Il Mausoleo di S.Costanza was built by order of Costanze, daughter of
Emperor Constantine, to be near the martyred Sant'Agnese.
Costanza and her sister Elena are buried here.
We were enraptured on entering this
spectacular circular building. The narrow brick walls and
twelve twin columns surrounding the center altar create a
stunning visual impact. The arches between the columns
have beautifully preserved 4th century mosaics and the
ceilings and walls are decorated with ancient frescoes.
At Giorgio's suggestion we headed
south to Via Livorno 8-10, just off Piazza Bologna, to
Oriental Food for kosher middle eastern delights. We had
excellent traditional renditions of bruschetta israeliana
(thin focaccia with olive oil and herbs), hummus, tahina,
babaganoush, falafel and chopped vegetable salad.
Returning, we walked along Via
Nomentana past the lovely grounds of Villa Paganini and
Villa Toriona to Viale Regina Margherita and then
Santa Maria Addolorata a Piazza
Buenos Aires (Our Lady of Sorrows at Piazza Buenos Aires),
the Argentinean National Church, 81 Viale Regina
Margherita, is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The church was founded by the
Argentinean priest Msgr. José León Gallardo.
Construction started July 9, 1910, the centenary of
Argentinean independence, and inaugurated in 1930.
Argentina was the first Latin American country to have a
national church in Rome.
The two story façade is built in
the style of ancient Christian architecture. In the
centre in striking dark green and gold is a depiction of
the Lamb and symbols of the four Evangelists. There are
also depictions of four palms symbolizing Paradise, the
four biblical rivers and symbols of the twelve Apostles.
The attractive 7 story campanile
was built at the same time as the church. Adjacent to the
church is also the community of the Argentinean diocesan
priests who serve the church.
The church is built in a Roman-Byzantine
style, with three aisles divided by Ionic columns. The
geometric patterned marble floor has an Argentine coat-of-arms
in the center.
Theres a good shopping strip
along Viale Regina Margherita from Via Nomentana to where
Margherita becomes Viale Liegi.
Enough culture for the day, back to
the Hotel Delle Muse to meet our old friend Moshe from
Israel, who was staying overnight before catching a
One of the advantages of staying in
Parioli is that within 15 minutes we are able to reach
the Borghese Gardens, stroll through the beautiful
environment and be at any city center destination within
30-40 minutes. Today we walked through the center to
Piazzale Flaminio and browsed the small open market
before passing through Porta del Popolo into the imposing
large oval Piazza del Popolo.
In the center of the square is an
Egyptian Obelisk that was moved here from Circus Maximus
in 1589. It's about 75 feet high and was originally built
in 1300BC to commemorate the conquest of Egypt. The
square was redesigned in the early 1900s by adding walls
around the perimeter creating the existing oval shape.
Four Egyptian lions were added around the obelisk as well
as a central fountain.
Four streets run
south from Piazza del Popolo, Via Margutta, Via del
Babuino, Via del Corso and Via di Ripetta. Across from
each other on Via del Corso, the major street running
through the heart of old Roma to Piazza Venezia, are two
symmetrical churches. The churches, the Santa Maria dei
Miracoli and the Santa Maria in Montesanto, were designed
by Carlo Rainaldi. The churches are not identical since
the surface area for the Santa Maria in Montesanto (on
the left) was smaller. In order to preserve symmetry, he
created an oval dome for this church and a circular dome
for the Santa Maria dei Miracoli.
We just love standing in the center
of this square and doing a 360? (not to be confused with
the bus #360) marveling at the impact of the design. It's
a fabulous spot for people-watching.
Via Margutta is sort of tucked away
and many miss this charming, narrow street filled with
art, sculpture, antiques, fine furnishings and fashion
housed in precious ancient buildings. When in Piazza del
Popolo, check it out.
