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Roman Holiday: Slip into Something Comfortable and Let the Adventure Begin

Sleeping in Rome can be a problem but most travelers to the Eternal City

don’t care about the cars, the dust, the bicycles, but even they need some downtime. Remind clients to pace themselves and to slip into something more comfortable: the sweetest neighborhoods around Rome after heavy-touring days in town.

 

What constitutes a heavy-touring day? Just the heart and hub of Rome. Navigating cobble-stoned streets and climbing the 243 steps of the elegant staircases to the over-arching elegant and blindingly beautiful complex known as the Piazza Venezia, the Fori Imperiali, the Capitoline Museum, the Via del Corso, the Circus Maximus, the Coliseum and the Jewish Ghetto of Rome, which are all in this vicinity.

 

Do suggest they stop for a drink either on the patio of the Capitoline Museum or from the perch of the Vittoriano Terrace for a view of the domes of Rome’s churches, synagogues, monuments and palaces in the distance … the best time to do this is at sunset.

 

The Coliseum is still one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is the largest amphitheater in the world and yes, it is still there and may be the most visited site in the world. It is the most imposing and evocative of the city’s sights.

 

 

Slip into something more Comfortable
Weaving three of Rome’s sweetest neighborhoods in a trip to Rome takes little to no planning: Garbatella, Ostiense, and Testataccio are all just a few metro stops from the heart of the centro storico.

 

Garbatella: Three metro stops from the Colosseum, Garbatella was designed in the 1920s to be similar to English garden city suburbs but was established to house the workers who were mostly employed in the nearby industrial area known as

 

Ostiense. Flats in Garbatella were initially constructed as public housing and small complexes were built like hives. The homes have long since been privatized yet they all feature a central courtyard, narrow lanes with spaces for vegetable gardens and common spaces for socializing. Still undergoing urban revival, the old factories are being repurposed for new enterprises such as the stunning museum of Centrale, Montemartini on Via Ostiense.

 

Do not miss the iconic Teatro Palladium, one of the neighborhood’s most treasured cultural landmarks. It opened as a cinema in the mid-1920s but is now managed by the University of Roma Tre and has a year-round lineup of live performances.

 

Ostiense: Traverse the soaring white-arched Ponte Settimia Spezzichino bridge, named in memory of Rome’s only female survivor of Auschwitz, on the edge of Garbatella to arrive at the industrial center where many of the neighborhood’s original residents once worked. This former 19th century industrial center has been undergoing its own radical transformation in the most recent centuries. Via Ostiense is the heartbeat of the neighborhood, which was once an ancient road leading to the port city of Ostia. Most recently it has become one of Rome’s hippest neighborhoods with a calm vibe. Clutches of restaurants, clubs, bars, gelaterias and murals are a few of its trademarks.

 

Among the sights are the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, just two stops from the Colisseum on Line B and what the Italians call the “Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome,” otherwise known as the Protestant Cemetery that straddles the borders of Ostiense and Testaccio. The cemetery is worth a visit if only to visit the graves of English poets Percy Shelley, John Keats, Italian-American poet Gregory Corso and the Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci, among others. One of the most moving sculptures in this garden-like cemetery is that of the Angel of Grief by William Wetmore Story in honor of his wife, 1894.
Ostiense stands as the heart of Roma Tre University and is chock a block with repurposed buildings, including a former power plant, now a modern museum that may be one of the most fascinating, original museums in Rome. The Centrale Montemartini Museum is a repurposed thermoelectric power plant (circa 1912). Highly undiscovered, it houses more than 400 ancient statues that make up its permanent collection and juxtaposes turn-of-the-century machinery and ancient Roman, Greek, and Egyptian art work.

 

Testaccio: is another working-class district for trade and industry, it is also steeped in ancient history and located south of the Aventine Hill. Not as well known as other riverside neighborhoods like Trastevere or the Jewish Ghetto, it has reinvented itself and boasts one of the most varied Saturday markets in Rome. It is considered one of the touchstones for great Roman cuisine today and like Ostiense, has repurposed a former slaughterhouse, il Mattatoio into a magnificent modern art museum. Additionally the Villaggio Globale is home to artisans and an independent designer community. La Citta dell’Altra Economia is an exhibition space to promote organic farming, fair trade and low environmental impact that includes a library, and bio-cafe and bio-restaurant (bio indicates organic). Active for the past hundred years, the Teatro Vittoria is an intricate heart of the neighborhood’s cultural life. And, the area shares the Protestant Cemetery of Rome with Ostiense.

On Sundays, join the Romans and stroll through the Villa Borghese Gardens like a native. www.italia.it

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