This artistic- intellectual tradition went on during the 20th century. Giorgio De Chirico, for example, had his table. And even now, amongst the tourist, it is always possible to find some painter sitting and working in one of the drawing rooms that look like the compartments of a an extraordinary train, even more beautiful than the Orient Express.
One of the roman “must” is certainly the “Caffe Greco”, the oldest coffee shop in Italy after the mythical Florian in Venice. Founded in 1760 by some Greek that was called Nicola Greco (the Greek), this marvellous caffe is still in the same place, via dei Condotti, the street of the most luxury shops like Bulgari, Gucci or Tiffany, near the famous Spanish steps, in the hearth of Rome.
But the Caffe Greco is not just a very “chic” place to have a nice coffee and delicious pastries, it is a piece of history, a jump in the past. When you enter in a row of little drawing rooms with comfortable armchairs and the walls covered by 19th century paintings, you have a strange impression of being transported in the past. You can almost feel the presence of poets like Byron, or Shelley and Keats that lived in the neighbourhood (on the piazza di Spagna) and use to come often to the Caffe Greco. Before them Casanova was already a regular. And later, Goethe, Chateaubriand, Stendhal, Wagner, Ingres, Corot, Henry James…The Caffe Greco was a part of the “grand tour “.
Nicola Gogol who lived for years in Rome wrote on one of the marble table of the Caffe his masterpiece, “The dead souls”.
This artistic- intellectual tradition went on during the 20th century. Giorgio De Chirico, for example, had his table. And even now, amongst the tourist, it is always possible to find some painter sitting and working in one of the drawing rooms that look like the compartments of a an extraordinary train, even more beautiful than the Orient Express.
In these days, unfortunately, the future of the Caffe Greco is in danger because the owner wants more money from the “Antico Caffe Greco Srl company” that already pays a very big rent. Probably he had received some extraordinary offer from an important label. Fortunately, from the fifties, the Caffe Greco is officially considered as a “national monument” and should be protected by the ministry of Culture. Let’s hope! The lost of such a treasure is unimaginable.
If you are in Rome, even for a brief period, you cannot miss a magic place, in the very heart of the eternal city. Between the Piazza Farnese, where you’ll discover the most impressive and magnificent Renaissance palace in Rome (headquarter of the French Embassy) and the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, not far from the Piazza Navona: “Campo dei Fiori”. Literally, “the flower’s square” or even better “the flower’s field”, as it was probably once, a long time ago… Now the square it is still filled with colours and perfumes thanks to the flowers and the plants you can buy on the most famous and probably one of the oldest (from 1869, when Rome wasn’t yet the capital of Italy) roman market.
Splendidly coloured also with mountains of fruits and vegetables, spices that look like contemporary art installations, all types of pasta etc… And if you need some meat, or fish, or cheese, you’ll find it in high quality little shops all around the square, between two bars, or attached to a restaurant. For example, the famous bakery “Forno di Campo dei Fiori” (the oven of Campo dei Fiori) where you can find delicious bread, pizza, torta rustica (vegetable pie) and also marvellous crostate (sweet pies), still warm, with home made jams. It is just next door (number 22 and 23 of the Campo) of a historical “trattoria ”, La Carbonara, well known for her old roman receipts.
In the sixties, it was a gathering place for the roman artists. Pier Paolo Pasolini, for example, was one of the permanent clients. Today, perhaps, you’ll find even a better “pasta alla Carbonara” walking just two minutes to get to via dei Giubbonari, at “ Roscioli , Salumeria con Cucina” that has both a marvellous delicatessen shop and a little restaurant.
Going a bit more back in time, in the forties of last century, one of the most popular “commedia all’ Italiana” with Anna Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi took place on that square and the title was, of course, “Campo dei Fiori”.
