STAY in Rome:
For a long time there were only two ways to Rome: Via the golden baroque hotels with their outrageous interior design or via the avant-garde hotels with their hysterical modernism, which seems to cater more to museum rooms than to living creatures. The gap between both philosophies was filled by the Hotel Capo D'Africa: It is service-oriented without being overbearing, modern without seeming sterile, and it has a long history. What else is new in Rome? The former schoolhouse is not the severe type: Bright colours, bright wood and very spacious rooms easily make you forget the times when exams still took place in those same rooms. Those with some nostalgia for the cane can hire a personal trainer at the fitness center. You can easily catch up with the lost calories in the rooftop restaurant, which offers great food, a beautiful view and lots of calm near the collosseum. The Capo D'Africa is surely less spectacular than other hotels, and it isn't high art. Yet for those who seek the golden mean it means they have hit home. Doubles starting at 189,- Euro per night.
Hotel de Russie
The Hotel de Russie once hosted Pablo Picasso. Naturally, this drives up the price. Those who can still afford it should treat themselves to it. After all, you can do a lot without leaving the hotel. The spa is Italy's only luxury spa, offering exclusive beauty treatments, a Finnish sauna and a sea water whirlpool. There is an unpacking and packing service - doing the tiresome folding for you - a breakfast buffet room service, check-in inside the suite, and free usage of a Nokia mobile telephone. You see: You get what you pay for! Included is also access to the hotel butterfly oasis, which features all sorts of rare species, as well as the terraced garden in which you can dine as in paradise. Doubles starting at 680,- per night.
No juice bar, but a refreshing and fruity boutique hotel: The Orange Hotel wins you over with its original design and wonderful view. You guessed it? Yes, it's orange all over. Yet they didn't overdo it and mixed the strong colour with a subdued grey, resulting in a joyful impression. A clear concept, modern and stylish execution, the rooms are straightforward and not overloaded. The Deluxe Orange even offers free room service for an extra serving of vitamins; however, those who have enough of orange on grey should move over to red and take a wine on the amazing rooftop terrace. Along with the Chianti you get a free view of cupola of St. Peter's Basilica, which is less than a hallelujah away from the hotel. Big plus: It's a juicy deal, with doubles starting at 69,- Euro.
SIGHTS in Rome:
It took ten years, various culture secretaries and 150 million euro to complete the eccentric building designed by star architect Zaha Hadid. She especially put emphasis on the interaction between glass, fair-faced concrete and metal. Once again it becomes obvious: it's not only art, but also architecture which is maximal here in the Flaminio quarter. The 27.000 square metres of the area with its 20 metres high entrance hall forms an open, urban space and guides the visitors along curved walls and interwoven levels on unexpected paths through five galleries. In the well-lit museum (thanks to the glass roof) we find the two museums MAXXI art and MAXXI architecture. The house is devoted to preserve and conserve the cultural heritage by means of exhibitions, workshops, performances and (educational) projects. But more: it offers space for experimenting and exploring modern aesthetic contents. Tickets for 11 euro (reductions possible).
Who's better, the Swedes or the Italians? Last year most would have said that it depends on your tastes. The Italians have traditionally specialized in baroque knickknacks, lots of brocade and kitsch ribbons, while the Swedes swore by practical, striped and minimalist furniture. Now everything is different, because today everyone agrees: Back to the roots, charming and cosy furniture made of precious wood should help you live the easy life! Europe is finally united. Each year more than a thousand visitors storm the Moa Casa. Some are there to evaluate the trends and others to buy the newest in interior design. 200 exhibitors work their customers on 20,000 square meters. If you need a break from all the furniture, you don't need to walk very far: Next to the MOA Casa the MOA Gustibus offers tastes of traditional Italian specialties, and naturally for purchase, too.
Once the Globe theatre was the centre of the action, today the Teatro Dell'Orologio is rocking the boat: This small theatre has left the mainstream and is as off-Broadway as you can be. Far beyond classical tragedy, the theatre is experimenting to such an extent that critics are left speechless. You might recognize the plays, but you will never have seen them like this: Ionesco, Genet, Becket and Maeterlinck are all rediscovered in strange ways. Shakespeare would be delighted and Brecht overjoyed: The Teatro dell'Orologia lacks the technical sophistication of the great stages, but its dedication to the art that makes this theatre so special. Valentino Orfeo is the artistic director, but other directors also play their parts. To be there or not to be? Poor Yorick would have had no doubt!
