Rome has long since been the center of the world — a caput mundi of more than 3,000 years of history and culture. Navigating a city so deluged with historical eye candy, it is, more often than not, hard to look at the now when the then is so engaging. Along with the standard tourist agenda, Rome has a vivacious contemporary scene of new restaurants, attractions and hotels.
Rome has several novel entries to its never-ending restaurant list. Nearby the Vatican in the Prati neighborhood is Romeo, love child of Rome’s noted salumeria Roscioli and chef Cristina Bowerman. An uber-mod Romeo has a lengthy menu of expected Italian fare of pastas, meat and fish dishes, a cured meats selection and some very unlikely and unlocal dishes such as Hamburger Umami. Across town and near Testaccio is Porto Fluviale, a trattoria, pizzeria and bar whose black lacquered and white tiled design harkens Italian bars from days past. Best on the menu? The carbonara hamburger, inspired by Rome’s archetype dish.
Everyone will tell you that spaghetti alla carbonara is essential to any Rome visit, and Pipero al Rex can claim reign as one of the very best. Rex’s unique twist is its servings — by the weight in portions from 50 to 250 grams. For a more laid-back evening, Monti’s favorite wine bar Enoteca Barrique was recently renovated in a minimalist style and has added first and second courses to accompany its broad wine list.
Rome always has a lot going on, thanks to its never-ending supply of artwork in museums, galleries and churches, and archaeological sites. Latest to the scene is Rome’s MACRO, Museum of Contemporary Art, a contemporary art gallery with two locations in neighborhoods Nomentana and Testaccio. MACRO has a permanent collection of contemporary art, active artists’ studio spaces and a gallery area dedicated to ENEL foundation award winners. Recent winners include Doug and Mike Starn for their Big Bambu project, an interactive anti-monument.
To add to its permanent cultural heritage, temporary exhibitions often share space in unlikely settings. The Richard Meier-design Museum of the Ara Pacis houses a first century temple dedicated to Augustus Caesar, and through April 28, it is home to Tutti De Sica, a tribute to film director Vittorio De Sica. Placed throughout the museum’s four halls, Tutti De Sica’s more than 600 photographs, 300 letters and original documents, costumes, videos and recordings, original movie posters, and personal objects can be viewed. From March 5 to June 16, the blockbuster Titian exhibition takes over the Scuderie and highlights the Venetian’s rise in artistic fame.
If you want to add a little contemporary art to your stay, the First Hotel boast suites that incorporate contemporary art with modern design. It’s worth heading up to the roof garden for evening drinks and watching the sunset behind St. Peter’s dome. All’Oro, a traditional Roman restaurant, was so enraptured by the building that it relocated to the First.
Slightly smaller, but with an equally inspiring cityscape is the 16-room Palazzo Manfredi with its unobstructed view of the Colosseum. Sitting pretty is best done in rooftop lounge bar and restaurant Aroma. Palazzo Manfredi’s décor is a playful homage to contemporary classical. Best rooms are the first and second floor suites, which eye the Colosseum as well as have a personal peek into the adjacent ludus magnus, Gladiator training ground.
Photos Courtesy of Palazzo Manfredi, Aromi Creativi and Porto Fluviale