Ancient monuments and bold new architecture



Ancient monuments and bold new architecture
One perfect Day
Ancient monuments and bold new architecture,
traditional trattoria and sleek bars, local haunts
and tourist traps – all manage to coexist in the
colour and chaos of Italy’s Eternal City.
Words Lee Marshall Photography nassima rothacker
The Colosseum
Home to emperors, popes and Italian presidents, the Eternal City is a fascinating historical layer cake, but also
a vibrant contemporary capital with a vocation for good food and wine. Quartieri of the moment include
boho-chic Monti and the new cultural hub, Flaminio, but don’t write off Centro Storico (old Rome) where
cool insider venues sit cheek by jowl with tourist magnets such as Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain.
The most central of the Roman
aristocratic estates that have become
public parks, Villa Borghese is every
local jogger’s favourite workout space.
In its 80 landscaped hectares, which
take in formal gardens and woody
glades, the running route combos are
endless (
Something of a tourist trap from
lunchtime on, the elegant 1920s
aperitivo spot and literary cafe, Rosati,
in Piazza del Popolo (
is more relaxed in the morning.
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Dog-walking contessas and
businessmen on their way to work
stop here for some of Rome’s best
coffee and house-baked pastries such
as girella (sponge roll) studded with
sultanas and pine nuts. Grab a terrace
table and watch the Roman street
theatre unfold in the piazza.
Dive into the church of Santa Maria
del Popolo, just across the square,
where Caravaggio’s two dramatically
lit canvases in the Cerasi Chapel come
across as frozen cinema – three and
a half centuries before filmmaker
Federico Fellini, who lived just
around the corner in Via Margutta. 
Clockwise: retro
scooter; inside
church of Santa
Maria del Popolo
(9am); L’Asino
d’Oro delight (12pm);
fashion at Tina
Sondergaard (11am)
Opposite: Villa
Borghese (7.30am);
coffee at Rosati
Se p t e m be r 201 3 Q ANTAS 1 1 5
One perfect Day
First Luxury
Art Hotel (left,
8pm); MAXXI
gallery (5pm)
Rome is not fashion-brand central – you
need to go to Milan for that – but it
does a nice line in quirky boutiques.
One good hunting ground is cobbled
Via del Boschetto in the central, but still
villagey, Monti district, between the
Colosseum and Via Nazionale. Danish
designer Tina Sondergaard makes
exquisite dresses, skirts, tops and coats
with a retro touch. Peruvian jeweller
Kely Paucar’s creations at Perlei are of
the moment, mixing modernist gilded
silver with more funky items.
Stay in Via del Boschetto for what must
be Rome’s best gourmet lunch deal.
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L’Asino d’Oro (The Golden Donkey,
06 4891 3832) is the fiefdom of Lucio
Sforza, a chef who honed his fresh and
local slow-food approach in Orvieto
before relocating to this unfussy
modern bistro, which also has a few
much sought-after pavement tables.
For around €13 ($20) you will get soup
of the day, a pasta course and a main
(such as chicken drumsticks in pizzaiola
sauce with vanilla puree), accompanied
by a glass of wine.
It’s often difficult to envisage the
time-weathered artefacts of ancient
Rome as they once were. Technology
solves the problem in the recently
excavated Domus Romane (119a Via IV
Clockwise from
top left: Via del
Boschetto (11am);
Kely Paucar’s
jewellery (11am);
Panzanella with
craft beer at
NO.AU bar
Novembre,, beneath
the headquarters of Rome’s provincial
government, Palazzo Valentini. In what
was once the home of a wealthy family,
missing mosaics and wall frescoes are
video-projected on the walls as you
walk through the space, accompanied
by an audio narrative and sound effects.
Book ahead for an English-language tour
(daily except Tuesdays,
Grooming time. Defining itself as a
“wellness barber store”, deliciously cool
Wonderfool (39 Via dei Banchi Nuovi, began as a men’s pamper
space, but has since gone unisex – all
except for the men-only barber shop.
Facials, scrubs, massages and depilatory
treatments are offered separately, or
combined in the Wonderfool Brand
New Man/Woman package. Skincare
and fashion items are also on sale,
including Zimmerli and Orlebar Brown.