But it was not a very nice place a few centuries ago. During the Counter Reform, in the 15th century, the executions took place on the Campo. In the middle of the square, there is a statue of the Dominican father and philosopher Giordano Bruno that reminds us that this marvellous man, opened to the revolutionary scientifically discoveries of that time about the infinity of the universe, was burned alive, there, on the 17th February 1600. Just because he pretended freedom of thinking for the human beings! Perhaps it is that spirit of freedom, still present, that gives to Campo dei Fiori his unique magical atmosphere.
Having a walk in the center of Rome, between the Pantheon and the Parliament, you cannot miss one of the most attractive and coloured shop window.
Not one of some luxury clothing shop, neither of a jewellery, even if there are many in the neighbourhood. No, the most spectacular shop front you’ll discover, at a few steps from the Pantheon, is that of Angelo Feroci. One of the best and the oldest roman butcher, since 1885 at the 15, via della Maddalena.
Called the “Bulgari of the meat “, he won, already in 1924, the gold medal at the International Exhibition of London for his “fresh meat of fine quality”.
Italian and also Danish meat (beef, veal, lamb…) you can see on the beautiful marble counters that have more or less a century, is still of great quality. But that is only a little part of that amazing and beautiful shop where you can find much more.
So many masterpieces of cooked food or prepared to be put just in oven for a few minutes. A lot of roman specialities as the polpette (meatballs) alla Romana, or Polpettone (big polpetta) stuffed with truffles, chestnuts, artichokes, ham and mozzarella, apples and prunes… A very large assortment of vegetables is at your disposition too.
The best artichokes “alla romana” or fried” alla giudia” (an old roman jewish receipt). Even the mashed potatoes prepared with Parmesan is a masterpiece. As so many “antipasti”, to start with as broccoli’ pie, grilled eggplants or zucchini, stuffed with prosciutto, olives, mozzarella etc…
The family Polzella continued the tradition and, as in the shops of Castroni, another historical roman food store, you will be served by the brothers Polzella who will give you very kindly their advises and their receipts.
The only think that you will not find at Feroci is a dessert. No problem, you have to walk just for two minutes to the via degli Uffici del Vicario and take some marvellous ice cream or pastries in another historical place, Giolitti, the oldest ice cream parlour of Rome.
If you want to buy a good quality coffee, in beans, powder or capsules, or just to drink one of the best espressos in town, you have to go to one of the eleven “Castroni” shops that you can find in different parts of Rome. It is not a coffee shop (and in some of them you cannot even drink a coffee, just buy it) but much more than that: a sort of “épicerie fine” as would say the French. An even more for the Romans: An institution.
The first shop of the Castroni group that was founded in 1932 by Umberto and his wife Augusta, was the one of via Cola di Rienzo that remains, even today, the best stocked one.
You can find in all shops of the group marvellous teas, spices, salts and many other very sophisticated specialities from all around the world. But also many Italian traditional high quality food as jams, honeys, pasta of all types and colours, chocolate, biscuits, wine, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegars, truffle sauces etc… etc…
If you want to try to cook Italian during your staying in Rome, Castroni is the best place to go because you will not only find the best food but also good advices. The fourth generation of the family Castroni has a rule: in every shop it has to be at least one member of the family. And that makes the difference. Even if the shops are huge, they have nothing to do with anonymous super markets but still have the humanity of little family groceries that are disappearing.
A visit to one of the Castroni shops is a must if you are in Rome also because it is the best place to find big or little gifts to bring home to your friends and parents . In these days especially, Castroni offers so many delicious Christmas traditional specialities, coming from the whole Italy, as torroncini, panettoni, amaretti, full of colours and joy.
If you are in Rome and you want to have a lunch or a dinner in a sumptuous and, in the same time, romantic dining room full of ancestries portraits, books shelters and soft lightening, you have to go to “Casa Coppelle”.
In the very centre of Rome, on a little square, Piazza delle Coppelle, between the Pantheon and the Parliament, you’ll find a sort of magic oasis, decorated by one of the best interior designer in this moment, Jacques Garcia. The same of the famous hotel Danieli in Venice and other beautiful and luxury hotels all around the world.
