I had only met Angus twice before flying with him to Rome. He was a close friend of that summer’s sweetheart. A few weeks before a few of us had been drinking gin & tonics at a friend’s house in Peckham when I said “Let’s all go to Italy!” and everyone was excited about the idea but then it turned out only Angus and I were free.
So here we were, rolling our suitcases up Via Veneto in the warm sunlight. We checked into a hotel, left our suitcases on the beds, and dashed off to the Villa Borghese to admire the Caravaggio paintings and Bernini statues. We were tempted to spend the afternoon strolling through the park. One time I saw two girls singing and leaping between those trees before kissing each other and rolling over in the grass, all arms and tenderness. Who knows what we would see in the park that afternoon? But evening was approaching and the city was calling.
I led Angus to my favourite statue, The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. We stopped in a few more churches before returning to the hotel. Clean and dressed, Angus wearing some Bogart in Casablanca get-up and me in a pencil dress off the cover of a pulp novel, we sauntered into the evening. The sun was setting beyond the Roman rooftops. Vespas growled. Italians laughed. The streets grew more crowded as we approached Piazza Colonna. We ate a fantastic fettuccine alfredo at Alfredo alla Scrofa. After we paid the bill and joked around with the waiter, he gifted us with a box of fettuccine to make at home. Angus and I walked to the nearby legendary gelato spot Giolitti. I ordered the sour cherry gelato con panna (with whipped cream.)
We walked to the Pantheon, then Piazza Navona, to Campo di Fiore, and over the bridge to Trastevere for cocktails. Campari-fuelled, we rambled back over the cobblestones, past the majestic palazzos, to our hotel on the other side of town. The next morning we headed north...
WHAT TO DO IN ROME
Of course there are countless monuments to visit (the Colosseum, the Piazza di Spagna, et cetera) but if you only have a few hours I suggest walking as much as possible and checking out these places:
Villa Borghese Gallery - a villa turned into a museum filled with Baroque masterpieces. Make a reservation in advance. +39 06 841 3979.
The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa - a sculpture by Bernini inside Santa Maria della Vittoria church, Via 20 Settembre, 17, 00187 Roma.
Alfredo alla Scrofa - I know this is a very touristy joint and a bit expensive but it is still delicious and worth a visit. Order the fettuccine alfredo and you will enter cheese rapture. Via della Scrofa, 104/a, 00186 Roma.
Giolitti - fantastic gelato since 1890. Open until 11 pm or 1 am. Via degli Uffici del Vicario, 40, Roma.
Pantheon – Roman temple since 126 AD. Open 8.30-7.30. Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma.