Ristorante Tram Tram in the San Lorenzo neighborhood is located exactly where you would expect it: in front of the tram tracks. Most of the decorations are authentic pieces of tram from the 1950′s. But the focus here is on the food, not the decor. The menu is creative Roman cuisine with seafood dishes from the Puglia and Sicily thrown in to the mix. The restaurant is owned by Rosanna Di Vittorio her two daughters Fabiola and Antonela. Rosanna oversees the menu and finds the best ingredients at the local markets. If ingredients can’t be found to meet her standards items will be crossed off the menu for the night. The restaurant is popular with the locals but relatively unknown to tourists. Although the staff doesn’t speak English their friendly nature helps bridge the language gap.
Note: There is no sign with restaurant’s name out front. The sign reads simply “Bottiglieria – Trattoria.”
Via dei Reti 46
Open Tuesday-Sunday. Closed Monday. Reservations recommended for dinner.
Tel: +39 06 490416
If you have already seen the main sights of Rome it is worth a visit to see one the sights off the beaten path: the Aqueduct Park. On the Appian Way this park is a chance to see how the ancient city got its water. Roman historian Pliny described the aqueducts as “greatest wonder the world has ever seen.” They are some of the finest example of Roman engineering skill.
Aqueducts are not that complicated in theory. Water sinks to its lowest level. Running water down a slope from one point to another was a concept widely known. But the practice of creating an aqueduct was much more difficult. The Romans engineered their aqueducts to approach their cities on a gradual declining gradient. The gradient was only several inches every 100 feet. The slope of the aqueduct had to be calculated over great distances, sometimes up to 30-40 miles from the source in the mountains to cities. The slope had to be consistant, it couldn’t be deviated from regardless of the terrain. To maintain the water’s precise descent through high mountains Roman engineers dug perfectly angled tunnels through them. When the pipeline reached low valleys they were elevated on stone walls. If the walls needed to be higher than 6 1/2 feet off the ground the Romans saved building materials while still adding strength by perfecting an ancient engineering concept: the arch.
After reaching the city each aqueduct emptied into three holding tanks. One for the public drinking fountains, a second for the public baths and a third reserved for the emperor and other wealthy Romans who paid for their own running water, a concept that was well ahead of its time. The water from the aqueducts washed out the human filth and kept the city clean. One of reasons ancient Romans felt they were superior to everyone else is because they were cleaner.
The aqueducts were the Achilles’ heel of Rome. To destroy the city all you had to do was take down one of the arches. In the 6th century the Barbarians did just that. Without water Rome basically shriveled up. Today the park is a favorite with locals for biking, running or just taking a family stroll.
In need of a romantic dinner without breaking the bank: Spirito di Vino offers the quality, service and ambiance you desire with modest prices. After being buzzed in the front door guests are greeted warmly by Romeo and his son Francesco. Romeo’s wife Eliana works in the kitchen creating dishes from the inventive to the historical. Romeo sits down with each table and shares the history of the building. The restaurant is in a medieval building that once housed the oldest synagogue inRome - the walls date to 980AD, while the wine cellar is even older. Then he thoroughly explains the menu, complete with recommendations, specials and ingredient substitutions. Eliana will only use the items of the the highest quality in her dishes so variations are made depending on the season and what was available at the market. The signature dish is the pork shoulder prepared according to a recipe of Gaius Matius, who was a friend and cook of Julius Caesar. After dinner they will take downstairs for a tour of their extensive cellar. You are a greeted like a VIP from the moment you walk in the door until the moment you leave.
Baths of Diocletian, Magic and Voodoo Dolls The Baths of Diocletian were the grandest of the public baths of Imperial Rome. Remains of the baths are open to the public and part of the Museum of Rome. This is an often overlooked museum. Considering that the entrance fee also grants access to the Palazzo Massimo National Museum of Rome, Palazzo Altemps,and Crypta Balbi it is worth a visit if the major sights of Rome have been checked off your “to do” list.
What to see:
Main Hall of the Baths of Diocletian: Well preserved, impressive hall with an exhibition of finds from excavations. Check out the stucco family tombs and the 3rd century mosaic of Hercules and Achelous.
Cloister of Michelangelo: a 16th-century garden and outdoor displays of altars and funerary sculpture and inscriptions. It’s hard to believe a place this tranquil is located so close to busy Termini train station. The price of admission is worth it just to spend some time here.
