I’ve been so lucky with the weather this trip. It feels like summer and I’m wearing summer clothes and applying sun cream before I go out, even though it’s still – just – March. All the more excuse for those ice cream stops, I think!
We went to one of my favourite local cafes for breakfast this morning: Pompi in Via Albalonga, just off Re de Roma. I’ve been there on previous trips and liked it for morning cappuccinos and cornetti, but it’s also well known for its Tiramisu and apart from the classic version makes other flavours like strawberry and pistachio. As it’s close to Easter, there are lots of Easter eggs around but Pompi’s version – a large half egg shell of chocolate filled with Tiramisu must be the best I’ve seen anywhere. Unfortunately I don’t think it would survive the journey home to London!
Later we caught the 85 bus into Centro Storico. This is a great bus travelling a good tourist route up Via Taranto, past San Giovanni in Laterano, on past the Colosseum and Forum to Piazza Venezia, where the square is dominated by the huge Victorio Emanuele Monument, sometimes referred to as a ‘wedding cake’. We headed for Palazzo delle Esposizioni to see an exhibition of American avante garde painting, 1945-1980, which included some Pollack, Rothko and Kooning. The paintings all came from various Guggenheim galleries around the world. The Palazzo with its high ceilings and columns makes an impressive setting for showing some of the world’s greatest art, but the rooms are also well adapted to best suit the paintings.
Robert and Jenny then said we should go upstairs to see the gallery’s restaurant, Open Colonna, showcasing the food of Antonello Colonna. I could see why they were impressed. It’s a huge open space full of light, a stunningly modern conservatory at the top of the building. Well … Why not have lunch here, we decided. They do a great lunch deal of €16 for 2 courses at lunchtime. There was a wonderful buffet with large plates full of gorgeous salads, large plates of cheeses – and an equally impressive dessert buffet. Two buffet courses for lunch then. The food was excellent, as was the extra dry Bortolomiol prosecco we ordered by the glass.
My friends then set off for home as they were to visit Robert’s uncle that afternoon. I decided to stay in the centre of town and do a quick major tourist site run. Well, not actually run as I was now pretty full of lovely food, but knowing my way round well, I could feed my way through the crowds easily enough to see quite a bit in a short time. I headed first for the Trevi fountain and fumbled in my purse to find coins to throw in to ensure my return to Rome soon. It was heaving with people as always and I saw two ‘gladiators’ chatting to each other. On then to the wonderful San Crispino gelateria nearby. It’s always been a favourite with my daughter and son so an essential stop whenever we’re in Rome. I know, I had just had a big lunch, including dessert, but I’m on holiday and how could I resist? I did choose the smallest cup (they don’t serve ice cream in cones here) of Ginger and Cinnamon flavour. Mmm. Delicious. Ice cream eaten, I crossed Via del Tritone and cut through smaller and quieter roads to come out of the top of the Spanish steps. There were so many people, the steps weren’t much in evidence; tourists in large crowds were using them as seats while they ate ice cream, checked maps or just lazily chatted to each other. Down at the bottom, I looked up at the Keats and Shelley museum, the house where Keats died and full of wonderful letters exchanged by the Romantic poets. I love going in there but decided there wasn’t time now.
For the evening, Monica, whom I’d met on the first night, had given us tickets for a concert. She’s a producer at Rai 3, the equivalent of Radio 3 here. It was held at a recording studio and cellist Enrico Dindo and pianist Monica Cattarossi played Bach, Brahms, Dvorak and Rostropovich. The music was beautiful and the experience a great way to spend my last evening in Rome.