Rome isn’t just about old stones and
old masters. For a glimpse of the city’s
third millennium side, take a cab to the
Flaminio district, where the MAXXI
gallery of contemporary art and
architecture (closed Monday, open
until 10pm Saturdays, 4a Via Guido Reni,, designed by Zaha
Hadid, finally opened in 2010 after a
stop-start, 11-year gestation. It was
worth the lengthy wait. This exhilarating
structure borrows ideas from computer
circuit boards and flow charts to create
a dynamic container that can be more
impressive than its contents.
Craft beer is the big new thing in Rome,
and NO.AU (16 Piazza Montevecchio)
– co-owned by Italian artisanal ale guru
Teo Musso – is a good place to sample
it. Squirrelled away in a residential
square not far from Piazza Navona, this
boho bar serves up a fine selection
of draught and bottled beers from
Musso’s own Baladin brewery, plus
several others. The wine list is also
good, and you can graze on fascinating
gourmet snacks such as seppia stirata
(cuttlefish cooked by briefly ironing it)
or more substantial fare. 
Mor e at Tr av elinsider
ask the concierge Lucian Zamberlain, the
concierge at Hotel Hassler, knows Rome better than almost
anyone else, so if in doubt, ask the concierge. travelinsider.
destination guide: rome Everything from
daylight saving dates through to phone area codes,
electricity voltages and the weather throughout the year.
has tips on how to order breakfast, lunch, coffee and sweet
treats like a local.
the anti-tourist guide to seeing rome
Rome can seem chaotic and overwhelming for the first-time
visitor. Learn how to avoid the crowds and seek out the
quieter cafes and bars.
Se p t e m be r 201 3 Q ANTAS 1 17
One perfect Day
0°300°, First Luxury
Art Hotel (8pm)
wor d u p
Rome: A Cultural History
Robert Hughes (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
An engaging romp through two and a
half millennia by this always-readable
bull in the cultural china shop.
Hughes first visited the city as a
wide-eyed 20-year-old.
The Companion
Guide To Rome
Georgina Masson (Companion Guides)
Opinionated, detailed, anecdotal,
this is still the best guide by far. It has
been updated after Masson’s death
by John Fort, a long-time resident of
Rome, but is still unmistakably hers.
I, Claudius
Robert Graves (Penguin Classics)
The evergreen fictional
autobiography of a canny emperor
who survived the madness and
debauchery of ancient Rome by
carefully cultivating a reputation
as a harmless, stammering idiot.
1 1 8 Q ANTAS se p t e m be r 201 3
Keep this perfect day golden – after
lunch at L’Asino d’Oro – by dining at
All’Oro. At the end of 2012, chef
Riccardo Di Giacinto moved his
Michelin-starred restaurant from the
northern suburbs to the First Luxury Art
Hotel (14 Via del Vantaggio, 06 4561 7070,, just off central Via di
Ripetta. Although he trained under
Spanish chef Ferran Adrià, Di Giacinto’s
approach is less flashy, opening up to
the Roman tradition in dishes such as
risotto cacio e pepe, or sheep’s cheese
and black pepper, served with smoked
salt cod and candied lemon peel. The
main restaurant, cool and contemporary,
is in a windowless ground-floor space.
For views, book a table on the 0°300°
roof terrace, a swooningly romantic
perch amid Centro Storico domes and
rooftops, where Di Giacinto presides
over a much simpler menu of raw fare
(vegetables and seafood) and non-carb
wood-oven specialties, both fishy and
meaty. The third part of the All’Oro
experience is the Misceliamo bar, next
to the downstairs restaurant, where
mixologist Patrizio Boschetto specialises
in gourmet cocktails such as the
Amatriciana Bloody Mary.
For airfares
call Qantas on
13 13 13 or visit For
holiday packages
to Rome call
Qantas Holidays
on 13 14 15.
Housed in a cavernous brick basement
not far from Stazione Termini, Micca
Club (7a Via Pietro Micca, miccaclub.
com) is the centre of Rome’s growing
burlesque entertainment scene, plus
retro-flavoured music forays (courtesy
of in-house DJs and live acts) into swing,
rockabilly and doo-wop styles. Check
out the website for the latest listings
when you arrive in Rome. c