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Te Pantheon area is always packed with people, but most of them don’t know about La Tazza d’Oro, argu- ably the best coffee shop in the city, or Da Fortunato, which is one of our favorite restaurants in Rome. It’s on the northeast corner of the piazza and you’ll often find parliamentar- ians bickering over a tonnarelli ca- cio e pepe – one of my favorite pasta dishes – or a filet of beef, washed down, of course, with a good Ital- ian red. A few blocks north through narrow winding streets, you’ll find Giolitti and its many flavors of ge- lato savored by legions of Roman families and knowing tourists. I’m sure you have many of the

major attractions on your checklist of things to see in Rome: the Colos- seum and Roman Forum, St. Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and

the Villa Borghese are but a few of the touchstones of western civiliza- tion. But there are many other paths to take that will lead to wonderful discoveries. One of my favorite walks in the old section of town near the Minerva and Pantheon will take you through two of the grandest squares

for ancient Rome’s charioteers. Ber- nini’s justly famous Fountain of the Four Rivers is the dramatic center- piece of Piazza Navona, but Borro- mini’s Sant’Agnese church facing it is well worth a visit. Te two men were competitors in 17th-century Rome. Bernini is the more famous,

The Pantheon area is always packed with people, but most of them don’t know about La Tazza d’Oro, arguably the best coffee shop in the city...

in Rome and some of its loveliest churches. If you get to the Piazza Na- vona early in the morning, you’ll see it the way it was meant to be: A large rectangular space bordered by majes- tic 17th- and 18th-century buildings that originally served as a racetrack

A Roman Adventure By Carla Mantiglia


was in Rome recently with a bit of free time on my hands. I took a walk to the Campo dei Fiori. There’s been a daily market here for decades,

offering meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, cheeses and flowers. The square is lovely, the market is lively and it’s full of Romans, and it’s noisy and crowded and fun. I went to Campo dei Fiori with no intention of purchasing anything other than a plum. As I strolled through the market, I stopped at a stall that was accepting delivery of a ton of fresh sardines from the nearby docks at Ostia. In very good English, a handsome Roman (Fabrizio) was purchasing buckets of them, and quickly offered too much information (for me anyway) about the lives and deaths of sardines, after which I asked, “What army are you feeding?” He proudly told me he owned a restaurant on Piazza Navona and that tonight’s special was sardines. He then invited me to the “red meat” stall to purchase this evening’s still unknown special. Lucky for me, it was Chianina beef – from the rare, white Tuscan cattle (the breed

but Borromini was a genius when it came to designing space. Like an il- lusionist, he could make the small- est space appear to be many times grander than it was. You’ll see this as soon as you step into the church. He accomplished the same illusion

Campo dei Fiori | © Lucian Milasan/Bigstock

is also ancient, dating back to the Etruscan era). After he’d ordered the beef, Fabrizio invited

me to dinner that night – but not a dinner date, since he was also the chef. So with a free evening, I showed up at the trattoria. As soon as I arrived, chaos ensued. The hostess and one of the waiters hadn’t made it to work. Calling upon my very limited skills, I volunteered to help. While I was not offered a permanent position, I like to think that on that particular night in Rome, I helped a good number of Americans and a few locals enjoy a great dinner. And when the rush ended at midnight, I had a wonderful dinner cooked especially for me. Summer 2015 |

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