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  • 1. Images of Southern ItalySouthern Italy MapsExperience Southern ItalyIn Depth: Excerpts from Exceptional Books about ItalyRomeNaples and CampaniaPuglia, Basilicata, and CalabriaSicilyTravel Smart Southern ItalyAtlas
  • 2. Main Table of ContentsRome Neighborhoods The Forum Navona And Campo Corso And Spagna Repubblica And Quirinale Villa Borghese And Piazza Del Popolo The Vatican Trastevere And The Ghetto The Catacombs And Via Appia AnticaNaples Neighborboods Royal Naples Vomero Spaccanapoli And CapodimonteSiracusaPalermo
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  • 13. Main Table of ContentsWhat’s WhereSouthern Italy PlannerSouthern Italy TodayTop AttractionsTop ExperiencesA Great Itinerary
  • 14. Next Chapter | ContentsRome. Italy’s capital is one of the great cities of Europe. It’s a large, busy metropolis that lives in the here and now, yet there’s no other place on earth where you’llencounter such powerful evocations of a long and spectacular past, from the Colosseum to the dome of St. Peter’s.Naples and Campania. Campania is the gateway to southern Italy—and as far south as many travelers get. The region’s happy combination of spectacular geologyand rich cultural heritage makes it a popular place both to unwind—on the pint-size islands of Capri and Ischia or the resorts of the Amalfi Coast—and to explorethe past—at the archaeological ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Paestum. In the middle of everything is Naples, a chaotic metropolis that people love and hatein nearly equal measure, though after a decade of urban renewal the lovers now appear to be in the majority. On a good day it’s Italy’s most fun and friendly largecity. On a bad one it’s a giant traffic jam, filled with crooked cabbies and purse-snatching kids on scooters.The Southern Peninsula. The southernmost regions of the peninsula—Puglia, Basilicata, and Calabria—are known for their laid-back medieval villages,shimmering seas, and varied landscapes. The coastline of Puglia, along the heel of Italy’s boot, is popular with beachgoers, but for the most part you’re off thebeaten path here, with all the pleasures and challenges that entails. You’ll find fewer English-speakers but more genuine warmth from the people you encounter.The most distinctive attractions are the Sassi (cave dwellings in the Basilicata village of Matera) and trulli (mysterious conical-roof dwellings found in abundance inPuglia’s Valle d’Itria). Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites.Sicily. The architecture of Sicily reflects the island’s centuries of successive dominion by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Spaniards, and, mostrecently, Italians. Baroque church–hopping could be a sport in the cacophonous streets of Palermo and seafaring Siracusa. The breezes are sultry, and everyday lifeis without pretense, as witnessed in the workaday stalls of the fish markets all along the ports of the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts, bursting with tuna, swordfish, andsardines. Greek ruins stand sentinel in Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples, blanketed in almond, oleander, and juniper blossoms. All over the island the ins and outsof life are celebrated each day as they have been for centuries—over a morning coffee, at the family lunch table, and in the evening passeggiata.Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 15. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsSpeaking the Language | Restaurants: The Basics | Hotels: The Basics | Getting Here | Italy from Behind the Wheel | Typical Travel Times | When to Go | On theCalendarS P E A K I N G T H E L A N G U A G EHere, as in much of Italy, when locals talk among themselves, they often revert to dialect that’s unintelligible to the student of textbook Italian. Each region has adialect of its own; Salentinu (spoken in the tip of the heel) and Barese (around Bari) are distinctive enough to be considered separate languages, though theydeveloped in neighboring areas.Thanks to the education system and the unifying influence of radio and television, nearly everyone speaks standard Italian as well, so you can still benefit fromwhatever knowledge you have of the language. English-speakers aren’t as prevalent as in points north, but this is the land of creative gesticulation and otherimprovised nonverbal communication. Chances are, you’ll be able to get your message across.R E S T A U R A N T S : T H E B A S I C SA full meal in Italy has traditionally consisted of five courses, and every menu you encounter will still be organized along some version of this five-course plan:First up is the antipasto (appetizer), often consisting of cured meats or marinated vegetables. Next to appear is the primo, usually pasta or soup, and after that thesecondo, a meat or fish course with, perhaps, a contorno (vegetable dish) on the side. A simple dolce (dessert) rounds out the meal.This, you’ve probably noticed, is a lot of food. Italians have noticed as well—a full, five-course meal is an indulgence usually reserved for special occasions.Instead, restaurant meals are a mix-and-match affair: you might order a primo and a secondo, or an antipasto and a primo, or a secondo and a contorno.The crucial rule of restaurant dining is that you should order at least two courses. It’s a common mistake for tourists to order only a secondo, thinking they’regetting a “main course” complete with side dishes. What they wind up with is one lonely piece of meat.H O T E L S : T H E B A S I C SHotels in Italy are usually well maintained (especially if they’ve earned our recommendation in this book), but in some respects they won’t match what you find atcomparably priced U.S. lodgings. Keep the following points in mind as you set your expectations, and you’re likely to have a good experience: First and foremost, rooms are usually smaller, particularly in cities. If you’re truly cramped, ask for another room, but don’t expect things to be spacious. A “double bed” is commonly two singles pushed together. In the bathroom, tubs are not a given—request one if it’s essential. In budget places, showers sometimes use a drain in the middle of the bathroom floor. And washcloths are a rarity. Most hotels have satellite TV, but there are fewer channels than in the United States, and only one or two will be in English. Don’t expect wall-to-wall carpeting. Particularly outside the cities, tile floors are the norm.G E T T I N G H E R EThe major gateways to Italy are Rome’s Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci (FCO), better known as Fiumicino, and Milan’s Aeroporto Malpensa (MAL). There are
  • 16. The major gateways to Italy are Rome’s Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci (FCO), better known as Fiumicino, and Milan’s Aeroporto Malpensa (MAL). There aresome direct flights to secondary airports, primarily Venice and Pisa, but to fly into most other Italian cities you need to make connections at Fiumicino, Malpensa, oranother European hub. You can also take the FS airport train to Rome’s Termini station or a bus to Milan’s central train station (Centrale) and catch a train to anyother location in Italy. It will take about one hour to get from either Fiumicino or Malpensa to the train station.Located 8 km (5 mi) outside Naples, Aeroporto Capodichino (NAP) serves the Campania region. It handles domestic and international flights, including severalflights daily between Naples and Rome (flight time 55 minutes).The three main airports of the deep south are Bari and Brindisi, in Puglia, and Lamezia Terme, in Calabria. All three have regular flights to and from Rome andMilan. In addition, Reggio di Calabria’s airport has flights to and from Rome.Sicily can be reached from all major international cities on flights connecting through Rome, Milan, or Naples. Planes to Palermo land at Aeroporto Falcone-Borsellino (named in memory of two anti-Mafia judges famously assassinated in 1992) in Punta Raisi, 32 km (19 mi) west of town. Catania’s AeroportoFontanarossa, 5 km (3 mi) south of the city center, is the main airport on Sicily’s eastern side.There are direct express trains from Milan and Rome to Palermo, Catania, and Siracusa. The Rome–Palermo and Rome–Siracusa trips take at least 11 hours. AfterNaples, the run is mostly along the coast, so try to book a window seat on the right if you’re not on an overnight train. At Villa San Giovanni, in Calabria, the trainis separated and loaded onto a ferryboat to cross the strait to Messina. Direct trains run from Milan, Rome, and Bologna to Bari and Lecce.I T A L Y F R O M B E H I N D T H E W H E E LAmericans tend to be well schooled in defensive-driving techniques. Many Italians are not. When you hit the road, don’t be surprised to encounter tailgating andhigh-risk passing. Your best response is to take the same safety-first approach you use at home. On the upside, Italy’s roads are very well maintained. Note thatwearing a seat belt and having your lights on at all times are required by law. Bear in mind that a vehicle in Italian cities is almost always a liability, but outside ofthe cities it’s often crucial. An effective strategy is to start and end your Italian itinerary in major cities, car-free, and to pick up wheels for countryside touring inbetween.T Y P I C A L T R A V E L T I M E S Hours by Car Hours by Train Naples–Rome 2:30 1:30 Naples–Bari 3:00 4:00 (via Benevento and Caserta) Bari–Lecce 1:45 1:45 Naples–Matera 3:15 6:00 (via Benevento then Bari) Naples–Cosenza 4:00 3:45 Naples–Messina 7:00 5:30 Messina–Palermo 2:30 3:45 Messina–Siracusa 2:00 2:45 Siracusa–Palermo (via Catania or Messina) 3:00 4:15 Palermo–Agrigento 1:15 2:05W H E N T O G OSpring: In April, May, and early June, southern Italy is at its best. The weather is generally pleasant and the fields are in full bloom. Easter is a busy time for mosttourist destinations—if you’re traveling then, you should have lodging reserved well ahead of time. By May the sea water is warm enough for swimming byAmerican standards, but you can often have the beach to yourself as Italians shy away until at least June.Summer: Temperatures can be torrid in summer, making it a less-than-ideal time for a visit to the south. In Campania, Naples can feel like an inferno, thearchaeological sites swarm with visitors, and the islands and Amalfi Coast resorts are similarly overrun. Even the otherwise perfect villages of the interior are toodazzlingly white for easy comfort from July to early September. If you seek a beach, whether on the mainland or Sicily, keep in mind that during August all of Italyflocks to the shores. Even relatively isolated resorts can be overrun.Fall: Visit the south from late September through early November and you can find gentle, warm weather and acres of beach space; swimming temperatures lastthrough October. Watch the clock, however, as the days get shorter. At most archaeological sites, you’re rounded up two hours before sunset—but by then mostcrowds have departed, so late afternoon is still an optimum time to see Pompeii, Herculaneum, or Agrigento in peace and quiet.Winter: Early winter is relatively mild (bougainvillea and other floral displays can bloom through Christmas), but particularly later in the season, cold fronts canarrive and stay for days. In resort destinations, many hotels, restaurants, and other tourist facilities close down from November until around Easter. Elsewhere, youneed to reserve rooms well in advance between Christmas and the Epiphany (January 6), Agrigento’s almond festival in February, and the Carnevale in Acirealeand Sciacca.
  • 17. O N T H E C A L E N D A RThese are some of the top seasonal events in southern Italy:From December through June, the stagione operistica(opera season) is underway at Teatro San Carlo in Naples.In early February Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples, Sagra del Mandorlo in Fiore (Almond Blossom Festival, is a week of folk musicand dancing, with participants from many countries.The Settimana Santa (Holy Week), culminating with Easter, features parades and outdoor events in every city and most small towns. Naples and Trapani haveparticularly noteworthy festivities.Twice a year, the first Sunday in May and on September 19, Naples celebrates the Feast of San Gennaro. In the Duomo, at 9 AM a remnant of the saint’s bloodmiraculously liquefies, after which there’s a ceremonial parade.Maggio dei Monumenti is a cultural initiative in Naples lasting the entire month of May. Special exhibits, palaces, private collections, and churches are open to thepublic for free or at a discount.Every fourth year in June, the Regata delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare (Regatta of the Great Maritime Republics) sees keen boating competition amongAmalfi, Genoa, Pisa, and Venice. In 2012 Amalfi is the site for the event.Estate a Napoli (Summer in Naples) is a season-long festival of concerts and performances—a reward for those enduring the Neapolitan heat.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 18. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsSouthern Italy is slap bang in the middle of the Mediterranean, so it’s no wonder that it has experienced invasions and migrations for millennia, many of which haveleft their mark culturally, linguistically, and architecturally.The southerners really are different from Italians farther north. Under an ostensibly sociable and more expressive exterior, they are more formal when dealing withstrangers and authority, often using the antiquated voi form for addressing them (rather than Lei or tu). They are also more likely to leave home to find work,traveling to northern Italy and to northern European countries, especially.P O L I T I C SPolitics tends to be clientelistic in much of the south. In this climate of mutual back-scratching and with unemployment rates (12%) twice the national average, themain preoccupation for many voters is the contratto a tempo indeterminato (lifetime job), an elusive goal since EU and other labor reforms have taken effect. Votesare often cast for the politician who promises opportunities for career advancement in the public sector where such jobs are offered. Over the years this has insuredinefficiencies, if not outright corruption.T H E E C O N O M YThe north has developed rapidly in the past 50 years, but the Italian entrepreneurial spirit in the south struggles to make good. This is primarily due to the stiflingpresence of organized crime. Each major region has its own criminal association: the Camorra in Naples, Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia, ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria,and the Mafia in Sicily. The system creates add-on costs at many levels, especially in retail. In spite of it all, foreign investment, combined with generous EuropeanUnion funding, have contributed to an agricultural resurgence over the last decade, particularly in wine, citrus, and olive oil.In addition to its agricultural advantage over the north, southern Italy has woken up to its other major asset, its remarkable cultural and natural heritage. UNESCOlists 14 World Heritage Sites in southern Italy, and the last decade has seen the creation of several national parks, marine parks, and nature preserves. Environmentaland cultural associations have mushroomed as locals increasingly perceive the economic benefits of preservation.In general, small average farm size in the south (5.8 hectares, under 15 acres) has helped maintain a pleasing mosaic of habitats in the interior. Landscape andproduct diversity has been aided by the promotion of traditionally grown products by the European Union and its DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta,Protected Designation of Origin) project.T O U R I S MTourism is on the rise in Puglia and Basilicata, while 2009 saw Campania’s worst year in more than a decade, largely due to the previous year’s garbage strike thatleft Naples and the surrounding areas inundated with trash. Sicily still pulls nature lovers and adventure seekers who cycle or hike its rugged terrain, and Calabriaremains largely a beach holiday destination crowded only from mid-July through August. Religious tourism accounts for large visitor flows throughout the year—asmany visitors pay their respects to the Madonna di Pompei sanctuary as they do to the archaeological site up the road. In almost every village and town in southernItaly you’re likely to see the bearded statue of Capuchin priest Padre Pio.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 19. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsU N D E R G R O U N D N A P L E SIn Naples the locals point to the ground and say there’s another city underneath. This is Napoli Sotterranea, a netherworld of ancient Greek quarries and aqueducts,Roman streets, and World War II bomb shelters. Parts have been cleaned up and made accessible to the public.T H E R U I N S A R O U N D V E S U V I U SThis may be the closest you’ll ever get to time travel. Thanks to Vesuvius blowing its top in AD 79, the towns round its base were carpeted in fallout and preservedfor posterity. Allow a good half-day to look around bustling Pompeii or the more compact, less busy, and better preserved Herculaneum. For the best Romanfrescoes, head to the Villa Oplontis between the two ancient cities.T H E A M A L F I C O A S TOne moment you’re gazing out at a luxury sailcraft, the next you’re dodging mules on precipitous footpaths. “Comforts of the 21st century in a medieval setting”just about sums up the remarkable Amalfi Coast.M A T E R A ’ S S A S S IYou can see why Matera is a favorite with filmmakers shooting biblical scenes. You get that time-warp feeling especially in early morning or at night among theSassi—buildings seemingly gouged out of the limestone cliffs.L E C C EWith its much-feted baroque facades and extensive Roman remains in the city center, Lecce has a legitimate claim to being Puglia’s fairest city. As an added bonus,nearby are a largely undeveloped coastline and the magical walled town of Otranto.B R O N Z I D I R I A C E , R E G G I O D I C A L A B R I AFew bronze statues have survived intact from the ancient Greek world. The presence of not one but two larger-than-life bronzes, restored to almost perfectcondition, is reason enough to trek to Reggio di Calabria, on the eastern side of the Strait of Messina.M O U N T E T N AYou can take the single-gauge railway around its foothills, splurge on an SUV-experience near the summit, or just stroll across old lavafields on its northern flank.Alternatively, go down into the gorge of Alcantara and see what happens when lava flow meets mountain spring water.P A L E R M O , M O N R E A L E , A N D C E F A L ÙWhen it comes to medieval mosaics and Norman cathedrals, Palermo and its environs are the envy of the world. Biblical scenes in the newly restored PalatineChapel in Palermo shimmer in ripples of gold leaf, and nearby Monreale’s and Cefalù’s cathedrals are replete with heavenly golden mosaics.I M P E R I A L R O M A N V I L L A , P I A Z Z A A R M E R I N A
  • 20. I M P E R I A L R O M A N V I L L A , P I A Z Z A A R M E R I N A“Villa” doesn’t begin to describe this opulent palace from the latter years of the Roman Empire. The stunning mosaics that fill every room are perhaps the bestpreserved and certainly the most extensive of the ancient Roman Empire.D U O M O , S I R A C U S AFew buildings encapsulate history better than the Duomo of Siracusa. The cathedral started life as the temple dedicated to the goddess Athena sometime in the early5th century BC, as one glance at the majestic fluted columns inside confirms.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 21. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsR E D R E D W I N EAlthough historically wine in the south was mass produced (badly) for export or consumed locally to provide extra calories to overworked fieldworkers, the pastdecade has seen enormous strides in high-quality wine production. Reds are becoming especially prestigious and compete well in the international market.Basilicata’s Aglianico del Vulture and Campania’s Taurasi are made from the aglianico grape. Both are rich, complex wines with potential for aging. Aglianico haseven been dubbed “the Barolo of the South” by connoisseurs. In Puglia, the Primitivo grapes (known as zinfandel in the New World) become rich, jammy, full-bodied reds. Sicily is where local varieties like Nero d’Avola are blended with international grapes like merlot and cabernet sauvignon to great effect.P A S T I C C E R I A S I C I L I A N ACannolo, setteveli, cartoccio, cassata, and diminutive cassatina: it sounds like the list of characters from an opera, but these ricotta-filled delights can be found in anyself-respecting pasticceria on the island of Sicily. The top performers cluster around Palermo and Catania: Massaro and Cappello, both just a short walk from thePorta Nuova, have been delighting palates for more than a century combined, while Savia’s pedigree in Catania stretches even farther back. The secret lies in thefreshness and simplicity of the ricotta made from the whey of ultrafresh sheep or goat’s milk, and, depending on the recipe, studded with chocolate chips, liqueur, orcandied fruit.F I E R Y L A N D S C A P E SVolcanoes have long fascinated people on the move. The ancient Greeks—among the first sailors around the central Mediterranean—explained away Etna as theplace where the god Hephaestus had his workshop. Millennia later, northern European visitors to Naples in the 18th and 19th centuries would climb the eruptingVesuvius or cross the steaming craters of the Campi Flegrei west of the city. Farther south, in the Lipari islands of the northeast of Sicily, Stromboli performs alightshow about every 20 minutes, ejecting incandescent cinder, lapilli, and lava bombs high into the air. To add to the fascination, several of the Lipari islands risesheer out of the Mediterranean, and beaches are black with volcanic fallout. Though stripped of their mythology by generations of geologists and deprived by localauthorities of even a frisson of risk, Italy’s volcanoes are still a terrific crowd-puller.T H E G R E A T S U M M E R P E R F O R M A N C E SExploiting its Mediterranean climate and atmospheric venues, the south of Italy lays on an impressive range of cultural events during those hot summer months.The ancient theaters of Segesta, Siracusa, and Taormina in Sicily are used for anything from Greek plays to pop concerts, while in Campania the Greek temples atPaestum serve as a scenic backdrop for opera and symphonic music. The 18th-century villas near Herculaneum at the foot of Vesuvius have also joined the musicalact in recent years. With time (and money) head across the bay to Capri for a sunset concert at Villa San Michele, high over the Mediterranean. But then, where doyou go from there?Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 22. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsD A Y 1 : N A P L E SFly into Naples’s Aeroporto Capodichino, a scant 8 km (5 mi) from the city. Naples is rough around the edges and may be a bit jarring if you’re a first-time visitor,but it’s classic Italy, and most visitors end up falling in love with the city’s alluring waterfront palazzi and spectacular pizza. First things first, though: recharge witha nap and, after that, a good caffè—Naples has some of the world’s best. Revive in time for an evening stroll down Naples’s wonderful shopping street, ViaToledo, to Piazza Plebescito before dinner and bed.Logistics: Under no circumstances should you rent a car for Naples. Take a taxi from the airport—it’s not far, or overly expensive—and you should face fewlogistical obstacles on your first day in Italy.D A Y 2 : N A P L E SStart the day at the Museo Archaeologico Nazionale, budgeting at least two hours for the collection. Then take Via Santa Maria di Costantinopoli and grab a coffeeat one of the outdoor cafes in Piazza Bellini. From here, head down Via dei Tribunali for a pizza at I Decumani or Di Matteo. Continue along Tribunali to Via delDuomo for a visit to the city’s cathedral. From Via del Duomo, turn right onto Spaccanapoli, turning off for a brief stop at the Cappella Sansevero for a look at thepinnacle of Masonic sculpture before heading to Piazza del Gesù and the churches of Il Gesù Nuovo and Santa Chiara. Walk downhill, following the ViaMonteoliveto and Via Medina to the harbor and the Castel Nuovo; then head past the Teatro San Carlo to the enormous Palazzo Reale. Walk 15 minutes south tothe Castel dell’Ovo in the Santa Lucia waterfront area, one of Naples’s most charming neighborhoods. Then it’s back up to Via Caracciolo and the Villa Comunale,before heading back to your hotel for a short rest before dinner and perhaps a night out at one of Naples’s lively bars or clubs.Logistics: This entire day is easily done on foot. Naples is one of the best walking cities in Italy.D A Y 3 : P O M P E I I / S O R R E N T OAfter breakfast, pick up your rental car, pack in your luggage, and drive from Naples to Pompeii, one of the true archaeological gems of Europe. If it’s summer, beprepared for an onslaught of sweltering heat as you make your way through the incredibly preserved ruins of a city that was devastated by the whims of Mt.Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago. You’ll see the houses of noblemen and merchants, brothels, political graffiti, and more. From Pompeii, get back in your car andit’s on to Sorrento, your first taste of the wonderful peninsula that marks the beginning of the fabled Amalfi Coast. Sorrento is touristy, but it may well be the Italiancity of your imagination: cliff-hanging, cobblestone-paved, and graced with an infinite variety of fishing-port and coastal views. There, have a relaxing dinner offish and white wine before calling it a day.Logistics: Naples to Pompeii is all about the A3: a short 24 km (15 mi) brings you to this archaeological gem. From Pompeii it’s a short ride back on the A3 untilthe exit for Sorrento; from the exit, you’ll take the SS145 to reach Sorrento.D A Y 4 : P O S I T A N O / R A V E L L OYour stay in Sorrento will be short, as there’s much of the Amalfi Coast still to see: Positano, your next stop, is a must. It’s one of the most visited towns in Italy forgood reason: its blue-green seas, stairs “as steep as ladders,” and white Moorish-style houses make for a truly memorable setting. Walk, gaze, and eat (lunch), beforeheading on to the less traveled, even-higher-up town of Ravello, your Amalfi Coast dream come true, an aerie that is “closer to the sky than the sea.” Don’t miss theDuomo, Villa Rufolo, or Villa Cimbrone before settling in for a dinner in the sky.Logistics: Sorrento to Positano is a 30-km (19-mi) jaunt, but the winding roads will draw it out for the better part of an hour—a scenic hour. From Positano,
  • 23. Logistics: Sorrento to Positano is a 30-km (19-mi) jaunt, but the winding roads will draw it out for the better part of an hour—a scenic hour. From Positano,Ravello is another slow 18 km (11 mi) to the east, perched high above the rest of the world. Be prepared to use low gears if you’re driving a stick shift (as youalmost surely will be).D A Y 5 : M A T E R AIt will take a bit of a drive to get to Basilicata from the Amalfi Coast; leaving Campania and entering Basilicata is generally a lonely experience. Little-traveledroads, wild hills, and distant farms are the hallmarks of this province, which produces deep, dark aglianico wines and has perfected the art of peasant food. You’llspend a while in your car to make it to Matera, a beautiful, ancient city full of Paleolithic Sassi (cavelike dwellings hewn out of rock)—but it’s worth it. Traversingthe city is like taking a voyage through time. Spend the afternoon exploring the Sassi, but take care not to miss the new part of the city, too. Then enjoy a relaxingdinner at one of Matera’s excellent restaurants—just decide whether you want flavorful local beef (Le Botteghe) or a flurry of Basilicatan tapas (Lucanerie).Basilicata, you’ll soon discover, is full of unrivaled values at restaurants, and with such options you’ll be guaranteed to sleep well in the Sassi.Logistics: It’s a long haul from your starting point, Ravello, to Matera. It’s a good thing Basilicata’s landscape is so pretty. Once in Matera, if you’re staying in theSassi, get extra-detailed driving and parking instructions from your hotel beforehand—navigating through thousand-year-old alleyways can be challenging.D A Y 6 : L E C C EThis drive will take a good 2½ hours, so get an early start. The baroque city of Lecce will mark your introduction to Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot. It’s one ofItaly’s best-kept secrets, as you’ll soon find out upon checking out the spectacular church of Santa Croce, the ornate Duomo, and the harmonious PiazzaSant’Oronzo. The shopping is great, the food is great, and the evening passeggiata is great. Don’t miss the opportunity, if you wind up at a bar or café in theevening, to chat with Lecce’s friendly residents—unfazed by tourism, the welcoming Leccesi represent southern Italians at their best.Logistics: It’s not far from Matera to Lecce as the crow flies, but the trip is more involved than you might think; patience is required. The best route is via Taranto—don’t make the mistake of going up through Bari.D A Y 7 : B A R IThe trip from Lecce to Bari is a short one. Check into the pleasant Domina Hotel Bari Palace and spend the morning and afternoon wandering through Bari’s centrostorico. The wide-open doors of the town’s humble houses and apartments, with bickering families and grandmothers drying their pasta in the afternoon sun, willgive you a taste of the true flavor of Italy’s deep south. Don’t miss Bari’s castle and the walk around the ridge of the ancient city walls, with views of wide-open seaat every turn. Finish the day with a good fish dinner, and celebrate your last night in Italy by checking out one of the city’s multitude of lively bars—Bari boasts oneof southern Italy’s most hopping bar scenes.Logistics: This is one of your most straightforward, if not quickest, drives: just take the coastal S16 for 154 km (95 mi) until you hit Bari. It is a two-lane highway,though, so don’t be surprised if the trip takes two hours or more. If you get tired, beautiful Ostuni (the “città bianca,” the white city) is a perfect hilltop pit stophalfway there.D A Y 8 : B A R I / D E P A R T U R EBad news: This is your wake-up-and-leave day. Bari’s Aeroporto Palese is small but quite serviceable. Exploit its absence of crowds and easy access and use it asyour way out of Italy. Connections through Rome or Milan are more frequent than you might think. Plan on leaving with southern Italy firmly established in yourheart as the best way to see the Italy that once was—and be thankful that you were able to see it while it is still like this.Logistics: Bari hotels offer easy airport transfers; take advantage of them. There are also regular public transport connections between the central train station andthe airport. Return your rental car at the Bari airport; you won’t have to arrive at the airport more than an hour or so before your flight.T I P SAlitalia usually doesn’t mark up open-jaw trips, but Easy Jet ( has inexpensive domestic air service and operates Milan (Malpensa)–Naples,London (Gatwick and Stanstead)—Naples, Bari–Milan (Malpensa), and Bari–Rome (Fiumicino) routes. Blu-Express ( flies from Rome(Fiumicino) to Brindisi, Catania, and Lamezia Terme. If you can find a cheap round-trip fare from your home to Milan plus those two flights on low-cost carriers,you might save some money. Also look at low-cost carriers that shuttle passengers between London and southern Italy; you can often save the most money of all bycombining two such one-way fares with a round-trip discount fare to London; however, beware of inconvenient connections in London (Luton, for example).Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 24. Main Table of ContentsFrom La Bella Figura, by Beppe SevergniniFrom The Southern Italian Table, by Arthur SchwartzFrom Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy, by Joseph Bastica & David Lynch
  • 25. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsD A Y O N E : F R O M M A L P E N S A T O M I L A NThe airport, where we discover that Italians prefer exceptions to rulesBeing Italian is a full-time job. We never forget who we are, and we have fun confusing anyone who is looking on.Don’t trust the quick smiles, bright eyes, and elegance of many Italians. Be wary of everyone’s poise. Italy is sexy. It offers instant attention and solace. But don’ttake Italy at face value. Or, rather, take it at face value if you want to, but don’t complain later.One American traveler wrote, “Italy is the land of human nature.” If this is true—and it certainly sounds convincing—exploring Italy is an adventure. You’re goingto need a map.So you’ll be staying for ten days? Here’s the deal: We’ll take a look at three locations on each day of your trip. They’ll be classics, the sort of places that get talkedabout a lot, perhaps because they are so little known. We’ll start with an airport, since we’re here. Then I’ll try to explain the rules of the road, the anarchy of theoffice, why people talk on trains, and the theatrical nature of hotel life. We’ll sit in judgment at a restaurant and feel the sensory reassurance of a church. We’ll visitItaly’s televisual zoo and appreciate how important the beach is. We’ll experience the solitude of the soccer stadium, and realize how crowded the bedroom feels.We’ll note the vertical fixations of the apartment building, and the transverse democracy of the living room—or, rather, the eat-in kitchen.Ten days, thirty places. We’ve got to start somewhere if we want to find our way into the Italian mind.First of all, let’s get one thing straight. Your Italy and our Italia are not the same thing. Italy is a soft drug peddled in predictable packages, such as hills in the sunset,olive groves, lemon trees, white wine, and raven-haired girls. Italia, on the other hand, is a maze. It’s alluring, but complicated. In Italia, you can go round andround in circles for years. Which of course is great fun.As they struggle to find a way out, many newcomers fall back on the views of past visitors. People like Goethe, Stendhal, Byron, and Twain always had an opinionabout Italians, and couldn’t wait to get home and write it down. Those authors are still quoted today, as if nothing had changed. This is not true. Some things havechanged in our Italy. The problem is finding out what.Almost all modern accounts of the country fall into one of two categories: chronicles of a love affair, or diaries of a disappointment. The former have an inferioritycomplex toward Italian home life, and usually feature one chapter on the importance of the family, and another on the excellence of Italian cooking. The diaries takea supercilious attitude toward Italian public life. Inevitably, there is censure of Italian corruption, and a section on the Mafia.By and large, the chronicles of love affairs are penned by American women, who display love without interest in their descriptions of a seasonal Eden, where theweather is good and the locals are charming. The diaries of disappointment tend to be produced by British men, who show interest without love. They describe adisturbing country populated by unreliable individuals and governed by a public administration from hell.Yet Italy is far from hellish. It’s got too much style. Neither is it heaven, of course, because it’s too unruly. Let’s just say that Italy is an offbeat purgatory, full ofproud, tormented souls each of whom is convinced he or she has a hotline to the boss. It’s the kind of place that can have you fuming and then purring in the spaceof a hundred meters, or the course of ten minutes. Italy is the only workshop in the world that can turn out both Botticellis and Berlusconis. People who live in Italysay they want to get out, but those who do escape all want to come back.As you will understand, this is not the sort of country that is easy to explain. Particularly when you pack a few fantasies in your baggage, and Customs lets themthrough.
  • 26. through.Take this airport, for example. Whoever wrote that airports are nonplaces never visited Milan’s Malpensa or Linate, or Rome’s Fiumicino. Or, if they did pay a call,they must have been too busy avoiding people shouting into cell phones and not looking where they were going.An airport in Italy is violently Italian. It’s a zoo with air conditioning, where the animals don’t bite and only the odd comment is likely to be poisonous. You have toknow how to interpret the sounds and signals. Italy is a place where things are always about to happen. Generally, those things are unpredictable. For us, normalityis an exception. Do you remember The Terminal? If the film had been set in Malpensa Airport, Tom Hanks wouldn’t just have fallen in love with Catherine Zeta-Jones. He’d have founded a political party, promoted a referendum, opened a restaurant, and organized a farmers’ market.Look at the childlike joy on the faces of the people as they stroll into the shops. Note how inventive they are at thinking up ways to pass the time. Observe thedeference to uniforms (any uniform, from passing pilots to cleaning staff). Authority has been making Italians uneasy for centuries, so we have developed an arsenalof countermeasures, from flattery to indifference, familiarity, complicity, apparent hostility, and feigned admiration. Study the emerging faces as the automatic doorsof international arrivals open. They reveal an almost imperceptible hint of relief at getting past Customs. Obviously, almost all the arriving passengers have nothingto hide. It doesn’t matter. There was a uniform, and now it’s gone.Note the relief giving way to affection as they retrieve their suitcases from the carousel. At the check-in desk, they weren’t sure they would ever see their suitcasesagain, and did all they could to pass them off as hand luggage. Listen to the couples quarreling, their accusations lent extra ferocity by the embarrassment ofperforming in public (“Mario! You said you had the passports!”). Admire the rituals of the families coming back from holiday. These spoken exchanges—Momwants to know where their son is; Dad shouts to the son; the son answers Dad; Dad tells Mom, who has disappeared in the meantime—are the same ones that echoin a New York hotel or a street market in London.Malpensa encapsulates the nation. Only a naïve observer would mistake this for confusion. Actually, it’s performance art. It’s improvisation by gifted actors. No onebelieves for one minute he or she is an extra. Everyone’s a star, no matter how modest the part. Federico Fellini would have made a good prime minister, if he’dwanted the job. It takes an outstanding director to govern the Italians.What else can you find out at an Italian airport? Well, Italians’ signature quality—our passion for beauty—is in danger of becoming our number-one defect. All toooften, it prevents us from choosing what is good.Look at the cell-phone displays and the saleswomen perched on their stools. Many of them can’t tell a cell phone from a remote control, but all are indisputablyattractive. Do you know why the phone companies hire them instead of using skilled staff? Because that’s what the public wants. People prefer good looks to goodanswers.Think about it. There is a lesson to be learned. We are prepared to give up a lot for the sake of beauty, even when it doesn’t come in a miniskirt. “Never judge abook by its cover” sounds like an oversimplification in Italian. We judge books by their covers, politicians by their smiles, professionals by their offices, secretariesby their posture, table lamps by their design, cars by their styling, and people by their title. It’s no coincidence that one Italian in four is president of something.Look at the ads here in the airport. They’re for cars, bags, and cosmetics. They don’t say how good the products are. They tell us how irresistible we’ll be if we buythem. As if we Italians needed that kind of reassurance.If this passion for beauty stopped at saleswomen, clothes, table lamps, and automobiles, it would be no big deal. Sadly, it spills over into morality and, I repeat,induces us to confuse what is beautiful with what is good. Only in Italian does there exist an expression like fare bella figura. Think about that. It’s an aestheticjudgment—it means “to make a good figure”—which is not quite the same thing as making “a good impression.”There’s an elderly French lady in trouble over there. She’s just collected two huge suitcases and can’t find a baggage cart. If I went over and offered to help her,she’d probably accept. At that point, something curious would happen. I would split into two. While Beppe was being a Good Samaritan, Severgnini wouldobserve the scene and offer congratulations. Beppe would then acknowledge his own compliment, and retire satisfied.Ours is a sophisticated exhibitionism that has no need of an audience. Italians are psychologically self-sufficient. What’s the problem? Well, we like nice gestures somuch we prefer them to good behavior. Gestures gratify, but behaving takes an effort. Still, the sum of ten good deeds does not make a person good, just as ten sinsdo not necessarily add up to a sinner. Theologians distinguish between actum and habitus: a single incident is not as serious as a “habit,” or “practice.”In other words, if you want to understand Italy, forget the guidebooks. Study theology.BEPPE SEVERGNINI is a columnist for Italy’s largest circulation daily newspaper Corriere della Sera and covered Italy for The Economist from 1993 to 2003.He is the author of the international bestseller Ciao, America! He lives with his family in Crema, on the outskirts of Milan.From LA BELLA FIGURA A FIELD GUIDE TO THE ITALIAN MIND by Beppe Severgnini, translated by Giles Watson, translation copyright © 2006 byBeppe Seversgnini. Used by permission of Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc.To purchase this book and for more information about it and other Random House, Inc. books and authors, go here.