A very sophisticated and excellent roman- French cuisine is absolutely worthy of the marvellous 19th century atmosphere. The menu is a sort of poem:
“ Cod chaud froid served with aubergine caviar, pesto cream Mediterranean jelly and cherry tomatoes air.
Port wine and Madeira marinated foie gras cooked in torchon and served with toasted brioche.
Beef tournedos with rose pepper flambé with cognac and matches of potatoes. Etc…Etc..
The choice of wines is very good and, before the coffee, you can’t miss the dessert. A typical French Profiteroles, an excellent Crème brulée or a home made ice cream.
And, if it is not too late, during the day, on the little square outside you can find fruits and vegetables from the roman country on a little market where a family sells her own products, already for decades. Piazza delle Coppelle is a must if you are in Rome!
A Devil Or A Cardinal?
In Via Veneto, very close to Piazza Barberini and Piazza Di Spagna, in the Capuccini church dedicated to Santa Maria Della Concezione, the picture of the first altar on the right is a representation of the Archangel Michael who kills the devil. The work is by Guido Reni. The artist surpassed himself: he painted the Archangel Michael so beautifully that many compared him to the Apollo of the Belvedere. But the best part was the defeated devil, whose evil ugliness emerged in every detail. The painting obtained unanimous consensus, a true masterpiece.
The only discordant voice was that of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Pamphili, the future Pope Innocent X, who had already reserved disapproving words for the artist in the past. The noble cardinal complained of the incredible similarity between the dying devil and him. Reni defended himself frankly:"I could not see the angel and I had to paint it according to my imagination. The demon, on the other hand, I met him several times, I looked at him carefully and I painted his features just as they are".
Who knows if Pope Innocent X learned the lesson: never speak bad of an artist, his revenge can be eternal ...
The Baptism Of The Knife
In the Pigna area, behind Piazza Della Minerva (Pantheon), there is a street that takes its name from a famous tavern that lasted until the beginning of 1900.
The Palombella tavern was the meeting point of Roman bullies. Here was born the so-called "cicciata", or "the baptism of the knife" for all the bad guys of the city. The cicciata was a real initiation for anyone who wanted to be respected and welcomed among the bullies.
The neophyte had to challenge an experienced bully with a knife. The target to hit was not a vital point, but the "ciccia", that is the belly of the rival: from there comes obviously the name "cicciata".
If the new arrived bully won the duel he was admitted in the bullies association and the initiation rite ended with a solemn drunkenness with all the members. When visiting the Pantheon have a look at Via Della Palombella and try to imagine what was going on there centuries ago!
The history of Carbonara is uncertain, mysterious and debated. There is not an official version recognized by all but many and various hypotheses about the birth of this delicious dish of the gastronomic tradition of Lazio Region, like the Amatriciana and Gricia.
There is a nationalist hypothesis that says that the birth of the Carbonara is related to the woodsmen who were producing charcoal during their seasonal migrations to the Apennines between Lazio and Abruzzo. They would bring saddlebags with eggs, pecorino cheese and pork cheek and they would prepare the pasta on open fires. In this case the recipe would be the evolution of the "cacio e ova" typically consumed by the farmers and by the woodsmen of these lands.
There is another (interesting) version that says that the recipe was born by chance during the occupation by the American troops in Italy, around 1944 with the introduction of bacon and lyophilized eggs. The legend says that American soldiers added their ration composed of bacon, cream and powdered eggs to spaghettis.
After the liberation of Rome, the dish became increasingly part of the menu of Roman taverns from 1946 onwards.
Carbonara’s history is complicated and uncertain while present-day Carbonara’s offer is much more clear and definite! That is why we want to present you a guide of the top 7 Carbonara’s in some of the best Roman restaurants.
Have a look to the Puntarella Rossa article from last year (still up to date) clicking here.