We headed over to Via Ripetta, then
south in the direction of Giolitti for a gelato lunch. At
Piazza Porto di Ripetta a well dressed gentlemen in a
nice car stopped us to ask directions to the Vatican
claiming he was from Milan and lost. We showed him the
way on his map while he proceeded to tell us he was the
Sales Director for Calvin Klein and that because we were
so nice and since he had samples of leather jackets with
him he would like Linda to have one. He took a package
from the rear seat that looked like a beauty and held it
out to us. He reached behind the seat of his car again
and brought out another winner for me. It's a good thing
we always try to stay up-to-date on the reported scams;
bells began to go off. He started handing us the goodies
and at the same time asked if we could give him money for
gas because he forgot to stop at the bank. We told him we
were not interested in the jackets (undoubtedly plastic)
under any circumstances. He put the car in gear and
roared away. Take care folks!
Feeling proud of ourselves for
avoiding the scam we tried some new flavors at Giolitti
and we were deliciously rewarded. Linda is now addicted
to orange and I to coffee.
We checked out a few restaurants
for future consideration in the area west of Piazza
Navona. One of our favorite streets where it is easy to
spend time admiring the ancient buildings and artistic
shops is the narrow Via dei Coronari. Eventually we got
to read the menus and give the sniff test to three
candidates. Everyone we meet has at least three eating
places to recommend; it's a tough assignment to sort them
After this long day of walking we
decided to take the bus from Corso Vittorio Emanuele to
Termini and get the #360 to Piazza Delle Muse.
Ristorante Pagaroma at Viale Bruno
Buozze 31/33 is about a 15-20 minute walk from the hotel
not far from Piazza Ungheria. The environment is smart
casual with a neighborhood attitude. The clients seemed
to be regulars as the staff welcomed them back and
greeted them by name. The house offered prosecco and thin
focaccia with olive oil while we read the menu. We
started with a large delicious Carciofi alla romana (simmered
in olive oil).
I had one of the daily specials,
stinco di vitello al forno con pure de patate. The slices
of veal were nice quality but over-salted; the mashed
potatoes were just fine. Linda's entrecote di manzo
danese was thick, chewy and tasteless; the roast potatoes
were just okay. We noticed that most of the other diners
had ordered fish dishes which looked quite good. Fish may
be the thing to eat here but why offer an extensive meat
menu, unless you can do it well.
This morning we hit every shop on
Via Del Corso featuring SALDI, bringing the number of
jacket try-ons up to 265. The streets and stores were
quite busy with shoppers snapping up the last of
winters fashion bargains. I was getting concerned
that Linda's "gem" did not exist.
We found a special lunch spot so
all was not lost. At the Fiumi Tevere end of Via Coronari
is Via dei Banchi Nuovi and at number 4 is the tiny
Alfredo & Ada where Ada and her friends serve old
Roman recipes in an ancient environment. No big decisions
are necessary. The fixed price of 18 euro per person
includes primo, secondo, bread, wine, water and dessert.
Today the pasta was an elbow variety with tomato, pork
and pepperoncini, sprinkled with grated cheese. There
were three secondi from which to choose; boiled veal with
spinach and peas, brasciola with mixed veggies and sliced
roasted veal with fava beans. We opted for the brasciola
and the roasted veal and the sweet ladies did not want us
to leave hungry so they brought a dish of sliced sausage
for us to try. Dolci was as many delicious cookies as we
wanted. They are only open for lunch; find your way there
for an authentic Roman experience.
The big search continued up and
down Via Nazionale and along Corso Vittorio Emanuele with
the try-on count mounting to 358. This exhausting work
lasted into the early evening when we found our way to
another new (for us) restaurant, Trattoria Settimio
Pellegrino at Via del Pellegrino 117, telephone 06-68801978.
The door to this very popular small trattoria is kept
locked, so ring the bell. Mario and Teresa, husband and
wife, are the owners. Teresa is the chef and Mario
handles the front. The staff is very friendly and
welcoming (including the two sons, lawyer and doctor, who
pop in occasionally to help out). The menu changes daily
with a limited number of traditional Roman dishes at very
reasonable prices. It's a casual place where eating well
at a leisurely pace is encouraged.