  • 27. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsIt wouldn’t be surprising if the old proverb “Necessity is the mother of invention” was coined in Southern Italy. La cucina povera, the food of theimpoverished Italian peasant, features dishes with few ingredients used in extremely creative ways, and from this historically poor land come some of the mostingenious and popular foods in the world, including pizza, macaroni, spaghetti, tomato sauce, meatballs, and mozzarella. The food of Southern Italy is still today“the Italian food the whole world knows as Italian,” in the words of the late, venerated food writer Waverly Root.The food of Southern Italy started to become popular internationally in the late 1800s. Within twenty years of the unification of Italy in 1861, when it seemedhopeless to make a good life in the south, the Napolitani, Molisani, Pugliesi, Lucani, Calabresi, and Siciliani tried to escape their miserable poverty by emigrating toNorthern Italy, northern Europe, and in great numbers to the English-speaking countries that were seducing immigrants—America, Australia, and Canada.Wherever they went, they opened groceries, pizzerias, bakeries, and restaurants, like the ones in old Hollywood movies, with red-checkered tablecloths and straw-covered wine bottles hanging from the ceiling.Southern Italian food was pretty much the only Italian food outside of Italy until sometime in the mid-1970s, when so-called Northern Italian food was introducedby restaurants in the big cities of the United States, then London, Toronto, and Australia. However, most of those supposedly Northern Italian menus were cookedby chefs from the south, or the poor central region of Abruzzo, famous for its cooks. All they did was add pasta dishes with butter and cream—fettuccine Alfredo!—and served, instead of veal Parmesan, veal Valdostana, chops stuffed with fontina and ham. Suddenly, macaroni gave way to egg pasta in restaurants.Then, in the 1990s, the world became aware of the Mediterranean diet, which is heavy in complex carbohydrates, with olive oil as its main fat. The diet wasconceived by Missouri-born Ansel Keyes, an expatriate living in the tiny seaside town of Ascea, in the province of Salerno, in southern Campania near the borderof Basilicata, where people often live to be more than 100 years old on a diet of pasta, beans, vegetables, small blue-fleshed fish such as sardines and anchovies, andolive oil. Other main protein sources there are eggs and cheese, but very little meat. The International Olive Oil Council learned of Keyes’s work, and promotedolive oil as the healthiest fat in the world.Until thirty years ago, however, much of Southern Italy lived on pork fat, rendered into lard or not. Good olive oil was too expensive for the poor people whoproduced it. Pork fat, in the form of cured bacon, pancetta, and rendered lard, usually called sugna in the south, is still used in cooking, but more parsimoniouslythan it used to be. Still, when you want something to have the same taste and texture that your Calabrian or Neapolitan great-grandma achieved, you have to use thepork fat she did.Olive oil of both the absolute best and poorest quality is now produced in every region of the south. Puglia, in fact, produces more olive oil than any other region ofItaly. The best Pugliese oil has a mild, buttery but very fruity flavor, usually without a strong peppery kick. The worst Pugliese oil is used to lubricate machinery, tomake soap and hair products. Like that.To an amazing extent, Southern Italian cooking is Old World cuisine based on New World ingredients. With influences from the ancient Greeks and Romans,North Africans, the French, the Austrians, and the Spanish, much of Southern Italy’s cooking is based on produce that comes originally from Mexico and Centraland South America. Tomatoes; potatoes; peppers of every kind, color, heat, and sweetness; squash, both hard-shell winter ones and soft-skinned summer ones;corn; chocolate; vanilla; and all beans are from the New World, except for chickpeas, fava beans, and lentils, which are so Old World that they are mentioned in theBible.None of these foods existed in Europe until the Spanish brought them back from Mexico and other conquests in the sixteenth century. In the 1520s, Cortés’s partyreturned to Spain from Mexico around the same time as Spain gained control of Southern Italy, the Kingdom of Naples, eventually called the Kingdom of the TwoSicilies.Originally used by Europeans as ornamental plants, tomatoes didn’t catch on as something to eat until the eighteenth century, even though Cortés’s party had
  • 28. Originally used by Europeans as ornamental plants, tomatoes didn’t catch on as something to eat until the eighteenth century, even though Cortés’s party hadreturned with observations about the mixture of diced raw tomato, onion, chile peppers, and coriander leaves eaten by Mexicans, now known as pico di gallo.Neapolitans love to boast that they were probably the first Europeans to eat tomatoes. The plants thrived in the volcanic soil around Mount Vesuvius, and in andaround what are now the towns of San Marzano, Sant’ Antonio Abate, and Sarno. Today it’s accepted that the incomparable flavor and acid-sugar balance of thesetomatoes is due to that particular soil and climate. Take the seeds and put them in the ground anywhere else and they won’t be nearly so special.Even before tomatoes became an important crop in Southern Italy, the potato was a sustenance food all over Europe, especially in mountainous areas, where theygrow so well. (The potato hailed originally from the high Andes Mountains.) Today, the potatoes from the Sila Grande peaks in Calabria, and those from the hills ofAvellino, east of Naples, and from the Cilento, south of Naples, are famously delicious.About the same time as potatoes, sweet and hot peppers made their way into the Southern Italian kitchen. Soon hot red pepper, whose plants could be grown in apot on the windowsill, replaced black pepper, which came from Asia through the Austrian port of Trieste, and was therefore much more expensive than somethingyou could grow yourself.All types of squash are native to the New World, although ironically the American word zucchini is Italian, meaning “little squash.” They got the vegetable from us,but we got the name from them. Winter squash, such as Hubbard and butternut, and what we call pumpkin and Latinos call calabaza, is all zucca in Italian. InSouthern Italy, squash is used for everything from pickles to dessert.Beans from the New World, such as cannellini; ruby-mottled borlotti, which we call “cranberry beans”; and red beans, messicani, meaning “Mexicans,” used to bea main source of protein in the poor Southern Italian diet. Today, sophisticated Italians consider pasta and beans part of their patrimony. You might call it SouthernItalian soul food.Corn, originally from Mexico, is also a popular food in Southern Italy. In Naples, it is sold roasted on the cob on the street. Polenta is made mainly in mountainousplaces where the winters call for such hearty food. In the Cilento and in Basilicata and Calabria, polenta is often seasoned with hot peppers and served in grilledslices.Need it be said that chocolate and vanilla, both originally from the jungles of South America, are ubiquitous dessert flavors in Southern Italy? And in Sicily, wherethe Spanish brought cocoa beans and processed them as they had learned from the Aztecs, they even use chocolate in savory dishes, such as Enna’s Ground PorkRagù (page 95).Garlic is not at all New World. It is mentioned in the Bible. But it is among the chief seasoning ingredients in Southern Italy, used with varying degrees of regularityand abandon in all the southern regions. Neapolitans like to kid themselves that they don’t use it as aggressively as, say, the Calabrians, who make prolific use of it.But even Neapolitans, who may well throw out the garlic after it is sautéed in olive oil and given a whiff of itself to the oil, will dress vegetables with raw garlic.Parsley is a flavor in Southern Italy, not just a garnish, so flat leaves of Italian parsley are often used whole or merely torn into pieces, not chopped, allowing you totaste the herb more. The finer you chop a tender herb such as parsley, the more flavor and aroma you lose. For the same reason, basil is also often used just torn intopieces, or as whole leaves. In general, both are best added at the end of cooking to retain the utmost flavor. Occasionally they are cooked into a dish, usually sautéedin combination with other chopped seasoning ingredients to create a flavor base for a soup, sauce, or stew—a sofritto in Italian, which literally means “under fried.”Cooking is so seasonal in Southern Italy that you won’t find basil in the market during the winter, but dried oregano can be used all year, obviously. In fact, oreganois never used fresh. Rosemary is the herb most commonly used with chicken and lamb. It also often goes into chickpeas and pasta, other bean dishes, and withsweet winter squash. Sage is also used with chicken, and with beans, but not as much as it is in Central Italy, particularly Tuscany. Italians in general do not putmore than one or two herbs in the same dish. They prefer to taste each flavor individually.Pasta is certainly among the most important foods in Southern Italy, although bread is also a staff of life. Hard, high-protein winter wheat—durum wheat—is grownin Puglia, on Basilicata’s border with Puglia, and in the center of Sicily, in the provinces of Enna and Caltanissetta. Italians eat so much pasta and bread, however,that they still must import wheat. The flour of durum wheat is called semolina (semola when it is not as finely milled), and in the United States today we can buy theabsolute best domestic and imported Italian semolina pasta products, from the most industrial to the handmade.ARTHUR SCHWARTZ has written five award-winning cookbooks, including Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking, the 2009 International Association ofCulinary Professionals (IACP) American Cookbook of the Year; Arthur Schwartz’s New York City Food, the 2005 IACP Cookbook of the Year; and Naples atTable, which has been heralded as the definitive resource on Neapolitan cooking. He has owned and operated a cooking school in Southern Italy since 2001. Visithim at THE SOUTHERN ITALIAN TABLE by Arthur Schwartz, Photographs by Alan Richardson, copyright © 2009 by Arthur Schwartz. Used by permissionof Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.To purchase this book and for more information about it and other Random House, Inc. books and authors, go here.
  • 29. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsL A S T O R I AIT A L I A N EH E N W N T I A NN W O DA lot of people think that the relevant history of Italian wine began ten years ago. Or maybe twenty. To some extent this is true: The last two decades have been arevolutionary period in Italian winemaking. Thanks to dramatic improvements in technology and viticulture, world-class wines can now be found all over Italy, notjust in a handful of regions. In fact, when talking to producers, we hear over and over how 1990 was a watershed year for them—the year when the wine worldreally began to take Italy seriously.What’s so special about 1990? For one thing, it was one of the best vintages of the last century. But it was more than that. As many Italian winemakers explain it,‘90 was great not only because of the weather but because of the changes they had been making in their cellars and vineyards.It’s not that there weren’t great wines in Italy before 1990. You can trace legendary vintages of estate-bottled Italian wine almost as far back as you can Bordeaux:There’s the 1928 Bertani “Acinatico” Amarone, ‘47 Giacomo Borgogno Barolo, ‘55 Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino, ‘61 Gaja Barbaresco, ‘82 Giacosa“Santo Stefano” Barbaresco. These wines were so naturally blessed that they wouldn’t necessarily have benefited from modern technology. But these historicbottlings were the exceptions, not the rule. As a source of reliable, high-quality wines at all price tiers, from every region, Italy didn’t come into its own until veryrecently.One reason for the recent developments is that the eighties and nineties marked a big generational shift in Italian winemaking. The post—World War II farmer orentrepreneur with limited training and a penchant for industrial-scale production gave way to a son or a daughter, often fresh out of enology school, whotransformed the family property into more of a château. This shift wasn’t just idealistic but economically necessary. The Italian government and the EuropeanCommunity invested heavily in new vineyards in the sixties and seventies, and although this helped revive Italy’s flagging agricultural economy at the time, it alsoresulted in huge surpluses of wine. The EC then tried to reduce these surpluses by compelling vintners to send some of their grapes to huge industrial distilleries, orby paying growers to rip up vines and plant something else. Generally speaking, Italy was for a long time a welfare state for wine. Vintners continued to producemore than the market would bear, knowing that they’d get at least something for the extra; occasionally they just lived off the subsidies they got to let their land layfallow, since planting other crops wasn’t necessarily profitable.The production excesses of the seventies and early eighties gave Italy a bad reputation among serious wine drinkers. But the profits from those excesses helpedfinance much of what has happened since then. Throughout Italy, it’s a familiar story: The father had some vineyard land and made his living selling grapes to thelocal cooperative. But now his children are replanting those vineyards, building a cellar, buying new oak barrels for aging and vinification, and producing high-endwine under their own label.Among the longer-established estates, vintners often pinpoint the year they switched from “old style” to new: the year they replaced their thirty-year-old, 50-hectoliter chestnut casks with new, 225-liter French oak barriques; the year they began “green harvesting” grapes in midsummer, so that their vines wouldn’t over-produce; the year they bought their first “roto-fermenter,” a space-age vessel that speeds up the process of extracting color and tannin from red grapes. These typesof changes have been overwhelmingly recent—if not always welcome by Italian wine purists. On the whole, Italian winemakers are producing cleaner, more full-bodied, more oak-influenced wines than in the past, which has helped them in the international market—but has also caused some traditionalists to lament their lossof individuality.The ancient history of Italian wine is much more romantic: the Etruscans training wild vines up trees, the Greeks bringing seeds across the Adriatic and more or lesscreating Italian viticulture. But as a modern-day consumer looking for a bottle of Italian wine in a shop or a restaurant, you need not look much further back thanWorld War II. There was a thriving wine industry in Italy before then, but very few Italian producers sold wines as we know them today—in bottles, with labels
  • 30. World War II. There was a thriving wine industry in Italy before then, but very few Italian producers sold wines as we know them today—in bottles, with labelsidentifying who made them and where they came from.When the merchants of Bordeaux created their famous 1855 classification—which ranked sixty established châteaus on the basis of price and quality—Italy wasn’tyet a unified country. Italian winemaking at that time was defined by the tenuta: a vast farm estate, often controlled by a noble family, on which a number ofmezzadri (sharecroppers) lived and worked. The mezzadria system, which prevailed throughout central and northern Italy up until the 1960s, was a culture in whichthe sharecropper made a little wine for himself and turned over the rest of his grapes (and portions of all his other produce) to the landowner as rent. The landlordvinified his sharecroppers’ grapes in a central winery called a fattoria and typically sold it in bulk. In the south of Italy was the more oppressive latifondo system, inwhich peasants had no vested interests in the large landed estates.After World War II, things began to change, and fast. Italy transformed itself from a monarchy to a republic, and its new government tried to redistribute Italy’s landto the peasant population. Large estates in the south were broken up, and many landowners in the center and north were compelled to sell off parcels to theirassorted mezzadri. But the Agrarian Reform, as it was called, didn’t go far enough: Not only was the system of redistributing land hopelessly corrupt, the parcels thegovernment eventually doled out were usually too small to do any one farmer much good.Despite the Agrarian Reform—or perhaps because of it—rural Italians began leaving home in droves in the mid-fifties, emigrating to other countries or moving toone of the big cities of northern Italy (Turin and Milan especially) to find work. According to historian Paul Ginsborg, in his book A History of Contemporary Italy:Society and Politics 1943–1988, more than 9 million Italians were involved in “interregional migration” between 1951 and 1971.A twentieth-century industrial revolution in Italy took hold incredibly fast. By the early sixties Italy was among the world’s largest producers of washing machines,refrigerators, and cars, and only 30 percent of the population was still involved in agriculture; today that figure is less than 10 percent. Says Ginsborg: “In less thantwo decades Italy ceased to be a peasant country and became one of the major industrial nations of the West.”This “rural exodus” affected winemaking in a number of ways. For one, scores of wine farms were being sold or simply abandoned because there was no one left towork on them. This prompted a new class of entrepreneurs, most of them businesspeople and many of them foreigners, who snapped up these distressed orabandoned properties for weekend getaways. Eventually, these nonfarmers helped reshape the Italian wine business into a real business. Look at the current rosterof cantina owners in Chianti Classico, for example, and you’ll see not only a number of famous Italian industrialists but plenty of Swiss and British ones as well—not to mention doctors, lawyers, and advertising execs, all of whom turned their hobbies into enterprises.In 1963, the Italian government drew up the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) laws, which created legally defined production zones and productionformulas for what were once simple farmhouse wines. Modeled after French wine appellations (see “La Légge,” on page 9), DOCs were seen as a first step increating a commercial identity for Italian wines.Concurrent with the DOC implementation, however, were the ongoing efforts of the Italian government and the EC to prop up the agricultural sector. The “GreenPlans” of 1961 and 1966 financed massive plantings of various crops throughout Italy, although they tended to focus on the most fertile sites on the plains—not thebest places for vines. To take pressure off small vine growers, cooperative wineries were set up throughout Italy, often run by local politicians. The main function ofthese wineries was to serve as a sponge for all of the grape juice people were producing. Even the wines classified as DOC, from private estates, tended to be mass-produced. Watery-tasting Soave, fizzy Lambrusco, and acrid Chianti became Italy’s best-known wine exports.Even now, people still talk about watery Soave and acrid Chianti—and, unfortunately, still drink them sometimes. And it is true that Italy is still a major producer ofbulk wines and concentrated grape musts, particularly in Puglia and Sicily, which ship tanker loads of vino da taglio (cutting wine) to producers in northern Italyand beyond. But thanks to a number of circumstances—including changing consumer tastes and an EC ban on new vineyard plantings—Italian wine has beenradically transformed.Since 1988, the total vineyard area in Italy has declined by about 17 percent, and overall wine production by about the same amount. Of the 50 million hectoliters ofwine now produced yearly in Italy (more than a billion gallons), nearly 25 percent of it is classified with a DOC designation, compared with just 5 percent in 1988.As we discuss on the following pages, a DOC is no guarantee of quality, but Italy has nevertheless reduced the amount of vino da tavola (table wine) it makeswhile increasing its production of “classified” wine. These days, the EC gives subsidies to vintners who restructure their existing vineyards to produce better-qualitygrapes, rather than simply buy everything and send the excess to a distillery. And many DOC production formulas—that is, the recipes vintners must follow in orderto label their wines with a DOC designation—have been revised in recent times to reflect a greater emphasis on quality. The Chianti Classico DOC, which wasextensively rewritten in both 1984 and 1996, is probably the most famous example.Furthermore, the number of small- and medium-size Italian wineries seems to increase every day: countless wineries profiled in this book, for example, producedtheir first vintage in the nineties. No longer is great Italian wine found only in Piedmont and Tuscany. The whites of Friuli–Venezia Giulia—which, truth be told,have been great since the seventies—have become genuinely fashionable in the United States. In Sicily, still the undisputed champ of bulk-wine production,vintners have been ripping up big-production white grapes and planting the native red, nero d’avola, along with other reds like syrah and cabernet sauvignon. Oftencalled the “Australia of Italy,” the island once known for Marsala has become one of Italy’s hottest sources for powerful dry reds.In Puglia, the native primitivo grape has benefited from its proven paternity of American red zinfandel. The soft, plush reds from this grape are some of the bestvalues to be found in Italy. There are also some excellent, well-priced reds to be found in the Marche (Rosso Cònero and scores of “super-red” blends), Umbria (thewines of Montefalco), and Abruzzo (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo). On the white side, the much-maligned Soave has been elevated by producers like Gini, Pieropan,Inama, and Anselmi, while farther north the winemakers of Trentino–Alto Adige are quietly turning out some of the best aromatic whites to be found anywhere inthe world.Without a doubt, the most exciting thing about Italian wine is its diversity. There are Italian sparklers, especially from Lombardy’s Franciacorta region, that canstand toe-to-toe with Champagne. There are dessert wines, like Friuli’s rare Picolit, that rival Sauternes. There are ethereal Barolos and Barbarescos that can take onthe best of Burgundy. Cabernet blends from Tuscany to compare with Bordeaux. Friuli and Alto Adige whites that eclipse Alsace. Then there are countless Italianwines that defy comparison: Tuscany’s reds from sangiovese, Friuli’s whites from tocai, Basilicata’s and Campania’s reds from aglianico, and many others. The listgoes on and on, as the following pages attest.JOSEPH BASTIANICH is America’s foremost authority on Italian wine. The co-owner, with Mario Batali, of several of the most acclaimed Italian restaurants in
  • 31. JOSEPH BASTIANICH is America’s foremost authority on Italian wine. The co-owner, with Mario Batali, of several of the most acclaimed Italian restaurants inthe United States and the co-founder of Eataly New York, he also owns the shop Tarry Wine Merchants and is the proprietor of four wine estates. A recipient of theJames Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional, he lives with his wife and children in Greenwich, Connecticut.DAVID LYNCH is the wine director at the New York restaurant Babbo, where he oversees one of the most ambitious wine lists in the country. A longtimecontributor to wine publications as both a writer and editor, he is a two-time James Beard Award winner—for Outstanding Wine Service at Babbo and for hiswriting on spirits, wine, and beer.From VINO ITALIANO: THE REGIONAL WINES OF ITALY by Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch, copyright © 2002, 2005 by Joseph Bastianich andDavid Lynch. Used by permission of Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.To purchase this book and for more information about it and other Random House, Inc. books and authors, go here.
  • 32. Main Table of ContentsIntroducing RomeRome PlannerExploring RomeWhere to EatWhere to Stay in RomeNightlife and the Arts in RomeShopping in RomeRome in Depth
  • 33. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsTop Reasons to Go | Getting OrientedComing off the Autostrada at Roma Nord or Roma Sud, you know by the convergence of heavily trafficked routes that you are entering a grand nexus: All roadslead to Rome. And then the interminable suburbs, the railroad crossings, the intersections—no wonder they call it the Eternal City. As you enter the city proper,features that match your expectations begin to take shape: a bridge with heroic statues along its parapets; a towering cake of frothy marble decorated with allegoricalfigures in extravagant poses; a piazza and an obelisk under an umbrella of pine trees. Then you spot what looks like a multistory parking lot; with a gasp, yourealize it’s the Colosseum.You have arrived. You’re in the city’s heart. You step down from your excursion bus onto the broad girdle of tarmac that encircles the great stone arena of theRoman emperors, and scurry out of the way of the passing Fiats—the motorists behind the wheels seem to display the panache of so many Ben-Hurs. Theexcitement of arriving here jolts the senses and sharpens expectations.The timeless city to which all roads lead, Mamma Roma, enthralls visitors today as she has since time immemorial. More than Florence, more than Venice, this isItaly’s treasure storehouse. Here, the ancient Romans made us heirs-in-law to what we call Western civilization; where centuries later Michelangelo painted theSistine Chapel; where Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s baroque nymphs and naiads still dance in their marble fountains; and where, at Cinecittà Studios, Fellini filmed LaDolce Vita and 8½. Today, the city remains a veritable Grand Canyon of culture: Ancient Rome rubs shoulders with the medieval, the modern runs into theRenaissance, and the result is like nothing so much as an open-air museum.Little wonder Rome’s enduring popularity feeds a gluttonous tourism industry that can feel more like National Lampoon’s European Vacation than RomanHoliday. As tour buses belch black smoke and the line at the Vatican Museums stretches on into eternity, even the steeliest of sightseers have been known towonder, why am I here? The answer, with apologies to Dorothy, is: There’s no place like Rome. Yesterday’s Grand Tourists thronged the city for the same reasontoday’s Expedians do. Majestic, complicated, enthralling, romantic, chaotic, monumental Rome is one of the world’s great cities—past, present, and, probably,future.But always remember: Quando a Roma vai, fai come vedrai (“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”). Don’t feel intimidated by the press of art and culture.Instead, contemplate the grandeur from a table at a sun-drenched café on Piazza della Rotonda; let Rome’s colorful life flow around you without feeling guiltybecause you haven’t seen everything. It can’t be done, anyway. There’s just so much here that you will have to come back again, so be sure to throw a coin in theTrevi Fountain. It works.T O P R E A S O N S T O G OThe Pantheon: Of ancient Rome’s remains, this is the best preserved and most impressive.St. Peter’s Square and Basilica: The primary church of the Catholic faith is truly awe-inspiring.Galleria Borghese: With a setting as exquisite as its collection, this small, elegant museum showcases some of the finest baroque and Renaissance art in Italy.A morning walk through Campo de’ Fiori: The city comes alive in this bustling market square.Roman pizza: Maybe it’s the ovens, maybe the crust, maybe the cheese, but they just don’t make it like this back home.
  • 34. G E T T I N G O R I E N T E DRome is a sprawling city, but you’ll likely spend most of your time in and around the historic center. The area is split by the River Tiber (Tevere in Italian). To itswest are the Vatican and the Trastevere neighborhood. To its east is everything else you’ve come to see: the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, and scores of otherexceptional sights, not to mention piazzas, fountains, shops, and restaurants. This is one of the most culturally rich plots of land in the world.Ancient Rome. Backstopped by the stupendous Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill were once the hub of Western civilization.Navona and Campo. At the heart of Rome’s historic quarter, these districts revolve around the ancient Pantheon, Campo de’ Fiori, and spectacular Piazza Navona.Corso and Spagna. Rome’s “Broadway,” Via del Corso, begins at Piazza Venezia and neatly divides the city center in two. A few blocks east is Piazza deSpagna, a classic area for people-watching and sophisticated shopping.Repubblica and Quirinale. A largely 19th-century district, Repubblica lets art lovers go for baroque with a bevy of Bernini works. To the south looms theQuirinale hill, crowned by Italy’s presidential palace.Villa Borghese and Piazza del Popolo. Rome’s largest park is home to the treasure-packed Galleria Borghese. Neighboring Piazza del Popolo is one of the city’smain squares.The Vatican. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and artlovers come here to see St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel.The Ghetto and Trastevere. Once a Jewish quarter, the newly gentrified Ghetto still preserves the flavor of Old Rome. Across the Tiber, Trastevere is aneighborhood of mom-and-pop trattorias and medieval alleyways.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 35. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsReservations Required | Making the Most of Your Time | When to Go | Hop-On, Hop-Off | Roman Hours | Tourist Information | Walking Tours of Rome | GettingHere and Around | Getting Here by Car | Getting Here by Train | Getting Here by Air | Getting Here by Bus | Rome Public Transit | Getting Around by Bus andTram | Getting Around by Metropolitana | Getting Around by TaxiR E S E R V A T I O N S R E Q U I R E DYou should reserve tickets for the following sights. See the listings within the chapter for contact information:Galleria Borghese requires reservations. Visitors are admitted in two-hour shifts, and prime time slots can sell out days in advance, so it pays to plan ahead. You canreserve by phone or through the gallery’s Web site.In the ancient Rome archaeological area, reservations for the Colosseum save you from standing in a ticket line that sometimes takes upward of an hour. You canreserve by phone or on the Web.At the Vatican, you need to reserve several days in advance to see the gardens, and several weeks in advance to see the necropolis. For information about attendinga papal audience, see the Close Up box “A Morning with the Pope” several pages into this chapter.M A K I N G T H E M O S T O F Y O U R T I M ERoma, non basta una vita (“Rome, a lifetime is not enough”): this famous saying should be stamped on the passport of every first-time visitor to the Eternal City.On the other hand, it’s a warning: Rome is so packed with sights that it is impossible to take them all in; it’s easy to run yourself ragged trying to check off the itemson your “Santa Claus” list.At the same time, the saying is a celebration of the city’s abundance. There’s so much here, you’re bound to make discoveries you hadn’t anticipated. To conquerRome, strike a balance between visits to major sights and leisurely neighborhood strolls.In the first category, the Vatican and the remains of ancient Rome loom the largest. Both require at least half a day; a good strategy is to devote your first morning toone and your second to the other.Leave the afternoons for exploring the neighborhoods that comprise “Baroque Rome” and the shopping district around the Spanish Steps and Via Condotti. If youhave more days at your disposal, continue with the same approach. Among the sights, Galleria Borghese and the multilayered church of San Clemente areparticularly worthwhile, and the neighborhoods of Trastevere and the Ghetto make for great roaming.Since there’s a lot of ground to cover in Rome, it’s wise to plan your busy sightseeing schedule with possible savings in mind, and purchasing the Roma Pass( allows you to do just that. The three-day pass costs €20 and is good for unlimited use of buses, trams, and the metro.It includes free admission to two of more than 40 participating museums or archaeological sites, including the Colosseum (and bumps you to the head of the longline there, to boot!), the Ara Pacis museum, the Musei Capitolini, and Galleria Borghese, plus discounted tickets to many other museums. The Roma Pass can bepurchased at tourist information booths across the city, at Termini Station, or at Terminal C of the International Arrivals section of Fiumicino Airport.W H E N T O G O
  • 36. Not surprisingly, spring and fall are the best times to visit, with mild temperatures and many sunny days; the famous Roman sunsets are also at their best. Summersare often sweltering. In July and August, come if you like, but learn to do as the Romans do—get up and out early, seek refuge from the afternoon heat, resumeactivities in early evening, and stay up late to enjoy the nighttime breeze. Come August, many shops and restaurants close as locals head out for vacation.Remember that air-conditioning is still a relatively rare phenomenon in this city. Roman winters are relatively mild, with persistent rainy spells.H O P - O N , H O P - O F FRome has its own “hop-on, hop-off” sightseeing buses. The Trambus Open Roma 110 bus leaves with 10-minute frequencies from Piazza dei Cinquecento (at themain Termini railway station), with a two-hour loop including the Quirinale, the Colosseum, Piazza Navona, St. Peter’s, the Trevi Fountain, and Via Veneto.Tickets are €16 (kids 6–12, €7). A variant is the Archeobus, which departs every 20 minutes from the Piazza dei Cinquecento and heads on out to the Via AppiaAntica, including stops at the Colosseum, Baths of Caracalla, and the Catacombs. Tickets are €13 (kids 6–12, €6). The Web site for both is | O M A N H O U R SVirtually the entire city shuts down on Sundays, although museums, pastry shops, and most restaurants are closed Mondays. However, most stores in the centrostorico area, the part of town that caters to tourists, remain open. Shop hours generally run from 10 AM to 1 PM, then reopen around 4 PM until 7:30 or 8 PM.Unless advertised as having orario continuato (open all day), most businesses close from 1 to 4 PM for lunch, or riposo. On Mondays, shops usually don’t openuntil around 3 or 4 PM. Pharmacies tend to have the same hours of operation as stores unless they advertise orario notturno (night hours); two can be found atPiazza Barberini and Piazza Risorgimento (near St. Peter’s Square). As for churches, most open at 8 or 9 in the morning, close from noon to 3 or 4, then reopenuntil 6:30 or 7. St. Peter’s, however, is open 7 AM to 7 PM (6 in the fall and winter).T O U R I S T I N F O R M A T I O NRome’s main APT (Azienda Per Turismo) Tourist Information Office is at Via Parigi 5–11 (06/488991 |, near the main Termini rail station.In addition, green APT information kiosks with multilingual personnel are situated near the most important sights and squares, as well as at Termini Station andLeonardo da Vinci Airport. These kiosks, called Tourist Information Sites (Punti Informativi Turistici, or PIT) can be found at:PIT Castel S. Angelo, Lungotevere Vaticano; open 9:30–7 PMPIT Cinque Lune, Piazza delle Cinque Lune (Piazza Navona); open 9:30–7 PMPIT Fiumicino, Aeroporto Leonardo Da Vinci–Arrivi Internazionali Terminal C; open 9–7:30 PMPIT Minghetti, Via Marco Minghetti (corner of Via del Corso); open 9:30–7 PMPIT Nazionale, Via Nazionale (Palazzo delle Esposizioni); open 9:30–7 PMPIT Santa Maria Maggiore, at Via dell’Olmata; open 9:30–7 PMPIT Termini, Stazione Termini, at Via Giovanni Giolitti 34; open 8–8 PMPIT Trastevere, on Piazza Sidney Sonnino; open 9:30–7 PMW A L K I N G T O U R S O F R O M EAmerican Express, Context: Rome, Enjoy Rome, Through Eternity, and Rome Walks are all reputable companies offering guided walking tours of the city.Most walks focus on a theme—”Ancient Rome” and “The Vatican Museums” are perennial favorites, but there are other more quirky options as well, from “Romeat Twilight” to “The Architecture of Fascism.” Here’s how to contact the companies:American Express(Piazza di Spagna 38, Spagna | 00187 | 06/72282 or 06/72280308 | Context: Rome (Via Baccina 40, near the RomanForum | 00184| 06/0697625204 or 888/4671986 | Enjoy Rome (Via Marghera 8A, nearTermini | 00185 | 06/4451843 | Eternity (06/7009336 | Walks (347/7955175).G E T T I N G H E R E A N D A R O U N DG E T T I N G H E R E B Y C A RThe main access routes from the north are A1 (Autostrada del Sole) from Milan and Florence and the A12-E80 highway from Genoa. The principal route to or frompoints south, including Naples, is the A2. All highways connect with the Grande Raccordo Anulare Ring Road (GRA), which channels traffic into the city center.For driving directions, check out | Note: private cars not belonging to residents aren’t allowed in the entire historic center during the day(weekdays 8–6; Saturday 2 PM–6 PM). Parking in Rome can be a nightmare.G E T T I N G H E R E B Y T R A I N
  • 37. Rome is a major hub for Trenitalia (892/2021 within Italy, 06/68475475 from abroad |, which has service throughout Italy. The main station inRome is Termini, but there is also significant traffic through the Tiburtina, Ostiense, and Trastevere stations. On longer routes (to Florence and Venice, forinstance), you can either travel by the cheap but slow diretto trains, or the fast but more expensive Intercity or Eurostar.G E T T I N G H E R E B Y A I RRome’s principal airport is Leonardo da Vinci Airport/Fiumicino (06/65951 | commonly known as Fiumicino (FCO). It’s 30 km (19 mi) southwest ofthe city but has a direct train link with downtown Rome. Rome’s other airport, with no direct train link, is Ciampino (06/794941 | or CIA, 15 km (9 mi)south of downtown and used mostly by low-cost airlines.Two trains link downtown Rome with Fiumicino. Inquire at the APT tourist information counter in the International Arrivals hall (Terminal B) or train informationcounter near the tracks to determine which takes you closest to your destination in Rome. The 30-minute nonstop Airport-Termini express (called the LeonardoExpress) goes directly to Track 25 at Termini Station, Rome’s main train station; tickets cost €11. The FM1 train stops in Trastevere. Always stamp your tickets inthe little machines near the track before you board.For Ciampino, COTRAL buses connect to trains that go to the city.G E T T I N G H E R E B Y B U SBus lines cover all of Rome’s surrounding Lazio region and are operated by the Compagnia Trasporti Laziali, or COTRAL (800/150008 | Thesebus routes terminate either near Tiburtina Station or at outlying Metro stops, such as Rebibbia and Ponte Mammolo (Line B) and Anagnina (Line A).COTRAL and buses run by SENA (800/930960 | are good options for taking short day trips from Rome, such as those that leave daily from Rome’sPonte Mammolo (Line B) metro station for the town of Tivoli, where Hadrian’s Villa and Villa D’Este are located.R O M E P U B L I C T R A N S I TRome’s integrated transportation system is ATAC (06/46952027 or 800/431784 |, which includes the Metropolitana subway, city buses, andmunicipal trams. A ticket (BIT) valid for 75 minutes on any combination of buses and trams and one entrance to the Metro costs €1. Day passes can be purchasedfor €4, and weekly passes for €16. Tickets (singly or in quantity—it’s a good idea to have a few tickets handy so you don’t have to hunt for a vendor when youneed one) are sold at tobacconists, newsstands, some coffee bars, automatic ticket machines in Metro stations, some bus stops, and ATAC and COTRAL ticketbooths. Time-stamp tickets at Metro turnstiles and in little yellow machines on buses and trams when boarding the first vehicle, and stamp it again when boardingfor the last time within 75 minutes.G E T T I N G A R O U N D B Y B U S A N D T R A MATAC city buses and trams are orange, gray-and-red, or blue-and-orange. You board at the rear and to exit at the middle; you must buy your ticket before boarding,and stamp it in a machine as soon as you enter.Buses and trams run from 5:30 AM to midnight, plus there’s an extensive network of night (notturno) buses. ATAC has a Web site ( that canhelp you plan your route. To navigate the site, look for “Muoversi a Roma” and then click on “Calcola il percorso” to get to another page that changes the site intoEnglish.Be aware that festivi buses run only on Sundays and holidays; regular buses will either be marked feriali (daily) or won’t be labeled. Free Metro Routes maps areavailable at tourist info booths.G E T T I N G A R O U N D B Y M E T R O P O L I T A N AThe Metropolitana (or Metro) is the easiest and fastest way to get around Rome. The Metro A line—known as the linea turistica (tourist line) will take you to achunk of the main attractions in Rome: Piazza di Spagna (Spagna stop), Piazza del Popolo (Flaminio), St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican Museums (Cipro-MuseiVaticani), and the Trevi Fountain (Barberini). The B line will take you to the Coliseum (Colosseo stop) and Circus Maximus (Ostiense Station), and also lead youto the heart of Testaccio, Rome’s nightlife district. The two lines intersect at Rome’s main station, Termini. Street entrances are marked with red “M” signs. TheMetro opens at 5:30 AM, and the last trains leave the last station at either end at 11:30 PM (12:30 AM on Friday and Saturday nights).G E T T I N G A R O U N D B Y T A X ITaxis in Rome do not cruise, but if free they will stop if you flag them down. They wait at stands but can also be called by phone (06/6645, 06/3570, 06/4994,06/5551, or 06/4157). Always ask for a receipt (ricevuta) to make sure the driver charges you the correct amount. Use only licensed cabs with a plaque next to thelicense plate reading “Servizio Pubblico.”E A T I N G A N D D R I N K I N G W E L L I N R O M EIn Rome, traditional cuisine reigns supreme. Most chefs follow the mantra of freshness over fuss, simplicity of flavor and preparation over complex cookingmethods.So when Romans continue ordering the standbys, it’s easy to understand why. And we’re talking about very old standbys: some restaurants re-create dishes thatcome from ancient recipes of Apicius, probably the first celebrity chef (to Emperor Tiberius) and cookbook author of the Western world. Today, Rome’s cooksexcel at what has taken hundreds, or thousands, of years to perfect.
