STAY in Rome:
Tales from the crypt: The Inn at the Forum Romanum has skeletons in its closet and is proud of it. More about that later, let's first take a look into the 14 rooms: All of them are furnished differently, some with fire place, some with a canopy bed, and some even with access to the wonderful garden. All have the usual plasma display, exquisite toiletries and W-Lan, all are very elegant and have air-condition. You won't need the latter when you go into the basement.However: Behind the reception there's a staircase leading into the crypt, so you don't even have to step outside to literally breathe Roman history. You should still venture outside, though, since the boutique hotel has neither restaurant nor room service. It doesn't matter, since it's located in the centre, only bite away from the best restaurants. Double room starting at 160,- Euro a night.
The Stendhal Hotel, with all the rooms painted light blue, looks like it might set sail one day. The striped wallpaper and wood panelling reinforces the feeling, and sitting down in the blue reading room you might feel like going along to discover new horizons yourself. Northerners do not like too many knickknacks, thus the Stendhal excels in subdued luxury and clear lines. Here a statue, there a little marble, the total being timeless and discreet, offering real comfort in a low key atmosphere. Actually, you might not want to set sail too quickly, because when you disembark you step right onto the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and one of the most exclusive shopping street in the city, where you will definitely find the proper sailor's kit. Double starting at 255,- Euro per night.
Karl is the name of one of the suites. The pictures and sketches on the wall come from their godfather, Karl Lagerfeld. In another room, the atelier suite, sketches and drafts by Chanel and Dior adorn the walls. We are in the haute couture of the Roman boutique hotel: fashion is the topic in the Villa Laetitia. The reason for it is quite obvious: the mansion is one of the private residences of the Fendi clan. And it is rented to fashion-conscious and stylish visitors of Rome. The apartment complex run by the Italian fashion dynasty can be found in Rome, on the bank of the Tiber on the Piazza del Popolo, within a patrician house. The well-built stone men at the entrance remind of ancient times, and vintage objects and design pieces fit just perfectly. So does the filigree circular staircase. Each suite is designed individually, but chequered patterns and geometrical forms obviously range among the owners' favourite motifs. There is no hotel restaurant but If you like to you can order a candlelight dinner. Or you cook on your own in the kitchen. Afterwards you can enjoy a divine tranquility in the enchanted garden.
SHOPPING in Rome:
What made Ferragamo famous? Maybe the heels: Used in the right fashion they could serve as murder weapons. Or the double plateau: Not quite as deadly as the other high heels, but in combination with cobblestone pavement they are still dangerous. Or was it the price: For a whiff of nothing Ferragamo asks 300 Euro, the bags start at 900 Euro, providing enough room for Handy, Make Up and credit line. Whatever Ferragamo got right, today shoe fetishists from all over the world storm into the flagship store in Rome to buy once in their lifetime what the stars are wearing on the red carpet: Eva Longoria was seen there, Kate Beckinsale wore sun glasses from Ferragamo, Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman and Angelina Jolie joined their ranks and also wore Ferragamo, Ferragamo, Ferragamo. Thus prices don't come as a surprise. By the way, male feet are also served: The shop for men is only one door over and sells classics in leather.
Did you know? It's so hard to say good-bye to Rome, you would love to pack a piece of it and take it with you. If not for yourself, then at least for friends and family at home, since no one can describe how delicious this particular pasta or that pesto sauce was. A hot tip to make things easier for you: The Cerasari is a shop for delicacies in which you can buy all your most favourite treats and take them home with you. Endless wine shelves contain the best of Barolo & Co, wide counters seduce with Tramezzini and fish platters, the shop windows lure you with unusual pasta and sauces that are stacked to the ceiling. If you cannot decide, just buy a gift hamper, with wine, parmesan, canned goods, sausages and pasta all nicely wrapped for the undecided customer.
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.
EAT in Rome:
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.
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.
Naturists beware: You should wear something to get in - the L'Isola doesn't expose itself. It won't serve any skin nor anything else meat related. The eatery is entirely vegetarian, including vegan and macrobiotic options. The furnishing, with a lot of wood and warm colours, goes along with the organic food, such as Polpettine Vegetali (vegetarian dumplings), vegetarian pasta and healthy salads. The restaurant is a typical example of relaxed Italian vegetarianism: Fish is a staple on the menu, and while most vegetarians object to calling fish eaters by their name, it demonstrates that Italians are, as a general rule, oblivious to dogmas.
SIGHTS in Rome:
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!
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.
Lazio vs. Inter
In Milan, Inter and the AC are at war in the San Siro, in Rome Lazio fights against Roma in the Stadio Olimpico. The four teams have one thing in common: They are all brilliant, at least from an Austrian point of view. Inter brought home the Champions' League with its proven defensive technique, AC Milan got that sought-after title seven times in total, Roma is playing with Francesco Totti, who won the World Cup in 2006, and Lazio counters with the Argentinean master Mauro Matías Zárate.Real fans should not miss the popular derby in the Stadio Olimpico. In contrast to some of the players, the audience is anything but defensive, and quickly boils over when the blood is stirring. Small advice: If you buy a ticket for one of the popular games, make sure you to sit with the Roma fans, not with Lazio - unless you tend towards the extreme political right.