If you are in Rome before the 19th of August, you can also make a “ grand tour”, as it was called in the 18th century , in Venice (and even in London!) without leaving Rome, thanks to a magnificent exhibition that opened a few days ago in the Museo di Roma, Palazzo Braschi (with a view on the beautiful piazza Navona) : “Canaletto 1697-1768”, commemorating the 250th anniversary of the artist’s death.
With 42 paintings, 9 drawings and 16 books and documents, it is the largest exhibition ever held in Italy of Giovanni Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto, and especially beloved by the curious British travellers of his time.
Symbol of the 18th century, the venetian painter was a genius of the “vedutismo”, the painting of urban landscapes, at the same time realistic, with a lot of very precise details, and full of dreams and imaginations. Some of those “vedute”, when mostly invented by the painter, were called “Capriccio”. Canaletto whose father was a theatrical scene painter, was particularly inspired by the roman ruins that are the subject of many of his “capricci” painted when he was staying in Rome.
Nevertheless, his most beloved “model” was his native Venice, with his canals and palaces, the Ponte Rialto, the Piazza San Marco, the famous celebrations of the wedding of Venice with the sea on the boat Bucintoro etc…
But he painted also a lot of “vedute” of London and the Thames. And, thanks to this roman exhibition, it is possible, for the first time, to see a huge painting of Chelsea on the Tames that was cut in two pieces by Canaletto himself, probably to earn more money.
The left side, with the Chelsea College is exposed in Blicking Hall (National trust) in Norfolk and the right side, with the Ranelagh House, in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes” in La Habana, Cuba. Now they are together again, for the first time, in Rome.
The exhibited paintings and other peaces are from museums all around the world (National Gallery of London, Kunsthistorishes Museum of Vienna, Pushkin museum of Moscow, the Budapest Museum etc… ) and also from many private collections. But some of those are missing. For example, the Canaletto’s of a very special collectionist: the queen Elisabeth II. To see them you’ll have to go to Buckingham Palace!
The Museum of Rome, Palazzo Braschi is opened every day, except Mondays, from 10h to 19h.
Entrance: Piazza San Pantaleo, 2.
There are at least tree or four reasons to visit in these months the Ara Pacis Museum, along the Tiber embankment, on the western edge of the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, in the hearth of Rome.
First to admire the marvellous roman bas relief, more than 2 thousand years old, that decorates the monumental alter called “Ara Pacis Augustae” build in 9 AD to celebrate the victories of the first roman emperor, Augustus (from 27 BC to 14 AD) in Spain and Gaul.
Second, to get a close look on the very controversial glass and travertine construction of a great American contemporary architect, Richard Meier that protects the alter. The Ara Pacis Museum is, in fact, the only modern construction that exists in the central part of Rome so that the contrasts could be disturbing.
Third, to see “The Ara as it was”. That means, first of all, full of colours, like all the roman monuments. Every Friday and Saturday evening, from 7h30 to 11 pm (last entrance at 10pm) the visitors can, with AR visors (Samsung GearVR) and the cameras that have been built into them, have a fully immersion in the antique Rome and assist with Emperor August and his family (that are represented on the altar, amongst other bas relief) at a sacrificial ritual through a film with actors, a 3d reconstruction of the Ara Pacis and computer graphics.
But that is not all. From the 7th of February until the 3rd of June, in the lower part of the Ara Pacis Museum, there is a very precious exhibition: “Magnum Manifesto”, that celebrates the seventy anniversary of the foundation of the famous photographical agency Magnum, in New York in 1947.
The exhibition has 3 parts:
Part 1: 1947- 1968 Human Rights and Wrongs.
Part 2: 1969-1989 An Inventory of Differences.
Part 3: 1990- 2017 Stories about Endings
It is possible to understand by these titles that the exhibition offers to the visitors an accurate and not at all trite historical documentation of the second part of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st. The Magnum members where always very concerned about what happened in the world and their watchful eyes certainly played a very important role in the recent History.
Museo dell’Ara Pacis
Tel 0039 060608
Opened from 9h30 to 18h30.