The Epigraphic Museum - Over 10,000 inscriptions, epigraphs and artifacts provide a glimpse into the daily lives of people in Ancient Rome.
The Magical Finds of Anna Perenna – This small but fascinating exhibit was the highlight of our visit but receives little attention. The fountain to the cult of Anna Perenna, an ancient nymph, was discovered in 1999. Public sacrifices and prayers were offered to her to secure a healthy year. The discovery is undoubtedly one of the most important discoveries relating to magic ever made, due to the variety of material found in a single place. The fountain was used from the 4th century to the 5th century. Inside the cistern were religious artifacts such as 523 coins thrown into the water for good luck, pine cones and eggs as symbols of fertility and 75 lamps, some with votive offerings. But the real treat are the unusual magical artifacts: a large copper pot used for witches’ magical potions and several clay lamps. Six of the lamps have curses inscribed inside them. Rarer still are the 24 lead containers stacked one inside the other, within them seven voodoo dolls. These were used to make spells and perform magical rituals against enemies or lovers. For those willing to try a spell at home full directions are provided including a “wondrous spell to bind a lover” – that could come in handy with Valentine’s Day quickly approaching.
Devotion to Sicilian and Calabrian Food at Scilla e Cariddi Scilla e Cariddi is devoted to the food from Sicily and Calabria. The restaurant takes its name from mythical sea monsters Scilla and Cariddi that lived in Straits of Messina, between Sicily and Calabria. Using traditional recipes and ingredients sourced from the area it serves a fixed menu at lunch and dinner. The menu changes daily depending on what is in season. Bartolo whips up food in the kitchen while his wife Angela attends to the tables. Angela doesn’t make small talk with guests and can be a bit gruff. There is one seating at lunch and one at dinner. The dining room is small with hard stools to sit on. Reservations are mandatory. You will given the time to eat, you cannot choose it. Meals will served once everyone for the seating has arrived. All tables are served each course at the same time. There are no substitutes or second helpings. Pasta is served as the final course. It is then that Bartolo emerges from the kitchen. He makes his way around to each table to greet each customer. While these “rules” may make you think twice about eating here, don’t pass on it. The price €25 euro per person is a steal. It includes wine, water, multiple courses – including dessert – and an after dinner liquor. Unless you have a grandma in Southern Italy you will eat foods that you will otherwise never experienceS. Products from the regions are also available for sale. There is a nice selection of olive oils, pastas, chocolates, wine, jams and sauces that make great souvenirs or gifts.
The pictures that follow are what was served at our most recent meal at Scilla e Cariddi.
The Eternal City prepares for Christmas with trees and lights decking the city. Enjoy our photos of Christmas decorations in Rome 2014. Nicolas Inn wishes a Happy Holidays to all and best wishes for 2015!
One of our regular restaurants is Ristorante Armando in San Lorenzo. Rome’s San Lorenzo neighborhood was heavily bombed by Allied planes during World War II due to its proximity to Termini train station. Today it is a popular spot for students and young artists and is home to La Sapienza University. While there are not any sights in the area it has a Bohemian vibe with good food at affordable prices.
In 1950 Armando Persiani opened the restaurant and his daughters Carla and Patrizia have now taken over the reins. The quality of the ingredients, authentic recipes and friendly service have kept customers coming back for generations. In 1996 the city awarded the restaurant a Quality Certificate and in 2002 the Lazio Regional Government granted it a Typical Restaurant for Roman Cuisine Certificate.
The menu offers pizza cooked in a wood even, classic homemade pasta dishes, and grilled meats and fish. Traditional pastas such as alla carbonara, all’amatriciana, al cacio e pepe and tagliolini al sugo di coda are made to perfection. The amazing antipasti buffet is listed as an appetizer but it could easily make up an entire meal. Locals fill the restaurant. There is a big screen TV in one corner where football matches are shown. Don’t be surprised if service is a bit slow if a big game is taking place – the staff will not hesitate to stop in front of the screen to catch the action. The waiters are friendly enough and are happy to offer suggestions.
Piazza Navona is the epitome of an Italian square: fountains, street musicians, artists and performers surrounded by cafes and restaurants. But don’t waste a meal sitting on the piazza. You will pay too much, not eat very well and have to deal with overbearing waiters. Just a few blocks away you can enjoy a delicious, authentic meal at Dal Paino for a fraction of the price. Dal Paino is a small, unpretentious restaurant known for its fried appetizers and thin, crispy Roman pizzas made in its wood burning brick oven.
