After our visit to the Capitoline Museum, it was late afternoon. We had booked tickets for a tour of the Colosseum at night, so we now just had to wait around in the area and find some food. We first went into the Monti area and took a rest at the café 2 Periodico Caffè, a very nice place where we had some chilled white wine and chips. We then went for a Guinness at the Irish pub Finnegans (it is our tradition to always have a Guinness on all our trips).
We then went to Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, primarily to see Michelangelo’s horned version of Moses. The Moses statue, which was created in 1505, shows an untraditional Moses with two small horns sticking out of his head. Showing Moses with horns stems from a mistranslation of a passage in the Bible, where Moses has light coming out from his head. In the wrong translation, the light became horns instead. It is widely believed that Michelangelo was well aware of the error but that he chose to depict him with horns anyway. But why? Well, I did not figure it out, but I did make a quick sketch, as can be seen on the right.
We had dinner at Hostaria da Nerone, where I had a lovely Saltimbocca. Under the meal, we could hear distant music, which later turned out to be from the Roman Pride Parade.
After dinner we went down to the Colosseum for our late night tour, beautifully named “La luna sul Colosseo.” It was an exceptional experience to be in the Colosseum after all the other tourists have gone. We were a small group of about 10 people and the only other people were a few other groups of the same size. The tour itself was very informative and gave one a great feel of the place’s former glory. For instance, the information that the building of the Colosseum was funded by the loot from the siege of Jerusalem, linking this building to Arco di Tito, which we had seen earlier that day, which depicts the victory over Jerusalem and the loot being carried off. During the entire tour, we could hear the music from the Pride Parade in the distance, with an intense bass rumbling through the building. The ruin was, by the way, also beautifully lighted.
After the tour we went over to the Ludus Magnus on the other side of the street, which is the ruins of the gladiator school. Right next to we finally saw the Pride Parade that we had heard all evening. So for a short while we danced to the beat and joined the joy, but then we had to stop because our tired feet were shouting and we were feeling tired. We went on our way back home only stopping on the way for a final drink at Barnum.
It was Sunday and we were going home. We had our last colazione at the B&B, brought to us by the sweet Amy, who also made a great dish for us with scrambled eggs with cheese. We had asked our landlady to order a driver for us, so as soon as we stepped out of the front door the driver was ready. So finishing with the same luxury as we started with, we were driven to the airport. In the airport, we had our last Roman snack of lovely mozzarella di Buffalo, and then we were on our way back to Copenhagen. … Already missing the lovely Rome.
After a day of relaxation and a long rest at the B&B, we went out into the streets of Rome in the evening. Our landlady had recommended that we go see the sunset over Rome from the Pincio Hill, so that was where we were heading. But when we came to Piazza del Popolo we were surprised to find out that the entire square had been transformed into a concert venue. At one end was a large platform and on the rest of the square there had been placed seats for the audience. So it had been the preparations for this show that had blocked our view over the famous piazza a few days before. Now it was filled to the brim with people and there was a spectacular light show, which among other used the surrounding buildings to make magnificent color tableaus – just imagine the twin churches colored all in blue and then changing to red. It was beautiful and very dramatic. The concert itself was in celebration of Bicentenario dell’Arma dei Carabinieri, that is the 200-year anniversary of the Italian national military police. The concert included a variety of performances of classical pieces and a few modern like Sinatra’s My Way mixed in between speeches.
We went up to Pincio Hill as planned and watched the sun go down, with this amazing concert as the backdrop. Quite a magical moment. And then we went down to observe the concert more closely.
But after a while our stomachs growled to loudly of hunger, so we had to leave the concert. We hoped to have the opportunity to revisit Al Gran Sasso, and we were in luck: they were open and had just one free table left. So we dived down in their delicious dishes one again. We started with some great calamari. Then Ole had apasta, and I went for both funghi and patata fritta. Uhmmmmmmm. Oh, how I wish I could eat there every night.
Afterwards, we could hardly stand; we were that full. Blissfully we tumbled back home and watched Spise med Price (a Danish cooking show) on the iPad until we fell into a deep sleep.
It was our last full day in Rome, and the plan was to hit the big 3 of ancient Rome: Forum Romanum/Palatino, the Capitoline Museum and the Colosseum. So we packed gallons of water, put on hat and sun lotion and went out for the last sightseeing conquest.
We headed for Forum Romanum first browsing shortly in Fori Imperiali on the way. You can read more about my visit to the Forum Romanum and the rest of day 7 in my next post …
It was late afternoon on our 5th day in Rome, and we were heading back into the center of Rome, after a busy day visiting both the catacombs, Via Appia Antica and Terme di Caracalla. Just a short walk from the ruins of the Roman baths the Palatine Hill came into view towering over Circo Massimo. In ancient time the hill had been the locations for wealthy Romans’s and emperors’ residences, with some having the view over the chariot racing stadium known as Circus Maximus (meaning the largest circus). In Italian, it is known as Circo Massimo. There is not much left of the old stadium, but its form is preserved, so you still get a clear feel of the size – truly maximus.