THE ARA AS IT WAS Friday and Saturday 19H30- 23h00
There is a magic address in Rome for kids: via Flaminia 82.
At the beginning of one of the ancient Rome consular roads that starts from Piazzale Flaminio (and finishes on the Adriatic coast), nearby the very central Piazza del Popolo, you can find, walking just a few minutes along the tramway rails, inside the old tramway deposit of the Borghetto Flaminio, a double surprise.
A magnificent museum for children from 3 to 11 years (with twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday, activities for babies from 0 to 3 years old) called “Explora”. And also, in the same place, one of the oldest Neapolitan pizzeria (founded in Naples in 1870), the “ Antica Pizzeria Da Michele” that was opened in Rome last year by the descendants of Michele Condurra.
A double pleasure if you have children under 11. And even if you don’t! You’ll discover a fantastic place full of little Romans (that often visit the museum with their teachers) and little tourists from the entire world who play together. And then, you’ll enjoy your “Margherita”, “Marinara” or “Napoli”, the specialities of the “historical” pizzeria as did a few years ago Julia Roberts….a scene of the movie “Eat, pray, love” was shot “Da Michele”, in Naples.
The museum Explora has four sectors. The first is called “Me” and, to introduce the children to the mystery of life, recreates a mother ‘s womb. The second, “Society”, is a miniature town that has a supermarket, a post office, a bank, a petrol station and even a dentist. So the children can play and, through that, observe and experiment a daily life of adults. The third section is dedicated to the “Environment” with solar panels and waste recycling systems to teach the children how to respect the nature and their surrounding. The fourth sector is “Communication” with a television news show made by the children that interact with all the available materials and tools.
An unforgettable experience for your family!
“Explora” is opened every day from 9H30 to 19h30 except on Monday.
Tel: 0039 06 3613776
Antica Pizzeria da Michele is opened from 12h to 17h and from 19h to midnight.
Tel 0039 06 32600432
Roman holidays don't have to be in summer. December and January, when sunny Rome can be sometimes grey and rainy, are packed of events. Especially a lot of beautiful exhibitions, with this common characteristic: they are always held in fabulous palaces.
You can start with Picasso that waits for you in two different locations, not very distant one from the other, the Quirinal Mews and the Barberini Palace.
Exactly one century after his Italian tour, in 1917, where he met Serge de Diaghilev (les Ballets Russes) and the ballet dancer Olga Khokhlova that became his wife, Picasso is back in Rome with more than a hundred paintings, drawings, watercolors, stage costumes etc… from museums and private collections exposed under the title: “Picasso tra cubismo e classicismo 1915-1925“ (1) in “Le Scuderie del Quirinale” (The Quirinal Mews). Just in front of the residence of the President of the Italian Republic, on the magic Piazza del Quirinale (especially in the evening that, in this season, starts very early).
The most extraordinary moment is, at the end of your visit, when your eyes, still filled with the Picasso’s colours and shapes, will discover an incredible view on roman churches cupolas, through the glass stairs that to the Scuderies exit. Unforgettable!
You can take follow Via Del Quirinale, just on your right and walk for a few minutes, between the Quirinale gardens and some Bernini's and Borromini's masterpieces (the churches of Saint Andrew and Saint Charles) that impressed so much Picasso 100 years ago, to get to another splendid place: the Barberini Palace. There, you’ll discover a particularly precious Picasso that is very difficult to expose because of his huge measures (16,5 m – 10, 5 m): the painted curtain for the ballet “Parade” (Cocteau, Satie, Massine- Les Ballets Russes) that marks, with his winged horses, street performers, and even the Vesuvius that he saw in Naples, the end of the Picasso’s cubist period and his return to the figuration. (2)
In that same Palazzo Barberini, there is another exhibition that celebrates a centenary: the one of the rediscovery of “Our Lady of Tarquinia” painted in 1437 by a very young Filippo Lippi. The beautiful Madonna is surrounded by a few other paintings of that time (Masaccio, Donatello… ) with the title “Altro Rinascimento. Il giovane Filippo Lippi e la Madonna di Tarquinia”. (3)
But this is not all. There is another extraordinary exhibition in the Barberini Palace: “Arcimboldo”. This most bizarre and esoteric painter of the Habsburg court, in Prague at that time, with his portraits made with fruits flowers and animals was, already in the 16th century, a sort of forerunner of surrealism and even of the contemporary art. But with much more imagination! (4)
And if after all these exhibitions filled with very strong emotions you need more calm and beauty you have to finish your roman exhibition’s tour at the Vittoriano (via San Pietro in Carcere, just beside Piazza Venezia). There you will find sixty works of Claude Monet, the marvelous father of Impressionism, loaned by the Musée Marmottan Monet (Paris). (5).
