The train from Spoleto to Roma
takes about 1hr and 15min. We hopped on the waiting #360
bus to Piazza delle Muse and 25 minutes later we entered
the front door of Hotel delle Muse, to find the ever-present,
ever-happy Giorgio taking care of business. He was extra
pleased today because the installation of the new air
conditioning system is going nicely.
Hotel delle Muse is located in the Parioli district on via
Tommaso Salvini, 18. Parioli is an upscale residential
neighborhood surrounded by magnificent parklands and the
estates of Villa Borghese, Villa Ada and Villa Glori. It's
a glorious neighborhood to enjoy a different Roma. Roma
with hilly, turning streets lined with gorgeous
residences and gardens. In addition to strolling the area
you can walk, hike or run through the park and gardens of
the adjacent Villa Ada. All this exercise works up a
rather nice appetite and Parioli boasts many wonderful
restaurants to satisfy your needs. Staying here
comfortably balances the time spent hustling about
downtown. Even though public transportation is very easy
to and from the hotel, we usually stroll at least one way
to city center destinations. Whenever we walk, we
discover things we never noticed before.
At Hotel delle Muse, the charm of
the old villa remains. Three generations of the family
Lazar and their veteran staff are devoted to your comfort
and well-being. Giorgio is there to help with your every
need and to offer timely tips of what to do and see,
adding something special to your stay you might otherwise
The Internet point in the lobby now
has three computers for guests use and there is
Internet access in every guest room. The casual, friendly
dining rooms and bar exude the friendly spirit of the
establishment. In good weather meals can be taken in the
lovely rear garden under the green trellis.
On each of our visits we've stayed
in a different room, and this time was no exception. As
usual, our room was spotlessly clean with shining tile
floors throughout. The king-bedded (twins together) room
was quite a nice size with a desk, several chairs and a
large closet. The bathroom was generously sized with a
stall shower and bidet.
The breakfast buffet offers a huge
variety from which to choose, with extra treats like
baked apples and pears. We have always enjoyed having
lunch or dinner at the hotel, our schedule permitting.
Today was such a day. We had both meals with a long
stroll through our neighborhood in between.
For lunch, we chose spaghetti, aglio, olio, pepperoncini
and at dinner spaghetti Bolognese and tagliolini al
limone (a smooth, creamy lemon sauce). A light, fruity
Chianti was perfect. We were in pasta heaven. The
extremely reasonable prices include the antipasto buffet,
bread and service.
Is it any wonder we call Hotel
delle Muse home when we come to Rome? It is great value.
This would be a special week-end as
our friends Cornelia and Fabio would be joining us for
the week-end to celebrate Fabio's birthday. Their flight
from Switzerland arrived on schedule and we headed over
to via Parioli to Ristoranti Caminetto for lunch. This is
a favorite of many patrons of the neighborhood and while
we found the food to be quite good we were turned off by
the pushiness and insincerity of the staff.
After lunch, we walked downtown
along via Salaria to via XX Settembre turning right to
Largo s. Susanna and the church of Santa Maria della
Vittoria. The interior is magnificently decorated in
marble, sculptures and art. Most amazing is the Ecstasy
of St.Theresa, carved by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, situated
in the Cornaro Chapel to the left of the Transept. It is
very dramatic and in the 18th century was criticized for
being too sensual.
Via XX Settembre becomes via del
Quirinale at via delle Quattro Fontane and at one of the
four corners is the church of San Carlo alle Quattro
Fontane by Francesco Borromini who created an absolute
masterpiece in the very small dimensions of the church.
The interior architectural elements are strange and
intriguing. It's oval in shape with wide pillars forming
the sides. The decorative elements have continuous
alternation of concave and convex lines achieved with the
use of stucco. It's in plain white, unadorned.
A bit further along via del
Quirinale across from Palazzo Quirinale is the church of
Sant'Andrea al Quirinale by Bernini (1658). It is said
that this is the building to which the artist felt
closest. It is called the "pearl" of Baroque
because of the precious materials used in its
construction. The marble walls, gold and stucco
decoration are brilliantly illuminated by the light
filtered in through the windows high above. The
sculptures and art adorning the walls are fabulous.
One of our favorite restaurants in
Parioli is La Scala, Viale Parioli 79d, Telephone 0680-84463.
In fact, we ate there twice this trip, once with our
friends and once after they returned home. The owners
personally welcome each and every guest. We had not been
there for a year but they welcomed us as though we had
been there yesterday. The veteran staff knows their
regular guests so well they anticipate what their
customers want. We have not reached that stage quite yet
and our guy gave us time to look at the menu. While we
studied and decided, he brought a house appetizer of
fried olives stuffed with bread and a plate of delicious,
crispy flat bread. A clean crisp and fruity white from
Villa Antinori Toscana, 2003 was superb.
