I THOUGHT I KNEW EVERYTHING WHEN I CAME TO ROME, BUT SOON LEARNED I HAVE EVERYTHING TO LEARN- EDMONIA LEWIS-AMERICAN SCULPTOR
Everyone should have a neighbour like Bruna. I have been to Rome many times, but never to 'Bruna's Rome', which she insisted was quite different than regular, everyday Rome. Bruna is a Roman through and through, it's just that she doesn't live there, and hasn't for a very long time. This did not diminish her enthusiasm.
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We had five days to tour the city. We could have had five years and still not see everything there is to see in Rome.
Our first stop was the QUIRINALE PALACE, current official residence of the President of the Italian Republic, at the Piazza del Quirinale.
Built in 1583 as a summer home for Pope Gregory X111, the Quirinale occupies 110,500 square meters of Collis Quirinale, the highest of the seven hills of Rome. This makes the building, built a top of the Roman Quirinus Temple ruins, the 9th largest palace in the world.
From the top of the Quirinale's staircase, you can see the whole of Rome. And what a sight that is!
Just a few streets down the hill, you will find the Quattro Fontane at Via Quattro Fontane, 23. These four sculptures, at each corner of the intersection was commissioned by Pope Sixtus V and built by Muzio Mattei between 1588-1593, and represent the River Aniene, the River Tiber, and goddesses Juno and Diana the huntress.
We scuttled past the crowds at the Trevi Fountain, and headed to the area of Rome that we were staying for the week, TRASTEVERE (pronounced Trast-a-very, darling.)
Trastevere, known for it's food and nightlife, is a former working class district just across the River Tiber. The cobbled ally-ways twist, turn and impress and ultimate led me to the best place on earth- Caffe Settimiano on Via Porta Settimiano. It was in this cafe that Bruna and I started each morning of our holiday.
An Italian coffee shop is really part of the experience of Rome. You must approach this with absolute confidence. Jostle your way to the bar, attract the attention of the barista and yell at him what you want. After two days, the staff at Caffe Settimiano knew our order and we no longer needed to yell.
My drink of choice was a standard cappuccino, with Bruna preferring a macchiato in a glass hot glass, with dribbles of chocolate down the inside of the glass. Each sip of perfectly blended coffee and milk washed down the light, fluffy and crunchy sfogliatella. The sfogliatella, sometimes mis-translated into 'lobster tail', is a pastry pulled, stretched rolled into a log, filled with ricotta and cut into a sea shell shape. Nothing needs to be said, just look at the picture.
VILLA FARNESINA AND RAPHAEL FRESCOES
Villa Farnesina in Trastevere, is considered one of the most harmonious buildings of Italian Renaissance.
Commissioned by Sienese banker Agostino Chigi in 1505 and designed by architect Baldassarre Peruzzi, the interior is decorated with frescoes by Raphael Sanzio, Sebastiano del Piombo, Giovanni da Udine, Giovanni Bazzi known as il Sodoma, Giulio Romano, and Giovan Francesco Penni. villa was finished in 1511 and presented to Pope Julius the Second.
The building is filled with frescos and mosaics organised into halls, galleries and rooms. One of the most interesting galleries is the Hall of the Grotesque, in the Domus Aurea. Discovered after being hidden for many years by a young Roman man who fell through a crevice, the hallway is decorated with frescos depicting Nero's lavish palace.
At the end of the sixteenth century The Villa was purchased by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese from whom it takes its name. The Villa is open for viewing now also used for official representative purposes by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.