October is, for Rome, a very special month. Usually, in the beginning of autumn, the weather is beautiful: Sunny, but without the tedious heat of the summer. The best moment to walk around through the little alleys of the "centro storico" and the so many "villas", the public parks and gardens, that contribute so much to the "grande bellezza" of the Eternal City.
This magic moment of the year is called "Ottobrate Romane", an appellation that has a long history. Until the beginning of the 20th century, the Romans used to celebrate the end of the grape harvest, often going in the country, around the city walls, eating, drinking wine, making music and dancing. These feasts, called "Ottobrate Romane" , were in fact the continuing of an old tradition: the antique bacchanalia, in honour of the god of wine Bacchus.
Today, these bacchanalia have a new face: the city is full of all kinds of events and celebrations. It is maybe not just by chance that the "Rome Film Fest" takes place in October (from the 26 October to the 5 of November) as, also, in part, the "Roma Europa Festival" (20 September to 2 December).
Much more that a real film festival as Cannes, Venice or Berlin, that are attended almost only by professionals and specialised journalists, the "Rome Film Fest" is meant to be a popular "festa" for the inhabitants of a city where the cinema has been always so important, the city of "Roma Città Aperta" (Rossellini) and "La Dolce Vita" (Fellini).
The movies, the official selection and others, are opened to the public, even with a free entrance in some cases. The Romans (and the tourists) have also a unique opportunity to see many stars and big film makers from the whole word, not only on the red carpet that is rolled out at the entrance of the beautiful "Auditorium" built by Renzo Piano but also participating to meetings whith the public. This week end, for example, with Jude Law and with Accademy Award winner Paolo Sorrentino. They can also discover the places where so many films were shot, the most famous Fellini's setting, the "Fontana di Trevi" (la Dolce Vita) but also many others. And, in the area of the Auditorium, organised as a sort of little village with restaurants cafés and a few shops, they can taste roman specialities at the "Trattoria del Cinema", the Rome Film Fest restaurant where the best "chefs" are going to surpass themselves.
For theatre lovers there are other opportunities in this "ottobrata" with the "Roma Europa Festival". It is an extraordinary shop window of the contemporary performing arts. Not theatre only but also music, dance, circus...from the whole world. Created 30 years ago, with so many locations in theatres and museums (like the MAXXI, museum of contemporary art, a few minutes walking from the Auditorium) the festival invades Rome.
In October, it seems to be again "Roma caput Mundi"!
One of the most magic places in Rome, especially when it is marvellously illuminated in the evening, is certainly the “Ponte Sant’ Angelo”, the bridge constructed by the emperor Hadrian in the second century, in front of his mausoleum, and the mausoleum called today the “Castel Sant Angelo.”
The bridge was transformed, fifteen centuries later, by the great sculptor Bernini who sculpted (he and his school) the angels. Castel Sant Angelo has always been a sort of work in progress and contains, in fact, all the history of Rome.
The best way to discover Castel Sant Angelo is crossing the bridge on the Tiber that has the same name and then, visit the Castel inside, not only walking around just on the road to St Peter. That visit is an unforgettable experience.