  • 38. Still, if you’re hunting for newer-than-now developments, things are slowly changing. Talented young chefs are exploring new culinary frontiers, with results thattingle the taste buds: potato gnocchi with sea urchin sauce, artichoke strudel, and oysters with red-onion foam are just a few recent examples. Of course, there’sgrumbling about the number of chefs who, in a clumsy effort to be nuovo, end up with collision rather than fusion. That noted, Rome is the capital city, and theinflux of residents from other regions of the country allows for many variations on the Italian theme.F O O D I E F I N D SVia Cola di Rienzo is home to two of Rome’s best specialty shops: Castroni (Via Cola di Rienzo 200, Prati | 06/6874651), pictured above, a gastroshop that sellshigh-quality cured meats, Italian cheeses, wines, pastas, and fresh truffles. Next door, Franchi (Via Cola di Rienzo 196, Prati | 06/68743382) is well known amongexpats for its imported foreign foods from the United States, Great Britain, Japan, India, and Mexico, as well as its impressive selection of candies, preserves, oliveoils, and balsamic vinegars. Franchi is a great place to stop in for caffé and a cornetto (an Italian croissant).A R T I C H O K E SIf there’s one vegetable Rome is known for, it’s the artichoke, or carciofo. The classic Roman preparation, carciofo alla romana, is a large, globe-shaped artichokestuffed with wild mint and garlic, then braised. It’s available at restaurants throughout the city in spring, when artichokes are in season. For the excellent Roman-Jewish version, carciofo alla giudia—a younger artichoke deep-fried until crisp and brown—head to any restaurant in the Ghetto.B U C A T I N I A L L A M A T R I C I A N AWhat may appear to the naked eye as spaghetti with red sauce is actually bucatini alla matriciana—a spicy, rich, and complex dish that owes its flavor to animportant ingredient: guanciale, or cured pig’s cheek. Once you taste a meaty, guanciale-flavored dish, you’ll understand why Romans swear by it. Along withguanciale, the simple sauce features crushed tomatoes and red pepper flakes. It is served over bucatini, a hollow, spaghetti-like pasta, and topped with gratedpecorino romano cheese.C O D A A L L A V A C C I N A R ARome’s largest slaughterhouse in the 1800s was housed in the Testaccio neighborhood. That’s where you’ll find dishes like coda alla vaccinara, or “oxtail in thestyle of the slaughterhouse.” This dish is made from oxtails stewed with tomatoes and wine, and seasoned with garlic, cinnamon, pancetta, and myriad otherflavorings. The stew cooks for a day or two, then is finished with the sweet-and-sour element—often raisins or bittersweet chocolate—and served over polenta orpasta.G E L A T OFor many travelers, the first taste of gelato is one of the most memorable moments of their Italian trip. Almost a cross between regular American ice cream and softserve, gelato’s texture is dense but softer than hard ice cream because of the process by which it’s whipped when freezing. Gelato is extremely flavorful, and oftenmade daily. In Rome, a few common flavors are stracciatella (chocolate chip), caffè (coffee), nocciola (hazelnut), fragola (strawberry), and cioccolato (chocolate).P I Z Z ARoman pizza comes in two types: pizza rustica and pizza al taglio (by the slice), which has a thicker focaccialike crust and is cut into squares. These slices are soldby weight and are available all day. The other type, pizza tonda (whole rounds), has a very thin crust. Pizza tonda is cooked in wood-burning ovens that reachextremely high temperatures. Since they’re so hot, the ovens are usually fired up only in the evenings, which is why Roman pizzerias are only open for dinner.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 39. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsAncient Rome | Navona and Campo: Baroque Rome | Corso and Spagna: Piazza Venezia to the Spanish Steps | Piazza della Repubblica to Quirinale | VillaBorghese and Piazza del Popolo | The Vatican: Rome of the Popes | The Ghetto, Tiber Island, and Trastevere | The Catacombs and Via Appia AnticaMost everyone begins by discovering the grandeur that was Rome: the Colosseum, the Forum, and the Pantheon. Then many move on to the Vatican, the closestthing to heaven on Earth for some.The historical pageant continues with the 1,001 splendors of the baroque era: glittering palaces, jewel-studded churches, and Caravaggio masterpieces. Arriverefreshed—with the help of a shot of espresso—at the foot of the Spanish Steps, where the picturesque world of the classic Grand Tour (peopled by such spirits asJohn Keats and Tosca) awaits you.Thankfully, Rome provides delightful ways to catch your historic breath along the way: a walk through the cobblestone valleys of Trastevere or an hour stolenalongside a splashing Bernini fountain. Keep in mind that an uncharted ramble through the heart of the old city can be just as satisfying as the contemplation of achapel or a trek through marbled museum corridors. No matter which aspect of Rome you end up enjoying the most, a visit to the Eternal City will live up to itsname in memory.A N C I E N T R O M ETime has reduced ancient Rome to fields of silent ruins, but the powerful impact of what happened here, of the genius and power that made Rome the center of theWestern world, echoes across the millennia.In this one compact area of the city, you can step back into the Rome of Cicero, Julius Caesar, and Virgil. Walk along the streets they knew, cool off in the shade ofthe Colosseum that loomed over the city, and see the sculptures poised above their piazzas. At the end of a day of exploring, climb one of the famous hills andwatch the sun set over what was once the heart of the civilized world.Today, this part of Rome, more than any other, is a perfect example of that layering of historic eras, the overlapping of ages, of religions, of a past that is very mucha part of the present. Christian churches rise from the foundations of ancient pagan temples. An immense marble monument to a 19th-century king shares a squarewith a Renaissance palace built by a pope. Still, the history and memory of ancient Rome dominate the area. It’s fi tting that in the aftermath of centuries of suchpageantry Percy Bysshe Shelley and Edward Gibbon refl ected here on the meaning of sic transit gloria mundi (so passes away the glory of the world).T H E C A M P I D O G L I OYour first taste of ancient Rome should start from a point that embodies some of Rome’s earliest and greatest moments: the Campidoglio. Here, on the CapitolineHill (which towers over the traffic hub of Piazza Venezia), a meditative Edward Gibbon was inspired to write his 1764 classic, The History of the Decline and Fallof the Roman Empire, for here is where it all began. Of Rome’s famous seven hills, the Capitoline is the smallest and most sacred—it has always been the seat ofRome’s government and its Latin name is echoed in the designation of the national and state capitol buildings of every country in the world.Origins of the Campidoglio.Spectacularly transformed by Michelangelo’s late-Renaissance designs, the Campidoglio was once the epicenter of the Roman empire, the place where the city’sfirst shrines stood, including its most sacred, the Temple of Jupiter.Originally, the Capitoline Hill consisted of two peaks: the Capitolium and the Arx (where Santa Maria in Aracoeli now stands). The hollow between them wasknown as the Asylum: here, prospective settlers once came to seek the protection of Romulus, legendary first king of Rome—hence the term “asylum.” Later,
  • 40. known as the Asylum: here, prospective settlers once came to seek the protection of Romulus, legendary first king of Rome—hence the term “asylum.” Later,during the Republic, in 78 BC, the Tabularium, or Hall of Records, was erected here.By the Middle Ages, however, the Capitoline had become an unkempt hill strewn with ancient rubble.In preparation for the impending visit of Charles V in 1536, triumphant after the empire’s victory over the Moors, his host, Pope Paul III Farnese, decided that theHoly Roman Emperor should follow the route of the emperors, climaxing at the Campidoglio.But the pope was embarrassed by the decrepit goat pasture the hill had become and commanded Michelangelo to restore the site to glory; he added a third palacealong with Renaissance-style facades and a grand paved piazza.Newly excavated ancient sculptures, designed to impress the visiting emperor, were installed in the palaces, and the piazza was ornamented with the giant stonefigures of the Discouri and the ancient Roman equestrian statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (original now in Musei Capitolini)—the latter a visual reference to thecorresponding glory of Charles V and the ancient emperor.TipsThe piazza centerpiece is the legendary equestrian statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius but, as of 1999, a copy took up residence here when the actual 2nd-centuryad statue moved to a new wing in the surrounding Musei Capitolini: the Sala Marco Aurelio and its glass room also protect a gold-plated Hercules along with moremassive body parts, this time bronze, of what might be Constantine or that of his son Constans II (archaeologists are still undecided).While there are great views to be had of the Roman Forum from the terrace balconies on either side of the Palazzo Senatorio, remember the best view may be fromthe Tabularium, the arcade balcony below the Senatorio building and accessed with admission to the Musei Capitolini—the museum also has the Terrazza Cafarelli,featuring a restaurant with a magical view looking toward Trastevere and St. Peter’s. | Piazza dei Campidoglio, incorporating the Palazzo Senatorio and the 2Capitoline Museums, the Palazzo Nuovo, and the Palazzo dei Conservatori | 00186.Fodor’s Choice | Musei Capitolini.Surpassed in sheer size and richness only by the Musei Vaticani, this immense collection was the first public museum in the world. A greatest-hits collection ofRoman art through the ages, from the ancients to the baroque, it is housed in the twin Museo Capitolino and Palazzo dei Conservatori that bookend Michelangelo’sfamous piazza. Here, you’ll find some of antiquity’s most famous sculptures, such as the poignant Dying Gaul, the regal Capitoline Venus, the Esquiline Venus(identified as another Mediterranean beauty, Cleopatra herself), and the Lupa Capitolina, the very symbol of Rome itself. Although some pieces in the collection—first assembled by Sixtus IV (1414–84), one of the earliest of the Renaissance popes—may excite only archaeologists and art historians, others are unforgettable,including the original bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius whose copy sits in the piazza.Buy your ticket and enter the museums on the right of the piazza (as you face the center Palazzo Senatorio), into the building known as the Palazzo deiConservatori. Before picking up a useful free map from the cloakroom, you cannot miss some of the biggest body parts ever: that giant head, foot, elbow, andimperially raised finger across the courtyard are what remains of the fabled seated statue of Constantine, which once filled the Basilica of Maxentius, his defeatedrival (and the other body parts were of wood, lest the figure collapse under its own weight). Constantine the Great believed that Rome’s future lay with Christianityand such immense effigies were much in vogue in the latter days of the Roman Empire. Take the stairs up past a series of intricately detailed ancient marble reliefsto the resplendent Salone dei Orazi e Curiazi (Salon of Horatii and Curatii) on the first floor. The ceremonial hall is decorated with a magnificent gilt ceiling, carvedwooden doors, and 16th-century frescoes depicting the history of ancient Rome. At both ends of the hall are statues of the baroque era’s most charismatic popes: amarble Urban VIII (1568–1644) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680) and a bronze Innocent X (1574–1655) by Bernini’s rival, Algardi (1595–1654).Proceeding to the collection of ancient sculpture, the first room contains the exquisite “Spinario”: proving that the most everyday action can be as poetic as anyimperial bust, a small boy in the act removing a thorn becomes unwittingly immortalized. Nearby is the rather eery glass-eyed bust of Junius Brutus, first RomanConsul. Farther along is a separate room devoted to the renowned symbol of Rome, the Capitoline Wolf, a 5th-century BC Etruscan bronze, the Romulus andRemus below being late additions by Antonio Pollaiolo (15th century). Donated by Sixtus IV, the work came to symbolize Roman unity.Marcus Aurelius StatueThe heart of the museum, however, is the Exedra of Marcus Aurelius (Sala Marco Aurelio), a large, airy room with skylights and high windows, which showcasesthe spectacular original bronze statue of the Roman emperor whose copy sits in the piazza below. Created in the 2nd century AD, the statue should have beenmelted down like so many other bronze statues of emperors after the decline of Rome, but this one is thought to have survived because it was mistaken for theChristian emperor Constantine. To the right the room segues into the area of the Temple of Jupiter, with its original ruins rising organically into the museum space.A reconstruction of the temple and Capitol Hill from the Bronze Age to present day make for a fascinating glance through the ages. Some of the pottery and boneson display were dug up from as early as the 12th century BC, recasting Romulus and Remus as Johnny-come-latelies.Off left are rooms dedicated to statuary from the so-called Horti, or gardens of Ancient Rome’s great and mega-rich. From the Horti Lamiani is the VenereEsquilina doing her hair. (Look for the fingers at the back, at the end of the missing arms.) Believe or not, you might be gazing at the young Cleopatra invited toRome by Julius Caesar. So, anyway, say some experts—a further clue is the asp. In the same room is an extraordinary bust of the Emperor Commodus, seen here asHercules and unearthed in the late 1800s during building work for the new capital. On the top floor is the museum’s pinacoteca, or painting gallery, which has somenoted baroque masterpieces, including Caravaggio’s The Fortune Teller (1595) and St. John the Baptist (1602; albeit, given the ram, some critics see here arepresentation of Isaac, the pose this time influenced by Michelangelo’s “Ignudi”), Peter Paul Rubens’s (1577–1640) Romulus and Remus (1614), and Pietro daCortona’s (1627) sumptuous portrait of Pope Urban VIII. Adjacent to the Palazzo dei Conservatori is Palazzo Caffarelli, where temporary exhibitions are mounted.Here, set on the Piazzale Caffarelli, the new Caffè Capitolino offers a spectacular vista over Rome (looking toward St. Peter’s)—it is open daily (except Monday) 9to 8.To reach the Palazzo Nuovo section of the museum (the palace on the left-hand side of the Campidoglio), take the stairs or elevator to the basement of the Palazzodei Conservatori, where a an underground corridor called the Galleria Congiunzione holds a poignant collection of ancient gravestones. But before going up intoPalazzo Nuovo, be sure to take the detour to the right to the Tabularium Gallery with its unparalleled view over the Forum.
  • 41. Room of the EmperorsInside the Palazzo Nuovo on the stairs you find yourself immediately dwarfed by Mars in full military rig and lion-topped sandals. Upstairs is the noted Sala degliImperatori, lined with busts of Roman emperors, along with the Sala dei Filosofi, where busts of philosophers sit in judgment—a fascinating who’s who of theancient world, and a must-see of the museum. Although many ancient Roman treasures were merely copies of Greek originals, portraiture was one area in whichthe Romans took precedence. Within these serried ranks are 48 Roman emperors, ranging from Augustus to Theodosius (AD 346–395). On one console, you’ll seethe handsomely austere Augustus, who “found Rome a city of brick and left it one of marble.” On another rests Claudius “the stutterer,” an indefatigable builderbrought vividly to life in the history-based novel I, Claudius, by Robert Graves. Also in this company is Nero, one of the most notorious emperors who built forhimself the fabled Domus Aurea. And, of course, there are the standout baddies: cruel Caligula (AD 12–41) and Caracalla (AD 186–217), and the dissolute, eerilymodern boy-emperor, Heliogabalus (AD 203–222). In the adjacent Great Hall, be sure to take in the 16 resplendently restored marble statues. Nearby are roomsfilled with masterpieces, including the legendary Dying Gaul, The Red Faun from Hadrian’s Villa, and a Cupid and Psyche—each worth almost a museum to itself.Downstairs near the exit is the gigantic, reclining figure of Oceanus, found in the Roman Forum and later dubbed Marforio, one of Rome’s famous “talking statues”to which citizens from the 1500s to the 1900s affixed anonymous satirical verses and notes of political protest. | Piazza del Campidoglio, Campidoglio | 00186 |06/39967800, reservations 06/82059127 | | €6.50, €6 with Romacard; audio guide €5 | Tues.–Sun. 9–8 | Station: Bus 44, 63, 170, 175,186, 571.Santa Maria di Aracoeli.Sitting atop its 124 steps—”the grandest loafing place of mankind,” as Henry James put it, and the spot on which Gibbon was inspired to write his great history ofthe decline and fall of the Roman empire—Santa Maria di Aracoeli perches on the north slope of the Capitoline Hill (where you can also access the church using aless challenging staircase from Michelangelo’s piazza). The church rests on the site of the temple of Juno Moneta (Admonishing Juno), which also housed theRoman mint (hence the origin of the word “money”). According to legend, it was here that the Sibyl (a prophetess) predicted to Augustus the coming of aRedeemer. The emperor supposedly responded by erecting an altar, the Ara Coeli (Altar of Heaven). This was eventually replaced by a Benedictine monastery thenchurch, which passed in 1250 to the Franciscans, who restored and enlarged it in Romanesque-Gothic style. Today, the Aracoeli is best known for the SantaBambino, a much-revered olive-wood figure of the Christ Child (today a copy of the 15th-century original stolen in 1994 and as yet unfound). At Christmas,everyone pays homage to the Bambi Gesù as children recite poems from a miniature pulpit. In true Roman style, the church interior is a historical hodgepodge—classical columns and large marble fragments from pagan buildings, as well as a 13th-century Cosmatesque pavement. The richly gilded Renaissance ceilingcommemorates the naval victory at Lepanto in 1571 over the Turks. The first chapel on the right is noteworthy for Pinturicchio’s frescoes of San Bernardino ofSiena (1486). | Via del Teatro di Marcello, on top of steep stairway, Campidoglio | 00186 | 06/6798155 | 9–12:30, 3–6:30 | Station: Bus 44, 160, 170, 175, 186.T H E R O M A N F O R U MFrom the main entrance on Via dei Fori Imperali, descend into the extraordinary archaeologial complex that is the Foro Romano. This was once the heart ofRepublican Rome, the austere enclave that preceded the hedonistic society of the emperors and the pleasure-crazed citizens of imperial Rome from the 1st to the 4thcentury AD. It began life as a marshy valley between the Capitoline and Palatine hills—a valley crossed by a mud track and used as a cemetery by Iron Age settlers.Over the years a market center and some huts were established here, and after the land was drained in the 6th century BC, the site eventually became a political,religious, and commercial center—namely, the Forum.Hundreds of years of plunder reduced the Forum to its current desolate state. It’s difficult to imagine that this enormous area was once Rome’s pulsating heart, filledwith stately and extravagant temples, palaces, and shops, and crowded with people from all corners of the empire. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the Forumdeveloped over many centuries; what you see today are not the ruins from just one period but from a span of almost 900 years, from about 500 BC to AD 400.Nonetheless, the enduring romance of the place, with its lonely columns and great broken fragments of sculpted marble and stone, makes for a quintessential Romanexperience. | Entrances at Via dei Fori Imperiali and Piazza del Colosseo, Roman Forum | 00186 | 06/39967700 | | €12 (combined ticket with theColosseum, Palatine Hill, and Imperial Forums, if used within 2 days), €4.50 Roman Forum and Palatine Hill only; guided tour €4.50, audio guide €4 | Daily8:30–7:15 (6:15 last entrance) | Station: Colosseo.
  • 42. Fodor’s Choice | Arco di Settimio Severo(Arch of Septimius Severus). One of the grandest arches of triumph erected by a Roman emperor, this richly decorated monument was built in AD 203 to celebrateSeverus’s victory over the Parthians. It was once topped by a bronze statuary group of a chariot drawn by four or perhaps as many as six life-size horses.Masterpieces of Roman statuary, the stone reliefs on the arch were probably based on huge painted panels depicting the event, a kind of visual report on his foreigncampaigns that would have been displayed during the emperor’s triumphal parade in Rome to impress his subjects (and, like all statuary back then, were painted inflorid, lifelike colors). | West end of Foro Romano, Roman Forum | 00186.Arco di Tito(Arch of Titus). Standing at a slightly elevated position at the northern approach to the Palatine Hill on the Via Sacra, this triumphal arch was erected in AD 81 tocelebrate the sack of Jerusalem 10 years earlier, after the great Jewish revolt. The view of the Colosseum from the arch is superb, and reminds us that it was theemperor Titus who helped finish the vast amphitheater, begun earlier by his father, Vespasian. Under the arch are the two great sculpted reliefs, both showingscenes from Titus’s triumphal parade along this very Via Sacra, including the spoils of war plundered from Herod’s Temple—a gigantic seven-branchedcandelabrum (menorah) and silver trumpets. During his sacking of Jerusalem, Titus killed or deported most of the Jewish population, thus initiating the Jewishdiaspora, an event that would have historical consequences for millennia. | East end of Via Sacra, Roman Forum | 00186.Basilica di Massenzio(Basilica of Maxentius). What remains of this gigantic basilica—or meeting hall—is only about one-third of the original, so you can imagine what a wonder thisbuilding was when erected. Today, the great arched vaults of this structure still dominate the north side of the Via Sacra. Begun under the emperor Maxentius aboutAD 306, the edifice was a center of judicial and commercial activity, the last of its kind to be built in Rome. Over the centuries, like so many Roman monuments, itwas exploited as a quarry for building materials and was stripped of its sumptuous marble and stucco decorations. Its coffered vaults, like the coffering inside thePantheon’s dome, were later copied by many Renaissance artists and architects. | Via Sacra, Roman Forum | 00186.Comitium.The open space in front of the Curia was the political hub of ancient Rome. Julius Caesar had rearranged the Comitium, moving the Curia to its current site andtransferring the imperial Rostra, the podium from which orators spoke to the people (decorated originally with the prows of captured ships, or rostra, the source forthe term “rostrum”), to a spot just south of the Arch of Septimius Severus. It was from this location that Mark Antony delivered his funeral address in Caesar’shonor. On the left of the Rostra stands what remains of the Tempio di Saturno, which served as ancient Rome’s state treasury. | West end of Foro Romano, RomanForum | 00186.Curia.The best-preserved building of the Forum, this large brick building next to the Arch of Septimius Severus was built during the era of Diocletian in the late 3rdcentury AD. By that time the Senate, which met here, had lost practically all of the power and prestige that it had possessed during the Republican era, becoming amere echo chamber for the decisions reached in other centers of power. Still, this gives one a haunting image of Roman life back when. | Via Sacra, northwestcorner of Foro Romano, Roman Forum | 00186.Tempio di Castore e Polluce.One of the most evocative images of ancient Roman architecture, the sole three remaining Corinthian columns of this temple beautifully conjure up the formerelegant grandeur of the Forum. This temple was dedicated in 484 BC to Castor and Pollux, the twin brothers of Helen of Troy who carried to Rome the news ofvictory at Lake Regillus, southeast of Rome—the definitive defeat of the deposed Tarquin dynasty. The twins flew on their fabulous white steeds over the 20 km(12 mi) distance between the lake and the city to bring the news to the people before mortal messengers could arrive. Rebuilt over the centuries before Christ, thetemple suffered a major fire and was reconstructed by Emperor Tiberius in 12 BC, the date of the three standing columns. | West of House of the Vestals, RomanForum | 00186.Tempio di Vesta.While just a fragment of the original building, the remnant of this temple is evidence of the sophisticated elegance that architecture achieved under the later Empire.Set off by florid Corinthian columns, the circular tholos was rebuilt by Emperor Septimius Severus when he restored this temple around AD 205. Dedicated toVesta—the goddess of the hearth—the highly privileged vestal virgins kept the sacred vestal flame alive. Next to the temple, the ruins of the Casa delle Vestali giveno hint of the splendor in which the women lived out their 30-year vows of chastity. Inside was the garden courtyard of their palace, surrounded by loftycolonnades, behind which extended at least 50 rooms. Chosen when they were between 6 and 10 years old, the six vestal virgins dedicated the next 30 years oftheir lives to keeping the sacred fire, a tradition that dated back to the very earliest days of Rome, when guarding the community’s precious fire was essential to itswell-being. Their standing in Rome was considerable; indeed, among women, they were second in rank only to the empress. Their intercession could save acondemned man, and they did, in fact, rescue Julius Caesar from the lethal vengeance of his enemy Sulla. The virgins were handsomely maintained by the state, butif they allowed the sacred fire to go out, they were scourged by the high priest, and if they broke their vows of celibacy, they were buried alive. The vestal virginswere one of the last of ancient Rome’s institutions to die out, enduring as late as the end of the 4th century AD, even after Rome’s emperors had become Christian. |South side of Via Sacra, Roman Forum | 00186.Via Sacra.The celebrated basalt-paved road that loops through the Roman Forum, lined with temples and shrines, was also the traditional route of religious and triumphalprocessions. It’s now little more than a dirt track, but there are occasional patches of the paving stones—stones once trod by Caesars and plebs—rutted with theironclad wheels of Roman wagons. If you ever wanted to walk where Mark Antony did, this is your chance. | RomanForum | 00186.T H E P A L A T I N E H I L LJust beyond the Arch of Titus lies the Clivus Palatinus, which rises up a slight incline to the heights of the Colle Palatino (Palatine Hill), the oldest inhabited site inRome. Despite its location overlooking the Forum’s traffic and attendant noise, the Palatine was the most coveted address for ancient Rome’s rich and famous.More than a few of the Twelve Caesars called the Palatine home, including Caligula, who was murdered in the still-standing and unnerving (even today) tunnel, theCryptoporticus. The palace of Tiberius was the first to be built here; others followed, notably the gigantic extravaganza constructed for Emperor Domitian. Butperhaps the most famous lodging goes back to Rome’s very beginning. Once upon a time, skeptics thought Romulus was a myth. Then about a century ago,
  • 43. perhaps the most famous lodging goes back to Rome’s very beginning. Once upon a time, skeptics thought Romulus was a myth. Then about a century ago,Rome’s greatest archaeologist, Rodolfo Lanciani, excavated a site on the hill and uncovered the remains of an Iron Age settlement dating back to the 9th centuryBC, supporting the belief that Romulus, founder of Rome, lived here. Then in the fall of 2007, archaeologists unearthed a sacred sanctuary dedicated to Romulusand Remus set beneath the House of Augustus near the Palatine Hill; this sanctuary is now being renovated but it will undoubtedly take many years for this projectto be completed.During the Republican era the Palatino became the “Beverly Hills” of ancient Rome. Hortensius, Cicero, Catiline, Crassus, and Agrippa all had homes here.Augustus was born on the hill; the House of Livia, reserved for Augustus’s wife, is today the best-preserved structure. To visit the ruins of the Palatine (somescholars think this name gave rise to our term “palace”) in a roughly chronological order, start from the southeast area facing the Aventine. | Entrances at Piazza delColosseo and Via di San Gregorio 30, Roman Forum | 00184 | 06/39967700 (guided visits 06/520726) | | €12 (combined ticket with theColosseum, Roman Forum, and Imperial Forums, if used within 2 days), €4.50 Roman Forum and Palatine Hill only | Daily 8:30 –7:15 (6:15 last entrance) |Station: Colosseo.Casa di Augustus(House of Augustus). First discovered in the 1970s and only opened in 2006, this was the residence of the great Emperor Augustus (27 BC–14 AD)—before hebecame great (or at least one side of his residence, archaeologists having recently discovered, in the style of Rome’s ancient Greek kings, two courtyards rather thanone). The house here dates to the time when Augustus was known merely as Octavio, before he was adopted by his great uncle Julius Caesar as next in line to rule.Four rooms have exquisite examples of Roman wall decorative frescoes (so precious that only five people at a time are admitted). Startlingly vivid and detailed arethe depictions of a narrow stage with side doors and some striking comic theater masks. | Northwest crest of Palatino | 00184 | 06/39967700 | |July–Sept., Mon. 10:30–1:30, Wed., Thurs., weekends 8:30–1:30.Casa di Livia(House of Livia). First excavated in 1839, this house was identifiable from the name inscribed on a lead pipe, Iulia Augusta. In other words, the notorious Livia thatmade a career of dispatching half of the Roman imperial family—if Robert Graves’s I, Claudius can be believed. She was the wife of perhaps the greatest emperorof them all, Augustus. Once he defeated Antony and Cleopatra, he inaugurated the Imperial Age, when Roman civilization exploded across the world. Back athome, Livia was busy dispatching successors to the royal line, to ensure that her son Tiberius, product of an earlier marriage, would take the throne. Here, atop thePalatine, she hatched her plots in this Casa—this was her private retreat and living quarters, not part of her state apartments. The delicate, delightful frescoes reflectthe sophisticated taste of wealthy Romans, whose love of beauty and theatrical conception of nature were revived by their descendants in the Renaissance Age. |Northwest crest of Palatino | 00184 | 06/39967450 | | Tues.–Thurs. 9–1.Circo Massimo(Circus Maximus). From the palace belvedere of the Domus Flavia, you can see the Circus Maximus, the giant arena where more than 300,000 spectators watchedchariot races while the emperor looked on from this very spot. Ancient Rome’s oldest and largest racetrack lies in a natural hollow between two hills. The ovalcourse stretches about 650 yards from end to end; on certain occasions, there were as many as 24 chariot races a day and competitions could last for 15 days. Thecharioteers could amass fortunes rather like the sports stars of today (the Portuguese Diocles—one of many such “miliari”—is said to have totted up winnings of 35million sesterci). The noise and the excitement of the crowd must have reached astonishing levels as the charioteers competed in teams, each with its own colors—the Reds, the Blues, etc. Betting also provided Rome’s majority of unemployed with a potentially lucrative occupation. The central ridge was the site of twoEgyptian obelisks (now in Piazza del Popolo and Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano). Picture the great chariot race scene from MGM’s Ben-Hur and you have aninkling of what this all looked like. | Valley between Palatine and Aventine hills | 00153 | Station: Circo Massimo.Domus Augustana.In the Palazzi Imperiali complex, this palace named for the “August” emperor, consisted of private apartments for Emperor Domitian and his family. Here Domitian—Master and God as he liked to be called—would retire to dismember flies (at least according to Suetonius). | Southern crest of Palatino | 00184.Domus Flavia.This palace in the Palazzi Imperiali complex was used by Domitian for official functions and ceremonies. Also called Palazzo dei Flavi, it included a basilica wherethe emperor could hold judiciary hearings. There were also a large audience hall, a peristyle (a columned courtyard), and the imperial triclinium (dining room), thelatter set in a sunken declivity overlooking the Circus Maximus—some of its mosaic floors and stone banquettes are still in place. Domitian had the walls andcourtyards of this and the adjoining Domus Augustana covered with the shiniest marble, these to act as mirrors to alert him to any knife in the back. They failed intheir purpose. He died in a palace plot, engineered, some say, by his wife Domitia. | Southern crest of Palatino | 00184.T H E I M P E R I A L F O R U M SA complex of five grandly conceived squares flanked with colonnades and temples, the Fori Imperiali (Imperial Fora) formed the magnificent monumental core ofancient Rome, together with the original Roman Forum. Excavations at the start of the 21st century have revealed more of the Imperial Fora than has been seen innearly a thousand years.From Piazza del Colosseo, head northwest on Via dei Fori Imperiali toward Piazza Venezia. On the walls to your left, maps in marble and bronze put up by BenitoMussolini show the extent of the Roman Republic and Empire. The dictator’s own dreams of empire led him to construct this avenue, cutting brutally through theImperial Fora area, so that he would have a suitable venue for parades celebrating his expected military triumphs. Among the Fori Imperiali along the avenue youcan see the Foro di Cesare (Forum of Caesar) and the Foro di Augusto (Forum of Augustus). The grandest of all the Imperial Fora was the Foro di Traiano (Forumof Trajan), with its huge semicircular Mercati Traianei and the Colonna di Traiano (Trajan’s Column). The fora are illuminated at night and on rare occasions areopen for evening visits, when guided tours in English may also be offered (check with the tourist office). | Via dei Fori Imperiali, Roman Forum | 00186 |06/820771 | | €12 (combined ticket with the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill, if used within 2 days) | Tues.–Sun. 9–6 | Station:Colosseo.Colonna di Traiano(Trajan’s Column). The remarkable series of reliefs spiraling up this column celebrate the emperor’s victories over the Dacians in what is today Romania. It hasstood in this spot since AD 113. The scenes on the column are an important primary source for information on the Roman army and its tactics. An inscription on thebase declares that the column was erected in Trajan’s honor and that its height corresponds to the height of the hill that was razed to create a level area for the
  • 44. base declares that the column was erected in Trajan’s honor and that its height corresponds to the height of the hill that was razed to create a level area for thegrandiose Foro di Traiano. The emperor’s ashes, no longer here, were kept in a golden urn in a chamber at the column’s base, and his statue stood atop the columnuntil 1587, when the pope had it replaced with a statue of St. Peter. | Via del Foro di Traiano | 00186.Foro di Traiano(Forum of Trajan). Of all the Imperial Fora complexes, Trajan’s was the grandest and most imposing, a veritable city unto itself. Designed by architect Apollodorusof Damascus, it comprised a vast basilica (at the time of writing closed for restoration), two libraries, and a colonnade laid out around the square, all once coveredwith rich marble ornamentation. Adjoining the forum were the Mercati Traianei (Trajan’s markets), a huge, multilevel brick complex of shops, walkways, andterraces that was essentially an ancient shopping mall. Opened in 2008 is the new Museo dei Fori Imperiali (Imperial Forums Museum), which takes advantage ofthe soaring vaulted spaces of the forum to showcase archaeological fragments and sculptures while presenting a video re-creation of the original complex. Inaddition, the series of terraced rooms offers an impressive overview of the entire forum.To build a complex of this magnitude, Apollodorus and his patron clearly had to have great confidence, not to mention almost unlimited means, and cheap labor attheir disposal, this readily provided by captives from Trajans’ Dacian wars. Formerly thought to be the Roman equivalent of a multipurpose commercial center, withshops, taverns, and depots, the site is now believed to be more of an administrative complex for storing and regulating Rome’s enormous food supplies. They alsocontained two semicircular lecture halls, one at either end, which were likely associated with the libraries in Trajan’s Forum. The markets’ architectural centerpieceis the enormous curved wall, or hexedra, that shores up the side of the Quirinal Hill exposed by Apollodorus’s gangs of laborers. Covered galleries and streets wereconstructed at various levels, following the hexedra’s curves and giving the complex a strikingly modern appearance.As you enter the markets, a large, vaulted hall stands in front of you. Two stories of shops or offices rise up on either side. It’s thought that they were anadministrative center for food handouts to the city’s poor. Head for the flight of steps at the far end that leads down to Via Biberatica. (Bibere is Latin for “to drink,”and the shops that open onto the street are believed to have been taverns.) Then head back to the three tiers of shops/offices that line the upper levels of the greathexedra and look out over the remains of the forum. Though empty and bare today, the cubicles were once ancient Rome’s busiest market stalls. Though it seems tobe part of the market, the Torre delle Milizie (Tower of the Militia), the tall brick tower, which is a prominent feature of Rome’s skyline, was built in the early1200s. | Entrance:Via IV Novembre 94 | 00186 | 06/820771 | | €6.50 | Tues.–Sun. 9–7 (ticket office closes at 6)| Station: Bus 85, 175, 186,810, 850, H 64, 70.Santi Cosma e Damiano.Home to one of the most striking Early Christian mosaics in the world, this church was adapted in the 6th century from two ancient buildings: the library inVespasian’s Forum of Peace and a hall of the Temple of Romulus (dedicated to the son of Maxentius and at Christmas the setting for a Christmas crib). In the apseis the famous 6th-century mosaic (circa 530) of Christ in Glory. It reveals how popes at the time strove to re-create the splendor of imperial audience halls intoChristian churches, for Christ wears a gold, Roman-style toga, and his pose recalls that of an emperor addressing his subjects. He floats on a blue sky streaked witha flaming sunset—a miracle of tesserae mosaic-work. To his side are the figures of Sts. Peter and Paul, who present Cosmas and Damian, two Syrian benefactorswhose charity was such they were branded Christians and condemned to death. Beneath this awe-inspiring work is an enchanting mosaic frieze of holy lambs. | OffVia Sacra, opposite Tempio di Antonino e Faustina | 00186 | 06/6920441 | Daily 8–1 and 3–7 | Station: Bus 85, 850.T H E C O L O S S E U M A N D E N V I R O N SLegend has it that as long as the Colosseum stands, Rome will stand; and when Rome falls, so will the world. No visit to Rome is complete without a trip to theobstinate oval that has been the iconic symbol of the city for centuries. Looming over a group of the Roman Empire’s most magnificent monuments to imperialwealth and power, the Colosseo was the gigantic sports arena built by Vespasian and Titus. To its west is the Arch of Constantine, a majestic, ornate triumphal arch,built solely as a tribute to the emperor Constantine; victorious armies purportedly marched under it on their return from war. On the eastern side of the Colosseum,hidden under the Colle Oppio, is Nero’s opulent Domus Aurea, a palace that stands as testimony to the lavish lifestyles of the emperors.Arco di Costantino(Arch of Constantine). This majestic arch was erected in AD 315 to commemorate Constantine’s victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge. It was just beforethis battle, in AD 312, that Constantine—the emperor who converted Rome to Christianity—had a vision of a cross in the heavens and heard the words “In this signthou shalt conquer.” The economy-minded Senate ordered that many of the rich marble decorations for the arch be scavenged from earlier monuments. It is easy topicture ranks of Roman legionnaires marching under the great barrel vault. | Piazza del Colosseo | 00184 | Station: Colosseo.The Colosseum.The most spectacular extant edifice of ancient Rome, the Colosseo, has a history that is half-gore, half-glory. Here, before 50,000 spectators, gladiators would salutethe emperor and cry Ave, imperator, morituri te salutant (“Hail, emperor, men soon to die salute thee”); it is said that when one day they heard the emperorClaudius respond, “or maybe not,” they became so offended that they called a strike.Scene of countless Hollywood spectacles—Deborah Kerr besieged by lions in Quo Vadis, Victor Mature laying down his arms in Demetrius and the Gladiators,and Russell Crowe fighting an emperor in a computer-generated stadium in Gladiator, to name just a few—the Colosseum still awes onlookers today with its powerand might.Designed by order of the Flavian emperor Vespasian in AD 72, the Colosseum was inaugurated by Titus eight years later with a program of games lasting 100days. Such shows were a quick way to political popularity—or to put it another way, a people that yawns is ripe for revolt.The arena has a circumference of 573 yards and was faced with stone from nearby Tivoli. Its construction was a remarkable feat of engineering, for it stands onmarshy terrain reclaimed by draining an artificial lake on the grounds of Nero’s Domus Aurea. Originally known as the Flavian amphitheater, it came to be calledthe Colosseo because it stood on the site of the Colossus of Nero, a 115-foot-tall gilded bronze statue of the emperor that once towered here.Inside, senators sat on the marble seating arrangements up front, along with the Vestal Virgins taking the ringside position while the plebs sat in wooden tiers at theback, then the masses above on the top tier. Over all was the amazing velarium, an ingenious system of sail-like awnings rigged on ropes and maneuvered by sailorsfrom the imperial fleet, who would unfurl them to protect the arena’s occupants from sun or rain.Once inside, you can take the wooden walkway across the arena floor for a gladiator’s-eye view, then explore the upper level to study a scale model of the
  • 45. Once inside, you can take the wooden walkway across the arena floor for a gladiator’s-eye view, then explore the upper level to study a scale model of theColosseum as it was (sheathed with marble, with statues ornamenting arcades of arches decorated with Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian pillars; one arch near the Metrostation still has traces of stucco decoration). From the upper tier study the so-called ipogei, the subterranean passageways that were the architectural engine roomsthat made the slaughter above proceed like clockwork. In a scene prefiguring something from Dante’s Inferno, hundreds of beasts would wait to be eventuallylaunched via a series of slave-powered hoists and lifts into the bloodthirsty sand of the arena above.Legend has it that as long as the Colosseum stands, Rome will stand; and when Rome falls, so will the world. This prophecy didn’t deter Renaissance princes fromusing the Colosseum as a quarry or the Nazis from riddling it with bullets. In the 19th century, poets came to view the arena by moonlight; today, mellow goldenspotlights make the arena a spectacular sight.Are there ways to beat the big ticket lines at the Colosseum? Yes and no. First off, if you go to the Roman Forum—a couple of hundred yards down Via dei ForiImperiali on your left—and purchase a ticket there for €12, this also includes admission to the Colosseum and, even better, lets you jump to the head of thelooooooong line. Another way is to buy the Romapass ( ticket—the Colosseo is covered and you get booted to the front of the line. Still anotherway is to book a ticket in advance through | (small surcharge)—the main ticket reservation service for many Italian cultural sights. Private toursusually have advance bookings. Now for the bad news: Even people who jump to the front of the line still have to wait on the security line.Guided tours in English are available. The small exhibition space at the arena often features fascinating temporary exhibitions (for an additional admission charge of€3). A bookshop is also on-site. | Piazza del Colosseo | 00184 | 06/39967700 | | €12 (combined ticket with the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, andImperial Forums, if used within 2 days) | Daily 8:30–1 hr before sunset | Station: Colosseo; Bus 117, 87, 186, 85, 850.Domus Aurea(Golden House of Nero). Legend has it that Nero famously fiddled while Rome burned. Fancying himself a great actor and poet, he played, as it turns out, his harpto accompany his recital of “The Destruction of Troy” while gazing at the flames of Rome’s catastrophic fire of AD 64. Anti-Neronian historians propagandizedthat Nero, in fact, had set the Great Fire to clear out a vast tract of the city center to build his new palace. Today’s historians discount this as historical folderol(going so far as to point to the fact that there was a full moon on the evening of July 19, hardly the propitious occasion to commit arson). But legend or not, Nerodid get to build his new palace, the extravagant Domus Aurea (Golden House)—a vast “suburban villa” that was inspired by the emperor’s pleasure palace at Baiaon the Bay of Naples. His new digs were huge and sumptuous, with a facade of pure gold, seawater piped into the baths, decorations of mother-of-pearl, frettedivory, and other precious materials, and vast gardens. It was said that after completing this gigantic house Nero exclaimed “Now I can live like a human being!”Unfortunately, following damage due to flooding in December 2008 the Domus is closed for restorations once again. But if you call (days in advance) you maysnag an advance reservation ticket—keep in mind that the temperature underground is about 50°F year-round. Unfortunately, all of the fabulous decors designed byFabullus have vanished but you can still be awed by the famous Octagon Room, topped by an oculus, where Nero once displayed famous Greek statues like theDying Gaul (now on view at Rome’s Musei Capitolini). | Via della Domus Aurea | 00184 | 06/39967700 reservations | | €4.50 | Station:Colosseo.N A V O N A A N D C A M P O : B A R O Q U E R O M ELong called Vecchia Roma (Old Rome), this time-burnished district is the city’s most beautiful neighborhood. Set between the Via del Corso and the Tiber bend, itis filled with narrow streets bearing curious names, airy piazzas, and half-hidden courtyards. Some of Rome’s most coveted residential addresses are nestled here.So, too, are the ancient Pantheon and the Renaissance square of Campo de’ Fiori, but the spectacular, over-the-top baroque monuments of the 16th and 17thcenturies predominate.The hub of the district is the queen of squares, Piazza Navona—a cityscape adorned with the most eye-knocking fountain by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, father of thebaroque. Streets running off the square lead to many historic must-sees, including noble churches by Borromini and Caravaggio’s greatest paintings at San Luigi deiFrancesi. This district has been an integral part of the city since ancient times, and its position between the Vatican and Lateran palaces, both seats of papal rule, putit in the mainstream of Rome’s development from the Middle Ages onward. Craftsmen, shopkeepers, and famed artists toiled in the shadow of the huge palacesbuilt to consolidate the power of leading figures in the papal court. Artisans and artists still live here, but their numbers are diminishing as the district becomesincreasingly posh and—so critics say—“Disneyfied.” But three of the liveliest piazzas in Rome—Piazza Navona, Piazza della Rotonda, and Campo de’ Fiori—arelodestars in a constellation of some of Rome’s most authentic cafés, stores, and wine bars.G E T T I N G H E R ETo bus it from Termini rail station or the Vatican, take the No. 40 Express or the No. 64 and get off at Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, a five-minute stroll to eitherCampo de’ Fiori or Piazza Navona, or take little electric No. 116 from Via Veneto past the Spanish Steps to Campo de’ Fiori. Buses Nos. 87 and 571 link the areato the Forum and Colosseum. Tram No. 8 runs from Largo Argentina to Trastevere.
