After spending a romantic week in Rome , fearing it will happen just like last year, when having toured for a marvelous fortnight all over central and northern Greece I got home ready to share it on my blog and finally did not write a single word about it, I’ve decided it is high time I started writing . Just to make sure I’ll not give up like last time! … I am not the regular traveler and nor is my husband. We travel as a peculiar couple- I am the control freak and my husband is the dreamy dictator. He just knows there are places he wanna see but has never cared about properly organizing things to make it happen. I usually do ALL this stuff and I have to say that at the beginning of our marriage I did not like this situation, not the very least bit, but now I've come to enjoy it, since I can decide on my own on almost all practical arrangements . So, I am the one to make arrangements about the hotel, the flight, the car, taxi fares, list of objectives, prices, budget, I buy maps, make routes on viamichelin etc,etc,etc. Hubby constantly nags about everything I do but in the end he declares himself completely happy with my choices.
Every year, in May, we start planning the trip for June. This year we agreed it would be Rome and the seaside will be kept for late August , since Rome was a must see and Rome in August is a nonsense. Rome in June, on the other hand , is the perfect choice .
We stayed in the Prati area, at Isa’s.
It’s a wonderful 4 stars boutique hotel ( more about it some other time) and we enjoyed staying there, as it is placed close enough to San Pietro to visit by foot, has multiple and excellent connections like bus stops just across the street, a metro station ( lepanto) at about 10 minute walking, and a taxi stop in the Piazza Cavour (1 minute away) . The taxi stop was not much of a help, anyway, because THE day we badly needed a taxi it was just the day for general taxi strike and no taxi was available throughout all Rome ! But Isa has delicious Muscat champagne for the breakfast, which, combined to the fact that you can sip it having a view to the San Pietro basilica ,makes it the most perfect romantic get-away !
Prati is the equivalent of the Romanian Dorobanti or Magheru Blvd. Hausmanian buildings, geometrically cut streets and allies, lots of charming boutiques and cafes . I love this part of my beloved Bucharest so I felt in Prati like being home, only people were speaking around in a kind of a (slightly) different language. Romanian and Italian are that close that reading menus or understanding almost everything we were hearin was not a problem. We were even taken for locals since we were repeatedly stopped on the Cola de Rienzi Street to be given instructions on how to vote for the local Referendum , next week ! Prati is indeed nice and not so tourist-like compared to other parts of Rome.
You won’t see hoards of tourists with their guides, walking around like aliens, but you’ll bump in Romans coming here to have their espresso, read the newspaper on a bench and watch the shop windows. Which, by the way, look like this photo below, multiplied by tens and tens and after a while you’ll loose count and do not notice names anymore...
The nicest places on Cola de Rienzi according to my experience are :
- - Café Portofino – wonderful cocktails, ice cream and snacks, great espresso and a special place among locals who were cuing to get a free table at THE meeting point. When you order over 15 euros they will get you some delicious hors d’oeuvres . We got to Portofino Café by accident and came back for espresso and gelato every day.
- Coin – this might not be your perfect cup of tea but it is still a nice department store where you can really buy at decent prices many things. As an Eastern European coming from a country ( Romania) that evolves in a very American way, around malls, hypermarkets and commercial centers ,Coin is a small department store. It has a Billa supermarket in the basements which is kind of nasty for a Romanian ( Billa is not very highly thought off in Romania, because it has a solid reputation for selling old food stuff with fake labels prolonging the real expiration date). Anyway, Romanians love huge Supermarkets where they can spend lots of time and buy loads of useless things , so they naturally look down any small one, so, in our perspective , Coin is rather small. I like it, though, because you can “ browse “ it and get a fairly decent idea about what Romans like and buy. I did not go to Rome to buy something and excepting some very specific boutiques specialized in Italian foods and shirts/shoes, there was nothing there I could not find at home too, so, for me, it was important to understand what it feels like to live in Rome, and in this respect, Coin helped me a lot .Also, I will add, it had a nice perfumery and cosmetics selection and make up and moisturizing were far cheaper than in Bucharest, which made me spend some “coins” at Coin and made Givenchy having a few more “coins” in its account. Notie, if you go to Rome, that there are many Coins around Rome and I had no idea if they all carry the same stuff or not, 'cause I have visited only the Prati one.
- Castroni – Now, this is fabulous! I like it and came there twice, for a wonderful selection of Italian Leoni pastiglias – nice home made candies. Those with anise and violet flavor are a treat ! They also had tens of types of honey and Italian style hazelnut spreading ( Nutella type but organic and more Italian like) , tisanes and , of course, Italian liqueurs and specialties. Also, just like with Coin, there some other Castronis in Rome, with their own web site and,maybe,different products.
- You can also shop on Cola de Rienzi for Benetton, Calvin Klein,HM,Zara etc but this is nothing purely Italian and it’s the same all over the world so I won’t insist on it, I’m sure you know what I mean.
Moving around and visiting one rainy afternoon we stumbled upon some great shops around Colonna street. One of them was Verdini Antiques and the other a great shop selling everything for doors , from door handles to exterior lights and lots of other things I cannot label. I wanted to buy some door knobs there and somehow couldn’t make up my mind… Then it seemed so strange and useless to go to Rome and buy door knobs that I didn’t…And now, of course, I’m so sorry. Well, maybe next time. Both the antique shop and the door one were pure haven for antique and vintage lovers, not to mention the area had nice restaurants and trattorias “ hidden “ inside massive and secret buildings.