Start your meal with fried zucchini flowers and supplì. The pizzas are sized for individual orders but are of generous size. The mushroom & onion and four cheese pizzas are a few of our favorites. But Dal Paino offers more than just pizza – there is a nice selection of pasta dishes too. The spaghetti with clams is the among the best in town and the gnocchi amatriciana is remarkably light. If you skip the pizza order some focaccia (the pizza base) to accompany your meal so you won’t feel like you have missed out. The menu also has a couple meat dishes but the stars at Dal Paino are the pizza and pasta. Most dishes are €7-10 euro.
Dal Paino has a small dining room. Along with other restaurants in the area, it is currently battling with the mayor or Rome over outdoor seating. Until the matter is resolved they are unable to seat guests outside which is a shame because it is one of the best spots to people watch.
Domus Aurea Reopens to the Public. After years of being closed due to structural damage the Domus Aurea, Nero’s Golden House, reopened to the public on October 26. Visitors are allowed access with guided tours on Saturdays and Sundays until December 28, 2014. Hard hats must be worn as it is an active work site. Archaeologists are at work during the week.
Today the Domus Aurea is a complex underground structure which lies below the Colle Oppio Park. In 65AD the Emperor Nero seized the city center and built the most extravagant palace Rome would ever see. The Domus Aurea stretched across 210 acres – thirty times the size of the Colosseum. The Palatine Hill was the residential part of Nero’s House. What is now seen as underground was once open gardens. This entire area was laid out as a park with porticoes, pavilions, baths, and fountains. After Nero’s death all traces of him were destroyed or renovated. The Emperor Trajan covered the garden with earth and built his baths on top of it. The processes of filling in the area with soil actually lead to its preservation.
In 1488 excavations through tunnels revealed that the rooms had been stripped before being filled in and built over but the frescoes, mythological scenes and architectural illusions were still intact. The paintings at that time were not faded and worn as they are now. The colors were fully intact. Raffaello, Pinturicchio and other Renaissance artists descended through holes into the grottoes to obtain inspiration for their works – some which are practically copies of scenes seen in the Domus Aurea. Many artists marked their visit by scrawling their names on the walls.
Preserving the monument is the main goal of the current project. A new garden will be constructed on top of the Domus Aurea once the work is complete. But it will be one without trees to prevent the tree roots from causing another collapse. The flow of ground water into the complex must be prevented to keep the structure strong. Until the water can be stopped there is no point in restoring the frescoes. The progress of the restoration and new discoveries can be tracked on the project’s blog.
Domus Aurea Tours
Tours available in English, Spanish and Italian on Saturdays and Sundays until March 8, 2015. Tours run last about an hour and 15 minutes. Reservations required. Book online or by telephone: +39 06 39967700 (English speaking operators available).
Tip: The Domus Aurea is located at Via della Domus Aurea, a pedestrian path inside Colle Oppio Park. It can be difficult to find as there are no signs to help locate it. Enter the park from the gate where Via Labicana and Via Nicola Salvi meet (see map below). Make the first left to reach the entrance to the Domus Aurea.
Churches to see in Rome: Basilica of Santa Prassede. A couple blocks from the grand Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is the small, unassuming Basilica of Santa Prassede. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but those that take the time to enter are rewarded with 9th-century Byzantine mosaics that are among the finest in Rome. Pope Paschal founded the church in the 9th-century, on the site of a 2nd-century oratory. Artists from Byzantium decorated the church with glittering, jewel-colored mosaics.
What to see:
In the apse Jesus is in the center, flanked by Saints Peter and Paul, who present sisters Prassede and Pudenziana to God. On the far left is Pope Paschal, with the square halo of the living, presenting a model of the church as an offering to Jesus. Below runs an inscription of Paschal, hoping that his offering is enough to secure his place in heaven.
Chapel of Saint Zeno
The chapel was built as a mausoleum for Pope Paschal’s mother Theodora. Beautiful mosaics of saints, the Virgin and Christ and the apostles cover the walls and the vault.
Column of flagellation
Part of a column brought back from Jerusalem, allegedly the one which Christ was bound and flogged also stands in a niche of the Chapel of Saint Zeno.
Take the staircase in front of the apse down to find a short corridor. It has two ancient sarcophagi stacked on top of each other on either side. The relics of Saints Prassede and Pudenziana are kept in one of them, along with a sponge that was used by the sisters to collect the blood of martyrs. The other three sarcophagi contain relics from martyrs moved from the catacombs.