  • 46. T O P A T T R A C T I O N S I N N A V O N A A N D C A M P OCampo de’ Fiori.Home to Rome’s oldest (since 1869) outdoor produce market, open Monday through Saturday, this bustling square was originally used for public executions,making its name—Field of Flowers—a bit sardonic. In fact, the central statue commemorates the philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake here in1600 by the Inquisition. Today, he frowns down upon food vendors galore, who, by early afternoon, are all gone, giving way to the square’s cafés and bars thatattract throngs of Rome’s hip, young professionals as the hours wend their way into evening. | Campo de’ Fiori, near Piazza Navona | 00186.Palazzo Altemps.Containing some of the finest ancient Roman statues in the world, this collection formerly formed the core of the Museo Nazionale Romano. As of 1995, it wasmoved to these new, suitably grander digs. The palace’s sober exterior belies a magnificence that appears as soon as you walk into the majestic courtyard. Setwithin some gorgeously frescoed, 16th-century rooms is an array of noted antiquities. Look for two works from the famed Ludovisi collection: the Ludovisi Throne,a sensual rendering of the birth of Venus (as the goddess is pulled from the water, garments cling to her body in a way that leaves little to the imagination), andGalata suicida, a poignant work portraying a barbarian warrior who chooses death for himself and his wife rather than humiliation by the enemy. | PiazzaSant’Apollinare 46, near Piazza Navona | 00186 | 06/6872719 | €7 | Tues.–Sun. 9–6:45.Palazzo Farnese.The most beautiful Renaissance palace in Rome, the Palazzo Farnese is noted for the grandeur of its rooms, notably the Galleria Carracci, whose ceiling is to thebaroque age what the Sistine ceiling is to the Renaissance. The Farnese family rose to great power and wealth during the Renaissance, culminating in the election ofAlessandro Farnese as Pope Paul III in 1534. The uppermost frieze decorations and main window overlooking the piazza are the work of Michelangelo, who alsodesigned part of the courtyard, as well as the graceful arch over Via Giulia at the back. The showpiece of the palace is the Galleria Carracci vault painted byAnnibale Carracci between 1597 and 1607, depicting the loves of the pagan gods in a swirling style that announced the birth of the baroque style. Also eye-poppingis the Salon of Hercules, with its massive replica of the ancient Farnese Hercules. Now housing the French Embassy, the historic salons can be seen on free tours (inFrench and Italian only) on Monday and Thursday. You’ll need to send a letter or e-mail to reserve tickets, one to four months in advance (depending on peak-season visit or not), specifying the number in your party, when you wish to visit, and a local phone number, for confirmation a few days before the visit. | FrenchEmbassy, Servizio Culturale, Piazza Farnese 67, i, near Campo de’Fiori | 00186 | 06/686011 | | Free | (Tours by appointment only) onMon. and Thurs. at 3, 4, and 5 PM. Closed July 24 to Sept. 7.Palazzo Spada.An impressive stuccoed facade on Piazza Capo di Ferro, southeast of Piazza Farnese, fronts an equally magnificent inner courtyard. On the southeast side of theinner courtyard, the gallery designed by Borromini creates an elaborate optical illusion, appearing to be much longer than it really is. On the second floor there arepaintings and sculptures that belonged to Cardinale Bernardino Spada, an art connoisseur who collected works by Italian and Flemish masters. Note that the palazzooccasionally closes in the afternoon because of staff shortages. | Piazza Capo di Ferro 13, near Campo de’Fiori | 00186 | 06/6832409 | | €5 | Tues.–Sun. 8:30–7:30.Fodor’s Choice | Pantheon.One of Rome’s most impressive and best-preserved ancient monuments, the Pantheon is particularly close to the hearts of Romans. The emperor Hadrian had it builtaround AD 120 on the site of an earlier temple that had been damaged by fire. Although the sheer size of the Pantheon is impressive (it is still the largestunreinforced concrete dome ever built), what’s most striking is its tangible sense of harmony. In large part this feeling is the result of the building’s symmetricaldesign: at 43.3 meters (142 feet), the height of the dome is equal to the diameter of the circular interior. The “eye of heaven” oculus, or hole in the dome, is open tothe skies, illuminating the heavy stone dome. Originally, the dome was covered in bronze plates that would have reflected beams of sunlight, creating a celestialglow. Centuries of plunder by emperors and popes have stripped most of the bronze ornamentation, though the original bronze doors have survived more than1,800 years. Art lovers can pay homage to the tomb of Raphael, who is buried in an ancient sarcophagus under the altar of Madonna del Sasso. | Piazza dellaRotonda, Navona | 00186 | 06/68300230 | Free | Mon.–Sat. 8:30–7:30, Sun. 9–6.Piazza Navona.With its carefree air of the days when it was the scene of Roman circus games, medieval jousts, and 17th-century carnivals, the spectacularly beautiful PiazzaNavona today often attracts fashion photographers on shoots and Romans out for their passeggiata (evening stroll). Bernini’s splashing Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi(Fountain of the Four Rivers), with an enormous rock squared off by statues representing the four corners of the world, makes a fitting centerpiece. Behind thefountain is the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, an outstanding example of baroque architecture built by the Pamphilj pope Innocent X. The facade—awonderfully rich mélange of bell towers, concave spaces, and dovetailed stone and marble—is by Borromini, a contemporary and rival of Bernini, and by CarloRainaldi (1611–91). One story has it that the Bernini statue nearest the church, which represents the River Plate, has its hand up before its eye because it can’t bearthe sight of the Borromini facade. Though often repeated, the story is fiction: the facade was built after the fountain. From December 8 through January 6, aChristmas market fills the square with games, Nativity scenes (some well crafted, many not), and multiple versions of the Befana, the ugly but good witch whobrings candy and toys to Italian children on the Epiphany. (Her name is a corruption of the Italian word for “epiphany,” Epifania.) | Junction of Via della Cuccagna,Corsia Agonale, Via di Sant’Agnese, and Via Agonale, Navona | 00186 .San Luigi dei Francesi.The official church of Rome’s French community and a pilgrimage spot for art lovers everywhere, San Luigi is home to the Cappella Contarelli, adorned with three
  • 47. The official church of Rome’s French community and a pilgrimage spot for art lovers everywhere, San Luigi is home to the Cappella Contarelli, adorned with threestunningly dramatic works by Caravaggio (1571–1610). Set in the last chapel in the left aisle, they were commissioned by Cardinal Matthieu Cointrel (in Italian,Contarelli) and perfectly embody the baroque master’s heightened approach to light and dark. The inevitable coin machine will light up his Calling of St. Matthew,Matthew and the Angel, and Matthew’s Martyrdom, seen from left to right, and Caravaggio’s mastery of light and shadow takes it from there. When painted, theycaused considerable consternation to the clergy of San Luigi, who thought the artist’s dramatically realistic approach was scandalously disrespectful. But thesepaintings did to 17th-century art what Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon did to the 20th century. | Piazza San Luigi dei Francesi 5, Navona | 00186 | 06/688271 |Free | Fri. –Wed. 10–12:30 and 4–7.Santa Maria sopra Minerva.Michelangelo’s Christ the Redeemer and the tomb of the gentle 15th-century artist Fra Angelico are two noted sights in the only Gothic-style church in Rome. Havesome coins handy to light up the Cappella Carafa in the right transept, where exquisite 15th-century frescoes by Filippino Lippi (circa 1457–1504) are well worththe small investment. Historians believe that Botticelli apprenticed under Lippi during this time. In front of the church is one of Rome’s best photo ops, Bernini’scharming elephant bearing an Egyptian obelisk; an inscription on the memorial’s base states that it takes a strong mind to sustain solid wisdom. | Piazza dellaMinerva 42, Pantheon | 00186 | 06/6793926 | Mon.–Sun. 9–7.Via Giulia.Named after Pope Julius II and serving for more than five centuries as the “salon of Rome,” this street—running between Piazza Farnese and the Tiber—is still theaddress of choice for Roman aristocrats and rich foreigners. Built with funds garnered by taxing prostitutes, the street is lined with elegant palaces, including thePalazzo Falconieri, old churches (one, San Eligio, reputedly designed by Raphael himself), and, in springtime, glorious hanging wisteria. The area around ViaGiulia is a wonderful place to wander in to get the feeling of daily life as carried on in a centuries-old setting—an experience enhanced by the dozens of antiquesshops in the neighborhood. | 1 block east of the Tiber River, Campo de’Fiori | 00186.Quick Bites in Navona and CampoSome of Rome’s best pizza comes out of the ovens of Forno di Campo de’ Fiori (Campo de’ Fiori 22 | 00186 | 06/68806662). Choose pizza bianca, topped withsalt and olive oil, or rossa, with tomato sauce. Move to the annex across the alley to have your warm pizza filled with prosciutto and figs in September, or othermouthwatering combinations year-round.W O R T H N O T I N G I N N A V O N A A N D C A M P OSant’Andrea della Valle.Topped by the second-tallest dome in Rome, this huge 17th-century church looms mightily over a busy intersection. Puccini set the first act of his opera Tosca here;fans have been known to hire a horse-drawn carriage at night to trace the course of the opera from Sant’Andrea up Via Giulia to Palazzo Farnese—Scarpia’sheadquarters—to the locale of the opera’s climax, Castel Sant’Angelo. Inside, above the apse, are striking frescoes depicting scenes from Saint Andrew’s life by theBolognese painter Domenichino (1581–1641). | Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, Navona | 00186 | 06/6861339 | Daily 7:30–noon and 4:30–7:30.Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza.Borromini’s eccentric 17th-century church has what must surely be Rome’s most unusual dome—topped by a softly molded spiral said to have been inspired by abee’s stinger. Visit during the limited opening hours for a glimpse of Borromini’s manic genius, an undulating white stucco interior bathed in gleaming daylight. |Corso Rinascimento 40, Navona | 00186 | 06/3612562 | Sun. 9–noon.C O R S O A N D S P A G N A : P I A Z Z A V E N E Z I A T O T H E SIn spirit, and in fact, this section of the city is its most grandiose. The overblown Vittoriano monument, the labyrinthine treasure-chest palaces of Rome’s survivingaristocracy, even the diamond-draped denizens of Via Condotti’s shops—all embody the exuberant ego of a city at the center of its own universe. Here’s whereyou’ll see ladies in furs gobbling pastries at café tables, and walk through a thousand snapshots as you climb the famous Spanish Steps, admired by generationsfrom Byron to Versace. Cultural treasures abound around here: gilded 17th-century churches, glittering palaces, and the greatest example of portraiture in Rome:Velázquez’s incomparable Innocent X at the Galleria Doria Pamphilj. Have your camera ready—along with a coin or two—for that most beloved of Rome’slandmarks, the Trevi Fountain.Getting HereOne of Rome’s handiest subway stations, the Spagna Metro station is tucked just to the left of the Spanish Steps. Buses No. 117 (from the Colosseum area) and No.119 (from Largo Argentina) hum through the neighborhood.
  • 48. T O P A T T R A C T I O N S I N C O R S O A N D S P A G N AAltare della Patria.Also known as the Monumento Vittorio Emanuele II or the Vittoriano, this vast marble monument was erected in the late 19th century to honor Italy’s first king,Vittorio Emanuele II (1820–78), and the unification of Italy. Aesthetically minded Romans have derided the oversize structure, visible from many parts of the city,calling it “the typewriter” and “the wedding cake.” Whatever you think of its design, the views from the top are memorable. Here also is the Tomb of the UnknownSoldier with its eternal flame. A side entrance in the monument leads to the rather somber Museo del Risorgimento (entrance to the right as you face the monument),which charts Italy’s struggle for nationhood. For those not interested or able to climb the many stairs, there’s now an elevator to the roof (use museum entrance).Before you head up, stop at the museum information kiosk to get a pamphlet identifying the sculpture groups on the monument itself and the landmarks you will beable to see once at the top. | Piazza Venezia,Corso | 00187 | 06/6991718 | | Monument free, museumfree, elevator €7 | Mon.–Thurs. 9:30–6:30, Fri.–Sun. 9:30–7:30.Fontana di Trevi(Trevi Fountain). The huge fountain designed by Nicola Salvi (1697–1751) is a whimsical rendition of mythical sea creatures amid cascades of splashing water.The fountain is the world’s most spectacular wishing well: legend has it that you can ensure your return to Rome by tossing a coin into the fountain. It was featuredin the 1954 film Three Coins in the Fountain and was the scene of Anita Ekberg’s aquatic frolic in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. By day this is one of the most crowdedsites in town; at night the spotlighted piazza feels especially festive. | Piazza di Trevi, off Via del Tritone, Corso | 00187.Fodor’s Choice | Palazzetto Zuccari.The real treasure at the top of the Spanish Steps is not the somewhat dull church of Trinità dei Monti, but to the right on Via Gregoriana, the street that leads off tothe right of the obelisk. Shaped to form a monster’s face, this Mannerist-era house was designed in 1592 by noted painter Federico Zuccari (1540–1609). Typical ofthe outré style of the period, the eyes are the house’s windows; the entrance portal is through the monster’s mouth (this is a great photo op—have someonephotograph you standing in front of the door with your own mouth gaping wide). Via Gregoriana is a real charmer and has long been one of Rome’s most elegantaddresses, with residents ranging from French 19th-century painters Ingres and David to famed couturier Valentino. Today the Palazzetto houses the BibliothecaHertziana, an important library for art historians. | Via Gregoriana 28,Spagna | 00187.Palazzo Colonna.Inside the fabulous, private Palazzo Colonna, the 17th-century Sala Grande—more than 300 feet long, with bedazzling chandeliers, colored marble, and enormouspaintings—is best known as the site where Audrey Hepburn met the press in Roman Holiday. The entrance to the picture gallery, the Galleria Colonna, hidesbehind a plain, inconspicuous door. The private palace is open to the public Saturday only; reserve ahead to get a free guided tour in English. | Via della Pilotta 17,Corso, near Piazza diTrevi | 00187 | 06/6784350 | | €7 | Sept.–July, Sat. 9–1.Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.This bona fide patrician palace is still home to a princely family, which rents out many of its 1,000 rooms. You can visit the remarkably well-preserved GalleriaDoria Pamphilj (pronounced pam-fee-lee), a picture-and-sculpture gallery that gives you a sense of the sumptuous living quarters. TIP Numbered paintings (thebookshop’s museum catalog comes in handy) are packed onto every available inch of wall space. The first large salon is nearly wallpapered with paintings,and not just any paintings: on one wall, you’ll find no fewer than three works by Caravaggio, including his Penitent Magdalen and his breathtaking early Rest onthe Flight to Egypt. Off the gilded Galleria degli Specchi (Gallery of Mirrors)—reminiscent of Versailles—are the famous Velázquez portrait and the Bernini bust ofthe Pamphilj pope Innocent X. The free audio guide by Jonathan Doria Pamphilj, the current heir, provides an intimate family history well worth listening to. |Piazza del Collegio Romano 2, near Piazza Venezia, Corso | 00186 | 06/6797323 | | €9 | Daily 10–5.Sant’Ignazio.Rome’s largest Jesuit church, this 17th-century landmark harbors some of the most magnificent illusions typical of the baroque style. Capping the 17th-century naveis the trompe l’oeil ceiling painted by Andrea Pozzo (1642–1709), frescoed with flying angels and heavenly dignitaries, including Saint Ignatius himself, who floatsabout in what appears to be a rosy sky above. The crowning jewel, however, is an illusionistic oddity—a cupola that is completely flat yet, from most vantagepoints, appears convincingly three-dimensional. The Jesuits resorted to this optical illusion when funds to build a real dome dried up. The church also contains someof Rome’s most splendid, gilt-encrusted altars. If you’re lucky, you might catch an evening concert performed here (check the posters). Step outside the church tolook at it from Filippo Raguzzini’s 18th-century piazza, where the buildings, as in much baroque art, are arranged resembling a stage set. | Piazza Sant’Ignazio,Corso | 00186 | 06/6794560 | Daily 7:30–12:15 and 3–7:15.Spanish Steps.That icon of postcard Rome, the Spanish Steps—called the Scalinata di Spagna in Italian—and the Piazza di Spagna from which they ascend both get their namesfrom the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican on the piazza, opposite the American Express office—in spite of the fact that the staircase was built with French funds in1723. In an allusion to the church of Trinità dei Monti at the top of the hill, the staircase is divided by three landings (beautifully banked with azaleas from mid-Aprilto mid-May). For centuries, La Scalinata (“staircase,” as natives refer to the Spanish Steps) has always welcomed tourists: 18th-century dukes and duchesses ontheir grand tour, 19th-century artists and writers in search of inspiration—among them Stendhal, Honoré de Balzac, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Byron—and today’s enthusiastic hordes. The Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Unfortunate Boat) at the base of the steps is by Pietro Bernini, father of the famousGianlorenzo. | Piazza di Spagna, at head of Via Condotti | 00187.
  • 49. Gianlorenzo. | Piazza di Spagna, at head of Via Condotti | 00187.W O R T H N O T I N G I N I N C O R S O A N D S P A G N AIl Gesù.Grandmother of all baroque churches, this huge structure was designed by the architect Vignola (1507–73) to be the tangible symbol of the Jesuits, a major force inthe Counter-Reformation in Europe. It remained unadorned for about 100 years, but when it finally was decorated, no expense was spared: the interior drips withlapis lazuli, precious marbles, gold, and more gold. A fantastically painted ceiling by Baciccia (1639–1709) seems to merge with the painted stucco figures at itsbase. Saint Ignatius’s apartments, reached from the side entrance of the church, are also worth a visit (afternoons only) for the trompe l’oeil frescoes and relics of thesaint. | Piazza del Gesù, near Piazza Venezia, Corso | 00187 | 06/697001 | | Daily 6:45–12:30 and 4–7:30.Keats-Shelley Memorial House.English Romantic poet John Keats (1795–1821), famed for “Ode to a Nightingale” and “She Walks in Beauty,” once lived in what is now a (very small) museumdedicated to him and his great contemporary and friend Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822). You can visit his tiny rooms, at the foot of the Spanish Steps, preservedas they were when he died here. Just across the steps is Babington’s Tea Shops, a relic from the 19th-century grand tour era and still a favorite for Rome’s grandedames. | Piazza di Spagna26 | 00187 | 06/6784235 | | €4 | Weekdays 10–1 and 2–6, Sat. 11–2 and 3–6.Palazzo Venezia.A Roman landmark on the city’s busiest square, this palace is best known for the balcony over the main portal, from which Mussolini gave public addresses tocrowds in Piazza Venezia during the dark days of fascism. Today it’s home to a haphazard collection of mostly early-Renaissance weapons, ivories, and paintingsin its grand salons; the palace also hosts touring art exhibits. | Via del Plebescito 118 Piazza Venezia, Corso | 00187 | 06/699941 | | €4 | Tues.–Sun. 8:30–7:30.P I A Z Z A D E L L A R E P U B B L I C A T O Q U I R I N A L EThis sector of Rome stretches down from the 19th-century district built up around the Piazza della Repubblica—originally laid out to serve as a monumental foyerbetween the Termini rail station and the rest of the city—and on to Il Quirinale. The highest of ancient Rome’s famed seven hills, it is crowned by the massivePalazzo Quirinale, home to the popes until 1870 and now Italy’s presidential palace. Along the way, you can see ancient Roman sculptures, Early Christianchurches, and highlights from the 16th and 17th centuries, when Rome was conquered by the baroque—and by Bernini.Although Bernini’s work feels omnipresent in much of the city center, the Renaissance-man range of his work is particularly notable here. The artist as architectconsidered the church of Sant’Andrea al Quirinale one of his best; Bernini the urban designer and water worker is responsible for the muscle-bound sea gods whowrestle so provocatively in the fountain at the center of whirling Piazza Barberini. And Bernini the master gives religious passion a joltingly corporeal treatment inwhat is perhaps his greatest work, the Ecstasy of St. Theresa, in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria.Getting HereBus No. 40 will get you from Termini station to the Quirinale in two stops; from the Vatican take bus No. 64 or Line A to the very busy and convenient RepubblicaMetro stop on the piazza of the same name. Bus No. 62 and the Metro also run from the Vatican to Piazza Barberini, near the Quirinale.T O P A T T R A C T I O N S , P I A Z Z A D E L L A R E P U B B L I C A T O Q UIl Quirinale.The highest of ancient Rome’s famed seven hills, this is where ancient senators, and later popes, built their residences in order to escape the deadly miasmas andmalaria of the low-lying area around the Forum and Pantheon. Framing the hilltop vista, the fountain in the square has gigantic ancient statues of Castor and Pollux
  • 50. malaria of the low-lying area around the Forum and Pantheon. Framing the hilltop vista, the fountain in the square has gigantic ancient statues of Castor and Polluxreining in their unruly steeds. The Palazzo del Quirinale passed from the popes to Italy’s kings in the late 19th century; it’s now the official residence of the nation’spresident. There is a daily ceremony of the changing of the guard at the portal, including a miniparade complete with band (June–September, 6 PM; October–May,3:15 PM). | Piazza del Quirinale, near Piazza diTrevi | 00187 | 06/46991 | | €5 | Sept.–June, Sun. 8:30–noon.Directly opposite the main entrance of the Palazzo del Quirinale sits the Scuderie del Quirinale, the former papal stables. Designed by Alessandro Specchi (1668–1729) in 1722, it was among the major achievements of baroque Rome. Now remodeled by eminent architect Gae Aulenti, they serve as a venue for touring artexhibitions. | Via XXIV Maggio 16, Quirinale | 00187 | 06/39967500 | | €10 | Sun.–Thurs. 10–8, Fri. and Sat. 10–10:30.Palazzo Barberini.Along with architect Carlo Maderno (1556–1629), Borromini helped make the splendid 17th-century Palazzo Barberini a residence worthy of Rome’s leading artpatron, Pope Urban VIII, who began the palace for his family in 1625. Inside, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica has some fine works by Caravaggio andRaphael, including the latter’s portrait of his lover, La Fornarina. Rome’s biggest ballroom is here; its ceiling, painted by Pietro da Cortona, depicts Immortalitybestowing a crown upon Divine Providence escorted by a “bomber squadron”—to quote Sir Michael Levey—of mutant bees (bees adorn the family’s heraldiccrest). The museum expanded its exhibition space in late 2006, opening eight newly refurbished rooms. | Via delle Quattro Fontane 13, Quirinale | 00187 |06/4824184 | | €6 | Tues.–Sun. 8:30–7:30.Palazzo Massimo alle Terme.This 19th-century palace in neobaroque style holds part of the collections of antiquities belonging to the Museo Nazionale Romano (also exhibited in the PalazzoAltemps). Here you can see extraordinary examples of the fine mosaics and masterful frescoes that decorated ancient Rome’s palaces and villas. Don’t miss thefresco depicting a lush garden in bloom that came from the villa that Livia shared with her husband Emperor Augustus in Primaporta outside Rome. | Largo di VillaPeretti 1, Repubblica | 00185 | 06/480201 | | €9 | Tues.–Sun. 9–7:30.San Clemente.Worth the long detour, this extraordinary church–cum–archaeological site lies a good 20 blocks southeast of Piazza della Repubblica, nestled between the CelianHill and the Colle Oppio park and just a few blocks east of the Colosseum. This ancient reference point is apropos because San Clemente is a 12th-century churchbuilt over a 4th-century church, which in turn was constructed over 1st- and 2nd-century Roman buildings, including a sanctuary dedicated to the Persian godMithras. The upper church holds a beautiful early-12th-century mosaic showing a crucifixion on a gold background, surrounded by swirling green acanthus leavesteeming with little scenes of everyday life. From the right aisle, a door leads to the excavations ticket office. From there, there are stairs leading down to the remainsof the 4th-century church—the former portico is decorated with marble fragments found during the excavations, and in the nave are colorful 11th-century frescoesof the life of Saint Clement. Another level down is the famous Mithraeum, a shrine dedicated to the god Mithras, whose cult spread from Persia to Rome in the 1stcentury BC and went on to gain a major hold in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Farther up the Esquiline Hill are two other churches fabled for their Early Christianmosaics, Santa Prassede (Via di Santa Prassede 9/a) and Santa Pudenziana (Via Urbana 160). | Via San Giovanni in Laterano 108, Colosseo | 00184 | 06/7740021 | | €5 (archaeological area) | Mon.–Sat. 9–12:30 and 3–6, Sun. noon–6.Santa Maria della Concezione.In the crypt under the main Capuchin church, the bones of some 4,000 dead Capuchin monks are arranged in peculiar decorative designs around the skeletons oftheir kinsmen, a macabre reminder of the impermanence of earthly life. Signs declare WHAT YOU ARE, WE ONCE WERE; WHAT WE ARE, YOUSOMEDAY WILL BE. Although not for the easily spooked, the crypt is oddly beautiful. | Via Veneto 27, Quirinale | 00187 | 06/4871185 |www.cappucciniviaveneto.itDonation expected | Fri.–Wed. 9–noon and 3–6.Fodor’s Choice | Santa Maria della Vittoria.The most famous feature here is Bernini’s triumph of baroque decoration of the Cappella Cornaro, an exceptional fusion of architecture, relief, and sculpture. TheEcstasy of St. Theresa, an example of Counter-Reformation art at its most alluring, is the focal point. Bernini’s audacious conceit was to model the chapel after atheater: members of the Cornaro family—sculpted in white marble—watch from theater boxes as, center stage, Saint Theresa, in the throes of mystical rapture, ispierced by an angel’s gilded arrow. To quote one 18th-century observer, President de Brosses: “If this is divine love, I know it well.” | Via XX Settembre 17,Repubblica | 00187 | 06/42740571 | Mon.–Sat. 9–noon and 3–6, Sun. 3–6.W O R T H N O T I N G , P I A Z Z A D E L L A R E P U B B L I C A T O Q U I R IFontana del Tritone(Triton Fountain). The centerpiece of busy Piazza Barberini is Bernini’s graceful fountain designed in 1642 for the sculptor’s patron, Pope Urban VIII. The pope’sBarberini family coat of arms, featuring bees, is at the base of the large shell. Close by, at the beginning of the Via Veneto, is the Fontana delle Api (Fountain of theBees), the last fountain designed by Bernini. | Piazza Barberini, Repubblica | 00187.Piazza della Repubblica.Smog-blackened porticoes, a subway station, and a McDonald’s can make this grand piazza feel a bit derelict. The racy Fontana delle Naiadi (Fountain of theNaiads), however, is anything but. An 1888–1901 addition to the square, the fountain depicts voluptuous bronze ladies wrestling happily with marine monsters. Inancient times, the Piazza della Repubblica served as the entrance to the immense Terme di Diocleziano (Baths of Diocletian), an archaeological site today. Built inthe early 4th century AD, these were among the largest and most impressive of the baths of ancient Rome, with vast halls, pools, and gardens that couldaccommodate up to 6,000 people at a time. Centerpiece of the Museo della Terme di Diocleziano is the aula ottagonale (octagonal hall), which holds a sampling ofthe sculptures excavated from ancient bathing complexes throughout the city. | Viale E. De Nicola 79, nearTermini | 00185 | 06/39967700 | €5 | Tues.–Sun. 9–7:30.The curving ancient Roman brick facade on one side of the Piazza della Repubblica marks the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, adapted by Michelangelo fromthe vast central chamber of the colossal baths. Look for the sundial inlaid in the floor. | Piazza dellaRepubblica | 00185 | 064880812 | | Mon.–Sat. 7–6:30, Sun. 7 AM–7:30 PM.San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane.In a church no larger than the base of one of the piers of St. Peter’s, Borromini attained geometric architectural perfection. Characteristically, he chose a subduedwhite stucco for the interior decoration, so as not to distract from the form of the amazing honeycombed cupola. Don’t miss the cloister, which you reach throughthe door to the right of the altar. The exterior of the church is Borromini at his bizarre best, all curves and rippling movement. (Keep an eye out for cars whipping
  • 51. the door to the right of the altar. The exterior of the church is Borromini at his bizarre best, all curves and rippling movement. (Keep an eye out for cars whippingaround the corner as you’re looking.) Outside the Quattro Fontane (four fountains) frame views in four directions. | Via del Quirinale 23 | 00184 | 06/4883261 | | Weekdays 10–1 and 3–6, Sat. 10–1, Sun. noon–1.Sant’Andrea al Quirinale.This small but imposing baroque church was designed and decorated by Bernini, Borromini’s rival, who considered it one of his finest works. Unfortunately,various cracks appeared as a collateral effect of the April 2009 Aquila earthquake; at this writing, the church was closed to the public and awaiting restoration work.| Via del Quirinale 29 | 00184 | 06/4740807 | Wed.–Mon. 8–noon and 4–7.V I L L A B O R G H E S E A N D P I A Z Z A D E L P O P O L OTouring Rome’s artistic masterpieces while staying clear of its hustle and bustle can be, quite literally, a walk in the park. Some of the city’s finest sights are tuckedaway in or next to green lawns and pedestrian piazzas, offering a breath of fresh air for weary sightseers, especially in the Villa Borghese park. One of Rome’slargest, this park can alleviate gallery gout by offering an oasis in which to cool off under the ilex, oak, and umbrella pine trees. If you feel like a picnic, have analimentari (food shop) make you some panini (sandwiches) before you go; food carts within the park are overpriced.Getting HereElectric bus No. 119 does a loop that connects Largo Argentina, Piazza Venezia, Piazza di Spagna, and Piazza del Popolo. The No. 117 connects Piazza delPopolo to Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum. The No. 116 motors through the Villa Borghese to the museum and connects the area with Piazza Navona, Campode’ Fiori, and the Pantheon. Piazza del Popolo has a Metro stop called Flaminio.T O P A T T R A C T I O N S I N V I L L A B O R G H E S E A N D P I A Z Z A DAra Pacis(Altar of Peace). This magnificent classical monument, with an exquisitely detailed frieze, was erected in 13 BC to celebrate Emperor Augustus’s triumphant returnfrom military conflicts in Gaul and Spain. It’s housed in one of Rome’s newest landmarks, a glass-and-travertine structure designed by American architect RichardMeier. The building was opened in 2006 after 10 years of delays and heated controversy concerning the architect’s appointment and design. Overlooking the Tiberon one side and the ruins of the dilapidated Mausoleo di Augusto (Mausoleum of Augustus) on the other, the result is a luminous oasis in the center of Rome. |Lungotevere in Augusta, near Piazza diPopolo | 00186 | 06/82059127 | | €6.50 | Tues.–Sun. 9–7.Fodor’s Choice | Galleria Borghese.It’s a real toss-up which is more magnificent—the villa built for Cardinal Scipione Borghese in 1615 or the collection of 17th- and 18th-century art that lies within.The luxury-loving cardinal built Rome’s most splendiferous palace as a showcase for his antiquities collection. The interiors are a monument to 18th-century Romaninterior decoration at its most luxurious, dripping with colored porphyry and alabaster, and they are a fitting showcase for the statues of various deities, includingone officially known as Venus Victrix. There has never been any doubt, however, as to the statue’s real subject: Pauline Bonaparte, Napoléon’s sister, who marriedPrince Camillo Borghese in one of the storied matches of the 19th century. Sculpted by Canova (1757–1822), the princess reclines on a chaise, bare-breasted, herhips swathed in classical drapery, the very model of haughty detachment and sly come-hither. Pauline is known to have been shocked that her husband tookpleasure in showing off the work to his guests. This coyness seems curious given the reply she is supposed to have made to a lady who asked her how she couldhave posed for the work: “Oh, but the studio was heated.” Other rooms hold important sculptures by Bernini, including David and the breathtaking Apollo andDaphne. The picture collection has splendid works by Titian, Caravaggio, and Raphael, among others. Entrance is every two hours, and reservations are required.Make sure to book online or by phone at least a few days in advance. | Piazza Scipione Borghese 5, off Via Pinciana, VillaBorghese | 00197 | 06/8413979information, 06/32810 reservations | | €10.50 (including €2 reservation fee), audio guide or English tour €6 | Tues.–Sun. 9–7, withsessions on the hr every 2 hrs (9, 11, 1, 3, 5) Bus 910 from Piazza della Repubblica or Tram 19 or 3 from Policlinico (near Piazza del Popolo).