Especially now, because the Castle is, since the half of June, for the first time, completely opened to the visitors and the visits are organized in a much better way than before. It is finally possible to understand the significance of that monument that, at the contrary of so many others of the ancient Rome, is not just a ruin because during centuries it never stopped to be transformed and used.
At the beginning, in the 2nd century, it was a Mausoleum that contained the ashes, first of Hadrian and than of other emperors. Later, the popes transformed the Mausoleum in a fortress where they could protect themselves from the assaults of their enemies and that they could reach through an elevated long (800m) corridor that connect the Vatican with the Castel Sant'Angelo, the famous “Passetto di Borgo”.
The name of “Castel Sant Angelo” was given to the monument in the 590, during the plague. The pope Gregorio Magno had a vision of the archangel Michel putting his sword in the sheath to announce the end of the epidemic. A sculpture of the archangel was erected on the fortress. Te other angels, those of the bridge, came some centuries later…
The fortress was also a prison. In the 18th century Cagliostro was held in one of the cells of the Castle and the last act of the Puccini’s opera, La Tosca, takes place on the terrace of the Castel Sant Angelo where la Tosca, desperate after Mario has been shot, jumps into the river Tiber.
During the Renaissance, the refuge of Popes had very luxury apartments, decorated with splendid murals. But some of the paintings that we can admire now, for the first time, are much more recent: beginning of the 20th century, pure Liberty style, with military topics, because the Castel Sant'Angelo became also a military garrison after the unification of Italy.
All the rooms and the stairs of the Castel are now open to the public. All the visitors can also walk through Giovanni Sallustio Peruzzi's (16th century architect) Gate that leads to the gardens.
Another important new opportunity is the very sophisticated technology that is offered to the visitors thanks to some brand new Apps for smartphones with explanations in 7 languages.
Opened from 9h - 19h30h every day.
From 24 June to 17 September, from Thursday to Sunday special summer timetable until midnight.
The studios of Cinecittà were inaugurated 80 years ago, on the 28th of April, by Benito Mussolini.
To celebrate this anniversary, the studios are more opened than ever to the public with different exhibitions (opened every day, except Tuesday, from 9.30 to 19.30) , sets (ancient Rome, Jerusalem, Florence in the 1400) and didactic activities for children. Especially on Sunday where it is also possible to have a picnic on the lawns around “Il Caffé, with the Federico Fellini’s “Venusia” that is there since he shot his “Casanova” in the 1976.
Federico Fellini used to take the Via Appia Antica, the Appian Way, to get to his work when he was making a film in the studios of Cinecitta. It is not really the shorter and quicker way. With the underground (metropolitana) that leaves you in the front of the legendary address, 1055 via Tuscolana ("Cinecittà" station), it is much easier. But a walk across the most beautiful consular road of the ancient Rome, shadowed by maritime pines and antique ruins, as the "maestro" used to do, is an unforgettable, magic experience. Perhaps the best way to be prepared to enter in the "Fabbrica dei Sogni", the "Factory of Dreams" as he called Cinecittà, also known as the "Hollywood on Tiber", the place where all the mythic movies of the Italian cinema, but also a lot of American peplum (Quo Vadis, Cleopatra, Ben Hur etc.....) and other big international productions were shot.
Only a few years ago, if you were not working on a film in the studios of Cinecittà, you couldn't enter in that fabulous world. Now it is changed: you can visit every day, from the morning to the evening (at the exception of Tuesday), at least a part of the studios that Mussolini, aware of the importance of cinema (there was no TV or Internet at that time) for the propaganda, built in 1937.
A part of the studios were in fact transformed, these last years, in a museum where, if you like cinema, you feel in paradise. Surrounded by screens showing old movies in black and white, by fabulous costumes of the passed centuries (Cleopatra's dresses, Fellini's Casanova costumes...), stars photos, objects used in different movies, manuscripts of some screenplays... and even the saloon of a spaghetti -western.