We started with
pasta, spaghetti with plain tomato sauce and fresh tuna
was added to mine. Linda so enjoyed her grilled meat
balls (actually two thick hamburgers) that she couldn't
wait to return. I have never had such fresh, well
prepared cuttlefish, simply cooked with tomato and olive
oil. Fresh brocoletti and sliced boiled potatoes were a
Italy has finally banned smoking in
restaurants, cafes, bars, and on public transportation
which people seem to have accepted as a necessary reality.
However it appears it has not done much to stop the
smoking addiction. Smoking is allowed on outdoor patios
so in the good weather there is a fog outside these
places. Folks dash outside between courses to inhale a
few drags. There is as much smoking on the streets as
there is cell phone use. The sidewalks and gutters are
filled with spent cigarettes. Young adults of both sexes
seem to be the heaviest smokers. I sure hope they get
message soon: smoking kills.
Many years ago we brought our
friends some olive oil from the Agriturismo Belagaggio in Montefollonico, which they loved. We got
a call from them suggesting we go there for lunch and get
some more of the nectar. Ada and Antonella (mother and
daughter respectively) had prepared some spectacular
meals for us during our stay there, and it would be a treat to see them again
and share their table. We called to be sure the family
would be there and they were as happy to have us as we
were to be going.
On the way we drove through the
hilly, long, narrow streets of Citta Della Pieve where
the high brick and stone buildings have been beautifully
restored. We planned to walk around a bit but it was
difficult finding parking and it began to rain so we
headed to Montefollonico to the warm dry comfort of
It had been almost five years since
we were there and it was good to see the additions and
improvements to the property. It was the first visit for
our friends and they were very impressed with the quality
and style of the agriturismo. We had been there off
season in 2001 and had taken our meals with the family in
their cucina. This time they proudly welcomed us into the
new ristorante with the fireplace aglow, warming the
charming Tuscan room.
We started with
platters of my favorite cheese, pecorino, both hard and
soft, prosciutto and salami. These local treats have to
be eaten with lots of bread and homemade red wine, and so
it was. Last time we had joined the ladies before meal
time to watch them roll out and cut the pasta on the
kitchen table so we knew the pasta would be special.
Today the wide noodles had jagged edges which allowed the
deer ragú to cling to every mouthful for perfectly-balanced
flavor and texture (do I get carried away or what?).
Luscious deer stew with porcini mushrooms was set before
us, an excuse for eating more of the delicious bread.
One must never pass up homemade
crogetti and cenci, fried thin dough sprinkled with
powdered sugar, and a donut-like beauty with a honey
glaze, as dolci. Home brewed vin santo and coffee
completed this fabulous meal.
Belagaggio is set into the rolling
Tuscan hills; accommodations are authentic Tuscan with
all the necessities for an extremely comfortable stay.
The view from the swimming pool area is stupendous.
We said our fond goodbyes with the
tastes of lunch still lingering and the rear of the car
filled with bottles of Belagaggio's own olive oil.
Arriving back at the hotel in the
early evening, we rested a bit and walked over to via
Parioli, 93 (10 minutes) to La Maremma for very good
pizza. They do it two ways, traditional thin crust and a
softer, thicker Napoli style for an additional charge (our
choice). This pizza is not as good as it is in Napoli -
not even close - but its pretty darn good.
Sun, blue sky - let's walk to the
Termini station area to visit two of the four
Archeologica di Roma of the Museo Nazionale Romano. It's
a fun walk past residential areas, street markets (an
opportunity to test your bargaining skills), interesting
shops, tempting food choices and street life. I must
point out that walking in Roma is a challenge. Cars,
motorcycles and scooters have no regard for human life,
particularly at signal-free pedestrian crossings. Where
there are lights, always remember that drivers consider
red lights to be suggestions. You must be
agile, alert and try to cross with the crowds. Another
impediment is that you must also keep your eyes down to
avoid dressing your shoes with dog droppings. Eyes down,
eyes up, a few prayers and you'll do just fine. Of course
there is also the problem of finding space to cross the
street, since vehicles park against each other in every
conceivable inch of space. Blocking crossing points is
probably rewarded with a medal of honor.
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