  • 52. Piazza del Popolo.Designed by neoclassical architect Giuseppe Valadier (1762–1839) in the early 1800s, this piazza is one of the largest in Rome, and it has a 3,200-year-old obeliskin the middle. A favorite spot for café-sitting and people-watching, the pedestrians-only piazza is landmarked by its two bookend baroque churches, Santa Maria deiMiracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto. On the piazza’s eastern side, stairs lead uphill to Villa Borghese’s Pincio, a formal garden that was highly fashionable in19th-century Rome. Here you’ll find the magnificent park pavilion restaurant known as the Casino Valadier (Piazza Bucarest, Pincio Gardens | 00187 |06/69922090 | First designed in 1814, it has always attracted celebrities like King Farouk of Egypt, Richard Strauss, Gandhi, andMussolini, all who came to see the lavish Empire-style salons and, of course, to be seen. At the north end of the piazza is the 400-year-old Porta del Popolo, Rome’snorthern city gate, and next to it the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. The city gate was designed by Bernini to welcome the Catholic convert Queen Christina ofSweden to Rome in 1605. | At head of the Corso, near VillaBorghese | 00187.Santa Maria del Popolo.This church next to the Porta del Popolo goes almost unnoticed, but it has one of the richest art collections of any church in Rome. Here is Raphael’s HighRenaissance masterpiece the Cappella Chigi (which has found new fame as one of the “Altars of Science” in Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons novel and the 2009Tom Hanks film), as well as two stunning Caravaggios in the Cappella Cerasi. Each December an exhibit of Christmas Nativity scenes is held in the adjacentbuilding. | Piazza del Popolo, near VillaBorghese | 00187 | 06/3610836 | Mon.–Sat. 7–noon and 4–7, Sun. 8–1:30 and 4:30–7:30 | Station: Flaminio.W O R T H N O T I N G I N V I L L A B O R G H E S E A N D P I A Z Z A D E LMAXXI—Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo(National Museum of 21st-Century Arts). Billed as a cultural space for the art of the 21st century, the museum—opened May 2010 and walkable from the Parco della Musica complex—contains 350 works from Warhol to tomorrow’s hottest artists. Arguably the mostimpressive exhibit of all is the hyperdramatic building designed by architect Zaha Hadid. Get to this museum by taking Line A of the Metro to Flaminio (nearPiazza del Popolo), then taking Tram 2 to the Apollodoro stop. From there, the museum is about 200 yards to the left. | Via Guido Reni 4A, near VillaBorghese |00196 | 06/3201829 | | €11 | Tues., Wed., and Fri.–Sun. 11–7; Thurs. 11–10 | Station: Flaminio.T H E V A T I C A N : R O M E O F T H E P O P E SCapital of the Catholic Church, this tiny walled city-state is a place where some people go to find a work of art—Michelangelo’s frescoes, rare ancient Romanmarbles, or Bernini’s statues. Others go to find their soul. Whatever the reason, thanks to being the seat of world Catholicism and also address to the mostoverwhelming architectural achievement of the 16th century—St. Peter’s Basilica—the Vatican attracts millions of travelers every year. In addition, the VaticanMuseums are famed for magnificent rooms decorated by Raphael, sculptures such as the Apollo Belvedere and the Laocoön, frescoes by Fra Angelico, paintings byGiotto and Melozzo da Forlì, and the celebrated ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The Church power that emerged as the Rome of the emperors declined gave impetusto a profusion of artistic expression and shaped the destiny of the city for a thousand years. Allow yourself an hour to see St. Peter’s Basilica, at least two hours forthe museums, an hour for Castel Sant’Angelo, and an hour to climb to the top of the dome. Note that ushers at the entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica and the VaticanMuseums bar entry to people with “inappropriate” clothing—which means no bare knees or shoulders.Getting HereFrom Termini station, hop on the No. 40 Express or the No. 64 to be delivered to Piazza San Pietro. Metro stops Cipro or Ottaviano will get you within about a 10-minute walk of the entrance to the Vatican Museums.T O P A T T R A C T I O N S I N T H E V A T I C A N
  • 53. Basilica di San Pietro.The largest church of Christendom, St. Peter’s Basilica covers about 18,100 square yards, extends 212 yards in length, and carries a dome that rises 435 feet andmeasures 138 feet across its base. Its history is equally impressive: No fewer than five of Italy’s greatest architects—Bramante, Raphael, Peruzzi, Antonio Sangallothe Younger, and Michelangelo—died while striving to erect this “new” St. Peter’s. In fact, the church’s history dates back to the year AD 319, when the emperorConstantine built a basilica over the site believed to be the tomb of Saint Peter (died circa AD 68). This early church stood for more than 1,000 years, undergoing anumber of restorations, until it was on the verge of collapse.In 1506 Pope Julius II (1443–1513) commissioned the architect Bramante to build a new and greater basilica, but construction would take more than 120 years. In1546 Michelangelo was persuaded to take over the job, but the magnificent cupola he designed was finally completed after his death at age 89 by Giacomo dellaPorta (circa 1537–1602) and Domenico Fontana (1543–1607). The new church wasn’t dedicated until 1626; by that time Renaissance had given way to baroque,and many of the plan’s original elements had gone the way of their designers. Off the entry portico, architect and sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini’s famous ScalaRegia, the ceremonial entry to the Apostolic Palace—and originally the way to the Sistine Chapel—is one of the most magnificent staircases in the world and isgraced with Bernini’s dramatic statue of Constantine the Great.Entering the sanctuary, take a moment to adjust to the enormity of the space stretching in front of you. The cherubs over the holy-water fonts have feet as long asthe distance from your fingertips to your elbow. It is because the proportions are in such perfect harmony that the vastness may escape you at first. The megascalewas inspired by the size of the ancient Roman ruins.Over an altar in a side chapel to the right of the entrance is Michelangelo’s Pietà, a sculpture of Mary holding her son Jesus’ body after crucifixion—the starattraction here other than the basilica itself. Legend has it that the artist, only 24 at the time the work was completed, overheard other artists being given credit for hisdesign. It’s said that his offense at the implication was why he crept back that night and signed the piece—in big letters, on a ribbon falling from the Virgin’s leftshoulder across her breast.At the crossing of the transept four massive piers support the dome, and the mighty Bernini baldacchino (canopy) rises high above the papal altar, where the popecelebrates mass. The bronze throne behind the main altar in the apse, the Cathedra Petri (Chair of Saint Peter), is Bernini’s work (1656), and it covers a wooden-and-ivory chair that Saint Peter himself is said to have used. However, scholars contend that this throne probably dates only from the Middle Ages. See how theadoration of a million caresses has completely worn down the bronze on the left foot of the statue of Saint Peter in front of the near-right pillar in the transept. Freeone-hour English-language tours of the basilica depart Monday–Saturday at 10 and 3, Sunday at 2:30 (sign up at the little desk under the portico). St. Peter’s isclosed during ceremonies in the piazza. | Piazza San Pietro | 00120 | 06/6982 | | Daily 8–6 | Station: Cipro-Musei Vaticani.The Grotte Vaticane (Vatican Grottoes) directly beneath the basilica contain the tombs of many popes, including John Paul II. The entrance is beside the cupolaentrance, outside the basilica. The only exit leads outside the church, so don’t go down until you’re finished elsewhere. | Free | Apr.–Sept., daily 7–6; Oct.–Mar.,daily 7–5.The roof of St. Peter’s Basilica, reached by elevator or stairs, provides a view among a landscape of domes and towers. An interior staircase (170 steps) leads to thebase of the dome for a dove’s-eye look at the interior of St. Peter’s. Only if you are stout of heart and sound of lung should you attempt the taxing andclaustrophobic climb up the remaining 370 steps to the balcony of the lantern, where the view embraces the Vatican Gardens and all of Rome. The up and downstaircases are one way; once you commit to climbing, there’s no turning back. | Elevator €7, stairs €5 | Daily 8–5 (12:30–5 on Wed. if the pope has audience inPiazza San Pietro).Castel Sant’Angelo.For hundreds of years this fortress guarded the Vatican, to which it is linked by the Passetto, an arcaded passageway (the secret “lair of the Illuminati,” according toDan Brown’s Angels & Demons, the Rome-based prequel to The Da Vinci Code). According to legend, Castel Sant’Angelo got its name during the plague of 590,when Pope Gregory the Great (circa 540–604), passing by in a religious procession, had a vision of an angel sheathing its sword atop the stone ramparts. Though itmay look like a stronghold, Castel Sant’Angelo was in fact built as a tomb for the emperor Hadrian (76–138) in AD 135. By the 6th century it had beentransformed into a fortress, and it remained a refuge for the popes for almost 1,000 years. It has dungeons, battlements, cannon and cannonballs, and a collection ofantique weaponry and armor. The lower levels formed the base of Hadrian’s mausoleum; ancient ramps and narrow staircases climb through the castle’s core tocourtyards and frescoed halls, where temporary exhibits are held. Off the loggia is a café.The upper terrace, with the massive angel statue commemorating Gregory’s vision, evokes memories of Tosca, Puccini’s poignant heroine in the opera of the samename, who threw herself off these ramparts with the cry, “Scarpia, avanti a Dio!” (“Scarpia, we meet before God!”) On summer evenings exhibits and concerts areheld inside the castle. One of Rome’s most beautiful pedestrian bridges, Ponte Sant’Angelo spans the Tiber in front of the fortress and is studded with gracefulangels designed by Bernini. | Lungotevere Castello 50, nearVatican | 00186 | 06/6819111 | | €5 | Tues.–Sun. 8:30– 7:30 | Station:Ottaviano.Fodor’s Choice | Musei Vaticani(Vatican Museums). The building on your left as you exit St. Peter’s Basilica is the Apostolic Palace, the papal residence since 1870, with an estimated 1,400rooms, chapels, and galleries. Other than the pope and his court, the primary occupants are the galleries of the Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums), containing someof art’s greatest masterpieces. The Sistine Chapel is the headliner here, but in your haste to get there, don’t overlook the Museo Egizio, with its fine Egyptiancollection; the famed classical sculptures of the Chiaramonti and the Museo Pio Clementino; and the Stanze di Raffaello (Raphael Rooms), a suite of halls coveredfloor-to-ceiling in some of the master’s greatest works.On a first visit to the Vatican Museums, you may just want to see the highlights—even that will take several hours and a good, long walk. TIP In peak touristseason, be prepared for at least an hour’s wait to get into the museums and large crowds once inside. The best time to avoid lines and crowds is not firstthing in the morning but during lunch hour and the Wednesday papal audiences. The collection is divided among different galleries, halls, and wings connected endto end. Pick up a leaflet at the main entrance to the museums to see the overall layout. The Sistine Chapel is at the far end of the complex, and the leaflet charts twoabbreviated itineraries through other collections to reach it. An audio guide (€6, about 90 minutes) for the Sistine Chapel, the Stanze di Raffaello, and 350 otherworks and locations is worth the added expense. Phone or e-mail at least a week in advance (a month for peak season) to book a guided tour (€30) through theVatican Museums. The main entrance to the museums, on Viale Vaticano, is a long walk from Piazza San Pietro along a busy thoroughfare. Some city buses stopnear the main entrance: Bus 49 from Piazza Cavour stops right in front; buses 81 and 492 and Tram 19 stop at Piazza Risorgimento, halfway between St. Peter’s
  • 54. near the main entrance: Bus 49 from Piazza Cavour stops right in front; buses 81 and 492 and Tram 19 stop at Piazza Risorgimento, halfway between St. Peter’sand the museums. The Ottaviano–San Pietro and the Cipro–Musei Vaticani stops on Line A also are in the vicinity. Entry is free the last Sunday of the month, andthe museum is closed on Catholic holidays, of which there are many. Last admission is two hours before closing.Besides the galleries mentioned here, there are many other wings along your way—full of maps, tapestries, classical sculpture, Egyptian mummies, Etruscan statues,and even Aztec treasures. From the main entrance of the Vatican Museums take the escalator up to the glass atrium. Follow the hall to the right to the Pinacoteca(Picture Gallery). This is a self-contained section, and it’s worth visiting first for works by such artists as Leonardo (1452–1520), Giotto (circa 1266–1337), FraAngelico (1387–1455), and Filippo Lippi (circa 1406–69), and the exceptional Transfiguration, Coronation, and Foligno Madonna by Raphael (1483–1520).The Cortile Ottagonale (Octagonal Courtyard) of the Vatican Museums displays some of sculpture’s most famous works, including the 1st century AD Romancopy of the 4th century BC Greek Apollo Belvedere (and Canova’s 1801 Perseus, heavily influenced by it) and the 1st-century Laocoön.The Stanze di Raffaello (Raphael Rooms) are second only to the Sistine Chapel in artistic interest—and draw crowds comparable. In 1508 Pope Julius II employedRaphael, on the recommendation of Bramante, to decorate the rooms with allegories, scenes of papal history, and biblical scenes. The result is a Renaissance tour deforce. Of the four rooms, the second and third were decorated mainly by Raphael. The others were decorated by Giulio Romano (circa 1499–1546) and otherassistants of Raphael, based on his designs.The frescoed Stanza della Segnatura (Room of the Signature), where papal bulls were signed, is one of Raphael’s finest works; indeed, they are thought by many tobe some of the finest frescoes in the history of Western art. This was Julius’s private library, and the room’s use is reflected in the frescoes’ themes, philosophy, andenlightenment. A paradigm of High Renaissance painting, the works demonstrate the revolutionary ideals of naturalism (Raphael’s figures lack the awkwardness ofthose painted only a few years earlier); humanism (the idea that human beings are the noblest and most admirable of God’s creations); and a profound interest in theancient world, the result of the 15th-century rediscovery of classical antiquity. The School of Athens glorifies some of philosophy’s greats, including Plato (pointingto Heaven) and Aristotle (pointing to Earth) at the fresco’s center. The pensive figure on the stairs is thought to be modeled after Michelangelo, who was paintingthe Sistine ceiling at the same time Raphael was working here. Look for a confident Raphael, dressed in a red cloak, on the far right, beside his white-clad friend IlSodoma, the artist who frescoed the ceiling.In 1508, just before Raphael started work on his rooms, the redoubtable Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint single-handedly the more-than-10,000-square-foot ceiling of the Cappella Sistina (Sistine Chapel). | Main museum entrance, Viale Vaticano 100; guided visit office, Piazza San Pietro | 00120 |06/69884947 | | €14 | Mon.–Sat. 9–6 (last entrance at 4); closed Sun., except for last Sun. of month (9–12:30), when admission is free; other datesof closure include Jan. 1 and 6; Feb. 11; May 1 and 21; June 11 and 29; Aug. 15; Dec. 25 and 26 | Note: ushers at entrance of St. Peter’s and Vatican Museumswill bar entry to people with bare knees or bare shoulders | Station: Cipro-Musei Vaticani or Ottaviano-San Pietro.Fodor’s Choice | Cappella Sistina(Sistine Chapel). In 1508, the redoubtable Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to fresco the more than 10,000 square feet of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.(Sistine, by the way, is simply the adjective from Sixtus, in reference to Pope Sixtus IV, who commissioned the chapel itself.) The task took four years, and it’s saidthat for many years afterward Michelangelo couldn’t read anything without holding it up over his head. The result, however, was the greatest artwork of theRenaissance. A pair of binoculars helps greatly, as does a small mirror—hold the mirror facing the ceiling and look down to study the reflection.Before the chapel was consecrated in 1483, its lower walls had been decorated by a group of artists including Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Perugino, Signorelli, andPinturicchio. They had painted scenes from the life of Moses on one wall and episodes from the life of Christ on the other. Later, Julius II, dissatisfied with thesimple vault decoration—it consisted of no more than stars painted on the ceiling—decided to call in Michelangelo. At the time, Michelangelo was carving JuliusII’s resplendent tomb—a project that never came near completion. He had no desire to give the project up to paint a ceiling, considering the task unworthy of him.Julius was not, however, a man to be trifled with, and Michelangelo reluctantly began work. The project proceeded in fits and starts until Michelangelo decided todedicate himself wholeheartedly to it.More than 20 years later, Michelangelo was called on again, this time by the Farnese pope Paul III, to add to the chapel’s decoration by painting the Last Judgmenton the wall over the altar. The subject was well suited to the aging and embittered artist, who had been deeply moved by the horrendous Sack of Rome in 1527 andthe confusions and disturbances of the Reformation. The painting stirred up controversy even before it was unveiled in 1541, shocking many Vatican officials,especially one Biagio di Cesena, who criticized its “indecent” nudes. Michelangelo retaliated by painting Biagio’s face on the figure with donkey’s ears in Hades, inthe lower right-hand corner of the work. Biagio pleaded with Pope Paul to have Michelangelo erase his portrait, but the pontiff replied that he could intercede forthose in purgatory but had no power over hell. As if to sign this, his late great fresco, Michelangelo painted his own face on the wrinkled human skin in the hand ofSt. Bartholomew. | Vatican Palace; entry only through Musei Vaticani | 00193.Piazza San Pietro.As you enter St. Peter’s Square you are officially entering Vatican territory. The piazza is one of Bernini’s most spectacular masterpieces. It was completed in 1667after 11 years’ work, a relatively short time, considering the vastness of the task. The piazza can hold 400,000 people—as it did in the days following the death ofPope John Paul II. The piazza is surrounded by a curving pair of quadruple colonnades, topped by a balustrade and statues of 140 saints. Look for the two disks setinto the pavement on either side of the obelisk at the center of the piazza. When you stand on either disk, a trick of perspective makes the colonnades seem to consistof a single row of columns. Remember to look for the Swiss Guards in their colorful uniforms; they’ve been standing at the Vatican entrances for more than 500years. | At head of Via delle Conciliazione | 00193.Quick Bites near the VaticanYou don’t have to snack at the touristy joints outside the Vatican Museums; a short walk away are neighborhood restaurants catering to locals. Among them is IlMozzicone (Borgo Pio 180, near SanPietro | 00193), where you can fill up on solid Roman fare at moderate prices (closed Sunday). La Caravella (Via degliScipioni 32b, at Via Vespasiano, off Piazza Risorgimento, near SanPietro | 00192) serves pizza at lunch every day but Thursday, when it’s closed.W O R T H N O T I N G I N T H E V A T I C A NGiardini Vaticani
  • 55. (Vatican Gardens). Generations of popes have strolled in these beautifully manicured gardens, originally laid out in the 16th century. A two-hour guided tour, halfby bus and half on foot, takes you through a haven of shady walkways, elaborate fountains, and exotic plants. Make reservations two or three days in advance andpick up your tickets in the Guided Visit to Vatican Museums Office at the museum entrance. If you have a reservation, you can skip the line (go in through the Exitdoor); the office window is inside the atrium. | Viale Vaticano 100 | 00120 | Fax 06/69884019 reservations | | €12 | Mar.–Oct., Tues., Thurs., andSat. 11 AM; Nov.–Feb., Sat. 11 AM, office Mon.–Sat. 8:30–7 | Station: Cipro-Musei Vaticani.P A P A L A U D I E N C E SThe pope holds audiences in a large, modern hall (or in St. Peter’s Square in summer) on Wednesday morning at 10. To attend, you must get tickets; apply inwriting at least 10 days in advance to the Papal Prefecture (Prefettura della Casa Pontificia | 00120 | Vatican City | 06/69884857 | Fax 06/69885863 |, indicating the full name of attendants, the date you prefer, your language, and your hotel’s contact information. Or go to the prefecture, throughthe Porta di Bronzo, the bronze door at the end of the colonnade on the right side of the piazza; the office is open Monday–Saturday 9–1, and last-minute ticketsmay be available.You can also arrange to pick up free tickets on Tuesday from 5 to 6:30 at the Santa Susanna American Church (Via XX Settembre 15, near PiazzadellaRepubblica | 00187 | 06/42014554 | ; call first. For a fee, travel agencies make arrangements that include transportation. Arrive early,as security is tight and the best places fill up fast.T H E G H E T T O , T I B E R I S L A N D , A N D T R A S T E V E R EEach staunchly resisting the tides of change, these three areas are hard to beat for the authentic atmosphere of Old Rome. You begin in the old Ghetto, once awarren of twisting, narrow streets where Rome’s Jewish community was at one time confined, now a combination of medieval, Renaissance, and modernstructures. Ancient bridges, the Ponte Fabricio and Ponte Cestio, link the Ghetto to Tiber Island, the diminutive sandbar that is one of Rome’s most picturesquesights. On the opposite side of the Tiber lies Trastevere—literally “across the Tiber”—long cherished as Rome’s Greenwich Village and now subject to rampantgentrification. In spite of this, Trastevere remains about the most tightly knit community in the city, the Trasteverini proudly (and erroneously!) proclaiming theirdescent from the ancient Romans. This area is Rome’s enchanting, medieval heart.Getting HereFrom Termini station, nab the No. 40 Express or the No. 64 bus to Largo Torre Argentina, where you can get off to visit the Ghetto area. Switch to Tram No. 8 toget to Trastevere. The No. 75 bus departs from near Termini, passes the Colosseum, and later ascends the Janiculum Hill.T O P A T T R A C T I O N S I N T H E G H E T T O , T I B E R I S L A N D , A NFontana delle Tartarughe.The 16th-century Fountain of the Tortoises in Piazza Mattei is one of Rome’s loveliest. Designed by Giacomo della Porta (1539–1602) in 1581 and sculpted byTaddeo Landini (1550–96), the piece revolves around four bronze boys, each clutching a dolphin that jets water into marble shells. Several bronze tortoises, thoughtto have been added by Bernini, are held in each of the boys’ hands and drink from the fountain’s upper basin. The piazza is lined by a few interesting cafés andshops. It was named for the Mattei family, who built several palaces in the area, including one on the square. Nearby at Via Michelangelo Caetani 32 is PalazzoMattei di Giove, famed for its sculpture-rich, bust-adorned 17th-century courtyard—one of Rome’s most photogenic. | Piazza Mattei, Ghetto | 00186.Isola Tiberina.Tiber Island is where a city hospital stands on a site that has been dedicated to healing ever since a temple to Aesculapius was erected here in 291 BC. Back then,the ancient Romans sheathed the entire island in travertine, sculpting it into a “boat” complete with obelisk “mast.” Be sure to walk down the wide river
  • 56. the ancient Romans sheathed the entire island in travertine, sculpting it into a “boat” complete with obelisk “mast.” Be sure to walk down the wide riverembankment to the southern tip to see one of the most astonishing remnants of ancient Rome: the island’s sculpted marble “prow,” meant to symbolize the ship ofthe Trojan hero Aeneas, father of the Italic people. Every summer, the city’s Estate Romana hosts an open-air cinema on the island’s paved shores. | Ponte Fabricioand Ponte Cestio, nearGhetto | 00186.Jewish Ghetto.Rome has had a Jewish community since the 2nd century BC, and from that time until the present its living conditions have varied widely according to its relationswith the city’s rulers. In 1555 Pope Paul IV Carafa established Rome’s Ghetto Ebraico in the neighborhood marked off by the Portico d’Ottavia, the Tiber, and thePiazza dei Cenci. Measuring only 200 yards by 250 yards, the area quickly became Rome’s most densely populated and least healthy. The laws were rescindedwhen Italy was unified in 1870 and the pope lost his political authority, but German troops tragically occupied Rome during World War II and in 1943 wroughthavoc here. Today, there are a few Judaica shops and kosher groceries, bakeries, and restaurants (especially on Via di Portico d’Ottavia), but the neighborhoodmansions are now being renovated and much coveted by the rich and stylish. The Museo Ebraico arranges tours of the Ghetto. The museum has exhibits detailingthe millennial history of Rome’s Jewish community. | Lungotevere Cenci, Ghetto | 00186 | 06/68400661 | | €8.50 | Sun.–Thurs. 10–5,Fri. 9–1:15.Portico d’Ottavia.Along Via del Portico d’Ottavia in the heart of the Jewish Ghetto are buildings where medieval inscriptions, ancient friezes, and half-buried classical monumentsattest to the venerable history of the neighborhood. The old Chiesa di Sant’Angelo in Pescheria was built right into the ruins of the ancient Roman Porticod’Ottavia, which was a monumental area enclosing a temple, library, and other buildings within colonnaded porticoes. | Via del Portico d’Ottavia, Ghetto | 00186.Fodor’s Choice | Santa Maria in Trastevere.Shimmering at night thanks to its medieval facade mosaics, this is one of Rome’s most magnificent and oldest churches, first built in the 3rd century and then greatlyenlarged in the 12th century. Inside, the nave framed by a grand processional of two rows of columns taken from ancient Roman buildings often producedinvoluntary gasps from unsuspecting visitors—this is probably as close as we can get to the imperial splendor of an ancient Roman basilica. A shining burst ofByzantine color and light is added by the celebrated 12th-century mosaics in the apse; also note the Cosmati work, a mosaic style from the 12th and 13th centuriesin which tiny squares and triangles were laid with larger stones to form geometric patterns in the church floors. Outside, the Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere is avery popular spot for afternoon coffee and evening cocktails at its outdoor cafés. The 13th-century mosaics on Santa Maria’s facade—which add light and color tothe piazza, especially at night when they are in spotlight—are believed to represent the Wise and Foolish Virgins. In mid-July, processions honoring the VirginMary gather at the church as part of Trastevere’s famous traditional feast, called Festa de Noantri (Festival of We Others). | Piazza di Santa Maria, Trastevere |00153 | 06/5814802 | | Daily 7:30–9.Teatro di Marcello.The Teatro, hardly recognizable as a theater today, was originally designed to hold 20,000 spectators. It was begun by Julius Caesar and inaugurated by Augustus;today, the 16th-century apartment building that sprouted out of its remains has become one of Rome’s most prestigious residential addresses. The area west of thetheater makes a grand stage for chamber music concerts in summer. | Via del Teatro di Marcello, Ghetto | 00186 | 06/87131590 concert information | | Open during concerts only.Trastevere.This area consists of a maze of narrow streets and is still, despite evident gentrification, one of the city’s most authentically Roman neighborhoods. Literallytranslated, its name means “across the Tiber,” and indeed the Trasteverini—the neighborhood’s natives—are a breed apart. The area is hardly undiscovered, butamong its self-consciously picturesque trattorias and trendy enoteche (wine bars) you can also find old shops and dusty artisans’ workshops in alleys festooned withlaundry hung out to dry. Stroll along Via dell’Arco dei Tolomei and Via dei Salumi, shadowy streets showing the patina of the ages. One of the least affected partsof Trastevere is a block in from the Tiber: on Piazza in Piscinula, north of Via dei Salumi and south of the Ponte Cestio, the smallest medieval church in the city,San Benedetto, stands opposite the restored medieval Casa dei Mattei. | Just east of the Tiber River, accessed by Ponte Sisto, Ponte Garibaldi, Ponte Cestio, PontePalatino, and Ponte Principe Amedeo, Trastevere | 00153.Villa Farnesina.Money was no object to extravagant patron Agostino Chigi, a Sienese banker who financed many a papal project. His munificence is evident in his elegant villa,completed in 1511. When Raphael could steal some precious time from his work on the Vatican Stanze and wooing La Fornarina, he executed some of thefrescoes, notably a luminous Galatea and the innovative Loggia of Psyche. Chigi delighted in impressing guests by having his servants cast precious dinnerwareinto the Tiber when it was time to clear the table. The guests didn’t know of the nets he had stretched under the waterline to catch everything. His extravagant waysmeant that his villa had to be sold eventually to the grand Farnese family; it was renamed. | Via della Lungara 230, Trastevere | 00153 | 06/68027268 || €5 | Mon.–Sat. 9–1.W O R T H N O T I N G I N T H E G H E T T O , T I B E R I S L A N D , A N D TPalazzo Corsini.This elegant palace across the street from the Villa Farnesina houses the collection of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, including Roman sculptures,neoclassical statues, and 16th- and 17th-century paintings; even if you’re not interested in the artworks, stop in to climb the extraordinary 17th-century stonestaircase, itself a drama of architectural shadows and sculptural voids. The adjacent Corsini gardens, now Rome’s Orto Botanico, offer delightful tranquility, withnative and exotic plants and a marvelous view at the top. | Via della Lungara 10, Trastevere | 00153 | 06/68802323 | | €4 | Tues.–Sun.8:30–7:30.Piazza Bocca della Verità.On the site of the Forum Boarium, ancient Rome’s cattle market, this square was later used for public executions. Its name is derived from the marble Bocca dellaVerità (Mouth of Truth), a huge medieval drain cover in the form of an open-mouth face that is now set into the entry portico of the magically medieval 12th-century church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. In the Middle Ages, legend had it that any person who told a lie with his hand in the mouth would have it chompedoff. Today tour groups line up in this noisy, traffic-jammed piazza to give this ancient lie detector (which starred with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in RomanHoliday) a go. | By Tiber River, along Lungotevere dei Pierleoni, nearGhetto | 00186.
  • 57. San Francesco a Ripa.Ask the sacristan to show you the cell where Saint Francis slept when he came to seek the pope’s approval for his new order. Also in this church is one of Bernini’smost dramatic sculptures, the figure of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni, ecstatic at the prospect of entering heaven. | Piazza San Francesco d’Assisi 88, Trastevere |00153 | 06/5819020 | Mon.–Sat. 7–noon and 4–7, Sun. 7–1:30 and 4–7:30.Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.Mothers and children love to dally in the delightful little courtyard in front of this church. Duck inside for a look at the 9th-century mosaics and the languid statue ofSaint Cecilia under the altar. There are remains of Roman houses visible beneath the church. To see them, ask at the booth to the left of the main entrance.Fragments of a Last Judgment fresco cycle by Pietro Cavallini (circa 1250–1330), dating from the late 13th century, remain one of his most important works.Though the Byzantine-influenced fragments are obscured by the structure, what’s left reveals a rich luminosity in the seated apostles’ drapery and a remarkabledepth in their expressions. To view the frescoes, ring the bell at the convent to the right of the church’s portico. | Piazza di Santa Cecilia 22, Trastevere | 00153 |06/5899289 | Church free, frescoes €2.50 | Daily 9–12:30 and 4–6:30. Frescoes Mon.–Sat. 10:15–12:15, Sun. 11–noon.Tempio della Fortuna Virilis.This rectangular temple devoted to “manly fortune” dates from the 2nd century BC and is built in the Greek style, as was the norm in the early years of Rome. Forits age, its remains are remarkably well preserved, in part due to its subsequent consecration as a Christian church. | Piazza Bocca della Verità, nearGhetto | 00186.Tempio di Ercole Victor.All but one of the 20 original Corinthian columns in Rome’s most evocative small ruin remain intact. It was built in the 2nd century BC. Long considered a shrineto Vesta, it is now believed the temple was devoted to Hercules by a successful olive merchant. | Piazza Bocca della Verità,near Ghetto | 00186.T H E C A T A C O M B S A N D V I A A P P I A A N T I C AThe Early Christian sites on the ancient Appian Way are some of the religion’s oldest. Catacombs, where ancient pagans, Jews, and early Christians buried theirdead, lie below the very road where tradition says Christ appeared to Saint Peter. The Via Appia Antica, built 400 years before, is a quiet, green place to walk andponder the ancient world. There is a helpful office around the first milestone (at No. 58/60) that provides informative pamphlets and bicycle rentals.Getting HereYou can take Bus No. 118 from Circo Massimo, No. 218 from Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, or No. 660 from the Colli Albani Metro station (Line A). There isalso an Archeobus OpenTram bus from Termini ( O P A T T R A C T I O N S I N T H E C A T A C O M B S A N D V I A A P P I ACatacombe di San Sebastiano(Catacombs of St. Sebastian). The 3rd-century Christian catacombs, named for the saint who was buried here, burrows underground on four levels. The only one ofthe catacombs to remain accessible during the Middle Ages, it’s the origin of the term catacomb, for it was in a spot where the road dips into a hollow, in Greek,kata kymbe (down in the hollow). The complex began as a pagan cemetery, then slowly transformed into a Christian one. It is this type of burial that you will see onthe guided visit—recesses carved into the galleries meant for inhumation burials. | Via Appia Antica 136 | 00179 | 06/7850350 | | €6 | Mon.–Sat. 9–noon and 2–5. Closed Nov. 15–Dec. 15.Tomba di Cecilia Metella.The circular mausoleum of a Roman noblewoman, who lived at the time of Julius Caesar, was transformed into a fortress by the formidable Caetani family in the14th century. The tomb houses a tiny museum with sculptures from the Via Appia Antica and an interesting reconstruction of the area’s geological and historical
  • 58. 14th century. The tomb houses a tiny museum with sculptures from the Via Appia Antica and an interesting reconstruction of the area’s geological and historicalpast. | Via Appia Antica161 | 00179 | 06/0608 | | €6 | Mon.–Sat. 9 AM–1 hr before sunset.Via Appia Antica.This Queen of Roads, (Regina Viarium), was the most important of the extensive network of roads that traversed the Roman Empire, a masterful feat of engineeringthat made possible Roman control of a vast area by allowing for the efficient transport of armies and commercial goods. Begun in 312 BC by Appius Claudius, theroad was ancient Europe’s first highway. The first part reached as far as Capua near Naples, ultimately being extended in 191 BC to Brindisi 584 km (365 mi)southeast of Rome on the Adriatic Coast. The ancient roadway begins at Porta San Sebastiano, southeast of the Circus Maximus, passing through grassy fields andshady groves and by the villas of movie stars (Marcello Mastroianni and Gina Lollobrigida had homes here). The area of primary interest lies between the secondand third milestones and is still paved with the ancient basoli (basalt stones) over which the Romans drove their carriages—look for the wheel ruts. Pick a sunnyday for your visit, wear comfortable shoes, and bring a bottle of water. The Appia Antica is best reached with public transport (there are no sidewalks along theroad); see Getting Here, above. For more information, or bike rentals for exploring the Via Appia, visit the Information Point at (Via Appia Antica 58/60 |06/5135316 | Daily 9:30–5:30 | | Exit Via Cristoforo Colombo at Circonvallazione Ardeatina, follow signs to Appia Antica parking lot |00179.W O R T H N O T I N G I N T H E C A T A C O M B S A N D V I A A P P I A A NCatacombe di San Callisto(Catacombs of St. Calixte). A friar will guide you through the crypts and galleries of the well-preserved San Callisto catacombs. | Via Appia Antica110 | 00179 |06/51301580 | | €6 | Mar.–Jan., Thurs.–Tues. 9–noon and 2–5.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 59. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsPantheon and Navona | Campo de’ Fiori and Ghetto | Spagna | Monti, Repubblica, and San Lorenzo | Vatican, Borgo, Prati, and Northwest Rome | Trastevere |Testaccio | Cafés | GelatoRome has been known since ancient times for its great feasts and banquets, and though the days of the triclinium and the Saturnalia are long past, dining out is stillthe Romans’ favorite pastime. The city is distinguished more by its good attitude toward eating out than by a multitude of world-class restaurants; simple, traditionalcuisine reigns, although things are slowly changing as talented young chefs explore new culinary frontiers. Many of the city’s restaurants cater to a clientele ofregulars, and atmosphere and attitude are usually friendly and informal. The flip side is that in Rome the customer is not always right—the chef and waiters are incharge, and no one will beg forgiveness if you wanted skim milk in that cappuccino. Be flexible and you’re sure to mangiar bene (eat well). Lunch is served fromapproximately 12:30 to 2:30 and dinner from 7:30 or 8 until about 11, though some restaurants stay open later, especially in summer, when patrons linger atsidewalk tables to enjoy the parade of people and the ponentino (evening breeze).The Piazza del Pantheon is a striking restaurant location—though you’ll find better food elsewhere in the neighborhood. WHAT IT COSTS (In euros) AT DINNER Prices are for a first course (primo), second course (secondo), and dessert (dolce). ¢ under €20 $ €20–€30 $$ €30–€45 $$$ €45–€65 $$$$ over €65P A N T H E O N A N D N A V O N AP A N T H E O NIl Bacaro.$$ | MODERN ITALIAN | With a handful of choice tables set outside against an ivy-draped wall, this tiny candlelit spot not far from the Pantheon makes for anideal evening, equally suited for a romantic twosome or close friends and convivial conversation. Pastas—like orecchiette (little ear-shaped pasta) with broccoli andsausage, a dish that lip-smacks of Puglia—are star players. As a bonus, the kitchen keeps its clients from picking at each other’s plates by offering side dishes of allthe pastas ordered among those at the table. The choice main courses are mostly meat—the beef fillet with balsamic vinegar or London broil–style marinated inolive oil and rosemary are winners. | Via degli Spagnoli 27, Pantheon | 00186 | 06/6872554 | | Reservations essential | DC, MC, V | Closed Sun.and 1 wk in Aug. No lunch Sat.Maccheroni.$$ | ROMAN | This boisterous, convivial trattoria north of the Pantheon makes for a fun evening out. The decor is basic: white walls with wooden shelves lined
  • 60. $$ | ROMAN | This boisterous, convivial trattoria north of the Pantheon makes for a fun evening out. The decor is basic: white walls with wooden shelves linedwith wine bottles, blocky wooden tables covered in white butcher paper—but there’s an “open” kitchen (with even the dishwashers in plain view of the diners) andan airy feel that attracts a young clientele as well as visiting celebrities. The menu sticks to Roman basics such as simple pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil, orrigatoni alla gricia (with bacon, sheep’s-milk cheese, and black pepper). The specialty pasta, trofie (short pasta twists) with a black truffle sauce, inspires you to lickyour plate. Probably the best choice on the menu is the tagliata con rughetta, a juicy, two-inch-thick steak sliced thinly and served on arugula. | Piazza delleCoppelle 44, Pantheon | 00186 | 06/68307895 | | AE, MC, V .N A V O N ACul de Sac.¢–$ | WINE BAR | This popular wine bar near Piazza Navona is among the city’s oldest enoteche and offers a book-length selection of wines from Italy, France,the Americas, and elsewhere. Food is eclectic, ranging from a huge assortment of Italian meats and cheeses (try the delicious lonza, cured pork loin, or speck, anorthern Italian smoked prosciutto) to various Mediterranean dishes, including delicious baba ghanoush, a tasty Greek salad, and a spectacular wild boar pâté.Outside tables get crowded fast, so arrive early, or come late, as they serve until about 1 AM. | Piazza Pasquino 73, Piazza Navona | 00186 | 06/68801094 | AE,MC, V | Closed 2 wks in Aug. .Da Baffetto.¢–$ | PIZZA | Down a cobblestone street not far from Piazza Navona, this is Rome’s most popular pizzeria and a summer favorite for street-side dining. The plaininterior is mostly given over to the ovens, but there’s another room with more paper-covered tables. Outdoor tables (enclosed and heated in winter) provide much-needed additional seating. Turnover is fast and lingering is not encouraged. | Via del Governo Vecchio 114, Navona | 00186 | 06/6861617 | No credit cards | ClosedAug. No lunch .Etablì.$$ | MEDITERRANEAN | On a narrow vicolo off beloved Piazza del Fico, this multidimensional locale serves as a lounge-bar, and becomes a hot spot byaperitivo hour. Beautifully finished with vaulted wood beam ceilings, wrought-iron touches, plush leather sofas, and chandeliers, it’s all modern Italian farmhousechic. In the restaurant section (the place is sprawling), it’s minimalist Provençal hip (etabli is French for the regionally typical tables within). And the food is cleanand Mediterranean, with touches of Asia in the raw fish appetizers. Pastas are more traditional Italian, and the secondi run the gamut from land to sea. Arrive earlyas the place fills up by dinnertime and it’s a popular post-dining spot for sipping and posing. | Vicolo delle Vacche 9/a, Navona | 00186 | 06/6871499 || MC, V | Closed Sun. in summer, Mon. in winter .Il Convivio.$$$$ | MODERN ITALIAN | In a tiny, nondescript vicolo north of Piazza Navona, the three Troiani brothers—Angelo in the kitchen, and brothers Giuseppe andMassimo presiding over the dining room and wine cellar—have quietly been redefining the experience of Italian eclectic alta cucina for many years. Antipastiinclude a “roast beef” of tuna fillet lacquered with chestnut honey, rosemary, red peppercorns, and ginger served with a green apple salad, while a squid ink risottowith baby cuttlefish, sea asparagus, lemongrass, and basil sates the appetites of those with dreams of fantasia. Main courses include a fabulous version of a cold-weather pigeon dish for which Il Convivio is famous. Service is attentive without being overbearing, and the wine list is exceptional. It is definitely a splurge spot. |Vicolo dei Soldati 31, Navona | 00186 | 06/6869432 | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun., 1 wk in Jan., and 2 wks in Aug. No lunch .Obika.$$ | ITALIAN | If you’ve ever wanted to take in a “mozzarella bar,” here’s your chance. Mozzarella is featured here much like sushi bars showcase fresh fish—even the decor is modern Japanese minimalism–meets–ancient Roman grandeur. The cheese, in all its varieties, is the focus of the dishes: there’s the familiar cow’smilk, the delectable water buffalo milk varieties from the Campagnia region, and the sinfully rich burrata from Puglia (a fresh cow’s milk mozzarella encasing acreamy center of unspun mozzarella curds and fresh cream). They’re all served with various accompanying cured meats, vegetables, sauces, and breads. An outdoordeck is a great spot for dining alfresco. Also visit the new, supercentral smaller location in Campo de’ Fiori. The concept has been such a success that otherlocations recently opened in Florence and midtown Manhattan. | Piazza di Firenze 26, Navona | 00186 | | 06/6832630 | AE, DC, MC, V .C A M P O D E ’ F I O R I A N D G H E T T OC A M P O D E ’ F I O R IDa Sergio.$$ | ROMAN | Every neighborhood has at least one “old-school” Roman trattoria, and for the Campo de’ Fiori area Da Sergio is it. Once you’re seated (there’susually a wait), the red-and-white-check paper table-covering, bright lights, ’50s kitsch, and the stuffed boar’s head on the wall remind you that you’re smack in themiddle of the genuine article. Go for the delicious version of pasta all’amatriciana, or the generous helping of gnocchi with a tomato sauce and lots of Parmesancheese, served, as tradition dictates, on Thursday. | Vicolo delle Grotte 27 | 00186 | 06/6864293 | DC, MC, V | Closed Sun. and 2 wks in Aug.Dar Filettaro a Santa Barbara (Filetti di Baccalà).¢ | ITALIAN | For years, Filetti di Baccalà has been serving just that—battered, deep-fried fillets of salt cod—and not much else. You’ll find no-frills starters suchas bruschette al pomodoro (garlic-rubbed toast topped with fresh tomatoes and olive oil), sautéed zucchini, and, in winter months, the cod is served alongsidepuntarelle, chicory stems topped with a delicious anchovy-garlic-lemon vinaigrette. The location, down the street from Campo de’ Fiori in a little piazza in front ofthe beautiful Santa Barbara church, begs you to eat at one of the outdoor tables, weather permitting. Long operating hours allow those still on U.S. time to eat asearly (how gauche!) as 6 PM. | Largo dei Librari 88, Campo de’ Fiori | 00186 | 06/6864018 | No credit cards | Closed Sun. and Aug. No lunch .Ditirambo.$$ | ITALIAN | Don’t let the country-kitchen ambience fool you. At this little spot off Campo de’ Fiori, the constantly changing selection of offbeat takes on Italianclassics is a step beyond ordinary Roman fare. The place is usually packed with diners who appreciate the adventuresome kitchen, though you may overhearcomplaints about the brusque service. Antipasti can be delicious and unexpected, like Gorgonzola-pear soufflé drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar, or a mille-feuille of eggplant, wild fennel, and anchovies. But people really love this place for rustic dishes like osso buco, Calabrian eggplant “meatballs,” and hearty pastawith rabbit ragù. Vegetarians will adore the cheesy potato gratin with truffle shavings. Desserts can be skipped in favor of a digestivo. | Piazza della Cancelleria 74,
  • 61. Campo de’ Fiori | 00186 | 06/6871626 | | AE, MC, V | Closed Aug. No lunch Mon.Roscioli.$$ | WINE BAR | This food shop and wine bar is dark and decadent, more like a Caravaggio painting than a place of business. The shop in front beckons with top-quality comestibles: wild Alaskan smoked salmon, more than 300 cheeses, and a dizzying array of wines. Venture farther inside to be seated in a wine cavelikeroom where you’ll be served artisanal cheeses and salumi, as well as an extensive selection of unusual menu choices and interesting takes on classics. Try theCaprese salad with DOC buffalo milk mozzarella, fresh and roasted tomatoes with bread crumbs and pistachios, or go for pasta with bottarga (dried mullet roe).The menu is further divided among meats, seafood (including a nice selection of tartars and other crudi (raw-fish preparations), and vegetarian-friendly items. TIPBook ahead to reserve a table in the cozy wine cellar beneath the dining room. And afterward head around the corner to their bakery for rightfullyfamous breads and sweets. | Via dei Giubbonari 21/22, Campo de’ Fiori | 00186 | 06/6875287 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun.Trattoria Moderna.$$ | ITALIAN | The space is as the name implies—modern, with high ceilings, and done in shades of beige and gray—and an oversize chalkboard displays dailyspecials, such as a delicious chickpea and baccalà (salt cod) soup. The food runs toward the traditional but with a twist, like a pasta all’amatriciana with kosherbeef instead of the requisite guanciale (cured pork jowl). Main courses are more creative, as well as more hit-or-miss. The jumbo shrimp in a cognac sauce withcouscous was tasty, but the scant four shrimp a drawback. The trattoria gets an “A” for effort, with its friendly serving staff and very reasonable prices. An extrabonus is the outdoor seating—a few tables surrounded by greenery, off the lovely cobblestone street. | Vicolo dei Chiodaroli 16, Campo de’ Fiori | 00186 |06/68803423 | AE, DC, MC, V .G H E T T OAl Pompiere.$$$ | ROMAN | The entrance on a narrow side street leads you up a charming staircase and into the main dining room of this neighborhood favorite. Its RomanJewish dishes, such as fried zucchini flowers, battered salt cod, and gnocchi, are all consistently good and served without fanfare on white dishes with a simpleborder. There are also some nice, historical touches like a beef-and-citron stew that comes from an ancient Roman recipe of Apicius. And if you come across thetraditional Roman porchetta (roasted suckling pig) special, make sure to order it before it runs out—it is truly divine. In 2004, there was a terrible fire in a shopbelow the restaurant, but the kitchen was soon back in business, though the irony here is as thick as the chef’s tomato sauce: Al Pompiere means “the fireman.” | ViaSanta Maria dei Calderari 38, Ghetto | 00186 | 06/6868377 | AE, MC, V | Closed Sun. and Aug. .Ba’ Ghetto.$$$ | ROMAN JEWISH | This new hot spot is a welcome addition to the main drag in the Jewish ghetto. The kitchen is kosher (many places featuring RomanJewish fare are not), and not only do they feature an assortment of Roman Jewish dishes, they also offer a variety of Mediterranean–Middle Eastern Jewish fare.Enjoy starters like phyllo “cigars” stuffed with ground meat and spices, or the brik—egg and tomato wrapped in phyllo triangles and briefly fried. There’s a niceassortment of pasta dishes, but we advise going for main plates like the assortment of couscous dishes (the spicy seafood is delicious) or baccalà with raisins andpine nuts. Interesting sides like chicory with bottarga (cured mullet roe) round out the meal. Kosher wines are on offer as well. Beware the strictly adhered-to hours:Saturday night, the restaurant posts post-Sabbath/sundown opening times to the minute on a blackboard out front. | Via del Portico d’Ottavia 57, Ghetto | 00186 |06/68892868 | | AE, MC, V | No dinner Fri. No lunch Sat..Il Sanlorenzo.$$$$ | SEAFOOD | This revamped, gorgeous space—think chandeliers and soaring original brickwork ceilings—houses one of the better seafood spots in theeternal city. Tempting tasting menus are on offer, as well as à la carte items like a wonderful series of small plates in their crudo (raw fish) appetizer, which caninclude a perfectly seasoned fish tartare trio, sweet scampi (local langoustines), and a wispy-thin carpaccio of red shrimp. The restaurant’s version of spaghetti withlobster is an exquisite example of how this dish should look and taste (the secret is cooking the pasta in a lobster stock!). Try a main course of a freshly caughtseasonal fish prepared to order. Menu items often change based on the chef’s whim and the catch of the day. A subterranean lounge and wine room offer refuge forthose who seek private dining. | Via dei Chiavari 4/5, Campo de’ Fiori | 00186 | 06/6865097 | | AE, DC, MC, V | No lunch Sat.–Mon..San Teodoro.$$$$ | SEAFOOD | The atmosphere: far removed from the madding crowds. The setting: a pair of enclosed piazzas, walls covered in ivy, nestled by the RomanForum and the Campidoglio. The specialty: refined Roman cuisine, featuring tastes of Roman Jewish fare and specializing in seafood. In spring and summer there’sa lovely outdoor dining deck, and in cooler months, the bright rooms decorated with contemporary art offer pleasant surroundings. The menu includes classic friedartichokes (among the best in the city), homemade ravioli con cipolla di Tropea (filled with red onion and tossed in balsamic vinegar), and favorite local fish turbot,barely adorned with perfectly roasted potatoes and extra-virgin olive oil. Everything down to the last bite (make your dessert choice the chocolate medley) is apleasure, even if it doesn’t come cheaply. | Via dei Fienili 50-51, Ghetto | 00186 | 06/6780933 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun. .S P A G N ADal Bolognese.$$$$ | EMILIAN | The darling of the media, film, and fashion communities, this classic restaurant on Piazza del Popolo is not only an “in-crowd” dinner destinationbut makes a convenient shopping-spree lunch spot. As the name promises, the cooking adheres to the hearty tradition of Bologna. Start with a plate of sweet SanDaniele prosciutto with melon, then move on to the traditional egg pastas of Emilia-Romagna. Second plates include the famous Bolognese bollito misto, a steamingtray of an assortment of boiled meats (some recognizable, some indecipherable) served with its classic accompaniment, a tangy, herby salsa verde (green sauce). |Piazza del Popolo 1, Spagna | 00187 | 06/3222799 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon. and 3 wks in Aug. .’Gusto-Osteria.$$ | ITALIAN | You can get regular osteria fare and service at this member of the ’Gusto restaurant empire, but why would you? The beauty of this spot is whatmakes it different: its adaptation of the idea of cichetti, a sort of Italian tapas that originated in the venerable bars of Venice. Head to the bar area here (the only placethis service is available) and, for between €2 and €4, sample pretty much anything on the regular menu in a snack-size portion. Many will want to begin bychoosing from the incredible selection of 400 cheeses in the basement cellar, then from the various fritti (fried items), moving onto pastas such as sheep’s milk andpepper spaghetti. Even enjoy mini desserts: the portions make you feel as if you’re behaving! | Via della Frezza 16, Spagna | 00187 | 06/32111482 | |
  • 62. pepper spaghetti. Even enjoy mini desserts: the portions make you feel as if you’re behaving! | Via della Frezza 16, Spagna | 00187 | 06/32111482 | |AE, DC, MC, V .Il Palazzetto.$$$ | MODERN ITALIAN | This small restaurant near the Piazza di Spagna is part of the International Wine Academy of Rome. Chef Antonio Martucci createsseasonal menus using traditional Roman ingredients, to which he gives a unique twist in preparation and flavor pairings. Stuffed calamari on an eggplant puree withsautéed baby peppers is a study in contrasting flavor and texture; homemade ricotta-filled gnocchi with sausage and asparagus hits all the right notes. It’s wise to callin advance, both for reservations and to find out about regular prix-fixe dinners, sometimes with guest chefs, focusing on wine-food pairings. | Vicolo del Bottino 8,Spagna | 00187 | 06/6993400 | AE, DC, MC, V .Margutta Vegetariano.$–$$ | VEGETARIAN | Parallel to posh Via del Babuino, Via Margutta has long been known as the street where artists have their studios in Rome. How fitting,then, that the rare Italian vegetarian restaurant, with changing displays of modern art, sits on the far end of this gallery-lined street closest to Piazza del Popolo. Hereit takes on a chic and cosmopolitan air, where you’ll find meat-free versions of classic Mediterranean dishes as well as more daring tofu concoctions. Lunch isessentially a pasta/salad bar to which you help yourself, while dinner offers à la carte and prix-fixe options. | Via Margutta 118, Spagna | 0018 | 06/32650577 | AE,DC, MC, V .Nino.$$ | ITALIAN | Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had their celeb-studded rehearsal dinner here, a testament that this dressed-up trattoria has been a favorite amonginternational journalists and the rich and famous for decades. Nino sticks to the classics, in food and decor, as well as in its waiters. Much of what you find on themenu here are Roman staples with a Tuscan slant. To start, try a selection from the fine antipasto spread, or go for the cured meats or warm crostini (toasts) spreadwith liver pâté. Move on to pappardelle al lepre (a rich hare sauce) or the juicy grilled beef. One warning: if you’re not Italian, or a regular, or a celebrity, thechance of brusque service multiplies—so insist on good service and you’ll win the waiters’ respect (and probably their attention). | Via Borgognona 11, Spagna |00187 | 06/6786752 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun. and Aug. .M O N T I , R E P U B B L I C A , A N D S A N L O R E N Z OM O N T ITrattoria Monti.$$ | CENTRAL ITALIAN | Not far from Santa Maria Maggiore, Monti is one of the most dependable, moderately priced trattorias in the city, featuring the cuisineof the Marches, an area to the northeast of Rome. There are surprisingly few places specializing in this humble fare considering there are more people hailing fromLe Marche in Rome than in the whole region of Le Marche. The fare served up by the Camerucci family is hearty and simple, represented by various roasted meatsand game, and a selection of generally vegetarian timbales and soufflés that change seasonally. The region’s rabbit dishes are much loved, and here the timballo diconiglio con patate (rabbit casserole with potatoes) is no exception. | Via di San Vito 13, Monti | 00189 | 06/4466573 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Aug., 2 wks atEaster, and 10 days at Christmas .R E P U B B L I C ATrimani Il Winebar.$$ | WINE BAR | Trimani operates nonstop from 11 AM to 12:30 AM and serves hot food at lunch and dinner. Decor is minimalist, and the second floor providesa subdued, candlelit space to sip wine. There’s always a choice of a soup and pasta plates, as well as second courses and torte salate (savory tarts). Around thecorner is a wineshop, one of the oldest in Rome, of the same name. Call about wine tastings and classes (in Italian). | Via Cernaia 37/b, Repubblica | 00185 |06/4469630 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun. and 2 wks in Aug. .S A N L O R E N Z OAgata e Romeo.$$$$ | MODERN ITALIAN | For the perfect marriage of fine dining, creative cuisine, and rustic Roman tradition, the husband-and-wife team of Agata Parisellaand Romeo Caraccio is the top. Romeo presides over the dining room and delights in the selection of wine-food pairings. And Chef Agata was perhaps the first inthe capital city to put a gourmet spin on Roman ingredients and preparations, elevating dishes of the common folk to new levels, wherein familiar staples like cacaoe pepe are transformed with the addition of even richer Sicilian aged cheese and saffron. From antipasti (try the seafood crudo tasting: it’s so artfully presented, it’sactually served on a glass plate resembling a painter’s palette) to desserts, many dishes are the best versions of classics you can get. The prices here are steep, but forthose who appreciate extremely high-quality ingredients, an incredible wine cellar, and warm service, dining here is a real treat. | Via Carlo Alberto 45, Termini |00185 | 06/4466115 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed weekends, 2 wks in July, and 2 wks in Aug. .Uno e Bino.$$$ | MODERN ITALIAN | The setting is simple: wooden tables and chairs on a stone floor with little more than a few shelves of wine bottles lining the walls fordecor. Giampaolo Gravina’s restaurant in this artsy corner of the San Lorenzo neighborhood is popular with foodies and locals alike, as the kitchen turns outinventive cuisine inspired by the family’s Umbrian and Sicilian roots. Dishes like octopus salad with asparagus and carrots, and spaghetti with swordfish, tomatoes,and capers are specialties. The Parmesan soufflé is a study in light, silky, salty, and absolute perfection. Delicious and simple, yet upscale, desserts cap off thedinner, making this small establishment one of the top dining deals—and pleasurable meals—in Rome. | Via degli Equi 58, San Lorenzo | 00185 | 06/4460702 | MC,V | Closed Mon. and Aug. No lunch .V A T I C A N , B O R G O , P R A T I , A N D N O R T H W E S T R O MB O R G OLa Veranda dell’Hotel Columbus.
  • 63. La Veranda dell’Hotel Columbus.$$$ | ROMAN | Deciding where to sit at La Veranda is not easy, since both the shady courtyard, torch-lit at night, and the frescoed dining room are among Rome’smost spectacular settings. While La Veranda has classic Roman cuisine on tap, the kitchen offers nice, refreshing twists on the familiar with an innovative use offlavor combinations. Try the unusual duck-leg confit starter, stuffed with raisins and pine nuts with an onion compote and plum sorbet. Or go for the grilled tunabites with anchovy-caper dumplings and an eggplant torta. Even the pastas are unexpected: saffron fettucine with cuttlefish and zucchini flowers is subtle andelegant—much like the surroundings. Call ahead, especially on Saturday, because the hotel often hosts weddings, which close the restaurant, and you don’t want tomiss passing a few hours of your Roman holiday in these environs. | Borgo Santo Spirito 73, Borgo | 00193 | 06/6872973 | | Reservationsessential | AE, DC, MC, V .Taverna Angelica.$$ | MODERN ITALIAN | The area surrounding St. Peter’s Basilica isn’t known for culinary excellence, but Taverna Angelica is an exception. Its tiny size allowsthe chef to concentrate on each individual dish, and the menu is creative without being pretentious. Dishes such as warm octopus salad on a bed of mashed potatoeswith a basil-parsley pesto drizzle are more about taste than presentation. The lentil soup with pigeon breast brought hunter’s cuisine to a new level. And the breast ofduck in balsamic vinegar was exquisitely executed. It may be difficult to find, on a section of the street that’s set back and almost subterranean, but it’s worthsearching out. | Piazza A. Capponi 6, Borgo | 00193 | 06/6874514 | | Reservations essential | AE, V .P R A T IDal Toscano.$$ | TUSCAN | An open wood-fired grill and classic dishes such as ribollita (a thick bread and vegetable soup) and pici (fresh, thick pasta with wild hare sauce) arethe draw at this great family-run Tuscan trattoria near the Vatican. The cuts of beef visible at the entrance tell you right away that the house special is the prizedbistecca alla fiorentina—a thick grilled steak left rare in the middle and seared on the outside, with its rub of gutsy Tuscan olive oil and sea salt forming a deliciouscrust to keep in the natural juices of the beef. Seating outside on the sidewalk in warm weather is a nice touch. | Via Germanico 58/60, Prati | 00192 | 06/39723373| | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon., 3 wks in Aug., and 1 wk in Jan. .N O R T H W E S T R O M ELa Pergola.$$$$ | MODERN ITALIAN | La Pergola’s rooftop location offers a commanding view of the city, and as you’re seated in your plush chair, you know you’re in fora three–Michelin star experience. First, your waiter will present you with menus—food, wine, and water (you read correctly). Then you must choose between theGerman Wunder-chef Heinz Beck’s alta cucina specialties, though most everything will prove to be the best version of the dish you’ve ever tasted. Lobster is oh-so-lightly poached, and melt-in-your-mouth lamb in a veggie-accented jus is deceptively simple but earthy and perfect. Each course comes with a flourish of saucesor extra touches that makes it an event in its own right, while the cheese cart is well explained by knowledgeable servers. The dessert course is extravagant,including tiny petits fours and treats tucked away in small drawers that make up the serving “cabinet.” The wine list is as thrilling as one might expect with thefinancial backing of the Hilton and their investment in one of the top wine cellars in Italy. | Cavalieri Hilton, Via Cadlolo 101, Monte Mario, Northwest Rome |00136 | 06/3509221 | | Reservations essential. Jacket and tie | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun. and Mon., and 2 wks in Dec.No lunch .T R A S T E V E R EAlle Fratte di Trastevere.$$ | ROMAN | Here you can find staple Roman trattoria fare as well as dishes with a southern slant. This means that spaghetti alla carbonara (with pancetta, eggs,and cheese) shares the menu with the likes of penne alla Sorrentina (with tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella). For starters, the bruschette here are exemplary, as isthe pressed octopus carpaccio on a bed of arugula. As for secondi, you can again look south and to the sea for a mixed seafood pasta or a grilled sea bass with oven-roasted potatoes, or go for the meat with a fillet al pepe verde (green peppercorns in a brandy cream sauce). Service is always with a smile, as the owners and theirtrusted waitstaff make you feel at home. | Via delle Fratte di Trastevere 49/50 | 00153 | 06/5835775 | | AE, DC, MC, V | ClosedWed. and 2 wks in Aug. .Dar Poeta.¢–$ | PIZZA | Romans drive across town for great pizza from this neighborhood institution on a small street in Trastevere. Maybe it’s the dough—it’s made from asecret blend of flours that’s reputed to be easier to digest than the competition. They offer both thin-crust pizza and a thick-crust (alta) Neapolitan-style pizza withany of the given toppings. For dessert, there’s a ridiculously good calzone with Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread and ricotta cheese, so save some room. Servicefrom the owners and friendly waitstaff is smile inducing. | Vicolo del Bologna 45, Trastevere | 00153 | 06/5880516 | AE, MC, V .Ombre Rosse.¢–$ | ITALIAN | Set on lovely Piazza Sant’Egidio in the heart of Trastevere, this open-day-and-night spot is a great place to pass the time. You can have a morningcappuccino and read one of their international newspapers; have a light lunch (soups and salads are fresh and delicious) while taking in some sun; enjoy an aperitivoand nibbles at an outdoor table; or finish off an evening with friends at the bar. Ombre Rosse bustles with regulars and expats who know the value of a well-madecocktail and an ever-lively atmosphere. | Piazza Sant’Egidio 12, Trastevere | 00153 | 06/5884155 | AE, MC, V | No lunch Sun..T E S T A C C I OChecchino dal 1887.$$$-$$$$ | ROMAN | Literally carved out of a hill of ancient shards of amphorae, Checchino remains an example of a classic, family-run Roman restaurant, withone of the best wine cellars in the region. Though the slaughterhouses of Testaccio are long gone, an echo of their past existence lives on in the restaurant’s soulfood—mostly offal and other less–appealing cuts like trippa (tripe), pajata (intestine with the mother’s milk still inside), and coratella (sweetbreads and heart ofbeef) are all still on the menu for die-hard Roman purists. For the less adventuresome, house specialties include braised milk-fed lamb with seasonal vegetables.Head here for a taste of old Rome, but note that Checchino is really beginning to show its age. | Via di Monte Testaccio 30 | 00153 | 06/5746318 | AE, DC, MC, V |Closed Sun., Mon., Aug, and 1 wk at Christmas .