Federico Fellini, who almost lived there when he was working, has a place of honour. The exhibition starts with "The Fellini Room", just near the entrance of the famous studio 5, the biggest one were he directed all his movies. Even the famous via Veneto was reconstructed in Cinecittà for the "Dolce Vita" because, explained Fellini, "in a studio, I can make the light exactly as I want".
You can see and hear him in a documentary projected on one of the walls. The others are full of his drawings, all dreams and nightmares that where the real inspiration for his extraordinary movies.
At the end of a peregrination in a sort of labyrinth full of images and sounds that makes you a bit dizzy, you can enter in a submarine. Exactly the same one that you see on a little screen at the entrance where you can watch a scene from an American war movie, "U571", that was shot in Cinecittà in the 2000...
If you choose a guided visit, you can also walk all around Cinecittà, going through centuries and continents, with houses and streets constructed in wood, polystyrene and resin, as everything that is made by the extraordinary artisans of Cinecittà. The illusion is perfect, you are really transported elsewhere, in another time. Exactly like you are watching a movie.
From the Etruscan to the Contemporary Art, Rome is very rich in museums. But, one of them, called “ The Museum of Rome“, in the splendid Palazzo Braschi, looking out on the jewel of baroque, the Piazza Navona, is a very special one that helps, perhaps more that any other, to understand the real soul of Rome. It is the right moment to visit it: a few weeks ago, the museum reopened all his 3 floors after a long restoring and restyling work.
Palazzo Braschi, with his entrance on the small Piazza di San Pantaleo and the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, is a magnificent example of the neo-classical style. It was constructed between the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. First, by the Pope Pius VI, for his nephew, Luigi Braschi. And that was the last construction of a Pope for his family, interrupted by the French Occupation of Napoleon. After a few years and the exile of the Pope in France, the construction went on. The monumental stairs and the chapel on the first floor are attributed to the famous neo-classical architect Giuseppe Valadier (that was Italian in spite of his French name!)
In 1871, when Rome became the capital of Italy, the Braschi family sold the palace to the State and the palace housed the ministry of Interior. During the Fascism, it was used for some exhibitions and other events by the Mussolini’s regime and the first “Museum of Rome” was opened (in an another place, rating the “Boccca della Verità”) in 1930 to underline the link between the ancient Rome and the Fascism.
After the war, 300 homeless families used to live in Palazzo Brachi until 1949, damaging unfortunately a part of the beautiful mural and ceiling fresco. In 1952, the “Museum of Rome” was transferred in the palazzo Braschi . It closed on 1987 to be restored, opened again in the 2002 and had a new restyling, floor by floor, these last years.
The museum is made by a suite of huge rooms, beautifully decorated by gracious neo-classical grotesque and other mural paintings, with a rich collection of sculptures, paintings, old photographs, furniture etc…on a thematic base: Portraits of the governors (almost of the eighteenth century), landscapes (almost seventeenth but also twentieth century), celebrations and games, photographs of destructions (of the narrow streets of medieval Rome) and constructions (of a modern city).
The paintings, even those of the end of the nineteenth century, show us how Rome was a small town with extraordinary monuments, churches and palaces, in the middle of the countryside. And this, not such a long time ago!
We discover how the Romans always loved “circenses” and celebrations. And also, that already at the beginning of the 19th century, Rome attracted many visitors from abroad. And so, beside Canova’s sculptors and Ipolitto Caffi’s landscapes, there is a delicious portrait of a little girl, miss Catherine Bishop, of Joshua Reynolds.
And that is not all you can find at the Palazzo Braschi in these days. On the first floor, there is an exhibition opened until the 7 of May: “Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo”, “Artemisia and her time”, that of the great Caravaggio to whom Artemisia, a woman painter (a rarity in that time!), is often compared.
Piazza di San Pantaleo
Opened every day except Monday from 10h to 19h.
We are a group of young curious people! We have the desire of discovering the world and its inhabitants, finding out the simplicity of small gesture, the beauty beyond appearance and authenticity of places and cultures. We want to give the opportunity to everybody to discover our beloved countries, Italy and Croatia