreshing breeze of possibility, not just this summer’s burning garbage, is blowing through the city. A Bulgari hotel will soon open in the center of town, along with other brand-name accommodations that promise a reinvigoration of luxury in the Via Veneto area. The city is hoping to host World Expo 2030, a potentially transformative prize that could improve infrastructure and reimagine Rome’s rugged eastern neighborhoods — though even now they percolate with energy. Whether it be sumptuous palaces or new restaurants eager to break free of the carbonara yoke, Rome seems eager to stop resting on its wilted laurels.اضافة اعلان

Here is a slice of Roma, in 36 hours.

Friday3pm: Get a pope’s welcome. The first thing Pope Francis does after each foreign visit is stop at St. Mary Major, one of Rome’s four papal basilicas, to express gratitude for a safe journey home. You can also receive a sparkling welcome, starting perhaps with the medieval gold mosaics in the apse of the church depicting the life and coronation of the Virgin Mary. Upstairs, and accessible with a short, guided tour, is the Loggia of Blessings and its hidden masterpiece — glinting 13th-century mosaics that focus on the church’s founding.

The Roman Forum as seen from the Capitolium on November 17, 2022. 

4:30pm: Pause for pastries. Take a five-minute walk down Via Merulana to Pasticceria Regoli, one of the best bakeries in the city. Since 1916 the Regoli family has been whipping up cream puffs and pastries. If you are lucky, there will still be some maritozzi con panna, sweet Roman rolls heaped with fresh cream that were Rome’s go-to breakfast pastries before the cornetto (a pale Italian imitation of the croissant) spread like a margarine plague across the city.

5pm: Gaze at boaters. The private modern and contemporary art collection of the Cerasi Foundation, started nearly a decade ago by a prominent Roman couple, is housed in the handsome Palazzo Merulana in the Esquilino area, renowned for its excellent multicultural market. Its central square has been cleaned up and there are playgrounds and new cafes. But it was the collection’s arrival in 2018 that announced the neighborhood’s arrival. The palace’s floors are packed with stunning pieces of early 20th-century Italian art: portraits by Scipione, melancholy boaters by Giuseppe Capogrossi, a strongman by Giacomo Balla and expressive little acrobats by Antonio Donghi. The ground floor and sculpture garden doubles as one of the city’s most civilized cafes.
Rome is a city of secrets. Behind beat-up facades are sprawling gardens and sparkling palaces. Palazzo Colonna may be the most well-managed and jaw-dropping of them all.
6:30pm: See the “somebodies”. When dusk falls, Casa Dante comes alive. The cavernous bar and restaurant is the anchor of Esquilino’s lively aperitivo, cocktail, and Aperol spritz (see cornetto plague above) scene. It is a laid-back place, filled with locals, Italian film industry types, and other assorted somebodies feasting on a pinsa Romana (an oblong Roman-style pizza) or tartare. Nearby are other possibilities: Salotto Caronte, a cocktail bar set up like a living room, and Gatsby, a bright, stylish cocktail bar on the arcade-lined Piazza Vittorio.

A room at the Palazzo Colonna in Rome on November 18, 2022.

8:30pm: Have a lovely dinner. Rocco, away from the overrun cobblestones of Monti, scratches the old Roman trattoria itch, but with a confident, cool-kid hand. The rigatoni with ragù is serious, and the lamb chops hit the spot. The wine list is honest and affordable. Most important, Rocco’s design-savvy setting nails the ambience in a city that often seems oblivious to it. The wooden chairs on the terrazzo, white tablecloths, plates scrawled with the restaurant’s name and walls filled with blackboards and framed mementos make the bites better.

Saturday10am: Find a hidden jewel. Rome is a city of secrets. Behind beat-up facades are sprawling gardens and sparkling palaces. Palazzo Colonna may be the most well-managed and jaw-dropping of them all. Rooms drip with art, and the private apartments of Princess Isabelle are packed with treasures. Polyglot staff members will tell you about the room Michelangelo hung out in; the bored princess who took the (visitable) secret passageway when she escaped dressed as a man; the rare ancient marbles; and the 18th-century insomnia clock. The Colonna family nobles do not just haunt the place, they live in it. On a recent visit, I bumped into Don Prospero Colonna di Paliano, Prince of Avella, making sure everything was running.

Inside the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome on November 17, 2022. 