  • 64. Closed Sun., Mon., Aug, and 1 wk at Christmas .Perilli.$$ | ITALIAN | In this restaurant dating from 1911, the old Testaccio remains, and it has the decor to prove it. A seasonal antipasto table starts things off, offeringRoman specialties like stewed Roman artichokes and puntarelle (curled chicory stems in a garlicky vinaigrette based on lots of lemon and anchovy). The waiterswear crooked bow ties and are just a little bit too hurried—until, that is, you order classics like pasta all’amatriciana and carbonara, which they relish tossing in a bigbowl tableside. This is also the place to try rigatoni con pajata (with calves’ intestines)—if you’re into that sort of thing. Secondi plates are for carnivores only, andthe house wine is a golden enamel-remover from the Castelli Romani. | Via Marmorata 39, Testaccio | 00153 | 06/5742415 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Wed. .Remo.¢–$ | PIZZA | Expect a wait at this perennial favorite in Testaccio frequented by students and locals. You won’t find tablecloths or other nonessentials, just classicRoman pizza and boisterous conversation. | Piazza Santa Maria Liberatrice 44, Testaccio | 06/5746270 | No credit cards | Closed Sun., Aug., and Christmas wk.No lunch .C A F É SCafé sitting is a popular leisure-time activity in Rome, practiced by all and involving nothing more strenuous than gesturing to catch the waiter’s eye. Part of thepleasure is resting your tired feet; you won’t be rushed, even when the cafés are most crowded, just before lunch and dinner. (Be aware, though, that you pay foryour seat—prices are higher at tables than at the counter.) Nearly every corner in Rome holds a faster-paced coffee bar, where locals stop for a quick caffeine hit atthe counter. You can get coffee drinks, fruit juices, pastries, sandwiches, liquor, and beer there, too.With its sidewalk tables taking in Santa Maria della Pace’s adorable piazza, Caffè della Pace (Via della Pace 3, Navona | 00186 | 06/6861216 ) has long been thehaunt of Rome’s beau monde. Set on a quiet street near Piazza Navona, it also has two rooms filled with old-world personality.Caffè Sant’Eustachio(P. Sant’Eustachio 82, Pantheon | 00186 | 06/68802048 ), traditionally frequented by Rome’s literati, has what is generally considered Rome’s best cup of coffee.Servers are hidden behind a huge espresso machine, vigorously mixing the sugar and coffee to protect their “secret method” for the perfectly prepared cup. (If youwant your caffè without sugar here, ask for it amaro.Tazza d’Oro(Via degli Orfani, Pantheon | 00186 | 06/6789792 ) has many admirers who contend it serves the city’s best cup of coffee. The hot chocolate in winter, all thick andgooey goodness, is a treat. And in warm weather, the coffee granita is the perfect cooling alternative to a regular espresso.G E L A T OAlong with the listings here, you can find a number of gelaterias in Via di Tor Millina, a street off the west side of Piazza Navona.Il Gelato di San Crispino(Via della Panetteria 54, Piazza di Trevi | 00183 | 06/6793924 | Closed Tues. ) makes perhaps the most celebrated gelato in all of Italy, without artificial colors orflavors. It’s worth crossing town for—nobody else creates flavors this pure. To preserve the “integrity” of the flavor, the ice cream is served only in paper cups. Foryears Giolitti (Via degli Uffici del Vicario 40, Pantheon | 00186 | 06/6991243 ) was considered the best gelateria in Rome, and it’s still worth a stop if you’re nearthe Pantheon. Immediately beside the Pantheon is Cremeria Monteforte (Via della Rotonda 22, Pantheon | 00186 | 06/6867720 ), which has won several awardsfor its flavors. Also worth trying is its chocolate sorbetto—it’s an icier version of the gelato without the dairy. Gelateria alla Scala (Via della Scala 51, Trastevere |00153 | 06/5813174 | Closed Dec. and Jan. ) is a tiny place, but don’t let the size fool you. It does a good business offering artisanal gelato prepared in smallbatches, so when one flavor runs out on any given day, it’s finished. Al Settimo Gelo (Via Vodice 21/a, Prati | 00195 | 06/3725567 ), in Prati, has been getting ravereviews for both classic flavors and newfangled inventions such as cardamom and chestnut, wowing locals and gelato fans from all over Rome.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 65. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsPantheon, Navona, and Trevi | Campo de’ Fiori and Ghetto | Veneto and Spagna | Monti, Repubblica, and San Lorenzo | Vatican, Borgo, Prati, and NorthwestRome | Trastevere | Aventino | Colosseo AreaThere are more luxury lodgings, bed-and-breakfasts, and designer boutique hotels in Rome than ever before, but if you prefer more modest accommodations(because really, who comes to Rome to hang out in the hotel room?), you still have plenty of options. There are many midrange and budget hotels and pensioni(small, family-run lodgings) available. You may also consider staying at a monastery or convent, a hostel, or an apartment.If fancy is what you’re looking for, you’re bound to find it on the Via Veneto and the Spanish Steps area. On the flip side, many of the city’s cheapest and modestaccommodations are scattered near the Stazione Termini. But for the most authentic Roman experience, stay in or near the centro storico (the historic center). WHAT IT COSTS IN EUROS FOR TWO PEOPLE Prices are for a standard double room in high season. ¢ under €75 $ €75–€125 $$ €125–€200 $$$ €200–€300 $$$$ over €300P A N T H E O N , N A V O N A , A N D T R E V IP A N T H E O NFodor’s Choice | Albergo Santa Chiara.$$$ | The Santa Chiara, which has been in the family for some 200 years, is situated just behind the Pantheon and near Michelangelo’s obelisk in Piazza dellaMinerva. The hotel lobby is alla Romana—an all-white affair, elegantly accented with a Venetian chandelier, a stucco statue, a gilded baroque mirror, and a walnutconcierge desk. Upstairs, the pricier rooms are slightly swankier with stylish, yet comfortable furniture. Each room has built-in oak headboards, a marble-top desk,and a travertine bath. Double-glaze windows keep out the noise, especially for those rooms facing the piazza. There are also three apartments, for two to fivepeople, with full kitchens. Pros: great location in the historical center behind the Pantheon; most of the rooms are spacious; the staff is both polite and helpful. Cons:layout is mazelike (you must take two elevators to some of the rooms); rooms don’t get a lot of light. | Via Santa Chiara 21, Pantheon | 00186 | 06/6872979 | | 96 rooms, 3 suites, 3 apartments | In-room: safe, kitchen (some), refrigerator. In-hotel: room service, bar, Wi-Fi, laundry service |AE, DC, MC, V | CP .Pantheon.$$$–$$$$ | The Pantheon is a superb place to stay right next door to the grand monument of the same name. The lobby is the very epitome of a Roman hotel lobby—a warm, cozy, yet opulent setting that comes replete with stained glass, sumptuous wood paneling, a Renaissance beamed ceiling, and a massive and glorious
  • 66. —a warm, cozy, yet opulent setting that comes replete with stained glass, sumptuous wood paneling, a Renaissance beamed ceiling, and a massive and gloriouschandelier. A print of one of Rome’s obelisks on the door welcomes you to your room, where you’ll find antique walnut furniture, fresh flowers, and more wood-beam ceilings. Pros: proximity to the Pantheon; big, clean bathrooms; friendly staff. Cons: rooms are in need of some upgrading; the lighting is low and the carpetsare worn; the breakfast lacks variety. | Via dei Pastini 131, Pantheon | 00186 | 06/6787746 | | 13 rooms, 1 suite | In-room: safe,refrigerator, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: room service, bar, laundry service, public Wi-Fi, no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | CP .N A V O N AGenio.$$–$$$ | If this hotel were any closer to Piazza Navona, you’d actually be in the fountain. This medium-size hotel offers top-floor rooms with terraces and citywideviews. There’s also a roof terrace for all, where you can eat your breakfast. Modeled along classic Roman lines, the lobby and public areas are cozy. Rooms aredecorated in warm colors and have parquet floors and a harmonious mix of modern and antique reproduction furnishings. Pros: you can sip wine on the rooftop andtake in the view; rooms are a decent size for a Roman hotel; the bathrooms have been designed especially well. Cons: Genio is on a busy street so there is oftentraffic noise; you might hear your neighbors through the walls; both the decor and the carpet have seen better days. | Via G. Zanardelli 28, Navona | 00186 |06/6832191 | | 60 rooms | In-room: refrigerator. In-hotel: room service, bar, laundry service, Wi-Fi (paid), Internet terminal (paid),parking (paid), safe | AE, DC, MC, V | CP .T R E V ITrevi.$$ | Location, location, location: this delightful place is tucked away down one of Old Rome’s quaintest alleys near the Trevi Fountain. The smallish rooms arebright and clean, and a few of the larger ones have antique furniture and wooden ceilings with massive beams. There’s also an arborlike roof-garden restaurantwhere you can eat marvelous pasta as you peer out at the city below. Pros: pass the Trevi Fountain each day as you come and go; comfortable rooms; roof-gardenrestaurant. Cons: breakfast room is cramped; staff is brusque. | Vicolo del Babbuccio 20/21, Piazza diTrevi | 00187 | 06/6789563 | | 29rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, laundry service, parking (paid), no-smoking rooms, pets allowed (some) | AE, DC,MC, V | CP .C A M P O D E ’ F I O R I A N D G H E T T OC A M P O D E ’ F I O R IFodor’s Choice | Casa di Santa Brigida.$$ | One of the nicest convents to stay in is run by the friendly sisters of Santa Brigida. The convent overlooks the Piazza Farnese (where one of Michelangelo’sbuildings surveys all), and a most enviable location in the heart of Old Baroque Rome. It’s also conveniently close to Campo de’ Fiori. But you have to rememberthis is part of the Convent of St. Bridget, so guest rooms are simple (and serene—no TV), the nuns don’t bend over backward to get you ice for your soda(presumably they have more important things on their minds), and the breakfast is served after they’ve finished their prayers. Still, the atmosphere is redolent.There’s a lovely roof terrace overlooking the Palazzo Farnese, as well as a fine chapel and library. The Brigidine sisters wear a distinctive habit and veil with acaplike headband, and they are known for their gentle manner. Sometimes, the sisters also offer their guests insider tickets to the papal audience. It’s hard to book aroom here, so try to reserve well in advance. If you’re interested in eating at the Casa, inquire about meal plans when you book. Note that the address is that of thechurch of Santa Brigida, but the guesthouse entrance is around the corner at Via Monserrato 54. Pros: no curfew in this historic convent; insider papal tickets;location in the Piazza Farnese. Cons: weak a/c; no TVs in the rooms (though there is a common TV room); mediocre breakfast. | Piazza Farnese 96, Campo de’Fiori | 00186 | 06/68892497 | | 2 rooms | In-room: no TV, Internet. In-hotel: no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | CP .Hotel Campo de’ Fiori.$$ | Frescoes, exposed brickwork, and picturesque effects throughout this little hotel could well be the work of a set designer, but a recent renovation attributes thecharming ambience to interior designer Dario di Blasi. Each room is entirely unique in its colors, furniture, and refined feel. The hotel underwent a completerenovation in 2006, retaining its old-world charm but modernizing with soundproofing, air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, DSL, and Wi-Fi in all the rooms. There isalso a marvelous view from the roof terrace. If you desire more extensive accommodations, Hotel Campo de’ Fiori offers an additional selection of 14 differentapartments in the area that can accommodate two to five guests. Pros: newly renovated; superb location; modern amenities that many Roman hotels haven’t caughtup with yet; rooftop terrace. Cons: some of the rooms are very small; breakfast works on a voucher system with a nearby café; the staff can be a bit rude and don’tnecessarily go out of their way to help you settle in. | Via del Biscione 6, Campo de’ Fiori | 00186 | 06/68806865 | | 23 rooms | In-room:safe, refrigerator, Internet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: no-smoking rooms | MC, V | CP | D4.Hotel Ponte Sisto.$$$$ | With one of the prettiest patio-courtyards in Rome, this hotel offers its own blissful definition of Pax Romana. Peace, indeed, will be yours sitting in thisenchanting spot, shadowed by palm trees, set with tables, and adorned with pink and white flowers, all surrounded by the ochre walls of the hotel, which wasrenovated in 2001 from a palazzo built by the noble Venetian Palottini family. Some rooms overlook the garden of the historic Palazzo Spada. Inside, the sleekdecor, replete with cherry wood accents, recessed lighting, and luminous marble floors, also gives a calming effect. Guest rooms are refined—suites come withJacuzzis and furnished balconies or terraces, bathrooms can be lavishly modern, and there’s also a bar and restaurant. The location is an award winner—just off thePonte Sisto, the pedestrian bridge that connects the Campo de’ Fiori area with Trastevere (whose trattorias and bars are thus just a quick jaunt away), and a secondfrom Via Giulia, Rome’s prettiest street. Pros: staff is friendly; rooms with views (and some with balconies and terraces); luxury bathrooms; beautiful courtyardgarden. Cons: street-side rooms can be a bit noisy; some rooms are on the small side; restaurant doesn’t serve lunch or dinner. | Via dei Pettinari 64, Campo de’Fiori | 00186 | 06/686310 | | 103 rooms, 4 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bar, laundryservice, Internet terminal, parking (paid), some pets allowed, no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | BP .G H E T T OArenula.$ | Standing on an age-worn byway off central Via Arenula, this hotel is a superb bargain by Rome standards. With an imposingly elegant stone exterior, this hotel
  • 67. welcomes you with a luminous and cheerful all-white interior. Guest rooms are simple in decor but have pale-wood furnishings and gleaming bathrooms, as well asdouble-glaze windows and air-conditioning (in summer only; ask when you reserve). Two of the rooms accommodate four beds. Of course, you can’t haveeverything, so that the graceful oval staircase of white marble and wrought iron in the lobby cues you that there is no elevator. Those guests with rooms on thefourth floor had better be in good shape! Pros: it’s a real bargain; conveniently located in the Ghetto (close to Campo de’ Fiori and Trastevere), and it’s spotless.Cons: totally no-frills accommodations; four floors and no elevator; traffic and tram noise can be heard throughout the night despite the double-glazing. | Via SantaMaria dei Calderari 47, off Via Arenula, Ghetto | 00186 | 06/6879454 | | 50 rooms | In-room: Wi-Fi. In-hotel: public Wi-Fi, Internetterminal | AE, DC, MC, V | CP .V E N E T O A N D S P A G N AV E N E T OFodor’s Choice | Aleph.$$$$ | Wondering where the beautiful people are? Look no farther than the Aleph, the most unfalteringly fashionable of Rome’s design hotels. The just-this-side-of-kitsch theme here is Dante’s Divine Comedy, and you can walk the line between heaven and hell through the Angelo bar, the red-red-red Sin restaurant, andParadise spa. The shiny blood-red-and-black color scheme looks great, but guest rooms are thankfully less threatening, in subdued neutral tones with woodfurniture, made galleryesque by giant black-and-white photos of Rome. As many will guess, this hotel was überdesigned by Adam Tihany (who also did the honorsat Rome’s Exedra). His relentless, in-your-face decors throw everything into the mix, from Shogun suits to his signature red twigs to shirred silk lamps. Fortunately,he likes to poke fun at himself (clothes hooks shaped like devil’s horns; tiny TVs set in the bathroom floors in front of your toilet), and earnestly cool staffnotwithstanding, the Aleph doesn’t take itself as seriously as might be feared. When Old Rome feels, well, old—this is something new. Pros: award-winningdesign; the invitation to test the temptations of heaven and hell; the sauna, Turkish bath, and thermal swimming pool at Paradise spa. Cons: rooms are too petite forthe price; cocktails are expensive; Internet is costly, too. | Via San Basilio 15, Veneto | 00187 | 06/422901 | | 96 rooms, 6 suites | In-room:safe, refrigerator, Internet (paid). In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bars, gym, spa, laundry service, Wi-Fi (paid), Internet terminal, parking (paid), no-smokingrooms | AE, DC, MC, V | EP .Fodor’s Choice | Daphne Veneto.$$–$$$ | Inspired by baroque artist Gianlorenzo Bernini’s exquisite Apollo and Daphne sculpture at the Borghese Gallery, the Daphne Inn at Via Veneto is an“urban B&B” run by people who love Rome and who will do their best to make sure you love it, too. This boutique hotel offers an intimate lodging experience,elegantly designed rooms, comfortable beds, fresh fruit and pastries with your coffee each morning, and a small staff of people who promise to give you theopportunity to see Rome “like an insider.” A cell phone is even provided for you to use during your stay in Rome (though, you have to pay for the calls). They willhelp you map out your destinations, schedule itineraries, plan day trips, book tours, choose restaurants, and organize your transportation. It’s like having your ownpersonal travel planner. Pros: if rooms at Daphne Veneto are booked, inquire about its sister hotel, Daphne Trevi; you get a priceless introduction to Rome by loversof Rome; the beds have Simmons mattresses and fluffy comforters. Cons: no TVs; some bathrooms are shared; Daphne only accepts Visa or MasterCard to holdbookings (though you can actually pay with an AmEx). | Via di San Basilio 55, Veneto | 00187 | 06/87450087 | | 7 rooms, 2 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator, no TV, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: bicycles, laundry service, Internet terminal, public Wi-Fi, parking (paid), no-smoking rooms | AE, MC, V | CP .Fodor’s Choice | Eden.$$$$ | Once the preferred haunt of Hemingway, Ingrid Bergman, and Fellini, this superlative hotel combines dashing elegance and stunning vistas of Rome with thewarmth of Italian hospitality. Set atop an oh-my-weary-feet hill near the Villa Borghese (and a bit out of the historic center for serious sightseers), this hotel wasopened in the late 19th century and quickly became famous for its balcony views and Roman splendor. After an extensive restoration in the 1990s by Lord Forte,you’ll now dive deep here into the whoooooossh of luxury, with antiques, sumptuous Italian fabrics, linen sheets, and marble baths competing for your attention.Even the most basic room here is elegantly designed (which is as it should be if your basic double room goes for some €700). Banquette window seats, richmahogany furniture, soaring ceilings, Napoléon-Trois sofas are just some of the allurements here. Pros: gorgeous panoramic view from roof terrace; you could berubbing elbows with the stars; 24-hour room service. Cons: expensive (unless money is no object for you); no Wi-Fi in the rooms; some say the staff can be hit-or-miss. | Via Ludovisi 49, Veneto | 00187 | 06/478121 | | 121 rooms, 13 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator, DVD (some), Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bars, gym, Wi-Fi, laundry service, Internet terminal, parking (paid), some pets allowed, no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | EP .S P A G N AFodor’s Choice | Hassler.$$$$ | When it comes to million-dollar views, this exclusive hotel has the best seats in the house. Which is why movie stars, money shakers, and the nouveau richeare all willing to pay top dollar (or top euro, shall we say) to stay at the best address in Rome, just atop the Spanish Steps. The hotel is owned by the Wirth family, afamous dynasty of Swiss hoteliers who also own Il Palazzetto—a small yet stylish boutique hotel—and the International Wine Academy (also nearby), which offerswine tastings and wine appreciation courses. The exterior of the Hassler is rather bland, but the guest rooms are certainly among the world’s most extravagant andlavishly decorated. You can get more standard rooms at the back of the hotel, which will spare you and your wallet the VIP prices. Of course, even the lowestprices at the Hassler can’t compare with what you could find somewhere else. The recently renovated penthouse boasts the largest terrace in Rome. The rooftoprestaurant, the Imàgo (which guests use for the breakfast buffet), is world-famous for its view, if not for its food; and the Palm Court garden, which becomes thehotel bar in summer, is overflowing with flowers. Pros: charming old-world feel; prime location and panoramic views at the top of the Spanish Steps; just “steps”away from some of the best shopping in the world. Cons: VIP prices; many think the staff is too standoffish; some say the cuisine at the rooftop restaurant isn’tworth the gourmet price tag. | Piazza Trinità dei Monti 6, Spagna | 00187 | 06/699340 | | 85 rooms, 13 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Internet.In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bar, gym, spa, laundry service, public Wi-Fi, parking (paid), no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | EP .Hotel de Russie.$$$$ | A ritzy retreat for government big wigs and Hollywood high rollers, de Russie raises the bar on lavish lodging. The hotel lies just steps away from the famedPiazza del Popolo and is set in a 19th-century historic hotel once boasting a clientele that included royalty. Famed hotelier Sir Rocco Forte decided to give de Russiea major makeover in 2002 and transformed it into one of the swankiest hotels in Eternal City. The furnishings are Donghia-style, the colors scream gloomy glamour,and the bathrooms have Roman mosaic motifs. The hotel’s most prized possessions are the spectacular glimpse of the garden courtyard from many (but not all) ofthe rooms and its sharp Le Jardin de Russie restaurant. When not lounging outside on their plushy terrace, VIPs can be found at the world-class spa facility orsipping on a prosecco poolside. Pros: big potential for celebrity sightings; special activities for children; extensive gardens (including a butterfly reserve); first-rate
  • 68. sipping on a prosecco poolside. Pros: big potential for celebrity sightings; special activities for children; extensive gardens (including a butterfly reserve); first-rateluxury spa. Cons: hotel is a bit worn around the edges; decor is a little generic; breakfast is nothing special. | Via del Babuino 9, Spagna | 00187 | 06/328881 | | 122 rooms, 33 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bar, pool, gym, spa, children’s programs (agestoddler–12), public Wi-Fi, parking (paid), no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | BP .Locarno.$$$–$$$$ | The sort of place that inspired a movie (Bernard Weber’s 1978 Hotel Locarno, to be exact), this has been a longtime choice for art aficionados andpeople in the cinema. But everyone will appreciate this hotel’s fin de siècle charm, intimate feel, and central location off Piazza del Popolo. Exquisite wallpaper andfabric prints are coordinated in the rooms, and some rooms are decorated with antiques—the grandest room looks like an art director’s take on a Medici bedroom.Everything is lovingly supervised by the owners, a mother-daughter duo. The buffet breakfast is ample, there’s bar service on the panoramic roof garden, andcomplimentary bicycles are available if you feel like braving the traffic. A newly renovated annex is done in art deco style. Pros: luxurious feel (it may even seemlike you’re in a movie); spacious rooms (even by American standards); free bicycles for exploring Rome. Cons: some of the rooms are dark; the annex doesn’tcompare to the main hotel; the regular staff probably won’t go out of their way to help you. | Via della Penna 22, Spagna | 00186 | 06/3610841 | | 64 rooms, 2 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, bicycles, laundry service, Internet terminal, public Wi-Fi,no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | BP .Panda.$ | You couldn’t possibly find a better deal in Rome than here at the Panda, especially given its key location just behind the Spanish Steps. The small hotel issituated on one of the poshest shopping streets in the centro, Via della Croce. Guest rooms are outfitted in terra-cotta, wrought iron, and very simple furnishings;they’re on the small-side, spotlessly clean, and quiet, thanks to double-glaze windows. Pay even less by sharing a bath—in low season, you may have it to yourselfanyway. Pros: discount if you pay cash; free Wi-Fi; located on a quiet street but still close to the Spanish Steps. Cons: some say the Wi-Fi signal is weak; not allrooms have private bathrooms; no elevator; no TVs in the rooms. | Via della Croce 35, Spagna | 00187 | 06/6780179 | | 20 rooms, 14 with bath |In-room: no a/c (some), no TV, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: laundry service, public Wi-Fi | AE, DC,MC, V | CP | E2.Fodor’s Choice | Scalinata di Spagna.$$$ | A longtime favorite of hopeless romantics, it’s often hard to snag a room at this tiny hotel as it’s often booked up for months, even years at a time. And it’s nothard to guess why. For starters, its prime location at the top of the Spanish Steps, inconspicuous little entrance, and quiet, sunny charm all add to the character thatguests fall in love with over and over again. Rooms were renovated in a stylish manner, focusing on accentuated floral fabrics and Empire-style sofas. Rooms thatoverlook the Spanish Steps are the first to go. But don’t fret it you don’t snatch up the room of your choice. You can always escape to the hotel’s extravagantrooftop garden and gaze over ancient Rome as you nibble on your cornetto and sip on your cappuccino. Amenities, such as breakfast service until noon and in-room Internet access, are a nice touch. Pros: friendly and helpful concierge; fresh fruit in the rooms; free Wi-Fi throughout the Scalinata. Cons: it’s a hike up the hillto the hotel; no porter and no elevator; service can be hit-or-miss. | Piazza Trinità dei Monti 17, Spagna | 00187 | 06/6793006 | | 16 rooms |In-room: safe, refrigerator, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: room service, laundry service, Internet terminal, public Wi-Fi, parking (paid), no-smoking rooms | AE, D, MC, V | BP .M O N T I , R E P U B B L I C A , A N D S A N L O R E N Z OM O N T IItalia.¢–$ | It looks and feels like a classic pensione: low-budget with a lot of heart. A block off the very trafficky Via Nazionale, this friendly, family-run hotel offersinexpensive rooms with big windows, desks, parquet floors, and baths with faux-marble tiles, but the rooms aren’t really the point. The price is, and it’s made all themore tempting by a generous buffet breakfast and thoughtful touches like an ice machine and free wireless Internet access. Ask for even lower midsummer rates.Pros: free Wi-Fi and Internet access in the rooms and lobby; great price; individual attention and personal care. Cons: it’s sometimes noisy; a/c is an extra €10. | ViaVenezia 18, Monti | 00184 | 06/4828355 | | 31 rooms, 1 apartment | In-room: safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: bar, Internet terminal, public Wi-Fi,parking (paid), no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | CP .Montreal.$ | A good choice for budget travelers, this hotel is on a central avenue across the square from Santa Maria Maggiore, three blocks from Stazione Termini, Rome’smain transportation hub. The modest Montreal occupies three floors of an older building and has been totally renovated and offers bright, fresh-looking, thoughsmall, rooms. The owner-managers are pleasant and helpful, and the neighborhood has plenty of reasonably priced restaurants. Pros: informative staff providesmaps and good recommendations; bathrooms are spacious; hotel has a cozy feel. Cons: location can be noisy at night; it’s either a bus, metro, or long walk to mosthistoric sights. | Via Carlo Alberto 4, Monti | 00185 | 06/4457797 | | 27 rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator. In-hotel: room service,bar, Internet terminal, parking (paid), no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | CP | H4.R E P U B B L I C AFodor’s Choice | The Beehive.¢–$ | You won’t feel like you’re in Rome once you step foot into this hip alternative budget hotel. Rather, one might mistake it for a cross between a holistic centerand a place that holds yoga classes. Started by a Los Angeles couple following their dream in 1999, the Beehive might be the most unique budget hotel in Rome inthat it also offers hostel accommodations, a vegetarian café, a yoga space and art gallery with a garden, a reading lounge, and a few off-site apartments. It offers arespite from Rome’s chaos, but is conveniently located only a few blocks from Termini. All the rooms come with shared bathrooms (where, along with the facilities,you’ll find handmade vegetable-based soaps and recycled toilet paper). There is a lovely little garden with fruit trees, herbs, and flowers. The Beehive offerscomplimentary Wi-Fi, but no TVs or air-conditioning (though rooms do have ceiling fans). If you would prefer your own self-catering apartment (with a kitchenand private bathroom) for your group or family, or if you’d just like an individual room in an apartment, the Beehive also has three apartments in the neighborhoodthat can be rented. Pros: yoga, massage, and other therapies offered on-site; no set price for meals served at the vegetarian café—it’s left entirely up to the guest todecide how much he/she thinks the meal is worth. Cons: no TV, a/c, baggage storage, or private bathroom; breakfast is not included in the room rate. | ViaMarghera 8, Repubblica | 00185 | 06/44704553 | | 8 rooms, 1 dormitory, 3 apartments | In-room: no a/c, kitchen (some), no TV, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: public Wi-Fi, no-smoking rooms | MC, V | EP | H3.
  • 69. Exedra.$$$$ | If Rome’s semistodgy hotel scene has an It-Girl, it’s the Exedra. High rollers love to host splashy parties here and magazines love to rave about them; thisluxury hotel is, indeed, hard to top. Unlike its naughty younger brother the Aleph, the Exedra is a model of neoclassical respectability, all gilt-framed mirrors andfresh flowers, but there’s a glint of cutting edge in the paparazzi-inspired (and inspiring) Tazio brasserie. Rooms are predictably luscious in an uptown way, withsilky linens and handsome nouveau-colonial bedsteads, and many face the spectacular fountain in the piazza outside. Why stay here rather than at the umpteen otherexpensively elegant hotels in central Rome? You can think about it while you lounge by the rooftop swimming pool. Pros: spacious and attractive rooms; great spaand pool; terrace with cocktail service; close to Termini station. Cons: food and beverages are expensive; beyond the immediate vicinity, parts of the neighborhoodseem unsavory. | Piazza della Repubblica 47, Repubblica | 00185 | 06/489381 | | 240 rooms, 18 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Wi-Fi.In-hotel: 3 restaurants, room service, bars, pool, gym, spa, laundry service, Internet terminal, public Wi-Fi, parking (paid), some pets allowed, no-smoking rooms |AE, DC, MC, V | CP .Mascagni.$$$–$$$$ | Situated on one of Rome’s busiest streets and close to one of Rome’s most impressive piazzas (Piazza della Repubblica), sits the hotel Mascagni. Thepublic spaces of the hotel have been cleverly styled with contemporary art pieces, and the bedrooms feature black and white photographs of Rome. The intimatelounges and charming bar—very cozy and attractive with its floral fabric and wood bar—follow the same decorating scheme, as does the breakfast room, where agenerous buffet is laid in the morning, complete with free newspapers. The friendly, creative management is always coming up with new offers, including the“Family Perfect” room, which includes a PlayStation, a DVD player with Disney movies, and wooden blocks for small children to play with. Pros: staff is friendlyand attentive with good advice; evening lounge that serves up cold cuts or light pasta dishes; bathrooms are spacious and they come with nice toiletries; great forfamilies with kids. Cons: small lobby; weak a/c; slow Internet. | Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando 90, Repubblica | 00185 | 06/48904040 | |40 rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator, DVD (some), Internet. In-hotel: bar, laundry service, Internet terminal, parking (paid), no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V| BP .S A N L O R E N Z ODes Artistes.$–$$ | The three personable Riccioni brothers have transformed their hotel into the best in the neighborhood in its price range. It’s bedecked with paintings andhandsome furnishings in mahogany, and rooms are decorated in attractive fabrics. Marble baths are smallish but luxurious for this price, and they’re stocked withhair dryers and towel warmers. Des Artistes hasn’t forgotten its roots, though: there’s also a “hostel” floor with 11 simpler rooms for travelers on a budget. Bookwell ahead. As for location, this is somewhat on the fringe, being several blocks (in the wrong direction) from Stazione Termini. Pros: good value; decent-sizerooms; relaxing roof garden. Cons: breakfast area is overcrowded; reception is on the fifth floor. | Via Villafranca 20, San Lorenzo | 00185 | 06/4454365 | | 40 rooms, 27 with bath | In-room: no a/c (some), safe, refrigerator, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: bar, parking (paid), public Wi-Fi, no-smokingrooms | AE, DC, MC, V | BP .Fodor’s Choice | Yes Hotel.$$ | Don’t let the contemporary coolness of this hotel fool you. It is a budget hotel. A newcomer to the scene, the Yes was opened in April 2007 by the owners ofthe Hotel Des Artistes. It’s situated just near Stazione Termini, which is key for moving around, and also has plenty of dining options in the area. Yes also offers thekind of amenities that are usually found in more expensive hotels, including mahogany furniture, decorative art, electronic safes, flat-screen TVs, and air-conditioning. Wireless Internet access is available in the rooms and throughout the hotel for an extra free. Pros: flat-screen TVs with satellite TV; it doesn’t feel likea budget hotel, but it is; discount if you pay cash; great value. Cons: rooms are small; no individual climate control or refrigerators in the rooms. | Via Magenta 15,San Lorenzo | 00185 | 06/44363836 | | 29 rooms, 1 suite | In-room: safe, Wi-Fi (paid). In-hotel: parking (paid) Wi-Fi (paid), no-smokingrooms | MC, V | CP | H3.V A T I C A N , B O R G O , P R A T I , A N D N O R T H W E S T R O MV A T I C A NAlimandi.$$ | Just behind the Vatican Museums, this family-run hotel is a real bargain considering the location and service. A spiffy lobby, spacious lounges, a tavern,terraces, and roof gardens are some of the perks, as is a recreation room with a billiard and an exercise room equipped with step machines and a treadmill. Roomsare spacious and well furnished; many can accommodate extra beds. Needless to say, the location here is quite far away from Rome’s historic center. However, afew stops on the metro (there’s a stop nearby) and you’re there. If requested, the hotel will also arrange for a shuttle to pick you up from the airport at an extra costof €5 per person for all flights that arrive before 2 PM. Pros: nice family-owned hotel with a friendly staff, a terrace, a gym and reasonably priced restaurants andshops in the area. Cons: breakfast is a good spread but it goes quickly; rooms are small; not close to much of interest other than the Vatican. | Via Tunisi 8, Vatican |00192 | 06/39723948 | | 35 rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator (some), Wi-Fi. In-hotel: bar, gym, Wi-Fi, Internet terminal, parking (paid), no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | BP | A2.B O R G OAtlante Star.$$$–$$$$ | The lush rooftop-terrace garden café with probably the best views of St. Peter’s Basilica and the rest of Rome is one of the prime reasons why guestsbook their stay here. Other reasons include close proximity to the Vatican, top-notch service, and superb shopping all at your fingertips. In a distinguished 19th-century building, the guest rooms are attractively decorated with striped silks and prints for an old-world atmosphere; many bathrooms have hot tubs. The friendlyfamily management is attentive to guests’ needs and takes pride in offering extra-virgin olive oil from their own trees in the country. A sister hotel, the AtlanteGarden, just around the corner, has larger rooms at slightly lower rates. If requested, the Atlante Star will pick you up at Fiumicino airport for free. Pros: close to St.Peter’s; impressive view from the restaurant and some of the rooms. Cons: some rooms are nicer than others (and some aren’t as pretty as the ones on the Web site);the area can be overrun with tourists; it’s not close to Rome’s other attractions. | Via Vitelleschi 34, Borgo | 00193 | 06/6873233 | | 65rooms, 10 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bar, laundry service, Internet terminal, public Wi-Fi, parking (paid), no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | BP .
  • 70. smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | BP .P R A T IFodor’s Choice | Hotel San Pietrino.¢–$ | How this simple, but cute hotel within close proximity to the Vatican manages to keep its bargain prices is definitely a mystery. It’s located on the third floor ofa 19th-century palazzo that’s only a five-minute walk to St. Peter’s Square. In addition to clean, simple rooms, San Pietrino offers air-conditioning, TVs with DVDplayers, and high-speed Internet to guests. There is no breakfast included and no bar in the hotel, but not to worry—with all the local cafés and bars, you won’t haveany trouble finding yourself a cornetto and cappuccino in the morning or a prosecco for aperitivo in the evening. Pros: heavenly prices near the Vatican; TVs withDVD players; high-speed Internet; close to Rome’s famous farmers’ market, Mercato Trionfale. Cons: a couple of metro stops away from the center of Rome; nobreakfast; no bar. | Via Giovanni Bettolo 43, Prati | 00195 | 06/3700132 | | 12 rooms | In-room: DVD (some), Internet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: Internetterminal, public Wi-Fi | MC, V | EP .N O R T H W E S T R O M ECavalieri Hilton.$$$$ | Though the Cavalieri is outside the city center, distance has its advantages, one of them being the magnificent view over Rome (ask for a room facing thecity), and another, that elusive element of more central Roman hotels: space. Occupying a vast area atop modern Rome’s highest hill, this oasis of good taste oftenfeels more like a resort than a city hotel. Central to its appeal, particularly in summer, is a terraced garden that spreads out from an Olympic-size pool and smartpoolside restaurant and café; legions of white-clothed cushioned lounge chairs are scattered throughout the greenery, so there’s always a place to sun yourself.Inside, spacious rooms, often with large balconies, are done up in striped damask, puffy armchairs, and Hiltonesque amenities, such as a “pillow menu.” If you cantear yourself away, the city center is just a 15-minute complimentary shuttle-bus ride away. The strawberry on top: La Pergola restaurant is renowned as one ofRome’s very best. Pros: beautiful bird’s-eye view of Rome; shuttle to the city center; three-Michelin-star dining. Cons: you definitely pay for the luxury of stayinghere—everything is expensive; outside the city center; not all rooms have the view. | Via Cadlolo 101, Monte Mario | 00136 | 06/35091 | |357 rooms, 17 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator, DVD (some), Internet. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, bars, tennis court, pools, gym, spa, laundry service, Internetterminal, no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | CP .T R A S T E V E R EHotel Santa Maria.$$–$$$ | A Trastevere treasure, this hotel has a pedigree going back four centuries. This ivy-covered, mansard-roofed, rosy-brick-red, erstwhile Renaissance-eraconvent has been transformed by Paolo and Valentina Vetere into a true charmer. Surrounded by towering tenements, the complex is centered on a monasticporticoed courtyard, lined with orange trees—a lovely place for breakfast. The guest rooms are sweet and simple: a mix of brick walls, “cotto” tile floors, modernoak furniture, and stylishly floral bedspreads and curtains. Best of all, the location is buonissimo—just a few blocks from the Tiber and its isola. Pros: a quaint andpretty oasis in a chaotic city; relaxing courtyard; stocked wine bar. Cons: it might be tricky to find; some of the showers drain slowly; it’s not always easy finding acab in Trastevere. | Vicolo del Piede 2, Trastevere | 00153 | 06/5894626 | | 18 rooms, 2 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator. In-hotel: bar,bicycles, laundry service, Internet terminal, no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | BP .Hotel Trastevere.$ | This tiny hotel captures the villagelike charm of the Trastevere district. The entrance hall features a mural of the famous Piazza di Santa Maria, a few blocksaway, and hand-painted art nouveau wall designs add a touch of graciousness throughout. Open medieval brickwork and a few antiques here and there completethe mood. Most rooms face Piazza San Cosimato, where there’s an outdoor food market every morning except Sunday. Pros: cheap with a good location;convenient to transportation; friendly staff. Cons: no frills; few amenities. | Via Luciano Manara 24–25, Trastevere | 00153 | 06/5814713 | |20 rooms, 3 apartments | In-room: safe (some), Wi-Fi. In-hotel: no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | CP .Fodor’s Choice | Relais Le Clarisse.$$$ | In one of Rome’s most popular neighborhoods, this charming little oasis features five simple, but classically styled accommodations (two doubles and threesuites) with terra-cotta-tiled floors, wrought-iron bed frames, and oak furnishings. Each room opens up onto a bright courtyard surrounded by a Mediterraneangarden of grapevines and olive and lemon trees. Though Le Clarisse is set on the former cloister grounds of the Santa Chiara order, its rooms are equipped with themost modern technologies, including individual climate control, flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi, as well as Jacuzzi showers andtubs. Travelers feel more like personal guests at a friend’s villa rather than at a hotel, thanks to the comfortable size of the accommodations and the personal touchesand service extended by the staff. Le Clarisse is also located across the street from the Alcazar movie theater, which shows original language films (as opposed toversions that have been dubbed into Italian) on Monday nights. Pros: spacious rooms with comfy beds; high-tech showers/tubs with good water pressure; staff ismultilingual, friendly, and at your service. Cons: this part of Trastevere can be noisy at night; the rooms here fill up quickly; they serve only American coffee. | ViaCardinale Merry del Val 20, Trastevere | 00153 | 06/58334437 | | 5 rooms, 3 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Internet. In-hotel: roomservice, laundry service, Internet terminal, public Wi-Fi, parking (paid), no-smoking rooms | AE, MC, V | CP .A V E N T I N ODomus Aventina.$$$ | The best part of this quaint, friendly hotel is that it’s situated between two of Rome’s loveliest gardens: a municipal rose garden and Rome’s famous OrangeGarden, where you can often catch a glimpse of brides and grooms taking their wedding pictures. The Domus Aventina is located in the cuore (heart) of the historicAventine district not far from the Temple to Mithras and the House of Aquila and Priscilla (where St. Peter touched down). The 17th-century facade has beenrestored so it almost looks modern—ditto for the inside, where guest rooms have standard modern decor. Half of the rooms also have balconies. Pros: quiet location;walking distance to tourist attractions; complimentary Wi-Fi in rooms and public spaces. Cons: no elevator in the hotel; small showers; no tubs. | Via di Santa Prisca11/b, Aventino | 00153 | 06/5746135 | | 26 rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: bar, laundry service, public Wi-Fi,parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | CP | F6.Hotel San Anselmo.
  • 71. $$$ | Birdsongs add to the mood and charm of this already romantic retreat. The Hotel San Anselmo is far from the bustle of the city center, perched on top of theAventine Hill in a residential neighborhood. This full-scale 19th-century villa was completely refurbished in 2006 and given a sleek metropolitan feel. The new lookblends bits of baroque antique-flair such as the chandelier from the 800s mixed with contemporary pieces such as the sharp stainless-steel fireplace in the publicspaces. Others will find the best features here are the verdant garden and terrace bar. Guest rooms are each carefully designed to follow a particular theme. Amongthe favorites are “Room of Poems,” which feature poems beautifully scrawled onto the walls, and the “Room of Kisses,” which has a big canopy bed with romanticand suggestive drapes. All in all, the San Anselmo is molto charming. Pros: historic building with artful decor; great showers with jets; a garden where you canenjoy your breakfast. Cons: some consider it a bit of a hike to sights; limited public transportation; the wireless is pricey. | Piazza San Anselmo 2, Aventino | 00153 |06/570057 | | 45 rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Internet. In-hotel: room service, bar, laundry service, public Wi-Fi (paid), parking(paid), no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | BP .C O L O S S E O A R E ACapo d’Africa.$$$$ | Many find the modern look and feel of Capo d’Africa—not to mention its plush beds and deep bathtubs—refreshing after a long day’s journey throughancient Rome. Each room is decorated in warm, muted color tones with sleek furniture, stylish accents, and contemporary art. The hotel features a nonsmokingfloor, fitness center, and solarium. It sits on a quiet street near the Colosseum, Palatine, and Forum, and it’s not far from the metro. A delicious breakfast is served onthe rooftop terrace, where you can also enjoy an aperitivo overlooking Rome at the end of your day. And if you’re not too tuckered out, you can take a spin at thegym before bed. Pros: quiet, comfortable rooms; fitness center. Cons: despite proximity to the Colosseum, there isn’t a great view of it from the hotel; far from theother Roman sites and the rest of the city scene; not a lot of restaurants in the immediate neighborhood. | Via Capo d’Africa 54, Colosseo | 00184 | 06/772801 | | 64 rooms, 1 suite | In-room: safe, refrigerator, DVD (some), Wi-Fi. In-hotel: room service, bar, gym, Wi-Fi, parking (paid), no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V | CP .Hotel Lancelot.$$–$$$ | This home away from home close to the Colosseum has been run by the same family since 1970 and is quite popular thanks to its carefully andcourteously attentive staff who go the extra mile for their guests. Located in a quiet residential area, rooms at Hotel Lancelot tend to have big windows, so they’rebright and airy, and some have terraces or balconies as well. Over the years, the hotel has undergone a number of renovations. They most recently updated therooms with air-conditioning, en-suite bathrooms, TVs, and Wi-Fi. In the restaurant, where hearty breakfasts and dinners are served, guests sit at Lancelot’s “roundtables”—partly a play on the knight’s tale and partly an effort to encourage communal dining among guests from around the world. And these round tables seem tobe a big hit, since Hotel Lancelot boasts that most of their guests are either return visitors or new guests recommended by others who’ve spent vacations here. Pros:hospitable staff; secluded and quiet; very family-friendly. Cons: some of the bathrooms are on the small side; no refrigerators in the rooms; room walls are a bit thin,which means you can sometimes hear your neighbors next door. | Via Capo d’Africa 47, Colosseo | 00184 | 06/70450615 | | 60 rooms | In-room: safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bar, laundry service, Internet terminal, public Wi-Fi, parking (paid), no-smoking rooms | AE, DC, MC, V |CP .Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 72. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsThe Arts | NightlifeT H E A R T SRome is finally au courant with advance publication and promotion of cultural events. Begin with the city’s official Web site ( Likewise,events listings can be found in the Cronaca and Cultura section of Italian newspapers, as well as in Metro (the free newspaper). The most comprehensive listingsare in the weekly roma c’è booklet, which comes out every Wednesday. Flip to the back for the brief yet very detailed English-language section. Check out theevents site |,in English, as well as the monthly updated Time Out: Rome ( and The American( In addition, consult the monthly English-language periodical (with accompanying Web site), Wanted in Rome(, available at many newsstands.V E N U E SRome used to be a performing arts backwater until 2002, when it opened its state-of-the-art Auditorium-Parco della Musica (Via de Coubertin 15, Flaminio |00196 | 06/80241; 06/68801044 information and tickets |, a 10-minute tram ride (north) from Piazza del Popolo. Three futuristic concerthalls designed by famed architect Renzo Piano have excellent acoustics and a large courtyard used for concerts and other events—everything from chamber musicto jazz to big-name pop, even film screenings, art exhibits, fashion shows, and “philosophy festivals.” To get to the Auditorium from Rome’s Termini train station,take Bus No. 910, which drops you off directly in front of the complex. Just behind Piazza del Popolo in Piazzale Flaminio, hop on the No. 2 tram for six stops tothe Auditorium area. Using the Metro, take Line A to Flaminio, then switch to No. 2 tram for six stops to the Auditorium.Teatro Argentina(Largo Argentina52 | 00186 | 06/6840001 |, built in 1732 by the architect Theoldi, has been the home of the Teatro Sabile theater companysince 1994. The theater is a beautiful, ornate structure, with velvet seats and chandeliers, and plays host to many plays, classical music performances, operas, anddance performances. Both the city’s ballet and opera companies, as well as visiting international performers, appear at the Teatro dell’Opera (Piazza BeniaminoGigli 8, Repubblica | 00184 | 06/481601, 06/48160255 tickets | Teatro Olimpico (Piazza Gentile da Fabriano 17, Flaminio | 00196 |06/3265991 | hosts both concerts and dance performances.Teatro Valle(Via del Teatro Valle 23A, Navona | 00186 | 06/68803794 | hosts dramatic performances of the same caliber as its neighbor, Teatro Argentina,but often with a more experimental bent, particularly in fall. Dance and classical music are also presented here. The ancient Terme di Caracalla (Via delle Termedi Caracalla 52, Aventino | 00153 | 06/48160255 | has one of the most spectacular and enchanting outdoor stages in the world, often hostingperformances presented by Rome’s opera company ranging from Aida (with elephants) to avant-garde.T I C K E T STickets for major events can be bought online at Ticket One ( Tickets for larger musical performances as well as many cultural events can usuallybe found at Hello Ticket (, which lists all cultural events and the many punta di vendita, ticket sellers, in Rome. Or go in person to Orbis (PiazzaEsquilino 37, Repubblica | 00185 | 06/4744776) or to Mondadori (Via del Corso 472, Spagna | 00186 | 06/684401), a huge and central store that sells music,DVDs, books, and concert tickets.