While the menu has
lots of traditional offerings the specialty here is fish.
After delicious soups, one lentil and one fresh green
vegetable, we had grigliato misto di mare con patate and
filletto di tonna grigliata su radicchio e balsamica. The
assorted grilled fish was crisp outside and moist inside
- perfect! The marriage of the rare tuna filet on a bed
of shredded radicchio drizzled with balsamic was made in
heaven. After fresh fruit and vanilla gelato for dessert,
the house offered biscotti and Vin Santo. This casual
neighborhood ristorante offer excellent food, service and
comfort at very reasonable prices.
We returned to La Scala our last
night because we had to have the whole fish baked in salt
that our friends shared when we were together. But before
we got to that we shared seafood salad and tortellini.
The seafood salad consisted of generous slices of fresh
tuna and salmon, shrimp, and octopus mixed with celery
and arugula marinated in olive oil and lemon. The
tortellini were filled with prosciutto and topped with a
creamy sauce with funghi and peas.
The whole fish, coated in a thick
layer of salt, was delivered to the table where the deft
waiter broke away the covering and filleted the delicate
beauty. All we had to do was add olive oil and lemon to
taste, simple and superbly satisfying. See you next year!
After a hearty breakfast we decided
to get the #19 tram at Piazza Ungheria to the Colosseum.
It was a pleasant day and there were significant crowds
around - many more tourists than the same time the last
two years. No doubt about it, our travelogues are working!
We walked south along via di S. Gregorio alongside the
Foro Romano until via del Circo Massimo to the Roseto
Comunale (Municipal Rose Garden of Rome). It's not very
large (about 10,000 sq. meters) but many experts consider
it to be one of the most beautiful in the world because
of its surroundings, the Palatine Hill on one side and on
the horizon the observatory on Monte Mario overlooks the
Eternal City. Rome's Jewish Community Cemetery was at
this site from 1645 until 1943. The citys new
ordinances transferred the entire cemetery to the Verano
cemetery and this area was designated to become a public
green. At the same time, Via del Circo Massimo and Via di
Valle Murcia (which now divides the rose garden into two
areas) were created. During the Second WW it was used as
a wartime vegetable garden. In 1950, the city asked the
Jewish Community for permission to build the new
Municipal Rose Garden on the spot where their cemetery
had been. The President of the Jewish Community consented
but asked that a stele be placed at the entrance to the
garden as a reminder to all who enter that this had been
sacred ground. Instead two stelae with the Tables of
Moses were made for this purpose. One has been placed at
entrance of each of the two sectors. In the upper garden,
which houses the rose collection, the walks were designed
in the shape of a menorah, the traditional Jewish
It was a short walk to the Ghetto
area where we hoped to have lunch at one of our preferred
places, Sora Margherita. They were filled up with a l
hour wait so we decided to try the well-known Giggetto,
via del Portico d'Ottavia. The signature carciofi alla
Giuda was oily and chewy with no flavor. The pastas were
short on substance and like the artichoke suffering from
a heavy oil hand in the kitchen. The service was dreadful
and the place seemed second rate. The toilettes were
filthy. Giggetto is a tourist trap.
While wandering through the city we
managed to salvage the attack on our well being in the
short and long term. From Piazza Venezia we worked our
way up via Del Corso turning left at the Camera dei
Deputati and straight ahead until we reached Giolitti and
soothed our stomachs with smooth gelato con panna montata.
It was busy day on Corso and all
the narrow shopping streets branching off of it. We had
decided to get a SIM card before we left Italy so that we
would have our own cell phone number locked up for future
travel. The Vodafone store on Corso was very busy but it
did not take too long to get it done, especially with the
help of our Italian-speaking friends from Ticino.
Last year Giorgio had recommended Ristorante Perilli in Prati, Via otranto 9-11, and we had such a
memorable dining experience we were eager to return. This
is a very popular spot so we had made reservations by
email from home. Being busy does not stop Massimo Perilli
from being in the front lobby to greet his guests with a
big smile and warm welcome. Nor does it keep him from
graciously escorting you to the front door when it is
time to leave and thanking you for coming.
