Sunday, April 26, 2015

Things to Do While in Rome: See it from the Sky!

“You will never know how high you can climb until you reach the top.” K.L. Toth

I have been living in Rome for a while now, and I have walked several times around the Vittorio Emmanuele monument in Piazza Venezzia, but had not climbed to the top until last week.  I was by myself, having a date with Rome; on the days I choose to wander around and get cosy with this wonderful city, I walk without a destination, letting myself get lost in its labyrinth of cobble-stone alleys, only deciding where to turn when I get to the end of a street.  

So I ended up in Piazza Venezia at the Vittorio Emmanuele monument, with its many steps and sculptures.  Piazza Venezia is the heart of the city, marking the end of Via del Corso and the beginning of the Roman Forum.  I know I've said other squares are also the heart of Rome, it's just that Rome has more than one heart.

If you decide to make the climb up the steps of this monument, after reaching the first terrace you'll find the tomb to the Unknown Soldier, right under the Goddess Roma and flanked with two eternal flames.  An entrance to the inside of the monument is also found at this level.  Three museums are housed inside this enormous monument, one to the Italian Flag, another to the Italian Unification and the National Museum of Italian Immigration.

But the best part to this monument is around the back.  If you walk around the first terrace towards the back of the steps you just climbed, you'll find a panoramic elevator that will take you, for seven euros, to the very top of this monument.  Once you exit the elevator your jaw will drop as you'll be in front of one of the most breathtaking views in all of Rome, because you can see a 360 view of the city.  Colisseum, cupolas of the many churches around town, the Roman Forum,  you can see it all from here.

I know you may be rushing from one fountain to another, from one church to another church, but believe me, if you want a birds-eye view of all your Roman landmarks, take the elevator on the Vittorio Emmanuele monument and see Rome from the sky!

Arrivederci for now,

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Happy Birthday Roma

“Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future too.”  Marcus Aurelius 

Happy Birthday Rome!!  This Tuesday April 21st, Rome will be celebrating it's 2768th birthday.  Like every year, the city organizes cultural events and reenactments.  I rushed to the forum this morning to bring you a sneak peek into what is going to happen starting today, until Tuesday. 

Most reenactments will happen at the Circus Maximus, a span of green behind the colosseum.  There is plenty of room for everyone to celebrate with Rome.  There are a few stands that sell commemorative t-shirts, Roman times paraphernalia and food.  For additional information of the festivities click here  

To arrive to the festivities, the closest metro stop is Circo Massimo, a stop on the B Line.  You can also use the Colosseo stop which is the one located right in front of the Colisseum. 

Additionally, in celebration of the city's birthday, the museums run by the city are free to the public and will open until midnight on April 21st.  Some special exhibits will still require a ticket.  

There will also be concerts by military bands in many of the city's squares, so be there or be square!  Lastly, the city will inaugurate a special lighting system that will make the forum shine more than ever.  If you have plans to visit Rome (please read this first) it may be a good idea to plan your trip around April 21 and take part of the festivities, needless to say the weather this time of the year is just perfect.

Arrivederci for now,

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Garden Inspirations from a Roman Emperor

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need" Marcus Tullius Cicero

Spring is finally here in Rome and if there is anything synonymous with spring, it is a garden. Today I visited two wonderful places located forty minutes outside of Rome, in a town called Tivoli: The Villa D'Este and Hadrian's Villa.  Villa D'Este has the most wonderful gardens you can imagine, and I would post hundreds of pictures if I could.

If you are planning to revamp your garden, why not take some inspiration from these UNESCO world heritage sites?  I'm not an empress and certainly I'm no gardener (I have the brownest thumb anyone can have), but I've found much needed inspiration in the gardens of Villa D'Este and Hadrian's Villa to try to apply to the garden of my humble home. 

Here are some pointers of what I saw today:

1. Consider adding rhythm to your garden: Find something you like and repeat, repeat and repeat. 

2. Add a fruit tree to your garden, they are beautiful and yummy at the same time.  Plus the reward of knowing where your food comes from is priceless!

3. A water feature will make you feel like an empress/emperor

4. Flowers flowers everywhere.  We are all used to flower beds, have you considered having flowers above your head?

5. Multi-Function Shrubs: Rosemary is resilient, edible and has beautiful blooms, if Emperor Hadrian used it so can you.

I hope you enjoyed today's post, if you have any other gardening advise please leave it in the comments section, I need all the help and motivation I can get.

Arrivederci for now,

Friday, April 3, 2015

Time for Gelato

"Io che qui sto morendo, e tu che mangi il gelato" I'm here dying and you are eating gelato. Lucio Dalla

Hello Spring!  Weather in Rome has been fabulous this last week, and with nice warm weather I get an intense need for gelato.  Since we are going to be talking about gelato we need to realize not all gelato is created equal.  The good artisanal gelato can be spotted following these tips:
  • Are the mountains of gelato bigger than Mt. Everest?  Probably not the best quality, as gelato made with real ingredients will not be able to withstand such heights.
  • Are the colors realistic as found in nature?  A connoisseur told me to check the banana flavor and make sure it's white and not yellow.  Beware of bright blue Smurf flavors and mint that is kryptonite green.
  •  The texture should be creamy and it should not be overly sweet.
Now that you'll be able to recognize a good artisanal gelato let's see where to find them in Rome.  Let's have an award ceremony:

1. My personal favorite and winner of all my informal market research:

Come Il Late

This gelateria makes the cones on the spot and the sweet smell emanating from the store is impossible to resist.  The cone is first filled with dark or white chocolate and it's topped with an extra chocolate covered wafer.  The flavors are very authentic; try their Mango, Salted Caramel or any flavor your heart won't be disappointed.

2. A Traditional Gelateria 


A nice traditional gelateria with a location downtown rome and two others (click on the link for addresses).  There is always a long line outside.  Note: If you sit down and get service at your table, the gelato will be more expensive than if you get your ticket and choose your gelato at the counter.  

3. When More Means A Lot More

Gelateria Della Palma 

Claim to fame of Gelateria della Palma is that they serve 150 flavors, and they do!  It is located steps from the Pantheon, so if you are out admiring this wonderful church, don't miss a visit to Gelateria della Palma.

4. One for the Organic Lovers


GROM is a chain with several locations around town.  They only use organic ingredients and their flavors vary with the season as they use seasonal ingredients.  They don't use colorants nor chemicals of any kind.  Only a few flavors available, but they are all excellent!  

5. The Out of the Way Combo Kings

Mondi (Via Flaminia Vecchia 468)

This gelateria and pastry store is one of the best of Rome but is not in the center of town.  Located in the The Ponte Milvio neighborhood if you decide to go for a ride, other than gelato, you'll be enjoying a part of Rome that has been kept for locals only.  Mondi offers great combo flavors like Zabaione (eggnog) with crunchy caramel and pistacchio or Vanilla with raspberry and chocolate bits.  

6. Last but not Least


Located a couple of blocks from Piazza Navona, at the heart of old Rome.  This gelateria is a great stop after visiting the wonderful churches and statues of this beautiful city.

And now, with all this talk about gelato, I think I am going to head out the door and get one.  Arrivederci for now,