Posted by Lisa Hill on November 11, 2006
And so to Rome….
We had seen a little of it en route to Positano when we dropped off our luggage at the Hotel Regno , and been captivated by what we saw as the taxi from the train station circumnavigated the traffic. It is the most enchanting city and twelve months later we are still hankering to go back there.
We arrived fairly late after our day in Pompeii, so we had a simple pasta at a cafe not far from the hotel, and then an early night. The Hotel Regno is a very comfortable and friendly place, centrally located on the Via del Corso, close to shops and walking distance to the best of Rome’s attractions. Our window overlooked a little walkway where there were good restaurants, interesting shops and sometimes buskers, but with double-glazing we didn’t realise just how noisy it could be until we opened them. With the window shut it was always quiet enough for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, a Bank holiday in Rome, we took a rather forgettable Bus ‘N’ Boat tour to orientate ourselves and then explored the Piazza Del Populo. This piazza is pleasingly symmetrical with twin churches, Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria di Montesanto either side of Via Del Corso, and there are two beautiful fountains at either end, one of Neptune and two consorts, and the other of one of the gods surrounded by allegories of the Horn of Plenty. Not for the first time, I wished I could remember more about the Roman gods. There is an Egyptian obelisk in the centre, and (at this time of the year when the summer tourists are gone) a peaceful atmosphere.
We stopped for a splendid late lunch at Cafe Canova where Frederic Fellini used to go. No one was eating inside, so I asked, in my uncertain Italian, if we might eat indoors and were ushered by a most amiable waiter to a lovely alcove decorated in 1930s style and surrounded by B&W photos of Fellini and his films, including Sophia Loren and the pneumatic Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita. The waiters were most attentive and the lasagna was nice too. Tim had a carpaccio di Pesce, which he has since learned to make at home: super-thin slices of raw fish with EV oil, lemon juice and green peppercorns.
After a rest at the hotel, we took a walk and wandered about in the adjacent piazza. This was a good opportunity to scour the souvenir shops for little gifts for friends and family, and a shawl or two for me. Girls in Rome sling these shawls artfully over their shoulders in the cool of the morning, and stuff them in a handbag as the day warms up. Just the thing for Melbourne’s spring and autumn weather too…
As night fell, we found the Trevi Fountain, which was alive with tourists, but not overwhelming. (This glimpse turned out to be the closest we would get to it because the next time we saw it, it was inundated – pardon the pun!). We also discovered the Column of Marcus Aurelius and the back part of the Diocletian Baths, but it was getting late by then so we headed back for a simple dinner of Dory and chips(!) at Cafe Rosa’s where the waiter chivalrously pretended to be very impressed by our Italian. People are so kind and good-natured in Rome!