We were pleased to see that nothing
had changed, the modern chic innovative design, had
survived the test of time. The brightly colored walls,
hand blown Murano glass fixtures, indirect lighting,
wrought iron furnishings still struck us as a perfect
blending of light and design for a refreshing dining
Last time we had feasted on
incredible assorted antipasti and spaghetti all'amatriciana
so this time Massimo suggested we concentrate on secondi
and dessert. A splendid idea, but, we had to have
something light and healthy with the fabulous home baked
hot focaccia. A platter of assorted grilled and marinated
vegetables was the perfect choice. The house red was dry
Massimo recommended two meat
choices, Carre di agnellino in salsa vinaigrette e
cipollotto fresco for Linda and Maialino da latte al
forno con patate for me. The generous portions of rack of
baby lamb and suckling pig were roasted medium rare and
beautifully presented. The vinaigrette sauce and baby
onions enhanced the flavor of the tender lamb while the
roasted potato proved to be a taste match for the
Not to be missed for dessert is the
hot chocolate soufflé with custard and shaved almonds,
which I devoured quite handily while the weight watcher (well,
at this point, thats not a bad idea - just kidding,
Lin!) had lemon gelato.
The menu is diversified featuring
typical Roman dishes as well as a nice variety of pizzas.
There is also a lunch time buffet. The prices are very,
very reasonable for the quality of food, preparation,
presentation, ambiance and service. The location is
walking distance from the Vatican and easily accessible
by public transportation.
Since our friends would be leaving
Rome in the early evening, we celebrated Fabio's birthday
at lunch at Al Ceppo, via Panama 2/4, in Parioli, just
off Piazza Ungheria. We were joined by Fabios old
pal who now resides in Rome. The dining rooms are elegant
in design; a comfortable mood is set by the large open
grill and cozy bar at the front.
Linda and I were on the same wave
length and shared two traditional favorites carciofi alla
romana to start and a main of tagliata di manzo all
olio al rosmarino. The steamed artichoke hearts were
nicely done and the top quality meat perfectly grilled.
We all enjoyed a wonderful red wine, Foradori, 2002,
which was rich in color and flavor. A small chocolate
cake filled with hot chocolate and apple cake with
cinnamon ice cream polished us off very nicely. hApPy
BirTHday Fabio! (Editors note: thats not a
typo! Don says it will make Fabio smile!)
We finished off the day with a walk
downtown. It began to rain and my already damaged folding
umbrella broke down completely (don't they all!).
We happened to be passing a luggage
and leather good's shop, Angeli, on via de'Baullari, 137-139,
just off of Campo di Fiori where there was a very nice
selection of umbrellas. After opening, closing and
inspecting many models we actually bought one. The owner
of the shop gets extra points for his patience.
Just up the street at #5/7 is a
marvelous bread and pastry shop, Il Fornaio, where we
found it impossible not to have sfogliatelle - very
special, as was everything else in the shop.
Today we had a date with our friend
and super guide, Carlo Begliuti, to show us the wonders
of Tivoli. Tivoli is located on the Aniene River to the
east of Rome in the hills of Monti Tiburtini. Carlo took
the old road, the Tiburtina way. He pointed out stops
along the way that were used for changing horses and the
travertine limestone quarries that supplied the stones
for building the Colosseum. There was a separate road for
the ox-driven chariots that carried the stones for eight
Tivoli's two major attractions are
the ruins of Hadrian's Villa (known as Villa Adriana) and
the glorious gardens of Villa d'Este. Villa Adriana is
located outside of the town, while Villa d'Este is in
We started at Villa Adriana. Spread
over 240 acres, the two thousand year old ruins are still
very imposing and even with a map would be very difficult
to navigate and comprehend. Thank goodness we had Carlo
Hadrians Villa is one of the
most complex and significant examples of the building
genius of the Romans and an incredible example of an
imperial palace. There is enough remaining to be amazed
by the size, scope, shapes, perspectives and symmetry of
the architectural creations built into the hills and
natural curves of the land. It was conceived as a
fortress and built to express the owners wealth and
power. Its complexity, enormous size of buildings and
structures, and the remains of the decorations certainly
satisfied that goal. The remains of frescoes and mosaics
that are visible are quite beautiful.
Security was a top priority in the
villa. A series of passageways and check points within
the villa had to be navigated before anyone gained access
to the public part of the villa. Besides the part for
public officials (administrative) there were the noble
imperial quarters for the emperor and his entourage,
quarters for high ranking officials and finally quarters
for soldiers and servants.
In addition to the
living quarters there are huge gymnasium and bathing
complexes for both men and women, an enormous hippodrome
for training horses and taking exercise, an island of
contemplation and isolation, a very large swimming pool
in the middle of green acres and the list goes on.
