Monday, September 29 – First day in Rome

Heavy rain in the night, but woke up to the sun breaking through the overcast. Sunny and warm. Wore short sleeves and jeans today. Long sleeves and jeans in the evening.

I am home now and it was a week ago yesterday that I am writing about.

We had hoped to have breakfast out on our lovely terrace, but we woke up to cold and overcast. We did have breakfast in the room, but the coffee was bad (I should have requested espresso – otherwise hotels seem to give you very weak and bad “American” coffee).

We walked into the historic center (20 minutes to Piazza Navona), had a quick coffee at Tazza d’Oro near the Pantheon, walked by the big foot on Via Pie’Di Marmo (someone had left two beer bottles beside the foot – this foot must have seen a lot since it first appeared in Ancient Rome), walked by the stone cat on the side of a building on Via della Gatta (the cat is very small and sits at about the third floor level of the building), and met Robert at the Palazzo Doria Pamphilij (around the corner from the cat). We had not been to this museum before; Robert was there last year but wanted to see it again.

The museum is in a Palazzo used by the Doria Pamphilij family. The oldest parts of this building date from 1435. Much of the building has been turned into an art gallery, so you get to walk through magnificent rooms and look at the art. Robert says the Velazquez painting of Pope Innocent X Pamphilij is the best painting in Rome. (I would question that, but then I know nothing about art. It was an interesting painting.) We saw some Caravaggio paintings. I have heard of that artist, but do not remember seeing his work before. I liked the paintings we saw. You cannot tour the rooms in the private apartment (this area is closed). When you pay to go in the museum, you get a guided tour recording given by a present day relative of the family (in a very poncy British voice).

After an hour or so in the museum, we walked back to the Pantheon – stopping in at Santa Maria sopra Minerva to see Michelangelo’s “The Risen Christ”, then for another coffee at Tazza d’Oro – to wait at 12:30 in front of the Pantheon for some people from the message board for a GTG lunch. We waited for 15 minutes and they didn’t show, so we left. Neither Robert nor I could remember who we were supposed to be meeting, and they either forgot or saw our motley crew and pretended to be German tourists.

We walked over to the Sant’Eustachio restaurant where we had lunch last year and had another excellent lunch. (This restaurant is highly recommended by people on SlowTalk.) We sat outside under an awning.

After lunch, Robert headed off and we walked back to the hotel. Steve has been dealing with a cold the last few days and needed a rest. We were due to be at Stephanie and Cesare’s apartment at 4:30pm, but at 4pm Steve was sleeping soundly (and I was writing my blog for an earlier part of the trip), so I called them and set the meeting time for later. By 5pm, Steve was up and feeling much better, so we took a cab to the Trieste area where Stephanie and Cesare live.

They live in a fabulous neighborhood of lovely buildings mostly from the early 1900s and close to the very large park Villa Ada and to other smaller parks. Their apartment is very nice and looks out to a quiet street on one side and a pretty inner courtyard garden on the other (with a big palm tree!). They took us on a walk around their neighborhood and over to the Coppede district, a beautiful area with Liberty buildings. This area is just north of the Borghese Museum and would be well worth visiting.

From a recent article in La Repubblica (which Steve translated): ” … the Coppede district, that quadrilateral behind Piazza Buenos Aires, enclosed within Via Tagliamento, Clitunno, Serchio, Ombrone and Arno and converging onto Piazza Mincio. It is named for the one who created it between 1921 and 1926, Gino Coppede, transatlantic architect and developer, a little extravagant in its eclectic style which evoked medieval and renaissance architecture with stylings of enchanted castles.”

After our walk, we had dinner at their apartment (Stephanie made a really nice Minestrone) and talked. We took a taxi back to the hotel. It was a wonderful experience for us to have friends to visit in Rome, to get to see a real neighborhood and have a peak into a real Roman life. They also have a house in the Lazio countryside, Cesare’s family home, that they visit frequently to get away from the hecticness of the city. I could happily live in their “lifestyle”.

On the way home, we saw an accident right near our hotel, with a cab and a car. We saw another accident earlier in the day. Always wear your seat belts in cabs!

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.