Go to Fellini country. “All of those are new hotels,” a manager at the newly opened W said as he stood on the hotel’s rooftop, pointing to nearby construction cranes. The surrounding area is known for the Via Veneto, featured in the 1960 Federico Fellini film, “La Dolce Vita”. In recent decades, the neighborhood became a no-man’s land. Now luxury chains like Nobu and Rosewood are infusing the area with long-lost glamour and good restaurants. Giano, the W restaurant of the Sicilian chef CiccioSultano, is gorgeously appointed in Fornasetti vases, and serves top-notch Sicilian dishes that live up to their top-notch prices. The paccherofuorinorma is a wonderful iteration of the eggplant classic, while the spaghettotaratatà with bluefin tuna bottarga and crispy breadcrumbs is as good as anything I have eaten in the city.

3:30pm: Shop at boutiques. Inside the W is a satellite shop of Chez Dede, a chic French-Italian fashion and interior design brand that is gaining more visibility. But it is better to visit the flagship store on Via di Monserrato, a street packed with Rome’s best boutiques, most of which open later in the afternoon. The designer jeweler Delfina Delettrez, a scion of the Fendi fashion-house family, and famous for her lips motif and pearls, is just down the block, as is the brightly colored luxury bagmaker Maison Halaby. For more affordable boutiques, hit nearby Officine Red for casual elegance, Solodue for shoes, and Tipimini for kids.
James Joyce once wrote, “Rome reminds me of a man who lives by exhibiting to travelers his grandmother’s corpse.” But the city is now trying to breathe some life back into the old bones by turning to virtual reality.
6:30pm: See and be seen. Got milk? Having essentially expired, the old latterias (or milk bars) of Rome are being revamped into vibrant cocktail or natural-wine spots. Off the Campo de’ Fiori, the party piazza teeming with terrible pubs and spritz joints, the Antica Latteria (Vicolo del Gallo, 4) kept its name but now serves champagne and cocktails that are drawing the see-and-be-seen crowd away from the Felliniesque bar Camponeschi, across the stunning Piazza Farnese.

Drinks at Casa Dante, a bar in Rome, on November 17, 2022. 

Dine at the sweet spot. Most of Rome’s dining scene prays to the trinity of carbonara, amatriciana, and gricia. There are wonderful old-school places — da Cesare for the classics and la Gensola in Trastevere for fish rarely fail — and Dogma has a warm staff doing inventive things on the grill in San Giovanni. But the sweet spot of central location, an international crowd and creative kitchen can be tough to find. Luckily there is Marzapane, just outside Piazza del Popolo, with its conchiglione, or big shell pasta, with zuppa forte meat sauce, served by waiters who suggest natural-wine pairings in a handsome and modern dining room.

Sunday9am: Have a gorgeous pastry. The VialeAventino, a shaded boulevard connecting the heart of ancient Rome to the vibrant neighborhood of Testaccio, cuts along Aventine Hill, spotted with elegant, quiet villas. In the middle of the artery is one of the best coffee and pastry spots in the city: Casa Manfredi. Here, the bite-size mignons of the pastry chef Giorgia Proia gleam under glass next to gorgeous three-chocolate and raspberry cakes. The coffee is top-quality, with none of the often-torched Roman finish.

Drinks are served at the bar at Antica Latteria in Rome on November 18, 2022. 

10:30am: Step back in time. James Joyce once wrote, “Rome reminds me of a man who lives by exhibiting to travelers his grandmother’s corpse.” But the city is now trying to breathe some life back into the old bones by turning to virtual reality. Some attempts are gimmicky — the VR bus tour is like riding inside a flat-screen-paneled basement — but the VR-enhanced walking tour around the Circus Maximus, the once epic stadium that is now an oval field, gives the best sense of what once was, with obelisks rising, the Palatine palace looming, and chariots racing and crashing.

1pm: Have lunch at the market. For years now, the San Teodoro market, run by the Campagna Amica, a foundation promoting Italian agriculture, has planted a vibrant green market at the edge of the Circus Maximus. Wander around one of Rome’s largest farmers’ markets to cobble together a lunch from the top-quality butchers and cheese sellers, or just head into the back courtyard, where vendors sell plates of fresh pasta, grilled meats, chicken, fresh vegetables, soups and artisanal beers, and wines.

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