A simulated inlet of the river Nile
is surrounded by Grecian sculptures (copies of copies).
There are lakes, fountains, gardens, libraries and
Villa Adriana never actually had a
scientific excavation; treasure hunters must have had a
field day here. In recent times there have been only
small explorations and cleanings. Nothing is known about
the finds; there is no information about the last phases
of its life and subsequent decay.
It's a staggering but worthwhile
area to cover. We spent 1/2 day and could have easily
spent the entire day exploring.
The Renaissance Villa d'Este was built over
a Benedictine convent in 1550's for the Cardinal Ippolito
d'Este, the son of Lucretia Borgia. Ippolito tried to
become pope five times and was rejected each time.
He finally became Governor of
Tivoli and the pope suggested he use the old monastery to
build his villa. His entire fortune was spent converting
The palace was intended for
entertaining and lavish frescoes fill the reception halls.
The main attraction is the water dominated Italian
gardens (green only). Water from the river flows into the
basement of the villa where an innovative hydraulic
technique powers it into the fountains and pools.
The fountains are works of art from the
sculpture to the way in which the water jets, sprays and
topples. It's a dazzling sight to behold.
These two venues are definitely
worth seeing, not necessarily on your first visit to Rome
but on a subsequent visit when you want to branch out.
Here are links to web sites that
you will find helpful in your planning for Lazio and Rome.
Giorgio suggested we try Trimani il
Wine Bar, Via Cernaia, 37b. It is next door to Trimani
Vinai, via Goito, 20.
It all started in 1821 when
Francesco Trimani was selling wine first on via di Panico
then to via di Porta Salaria (now via Piave) and then in
1876 Francesco's descendants moved it to its present
Trimani il Wine Bar is a one of a kind wine shop. The selection
is huge, the displays inviting and the prices quite
reasonable. There's an unusual bulk wine dispenser made
of Carrara marble set into the wall. The "fountain"
is decorated with bunches of grapes carved into its
upright facing, which also contains a water inlet that is
connected to the Felice aqueduct that provides
continuously fresh flowing water to keep the wines cool.
The Trimani Wine Bar opened in l991.
It's cool, contemporary look reflects a bit of Roman
tradition. Carla Trimani was on hand to welcome guests
this evening. She's a delight, full of life, with a big
smile and a love of wine and the goodies that go with it.
There's an inviting long marble top bar for those so
inclined. We chose to sit at one of the smart wooden
tables. It's an excellent place for enjoying good wine
and food in a casual, fun atmosphere and that we did.
Our first sips of a Paolo Scavino
Dolchetto d'Alba, 2003, convinced us we had made a wise
choice. We nibbled on fine quality olives, hazelnuts and
crunchy biscuit rings while studying the appetizing menu.
We chose Zuppa di
orzo e porri and insalata di finocchi marinati con
mimolette to start. Both were outstanding. The orzo
blended well with the leeks and small pieces of meat and
carrots to create a hearty soup. The unusual salad of
fennel and cheese was seasoned with a spicy, peppery
marinade, so good. The portions were very large. The
bread was crusty and chewy. Great beginning!
No rush here, sip the wine, relive
the day, critique the trip, look forward to the next
course, coniglio in porchetta con cicoria ripassata and
filetto di manzo alla piastra. Tender rounds of rabbit
were filled with pork sausage and chicory which I loved
as did Linda her fabulous thick beef filet.
Ah, Dolci! A pyramid of coffee
Bavarian cream with a side of whipped cream and cookies
sprinkled with cocoa, powdered sugar and topped with
coffee beans gave Linda her fix. Mine came from 2 rounds
of thick creamy chocolate mousse with integrated
chocolate bits. As everything else, the dolci were superb
quality, preparation and presentation, to say nothing of
the generous size of the servings!
Let's not forget the Barolo Chinato
and Antinori Muffato della Sale dessert wines that were
awesome with the Bavarian cream and mousse.
The prices were extremely
reasonable for this quality of food, ambiance, service
and of course the wine. And, of special note, there is No
Cover Charge here! This is a keeper!
What a great last day: two
magnificent sights and one incredible dinner.
After a great nights sleep,
we bade farewell to our friends at Hotel delle Muse and
were off to Toronto already looking forward to the annual
Santé - Bloor/Yorkville
Wine Festival, including
the Fetzer Appetizer
Challenge, and Ciao
Italia - Cal-Italia, a special evening at Café Nervosa, during Sip, Savour and & Dine. Events
such as Santé (May 11-15, 2006) remind us that our very
own city, Toronto, is a special place to call home.
Rivarotta di Pasiano
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