EAT in Rome:
Up and down the steps, nothing to see but sights: The Spanish Steps are surly THE starting point for all the attractions of the city. The locals know that, too, congregating there for wine, women and La Dolce Vita. Warm summer nights see the young sitting on the steps and celebrating late into the night. So sit down and take in the view! Turn one way and you see the church Trinità dei Monti at the upper end. Turn the other way and the ship shaped Fontana della Barcaccia bubbles along in its pomp. On the right hand side there is the Keats-Shelley museum, where John Keats lived and died. To your left Babington's Tea Room invites you to have a tea at English tea time. When you get up and follow the Via Condotti you'll be surrounded by the most exclusive shops and restaurants in the city. Can you pass this by? Just stay for a little while longer. Enjoy your vino. Enjoy the Dolce Vita with the Romans. Sightseeing can wait!
The Pommidoro is all game: Grilled meat on the menu includes deer, wild boar and so forth. The classic: Pappardelle, that is tagliatelle in wild boar sauce or fettuccine with vegetables from the garden. Talking of which: Pommidoro means pomodoro in Rom, that is tomato, and is the nick name of the owner named Aldo. Whether or not he is just as red and round as his namesake, we couldn't determine.However, the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung dedicated a whole page to his wife Anna, who has served no less than 160,000 meals to her guests, filled with good, Roman specialties and lots of game. She and her husband seem to attract wild spirits: The restaurant is Roberto Benigni's and Pedro Almodovar's favourite, and no one other than Pier Paolo Pasolini enjoyed his wild boar here.
Caffé della Pace
The Antico Caffé della Pace is history: Guests have been making the pilgrimag to the calm square since the 19th century to sip on their espresso. It makes you feel like in a time warp: Pictures by G.B. Piranesi and G.B. Falda show the coffee house and its sourroundings as it looked in their days, and the many antiquities take you back in time.The café was then and still is the location of choice for poets, musicians, painters and everyone within their immediate orbit. This is where comedy is written, fashion trends evolve on the sketch paper, and ideas for poems and pictures are born.The guest list reads like the who's-who of the Roman and international art scene: The Dutch Thorwaldsen was here, just as Scipione, Ungaretti or Monichelli. Hot Tipp: Take a notepad and pen for an autograph. And if there is no big shot in sight, maybe you will be kissed by the muse and make great art yourself.
SHOPPING in Rome:
For all who don't know: 451° Fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper ignites and books burn. In contrast to Ray Bradbury's congenial novel there are no flames engulfing this charming bookshop. Bookworms are welcome. The Campo de Fiori is a bustling place so it's no wonder that the shop is full of customers. However, you won't find much Science Fiction here, the main topic being the arts and photography. Independent thinking is still allowed: The shop promotes smaller publishers and invites young authors to readings. If the firefighters have to come, then because you have caught fire: The staff are always in good spirits, and the atmosphere so relaxed that you'll definitely want to come back.
Rome is ancient, but the brands of its stylish shops are always the latest. You will find the In stuff in the Nuyorica, which is Latin American for New York. Inside you will find everything that's hot, from Japan to New York. Of course, it's changing by the second, but currently it's Atsuro Tayama, Maria Chen, Balenciaga, Erotokritos, Nina Hohendorf or Girbaud. In the middle there is a surprising collection of classics: Marc Jacobs is the top dog, and Chloe shoes go well with the trendy garments. Some gossip to go: Cameron Diaz is rumoured to have been here! Around the corner there is a separate shop for bags: The Nuyorica Roots in the Via del Pellegrino 15.
Attention: There is nothing to drink at the bar - in the L'Olfattorio Bar you are served neither whiskey nor beer, but scents. This is how it works: Go into the bar and order Eau de Toilette. Then pick the scent that you like most.The perfumes on offer are from small manufacturers, and you can test them for free. When you like a scent, you receive the address in Rome where you can buy that perfume. The innovative business concept works, because it allows small producers to introduce themselves and to compete against the big ones.Aside from perfumes you can also purchase scented candles and all sorts of other olfactory delights. Just don't stay for too long, you might get dizzy from all those scents.