In Rome, Nouvelle Cuisine and Ancient Sites Invite You
“Trevi Square and the whole center of Rome are full of tourists,” said Fabrizio Rezza, reservations manager for the Fontana Hotel, referring to the crowds around the historic landmark in front of the hotel, the Trevi Fountain. “It seems like no one is afraid of COVID anymore.”
So the Eternal City continues to live up to its name, boosted by long-awaited reopenings and a slew of new restaurants, hotels and cultural venues across the city.
MUSEUMS AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES
Under renovation since 2007, the distinctive circular Mausoleum of Augustus (5 euro entry) began to welcome the public again last year, and the Casa Romana, a 4th-century mansion beneath the Museo di Scultura Antica Giovanni Barracco , also reopened after an even longer break.
Among Rome’s burgeoning cultural venues, the new Museo Ninfeo offers visitors the chance to admire the ruins of an ancient refuge and pleasure garden for emperors like Claudius and Caligula. (The museum is only open on Saturdays and Sundays. An adult ticket costs 14.30 euros and can be purchased via Vivaticket.) The newly opened (and free) Garum Museum (named after an old sauce from Roman fish) traces the history of Italian cooking and eating. Housed in a 16th-century palace, the new museum features centuries-old utensils, vessels, molds and other cooking utensils, as well as an extensive library of books and prints related to the culinary arts.
Italy has also reintroduced free admission to state museums and archaeological sites on the first Sunday of each month. At all other times, some tourist hotspots, including the Colosseum site (which includes the Forum and Palatine Hill; 16 euros) and the Galleria Borghese (13 euros; free for children under 17), require the purchase of tickets online.
VAST BUFFET OF NEW RESTAURANTS
Over the past two years, many beloved restaurants in Rome have been forced to close, such as the Michelin-starred Metamorfosi, the panoramic Lo Zodiaco summit and Doozo, considered by some to be the best Japanese restaurant in Rome.
But as befits a food-centric city, Rome’s scorching food scene offers a vast buffet of new eateries, from thin-crust pizzerias awash in craft beer (L’Elementare) to delis overflowing with platters of prosciutto and grilled meats. (Aventina), to natural wine shops with an excellent selection of Italian dishes served in an open kitchen at the back (Enoteca l’Antidoto).
Some of the most sought-after new tables are at Romanè, the new restaurant of celebrity chef and restaurateur Stefano Callegari, famous as the inventor of the trapizzino, a cone-shaped bread container that can be filled with anything from eggplant parmigiana with beef tongue in green sauce. . Loud, friendly and unassuming, Romanè serves respectful and sometimes embellished versions of classic Italian cuisine, including fried artichokes, spaghetti Amatriciana and “the best chicken cacciatore I’ve ever eaten in my life”, in the words of the food journalist and olive oil specialist Luciana Squadrilli. Expect to pay around 60 euros for a three course meal for two people.
HOTELS: LUXURY AND KITSCH
The lack of tourists has also hurt the accommodation sector, which has suffered some of the worst losses. According to Giorgio Palmucci, president of ENIT, the national tourism agency, around 400 regional hotels have closed during the pandemic. They include giants like the Sheraton Hotel Roma and Conference Center and the Selene, which had hosted luminaries like former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
Dinners at the new Pizzeria L’Elementare, which serves thin-crust pizzas and craft beers, in Rome on May 5, 2022. With masking and vaccination requirements largely dropped in Italy and summer approaching, crowds have started returning to Rome’s Centro Storico — the area most dependent on tourism and hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. (Francesco Lastrucci/The New York Times)
Despite major losses, the hotel sector is starting to rebound, thanks to recent arrivals like the luxurious W Rome (May rates from 720 euros) and the kitsch-cool Mama Shelter Roma (May rates from 289 euros) , with its rooftop bar. , coworking space and green restaurant. For the big wallets, the Maalot Roma (rates in May from 423 euros) is a hushed town house mixing contemporary works of art and historic furniture (upholstered sofas, oriental rugs) which praises the opulent restaurant Don Pasquale . While waiting for your table, you can sit at the intimate two-seater bar and sip the excellent signature cocktail, Almost a Classic Drink (14 euros), which lights up a traditional Vieux Carré with a dose of grappa.
For thinner wallets and more Scandinavian tastes, the new 55-room Camplus Hotel Roma Centro (May rates from 123 euros) is a haven of clean lines and soft colors near the city’s central station, Termini .
PIZZA LABS, PATTI SMITH AND OTHER SUMMER EVENTS
Summer festivals are set to take place around Rome, with some returning after a pandemic-era hiatus. At the end of May, some 60 master pizza makers will knead, stir, and bake their way into the hearts (and stomachs) of attendees at La Città della Pizza for free. The festival celebrates Italy’s most famous food in its many permutations – Neapolitan, Roman, folded, fried – as well as bread and olive oil, and a free “pizza school” will provide further indoctrination in the pie art. You can then wash it all down in mid-June with some of the 2,500 Italian and international wines on offer at Vinoforum (entrance, 20 euros), the city’s grand annual wine and spirits gala.
Musically, the multi-week concert series known as Rock in Roma (most shows €20-40) returns in June after a two-year hiatus. Held in major venues around the city, including the former Circus Maximus, this year’s series will feature Italian and international artists such as Patti Smith, Massive Attack, Herbie Hancock, Suicidal Tendencies and Maneskin.
IMPORTANT CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION
The Italian government lifted the country’s state of emergency and recently eliminated many of the old regulations, although proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 is still required to enter Italy from a foreign country. In Italy, such proof is no longer required to enter almost any place, and masks are no longer mandatory in the vast majority of indoor spaces.
Notable exceptions are public transport and closed entertainment venues – including cinemas, theaters and concert halls – which require type FFP2 masks (similar to the N95 and KN95 models). Current health guidelines can be viewed on the official Italian tourism website.
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