We jumped into Cristalli di Zucchero in Via di San Teodoro 88for a quick refreshment. They serve the most adorable, beautiful and tasteful mini pastries (just look at these mouthwatering pictures). It is a must if you are in the area.
Then it was back to our room at Maison D’art for a shower and dressing up for the night, for we had booked tickets for a classical piano concert. We started the evening with some relaxation time with a cool Peroni at a café in the Jewish Ghetto, followed by some kosher dishes at Nonna Betta. Then it was off to the concert. It was originally supposed to be held in the Teatro di Marcello, but the organizers had some issue with getting the licensing in order, so the concert was moved next door to Chiesa di San Nicola in Carcere. Before the concert, there was a small historical introduction about the theater, given on the church porch so we had a view over the ruin. Then the concert began with the pianist and composer Marco Lo Muscio playing Emerson, Satie, Debussy, Jarrett, Barber, Hackett as well as his own compositions. It was a beautiful concert. Although it was not in the theater as expected, the setting in the church was still perfect for creating a special atmosphere. I couldn’t stop myself from doodling a little bit during the concert to capture the moment as you can see below. And, as you can also see on the picture, I also got his autograph after the concert. While we talked to him, we also found out that he was actually playing an organ concert in a church right next to where we live in Copenhagen on July 30th. So maybe we will see him again soon.
After the concert, we went for more food in the Jewish Ghetto, visiting the lovely and very busy Sora Margherita. This place is great, so I’ll recommend going there for a taste of this areas special cooking. For a compare their version of the area’s famous dish carciofi alla guidia (fried artichoke) was a million times better than at Nonna Betta (But to be honest, when it comes to artichokes my favorite dish will always be alla Romana as served at Alfredo e Ada (you can read about that here)).
We spend the rest of the evening strolling through the lovely streets in Centro Storico, just breathing in the atmosphere. And when the legs started to fail after all these days marching all over Rome we dug into the soothing oasis called Barnum Cafe. It is one of those lovely places that feels hip and homey at the same time, and it instantly became our favorite café in Rome. We ordered some cocktails, and they were amazing. The waiter got my order wrong, but it did not matter a bit because he had chosen something that sounded more amazing than what I ordered. So what I got was a Corpse reviver. I have never tried that and don’t remember what was in it besides absinthe, but it was amazing. It also lived up to its name, for I was feeling rather worn and dead after all the sightseeing, and it made me live up again … at least for a few hours before I fell into deep sleep back at the B&B.
The only plan for Friday was to relax. The rest of our stay we were to live at the B&B’s other location on Via Giubbonari near Campo de’ Fiori, so in the morning we moved our luggage. The sweet lady from Maison d’Art helped walked with us to the new place. It was rather fun following a real Roman through the inner city traffic, seeing how she did not even blink when stepping out in front of a car and walking craze fully while Vespas were flying by from every direction. The new room was even nicer than the last one, so that was just great.
We then went for a walk along the Tiber River. There are quite a lot of not so sweet-smelling parts down by the river, but overall it was a very nice walk with some great views of the bridges and great street art.
For lunch we went Cul de Sac a long and narrow wine bar with a great wine list and some beautiful cold cuts and amazing cheese. Definitely worth a visit. It is right next to Piazza Navona, so it is a great place to go for an alternative instead of the Piazzas extremely pricey restaurants.
Afterwards, we spend a while on Piazza Navona, where I drew in my journal while Ole took photos. Then we went for a little snack at Chiostro del Bramante Caffè, which our landlady had recommended if we needed a break away from the busy Roman streets. The place is indeed perfect for a break being very dark and quiet. We had the most lovely torta al fragoline de bosco (cake with small wild strawberries) with our coffee. Ole also was brave enough to try out his coffee as caffè corretto, which is “a corrected coffee” in the sense that it is an espresso with liquor. It tasted awful to be honest, but maybe it was just because of their choice of liquor, which we could not identify. I have been told it can be better.
We then went back to the B&B for some more relaxation including a soak in the bathtub (with Pony Pop pop-corn and Peroni). We stayed there for a while building up new energy, and first went out again in the evening, but more of that in the next post …
On our way through Northern Spain we stopped by Bilbao to see the Guggenheim Museum. It was throughly hell to find our way through the town center, where we kept getting lost. The museum building was beautiful, but I must admit I was a bit disappointed about it’s size. I thought it would be bigger – a typical feeling I guess, when you get to visit something you’ve been dreaming to see. The art on display was not very impressive either, although there were a few works that were impressive (but none that I would travel to see).
The museums michelin lunch restaurant on the other side gave us a truly terrific experience. First we had a look around the kitchen which was very interesting. Then we were seated and the dishes started pouring in including tomatoes with added flavor, sardines,an onion disguised as a fish filet, cod jaws, fish stomach, pig tails and 3 wonderful desserts.
Bilbao and the museum had left us a bit sad, but after filling our stomachs in such a luxurious manner, we were very content when we drove on toward San Sebastian.
Brandy-tasting in the small mountain town Villafranca del Bierzo in Northern Spain. A few American pilgrims with swollen feet were taking a rest in the town, but other than that it was a very quiet place … with a very very fine collection of brandy ;)