Best of Italy
As the birthplace of one of Europe's great civilizations, Rome is crammed with architectural and artistic treasures that have made it a tourism Mecca for centuries. The crowds pour into the Vatican City for a glimpse of St. Peter's Bascilica, the world's largest church, and the Michelangelo-decorated Sistine Chapel. Close by the Castel Sant'Angelo houses Italy's national museum and leads on to the Piazza Navona, whose Sant'Agnese in Agone church and Fontana dei Fiumi stand testament to a 17th century Baroque battle between architectural rivals Francesco Borromini and Gianlorenzo Bernini. Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain, then head to the Pantheon, ancient burial place of some of Rome's artistic greats, and then the tourist magnet of the Spanish Steps. No Roman holiday would be complete without a visit to the mighty Coliseum, scene of gladiatorial massacre, and the Forum, the economic and religious heart of the ancient city.
The culinary culture of Rome is not sophisticated or elaborate. It is hearty and rich in flavors and character and reflects the old traditions in most of its offerings. It is based on fresh vegetables, of which the king is definitely the artichoke, and inexpensive cuts of meats such as the innards, as well as slow braised or roasted porchetta. Romans also love their deep fried foods such as salt cod croquettes and cheese filled zucchini blossoms. Sharp pecorino cheese wheels are a fixture in every market and dry-cured beef and pork salumi can be seen hanging in the windows.
Pasta is of course a staple for every Italian, and therefore every Roman. From carbonara to spaghetti aioli with its fiery mix of olive oil, garlic and chili pepper. And rigatoni “con pajata” (those innards we talked about) to a hearty, fragrant soup such as “pasta e ceci”, with stewed chick peas, tomatoes and herbs. Equally as loved and rooted in history is pizza, a thin crusted, crunchy white pizza, brushed only with olive oil and scented with rosemary.
Via Margutta is a cobbled street near the Spanish Steps, draped in ivy and lined nowadays with art galleries, restaurants and boutiques. It was home to Roberto Rossellini, Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Truman Capote. Films throughout the years have often used Rome as a romantic and historic backdrop for stories about love, art, war, and even food. Romans are proud of their thespians, playwrights, and Rome’s contribution to the film industry. Tourists flock to the city where such big screen stories have been told:
ROME, OPEN CITY – Director Roberto Rossellini, Writer Federico Fellini (1945)
ROMAN HOLIDAY – William Wyler, Actors Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck (1953)
L'ECLISSE – Michelangelo Antonioni (1962)
LA DOLCE VITA - Federico Fellini, Staring Marcello Mastroianni (1960)
THE BICYCLE THIEVES - Vittorio De Sica (1948)
THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN - Jean Negulesco (1954)
THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY - Antony Minghella, Actors Matt damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow (1999)
THE BELLY OF AN ARCHITECT - Peter Greenaway (1987)
ANGELS & DEMONS – Novel by Dan Brown, Directed by Ron Howard, Starring Tom Hanks (2009)