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Rome, Italy highlights

October 29th, 2007

Close by is Italy’s national collection of modern art, holding works by Cézanne, Kandinsky, and Matisse. Open Tue-Sat from 10am. Via delle Belle Arti 131.

rome swiss guardWhen the Forum gets too crowded and too dusty, walk south down via di San Gregorio to visit Circo Massimo—Circus Maximus, the ancient Roman hippodrome that hosted chariot races. It may not seem like much more than a long, narrow recreation park sunk below street level, but when you get down into it and onto the track, you’ll scare up some ancient images of glory and death. Can’t get much better than that in a modern world.

Rome Restaurants
In the modern sense, there is no “traditional” Roman cuisine. Ancient Romans ate whatever crossed their tables, which was mostly slaughtered bits ‘n pieces of animal flesh and scrub vegetables. “Italian” food came to Rome from the provinces and city states to the north and south. Nevertheless, you’ll want to stay clear of most restaurants at the tourist sites. As I’ve said before, if people are hurling themselves forward toward a piazza, take a left. Off-street cafés where you’ll find actual Roman residents dining do exist. Most restaurants seem to have the identical set hours: 12:30-3pm lunch; 7:30-11pm dinner.

In the San Lorenzo and Trastavere neighborhoods, you’ll find good food at reasonable prices. Try Riccioli Café for seafood and their lunch buffet (a rarity in Rome, and for good reason). Closed Sunday. Piazza delle Coppelle 10A. Phone 06 6821 0313.

Da Baffetto has superb pizza, and the line of Roman’s waiting for a table is testament to the food. Via del Governo Vecchio 14 (near piazza Navona). Phone 06 686 1617.

rome trevi fountainRome Nightlife
Roman nightlife centers around family meals out and street cafés, where friends sit elbow-to-elbow around a small table, talking, listening, laughing. For cultural pursuits like seeing an opera or classical music performance, check the week’s guidebook when you first come into the city. You’ll find all assortment of things-to-do & see adverts in all of Rome’s hotels, hostels, and bed & breakfasts. If you want to be assured of tickets to an event or venue, check weekly updated online sources.

Romans go clubing in the Testaccio area, where you’ll find low price-entries beside some top-shelf places. Metaverso is a small place with verve. Villaggio Globale is in a former slaughterhouse that has room enough for live acts. Goa Club is a few blocks away and is popular with trendy Romans (via Libetta 13, just off via Ostiense).

Rome Transportation
Rome’s Fiumicino Airport is the major international entrance destination. A rail line connects the airport with the city center, and for €9 ($12) you can beat the traffic and high taxi cost into the city.

Rome’s subway system is easy to use and a fast alternative to walking to the major tourist sites. While walking through Rome is fun and you should spend an entire day just wandering, you should make yourself familiar with the simple, two-line subway system that takes you directly across or within a block of every major site. There is a red line and a blue line. They intersect at Rome’s Termini Station, the city’s main rail hub to Italian and foreign cities. From almost anywhere you stay in Rome’s hotels, hostels or short-term apartments, you’ll not be far from a subway stop.

Purchase single or all-day passes (€4) from the touch-screen machines found in every station. They take euros, mostly, but some accept credit card. If you get confused, just ask someone: there are usually so many people waiting in line that a Roman or knowledgeable foreigner will (quickly) walk you through the process.

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