  • 73. C O N C E R T SChristmastime is an especially busy classical concert season in Rome. Many small classical concert groups perform in cultural centers and churches year-round; allperformances in Catholic churches are religious music and are free. Look for posters outside the churches. Pop, jazz, and world music concerts are frequent,especially in summer, although they may not be well advertised. Many of the bigger-name acts perform outside the center, so it’s worth asking about transportationbefore you buy your tickets (about €10–€40).ClassicalA year-round classical concert series, often showcasing the famed Orchestra dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia, is organized by the Accademia di Santa Cecilia(Concert hall and box office | Via Pietro de Coubertin 34, Flaminio | 00196 | 06/8082058 | The Accademia Filarmonica Romana (ViaFlaminia 118, Flaminio | 00196 | 06/3201752, 06/3265991 tickets | has concerts at the Teatro Olimpico. The Renaissance-eraChiostro del Bramante (Vicolo della Pace 2, Navona | 00186 | 06/68809098 | has a summer concert series. Il Tempietto(06/87131590 | organizes classical music concerts indoors in winter and in otherwise inaccessible sites in summer. The internationally respectedOratorio del Gonfalone series (Via del Gonfalone 32/a, Campo de’Fiori | 00186 | 06/6875952 | focuses on baroque music. The OrtoBotanico (Largo Cristina di Svezia 23/a, Trastevere | 00165 | 06/6868441), off Via della Lungara in Trastevere, has a summer concert series with a beautiful,verdant backdrop. The church of Sant’Ignazio (Piazza Sant’Ignazio, nearPantheon | 00186 | 06/6889951) often hosts classical concerts in its spectacularlyfrescoed setting.D A N C EModern dance and classical ballet companies from Russia, the United States, and Europe sporadically visit Rome; performances are at the Teatro dell’Opera, TeatroOlimpico, or one of the open-air venues in summer. Small dance companies from Italy and abroad perform in numerous venues.The Rome Opera Ballet (06/481601, 06/48160255 tickets | performs at the Teatro dell’Opera, often with international guest stars.F I L MMovie tickets range in price from €4.50 for matinees and some weeknights up to €10 for reserved seats on weekend evenings; all films, unless noted “V.O.” in thelisting, which means versione originale (original version or original language), are shown in Italian. Check listings in Roma C’è or | forreviews of all English-language films currently playing, or visit | for a list of current features. The Metropolitan (Via del Corso 7, Popolo | 00186| 06/32600500) has four screens, one dedicated to English-language films, September–June. The five-screen Warner Village Moderno (Piazza della Repubblica45–46 | 00184 | 06/47779202 |, close to the train station, usually has one theater with an English-language film.O P E R AThe season for the Opera Theater of Rome (06/481601, 06/48160255 tickets | runs from November or December to May. Main performancesare staged at the Teatro dell’Opera, on Piazza Beniamino Gigli, in cooler weather, and at outdoor locations, such as Piazza del Popolo and the spectacular Terme diCaracalla (Baths of Caracalla), in summer.Roman nightlife moves outdoors in summertime, and that goes not only for pubs and discos but for higher culture as well. Open-air opera in particular is a venerableItalian tradition; competing companies commandeer church courtyards, ancient villas, and soccer stadiums for performances that range from student-run mom-and-poperas to full-scale extravaganzas. The same goes for dance and for concerts covering the spectrum of pop, classical, and jazz. Look for performances at the Bathsof Caracalla, site of the famous televised “Three Tenors” concert; regardless of the production quality, it’s a breathtaking setting. In general, though, you can counton performances being quite good, even if small productions often resort to school-play scenery and folding chairs to cut costs. Tickets run about €15–€50. Themore-sophisticated productions may be listed in newspapers and magazines such as Roma C’è, but your best sources for information are old-fashioned postersplastered all over the city, advertising classics such as Tosca and La Traviata.N I G H T L I F ERome’s nightlife is decidedly more happening for locals and insiders who know whose palms to grease and when to go where. The “flavor of the month” factor isat work here, and many places fade into oblivion after their 15 minutes of fame. Smoking has been banned in all public areas in Italy (that’s right, it actuallyhappened); Roman aversion to clean air has meant a decrease in crowds at bars and clubs. The best sources for an up-to-date list of nightspots are the Roma C’è andTime Out Roma magazines. Trastevere and the area around Piazza Navona are both filled with bars, restaurants, and, after dark, people. In summer, discos andmany bars close to beat the heat (although some simply relocate to the beach, where many Romans spend their summer nights). The city-sponsored Estate Romana(Rome Summer) festival takes over, lighting up hot city nights with open-air concerts, bars, and discos. Pick up the event guide at newsstands.C A F É S A N D W I N E B A R SAi Tre Scalini(Via Panisperna 251, Monti | 00184 | 06/48907495 | is a rustic local hangout with a wooden bar in Monti, one of the new boho sections ofRome. It serves delicious antipasti and light entrées.Celebrities and literati hang out at the coveted outdoor tables of Antico Caffè della Pace (Via della Pace 5, Navona | 00186 | 06/6861216), set on the enchantingpiazzatina (tiny piazza) of Santa Maria della Pace. The only drawbacks: overpriced table service and distracted waiters. Fluid (Via del Governo Vecchio 46/47,Navona | 00186 | 06/6832361 |, with its slick design and Zen waterfall, is all about the scene, especially with its looking-glass front windowwhere pretty young things primp on ice cube–shaped chairs. For the cocktail crowd, Fluid’s many variations on the traditional martini are quite laudable. Freni eFrizioni (Via de Politeama 4–6, Trastevere | 00153 | 06/58334210 | is one of Rome’s latest artsy hangouts—it spills out onto its Trasteverepiazza and down the stairs, filling the area around Piazza Trilussa with an attractive crowd of local mojito-sippers. The wood-paneled walls of L’Angolo Divino
  • 74. piazza and down the stairs, filling the area around Piazza Trilussa with an attractive crowd of local mojito-sippers. The wood-paneled walls of L’Angolo Divino(Via dei Balestrari 12, Campo de’Fiori | 00186 | 06/6864413) are racked with more than 700 bottles of wine. A quiet enoteca in a back alley behind Campo,L’Angolo Divino allows you to sidestep the crowds while enjoying homemade pastas with a vintage bottle. Enoteca Antica (Via della Croce 76/b, Spagna | 00186| 06/6790896 | is Piazza di Spagna’s most celebrated wine bar, occupying a prime people-watching corner just below the piazza. Inaddition to a vast selection of wine (also available for takeout), Enoteca Antica has delectable antipasti, perfect for a snack or a light lunch.Fodor’s Choice | Shaki(Via Mario de Fiori 29a, Spagna | 06/6791694 |, Piazza di Spagna’s mod wine bar and restaurant (think Los Angeles meets Rome) is perfectfor aperitivi, after-dinner drinks, and just being seen.Vineria Reggio(Campo de’ Fiori 15, Campo | 06/68803268), or “Vineria” as those in-the-know call it, is the quintessential local Roma wine bar where the crowd ranges fromgrandfathers to glitterati.R O O F T O P T E R R A C E S A N D U P S C A L E B A R SCrudo(Via Degli Specchi 6, Campo de’Fiori | 00186 | 06/6838989) is a spacious, modern, New York–style lounge serving well-made cocktails and crudo (raw) nibblessuch as sushi and carpaccio. With a large lounge decked out in mod design and hued in gray, white, and red, Crudo also doubles as art space.For a dip into La Dolce Vita, the Jardin de Hotel de Russie (Via del Babuino 9, Popolo | 00186 | 06/328881 | the location for everyHollywood VIP, as well as up-and-coming starlets. Mixed drinks are well above par, as are the prices.Fodor’s Choice | Rosé Terrazzo at the St. George Hotel(Via Giulia 62, Campo de’Fiori | 00186 | 06/686611 | is the latest front-runner in Rome’s ever-growing list of rooftop sweet spots. With adelicious oyster selection headlining its seafood-only menu, the Rosé Terrazzo’s dizzying drink selection includes cocktails, wine, and many rosés—from pinkchampagnes to Italian rosati. This option, on Rome’s classiest street, is open only in the summer months.Sitting in front of a 2nd-century temple, Salotto 42 (Piazza di Pietra 42, Pantheon | 00186 | 06/6785804 | holds court from morning until late inthe evening. The cozy-sleek room (high-back velvet chairs, zebra-print rugs, chandeliers) is a smorgasbord of the owners’ Roman–New York–Swedish pedigree.The den, complete with art books, local sophisticates, and models moonlighting as waitresses, is the fashionista’s favorite choice for late-night drinks.Tazio(Hotel Exedra, Piazza della Repubblica47 | 00184 | 06/489381), named after the original Italian paparazzo (celebrity photographer), is an Adam Tihany–designedchampagne bar. The red, black, and white lacquered interior, with crystal chandeliers, has a distinct ’80s feel (think Robert Palmer, Addicted to Love). In summer,the hotel’s rooftop bar Sensus is the place to be, with its infinity pool and terrace view overlooking downtown.Terrace Bar of the Hotel Raphael(Largo Febo 2, Navona | 00184 | 06/682831 | is noted for its bird’s-eye view of the campaniles and palazzi of the Piazza Navona. High upin the moonlit sky, the Terrace Bar tends to be the choice place for a romantic evening.N I G H T C L U B S A N D D I S C O SMost dance clubs open about 10:30 PM and charge an entrance fee of about €20, which may include the first drink (subsequent drinks cost about €10). Clubs areusually closed Monday, and all those listed here close in summer, some opening instead at the beaches of Ostia or Fregene. The liveliest areas for clubs with ayounger clientele are the grittier working-class districts of Testaccio and Ostiense. Any of the clubs lining Via Galvani, leading up to Monte Testaccio, are fair gamefor a trendy, crowded dance-floor experience—names and ownership of clubs change frequently, but the overall scene has shown exciting staying power, growinginto a DJ “Disneyland.”Behind the Vatican Museums, Alexanderplatz (Via Ostia 9, Vaticano | 00192 | 06/39742171 |, Rome’s most famous jazz and blues club,has a bar and a restaurant. Local and internationally known musicians play nightly. In trendy Testaccio, Caffè Latino (Via Monte Testaccio96 | 00153 |06/57288556 | is a vibrant Roman locale that has live music (mainly Latin) almost every night, followed by recorded soul, funk, and’70s and ’80s revival; it’s closed Monday. Gilda (Via Mario de’ Fiori 97, Spagna | 00186 | 06/6784838 | used to be the place to spot famousItalian actors and politicians. Now it is host to B-actors and leftover politniks. This nightspot near the Spanish Steps has a piano bar as well as a restaurant and dancefloors with live and disco music. Jackets are required. Hulala (Via dei Conciatori 7, Ostiense | 00154 | 06/57300429 | is home to Rome’sfashionistas. Mod films are projected on the walls, and champagne is drunk through straws.Housed in a medieval palazzo is La Cabala (Via dei Soldati 23, Navona | 00186 | 06/68301192 |, Rome’s version of a supper club. This three-levelspace has a piano bar, restaurant, and club, and often has a very dressy crowd vying to get past the velvet rope.Lounge fever is all over Rome, with La Maison (Vicolo dei Granari 4, Navona | 00186 | 06/6833312 | one of the best. Bedecked in purplevelvet and crystal chandeliers, the club has two distinct spaces, a VIP area and a dance floor, with a DJ dishing up the latest dance tunes. Head straight to the backroom and grab a couch. Qube (Via di Portonaccio 212, SanLorenzo | 00159 | 06/4385445), open only Thursday through Saturday, is Rome’s biggest undergrounddisco, where bodies mix and mingle like a rugby game. Friday night hosts the Muccassassina (, Rome’s most popular gay event. It haspaid a price for its fame, and is now more straight than gay.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 75. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsShopping Districts | Markets | Specialty StoresThey say when in Rome to do as the Romans do—and the Romans love to shop. After all, this is the city that gave us the Gucci “moccasin” loafer, the Fendi bag,and the Valentino dress that Jackie O wore when she became Mrs. Onassis. Stores are generally open from 10 to 1 and from 3:30 or 4 to 7 or 7:30. There’s atendency for shops in central districts to stay open all day, and hours are becoming more flexible throughout the city. Many places close Monday morning and allday Sunday, though this is changing, too, especially in the city center. Some stores also close Saturday afternoon from mid-June through August.You can stretch your euros by taking advantage of the Tax-Free for Tourists V.A.T. tax refunds, available at most large stores for purchases over €155. Or hitRome in January and early February or in late July and August, when stores clean house with the justly famous biannual sales. There are so many hole-in-the-wallboutiques selling top-quality merchandise in Rome’s center that even just wandering you’re sure to find something that catches your eye.S H O P P I N G D I S T R I C T SThe city’s most famous shopping district, Piazza di Spagna, is conveniently compact, fanning out at the foot of the Spanish Steps in a galaxy of boutiques sellinggorgeous wares with glamorous labels. Here you can ricochet from Gucci to Prada to Valentino to Versace with less effort than it takes to pull out your credit card.If your budget is designed for lower altitudes, you also can find great clothes and accessories at less-extravagant prices. But here, buying is not necessarily the point—window displays can be works of art, and dreaming may be satisfaction enough. Via dei Condotti is the neighborhood’s central axis, but there are shops on everystreet in the area bordered by Piazza di Spagna on the east, Via del Corso on the west, between Piazza San Silvestro and Via della Croce, and extending along Viadel Babuino to Piazza del Popolo. Via Margutta, a few blocks north of the Spanish Steps, is a haven for contemporary art galleries.Shops along Via Campo Marzio, and adjoining Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina, stock eclectic, high-quality clothes and accessories—both big names (BottegaVeneta, Louis Vuitton) and smaller European designers—at slightly lower prices. Running from Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo lies Via del Corso, a mainshopping avenue that has more than a mile of clothing, shoes, leather goods, and home furnishings from classic to cutting-edge. Running west from Piazza Navona,Via del Governo Vecchio has numerous women’s boutiques and secondhand-clothing stores.Via Cola di Rienzo,across the Tiber from Piazza del Popolo and extending to the Vatican, is block after block of boutiques, shoe stores, department stores, and midlevel chain shops, aswell as street stalls and upscale food shops. Via dei Coronari, across the Tiber from Castel Sant’Angelo, has quirky antiques and home furnishings. Via Giulia andother surrounding streets are good bets for decorative arts. Should your gift list include religious souvenirs, look for everything from rosaries to Vatican golf balls atthe shops between Piazza San Pietro and Borgo Pio. Liturgical vestments and statues of saints make for good window-shopping on Via dei Cestari, near thePantheon.Via Nazionaleis a good bet for affordable stores of the Benetton ilk, and for shoes, bags, and gloves. The Termini train station has become a good one-stop place for manyshopping needs. Its 60-plus shops are open until 10 PM and include a Nike store, the Body Shop, Sephora, Mango (women’s clothes), a UPIM department store, agrocery store, and a three-story bookstore with selections in English. Local designers and smaller designer boutiques also pepper the trendy shopping districts ofMontinear the Forum and Trastevereacross the Tiber from the historical center.M A R K E T S
  • 76. Outdoor markets are open Monday–Saturday from early morning to about 1 PM (a bit later on Saturday), but get there early for the best selection. Remember tokeep an eye on your wallet—the money changing hands draws Rome’s most skillful pickpockets. And don’t go if you can’t stand crowds. Rome’s most centraloutdoor food market is at Campo de’ Fiori,south of Piazza Navona, though for a more authentic feel head to Testaccio,where the covered market is far lesstouristy. The renovated Trionfale market (Via Andrea Doria, nearVatican | 00192) is big and bustling with more than 270 stalls; it’s about a five-minute walknorth of the entrance to the Vatican Museums with access from Via Tunisi and Via Santamaura. There’s room for bargaining at the Sunday-morning flea market atPorta Portese (Piazza Ippolito Nievo, Trastevere | 00153). Seemingly endless rows of merchandise include new and secondhand clothing, bootleg CDs, oldfurniture, car stereos of suspicious origin, and all manner of old junk and hidden treasures.S P E C I A L T Y S T O R E SD E S I G N E R C L O T H I N GAll of Italy’s top fashion houses and many international designers have stores near Piazza di Spagna. Buying clothes can be a bit tricky for American women, assizes tend to be cut for a petite Italian frame. A size 12 (European 46) is not always easy to find, but the more-expensive stores should carry it. Target less-expensivestores for accessories if this is an issue.D&G(Piazza di Spagna 94 | 00187 | 06/69924999), a spin-off of the top-of-the-line Dolce&Gabbana, shows trendy casual wear and accessories for men and women.The flagship store for Fendi (Largo Carlo Goldoni 419-421, near Piazza di Spagna | 00187 | 06/334501) is in the former Palazzo Boncompagni, renamed “PalazzoFendi.” It overlooks the intersection of famed Via dei Condotti and Via del Corso, and it’s the quintessential Roman fashion house, presided over by the Fendisisters. Their signature baguette bags, furs, accessories, and sexy separates are all found here. The Giorgio Armani (Via dei Condotti 77, near Piazza di Spagna |00187 | 06/6991460) shop is as understated and elegant as its designs. Gucci (Via dei Condotti 8, near Piazza di Spagna | 00187 | 06/6790405) often has lines outthe door of its two-story shop, testament to the continuing popularity of its colorful bags, wallets, and shoes in rich leathers. Edgy clothes designs are also available.There is another Gucci boutique nearby on Via Borgognona. Sleek, vaguely futuristic Prada (Via dei Condotti 92-95, near Piazza di Spagna | 00187 |06/6790897) has two entrances: the one for the men’s boutique is to the left of the women’s. Rome’s immortal fashion superstar, Valentino (Valentino Donna | Viadei Condotti 15, near Piazza di Spagna | 00187 | 06/6739420 Valentino Uomo | Via Bocca di Leone 15, near Piazza di Spagna | 00187 | 06/36001906), isrecognized the world over by the “V” logo. The now-retired couturier has new designers manning his shops for the donna (woman) and the uomo (man) not farfrom his headquarters in Piazza Mignanelli beside the Spanish Steps. Versace (Via Bocca di Leone 26-27, near Piazza di Spagna | 00187 | 06/6780521) sells therock-star styles that made the house’s name.Men’s ClothingBrioni(Via dei Condotti 21, near Piazza di Spagna | 00187 | 06/6783428 | Via Barberini 79, near Piazza Barberini | 06/485855) has a well-deserved reputation as one ofItaly’s top tailors. There are ready-to-wear garments in addition to impeccable custom-made apparel. Davide Cenci (Via Campo Marzio 1-7, near Piazza dellaRotonda [Pantheon] | 00186 | 06/6990681), Rome’s answer to a high-end department store, is famed for conservative clothing of exquisite craftsmanship.Ermenegildo Zegna (Via Borgognona 7/e, near Piazza di Spagna | 00187 | 06/6789143) has the finest in men’s elegant styles and accessories. Il Portone (Viadelle Carrozze 73, near Piazza di Spagna | 00187 | 06/6793355) embodies a tradition in custom shirtmaking.Women’s Clothing38 Leopardo (Vicolo del Leopardo 38, Trastevere | 00153 | 06/45435476) American designer Jessica Harris’s shop in Trastevere, evokes the image of a large-scaledollhouse where her one-of-a-kind collections are displayed alongside dresses, separates, and accessories by other local designers. Her clothes are delicatelyconstructed by hand from the finest materials.Fodor’s Choice | L’Anatra all’Arancia(Via Tiburtina 105, San Lorenzo | 00185 | 06/4456293) has the locals in this bustling working-class district agog at its window displays of flowing innovativedesigner clothes, teeny-weeny bikinis, and zany underwear. Owner Donatella Baroni believes in fashion being fun. The men’s shop is across the road at No. 130,where style-conscious hipsters can find pure linen shirts and trousers in unusual colors. The clientele includes Italian TV and stage personalities who live in thetrendy area.Maga Morgana (Via del Governo Vecchio 27, near Piazza Navona | 00186 | 06/6879995 | Via del Governo Vecchio 98, Navona | 00186 | 06/6878085) is afamily-run business where everyone’s nimble fingers contribute to producing the highly original clothes and accessories. From hippie chick to bridal chic, designerLuciana Iannace creates lavishly ornate clothes that are as inventive as they are distinguishing.Save the Queen(Via del Babuino 49, Spagna | 06/36003039) is a hot Florentine design house with pieces with artistic and renaissance frills, cutouts, and textures. The silhouettesare youthful chic and not the least bit discreet.Victory (Via S. Francesco a Ripa 19, Trastevere | 00153 | 06/5812437) spotlights youthful, lighthearted styles created by lesser-known stylists, such as Rose D,Nina, Alessandrini, and Marithé et François Girbaud. Victory’s clothing is made for flaunting. A menswear version of the store is located at Piazza San Calisto 10in Trastevere.J E W E L R YFodor’s Choice | Gioielli in Movimento (Via della Stelletta 23, near Piazza Navona | 00186 | 06/6867431) draws celebrity customers hooked on Carlo Cardenasingenious designs. Carlos "Twice as Nice" earrings, which can be transformed from fan-shape clips into elegant drops, were Uno Erres best-selling earringsbetween 1990 and 1998, and his "Up and Down" pendant, which can be worn two different ways, is another hit.
  • 77. between 1990 and 1998, and his "Up and Down" pendant, which can be worn two different ways, is another hit.Quattrocolo (Via della Scrofa 54, near Piazza Navona | 00186 | 06/68801367) has been specializing in antique micromosaic jewelry and baubles from centuriespast since 1938.S H O E S A N D L E A T H E R A C C E S S O R I E SFor gloves as pretty as Holly Golightly’s, shop at Sermoneta (Piazza di Spagna 61 | 00186 | 06/6791960). Any color or style one might desire, from elbow-lengthblack leather to scallop-edged lace-cut lilac suede, is available at this glove institution. Furla (Piazza di Spagna 22 | 00187 | 06/69200363) has 14 franchises inRome alone. At its flagship store, to the left of the Spanish Steps, be prepared for crowds of passionate shoppers, all anxious to possess one of the delectable bags,wallets, or watch straps in ice-cream colors. Salvatore Ferragamo (Via dei Condotti 65, near Piazza di Spagna | 00187 | 06/6781130 | Via dei Condotti 73/74,near Piazza diSpagna | 00187 | 06/6791565) is one of the top-10 most-wanted men’s footwear brands in the world and for years has been providing Hollywoodglitterati and discerning clients with unique handmade designs. The Florentine design house also specializes in handbags, small leather goods, men’s and women’sready-to-wear, and scarves and ties. Men’s styles are found at Via dei Condotti 64, women’s at 73/74. Di Cori (Piazza di Spagna 53 | 00187 | 06/6784439) hasgloves in every color of the spectrum. Bruno Magli (Via dei Condotti 6, near Piazza di Spagna | 00187 | 06/69292121) has classy shoes with simple, elegant lines—for men and women—that have character without compromising comfort.Fodor’s Choice | Tod’s (Via Fontanella di Borghese 56a/57, near Via del Corso | 00187 | 06/68210066) has become hyperfashionable again due in large part toowner Diego Della Valles ownership of Florences soccer team. The brand is known for its sporty flats and comfortable, casual styling. Tods occupies the groundfloor in the celebrated 16th-century Palazzo Ruspoli.Fausto Santini (Via Frattina 120, near Piazza di Spagna | 00187 | 06/6784114) gives a hint of extravagance in minimally decorated, all-white show windowsdisplaying surprising shoes that fashion mavens love. Santini’s footwear for men and women is bright, colorful, and trendy, sporting unusual forms, especially inheels. Coordinated bags and wallets add to the fun.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 78. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsT H E B A R O Q U E I N R O M EFlagrantly emotional, heavily expressive, and visually sensuous, the 17th-century artistic movement known as baroque was born in Rome. It was the creation ofthree geniuses: the sculptor and architect Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598–1680), the painter and architect Pietro da Cortona (1596–1669), and the architect and sculptorFrancesco Borromini (1599–1667). From the drama found in the artists’ paintings to the jewel-laden, gold-on-gold detail of 17th-century Roman palaces, baroquestyle was intended both to shock and delight by upsetting the placid, “correct” rules of proportion and scale in the Renaissance. If a building looks theatrical—like astage or a theater, especially with curtains being drawn back—it is usually baroque. Look for over-the-top, curvaceous marble work, trompe l’oeil, allusions to otherart, and high drama to identify the style. Baroque’s appeal to the emotions made it a powerful weapon in the hands of the Counter-Reformation.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 79. Main Table of ContentsIntroducing Naples and CampaniaNaples and Campania PlannerNaplesHerculaneum, Vesuvius, and PompeiiIschia and ProcidaCapriSorrento and the Amalfi CoastNaples and Campania In Depth
  • 80. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsTop Reasons to Go | Getting OrientedA kinetic gust of garlic-and-basil aromatherapy, Campania is a destination that no one ever forgets. More travelers visit this region than any other in the south, andit’s no wonder. A region of evocative names—Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii, Positano, Amalfi—Campania conjures up visions of cliff-shaded, sapphire-hue coves, sun-dappled waters, and mighty ruins. Home to Vesuvius, the area’s unique geology is responsible for Campania’s photogenic landscape. A languid coastline stretchesout along a deep blue sea, punctuated by rocky islands.Through the ages, the area’s temperate climate, warm sea, fertile soil, and natural beauty have attracted Greek colonists, then Roman emperors—who called theregion Campania Felix (“the happy land”)—and later Saracen raiders and Spanish invaders. The result has been a rich and varied history, reflected in everythingfrom architecture to mythology. The highlights span millennia: the near-intact Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the Greek temples in Paestum, theNorman and baroque churches in Naples, the white-dome fisherman’s houses of Positano, the dolce vita resorts of Capri. Campania piles them all onto onemammoth must-see sandwich.The region’s complex identity is most intensely felt in its major metropolis, Naples. It sprawls around its bay as though attempting to embrace the island of Capri,while behind it Mount Vesuvius glowers. The most operatic city in Italy, Napoli exasperates both its critics and its defenders. Naples is lush, chaotic, scary, funny,confounding, intoxicating, and very beautiful. Few who visit remain ambivalent. You needn’t participate in the mad whirl of the city, however. The best pastime inCampania is simply finding a spot with a stunning view and indulging in “il dolce far niente” (“the sweetness of doing nothing”).T O P R E A S O N S T O G OWalking the Streets of Naples: Its energy, chaos, and bursts of beauty make Naples the most operatic of Italian cities.Exploring Pompeii: The excavated ruins of Pompeii are a unique and occasionally spooky glimpse into everyday life—and sudden death—in Roman times.“The Living Room of the World”: Pose oh-so-casually with the beautiful people sipping their Camparis on La Piazzetta, the central crossroads of Capri: a stage-set square that always seems ready for a gala performance.Ravishing Ravello: High above the Amalfi Coast, two spectacular villas compete for the title of most beautiful spot in southern Italy.A world made of stairs: Built like a vertical amphitheater piggybacked with houses, Positano may very well be the best triathlon training ground imaginable. Thetown’s only job is to look enchanting—and it does that very well.G E T T I N G O R I E N T E DThe Golfo di Napoli (Bay of Naples) holds many of Campania’s attractions, including Italy’s greatest archaeological sites—Pompeii and Herculaneum—and thecity of Naples itself. Geological stepping-stones anchored in the bay, the islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida tip the two points of the bay’s watery crescent. Just tothe south stands the Sorrentine Peninsula, home to the town of Sorrento. Over the Lattari Mountains lies the Amalfi Coast, famed for such beauty spots as Positano,Amalfi, and Ravello.Naples. Italy’s third-largest city is densely packed with people, cafés, pizzerias, and an amazing number of Norman and baroque churches.
  • 81. Herculaneum, Vesuvius, and Pompeii. Two towns show you how ancient Romans defined the good life—until, one day in AD 79, Mount Vesuvius buried themin volcanic ash and lava.Procida and Ischia. Though they lack Capri’s glitz, these two sister islands in the Bay of Naples share a laid-back charm.Capri. The rocky island mixes natural beauty and dolce vita glamour.Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. A trip around the Sorrento Peninsula takes you to the resort towns of Sorrento, Positano, Ravello, and Amalfi. The road betweenthem is one of Italy’s most gorgeous (and demanding) drives. Farther south, Paestum contains remarkably well-preserved temples from the days of ancient Greekcolonies in Italy.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 82. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsTesting the Waters | Making the Most of Your Time | Finding a Place to Stay | Getting Around by Train Getting Around by Bus | Getting Around by Car | ATipping Tip | Coffee | Buffalo | The Oral Tradition | Wine | Pizza: It Wasn’t Like This Back Home…T E S T I N G T H E W A T E R SDespite its miles of beautiful coast, Campania’s beaches can be disappointing—most are small stretches of coarse sand. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack yourswimsuit, but leave any Caribbean-inspired expectations behind. The area around Positano has the best beach options: Spiaggia Grande (the main beach) ispleasant; a little farther west, Spiaggia di Fornillo gets better; and you can go by boat to the remote Spiaggia di Laurito for a leisurely day of swimming and lunchingon seafood. On Ischia, the best sandy beach is at Citara, south of Forio, and on Capri you can take a dip in the waters around the famous Faraglioni rock formation.You may not be won over by the sand, but the water itself is spectacular, with infinite varieties of blue shimmering in the sun, turning transparent in the coves.M A K I N G T H E M O S T O F Y O U R T I M EIn Campania, there are three primary travel experiences: Naples, with its restless exuberance; the resorts (Capri, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast), dedicated to leisure andindulgence; and the archaeological sights (Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum), where the ancient world is frozen in time. Each is wonderful in its own way. If youhave a week, you can get a good taste of all three, but with less time, you’re better off choosing between them rather than stretching yourself thin.Pompeii is the simplest to plan for: it’s a day trip. To get a feel for Naples, you should give it a couple of days at a minimum. The train station makes a harsh firstimpression, but the city grows on you as you take in the sights and interact with the locals.That said, many people bypass Naples and head right for the resorts. These places are all about relaxing—you’ll miss the point if you’re in a rush. Sorrento isn’t asspectacular as Positano or Capri, but it’s a good base because of its central location.F I N D I N G A P L A C E T O S T A YMost parts of Campania have accommodations in all price categories, but they tend to fill up in high season, so reserve well in advance. In summer, hotels on thecoast that serve meals almost always require you to take half board. What It Costs (In Euros) Restaurant prices are for a first course (primo), second course (secondo), and dessert (dolce). Hotel prices are for two people in a standard double room in high season, including tax and service. Restaurants Hotels ¢ under €20 under €75 $ €20–€30 €75–€125 $$ €30–€45 €125–€200 $$$ €45–€65 €200–€300 $$$$ over €65 over €300
  • 83. $$$$ over €65 over €300G E T T I N G A R O U N DG E T T I N G A R O U N D B Y T R A I NThere are trains every hour between Rome and Naples. Alta Velocità, Eurostar, and Intercity, the fastest types of train service, make the trip in less than two hours.Almost all trains to Naples stop at Stazione Centrale (Piazza Garibaldi | 80142 | 892021 | efficient (though run-down) suburban Circumvesuviana (800/053939 | runs from Naples’s Corso Garibaldi station and stops at StazioneCentrale before continuing to Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Sorrento. Travel time between Naples and Sorrento on the Circumvesuviana line is about 75 minutes.For ticketing purposes, the region is divided into travel zones depending on distance from Naples. A Fascia 2 ticket (€1.80 for 120 minutes) takes you toHerculaneum, Fascia 3 (€2.40 for 140 minutes) includes Pompeii, and Fascia 5 (€3.30 for 180 minutes) covers trips to Sorrento. If you’re traveling from Naples toanywhere else in Campania, there’s no need to buy a separate ticket for your subway, tram, or bus ride to the train station. Your train ticket covers the wholejourney. Buy the ticket the day before, as some of the ticket types are hard to find.G E T T I N G A R O U N D B Y B U SWithin Campania there’s an extensive network of local buses, although finding information about it can be trying. SITA buses (081/5522176 | for Salerno leave every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday and every two hours on Sunday from its terminal in the port near the Stazione Marittima. SITAbuses also serve the Amalfi Coast, connecting Sorrento with Salerno. Curreri (081/8015420 | operates a service (six runs daily)between Sorrento and Aeroporto Capodichino.G E T T I N G A R O U N D B Y C A RYou can get along fine without a car in Campania, and there are plenty of reasons not to have one: traffic in Naples is even worse than in Rome; you can’t bring acar to Capri or Ischia (except in winter, when everything’s closed); and parking in the towns of the Amalfi Coast is hard to come by and expensive.Italy’s main north–south route, the A1 (also known as the Autostrada del Sole), connects Rome with Naples and Campania. In good traffic the drive to Naples takesless than three hours. Autostrada A3, a continuation of the A1, runs south from Naples through Campania and into Calabria. Herculaneum (Ercolano) and Pompeii(Pompei) both have marked exits off the A3. For Vesuvius, take the Ercolano exit. For the Sorrento Peninsula and the Amalfi Coast, exit at Castellammare diStabia. To get to Paestum, take the A3 to the Battipaglia exit and take the road to Capaccio Scalo–Paestum. The roads on the Sorrento Peninsula and Amalfi Coastare narrow and twisting, but they have outstanding views.E A T I N G A N D D R I N K I N G W E L L I N N A P L E S AThink of Neapolitan food and you conjure up pasta, pizza, and tomatoes. The stereotype barely scratches the surface of what’s available in Naples, and much less inthe rest of Campania, whose cuisine reflects an enormously diverse landscape.Campania is known for its enclaves of gastronomy, notable among them the tip of the Sorrento Peninsula and the Campi Flegrei, west of Naples. You usually getbetter value outside Naples, and you may well come across cucina povera, a cuisine inspired by Campania’s contadino (peasant) roots, where all the ingredients aresourced from a nearby garden. Expect to see roadside stalls selling stellar local produce, including annurca apples (near Benevento), giant lemons (Amalfi Coast),roasted chestnuts (especially near Avellino), and watermelons (the plains around Salerno). Try to get to one of the local sagre village feasts celebrating a prodottotipico (local specialty), which could be anything from snails to wild boar to cherries to, more commonly, wine.A T I P P I N G T I PNeapolitans are easily recognized in bars elsewhere in Italy by the tip they leave on the counter when ordering. This habit does not necessarily ensure better servicein bars in Naples, notorious for their fairly offhand staff, but you do blend in better with the locals.In restaurants, service is usually included unless stated otherwise (in which case 5%–10% is reasonable). In pizzerias, tips are rarely given unless you have splurgedon side dishes or sweets, or have had particularly good service.C O F F E EGiven the same basic ingredients—coffee grounds, water, a machine—what makes caffè taste so much better in Naples than elsewhere remains a mystery. If youfind the end product too strong, ask to have it with a dash of milk (caffè macchiato) or a little diluted (caffè lungo).B U F F A L OLong feted for the melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella cheese made from its milk, the river buffalo—related to the Asian water buffalo—is also the source of otherculinary delights. Throughout the region, look for buffalo ricotta and mascarpone, as well as buffalo provola and scamorza, which may be lightly smoked (resultingin a golden crust). In Caserta look for more-mature nero di bufala (aged like sheep’s cheese), while around Salerno you’ll find smoked caciocavallo cheese and alsocarne di bufala (buffalo meat), which can be braised to perfection.T H E O R A L T R A D I T I O N
  • 84. Locals in Campania like to bypass the restaurant menu and ask what the staff recommends. Take this approach and you’ll often wind up with a daily special orhouse specialty. Though you’re unlikely to get multilingual staff outside the larger hotels and main tourist areas, the person you talk to will spare no effort to get themessage across.W I N EWine in Campania has an ancient pedigree: some say fancifully that Campania’s undisputed king of reds, the Aglianico varietal, got its name from the word“Hellenic,” and Fiano, the primary white grape, closely resembles the Roman variety Apianus. Horace, the Latin poet, extolled the virtues of drinking wine fromCampania. A century later, Pliny the Elder was harsher in his judgment: wine from Pompeii would give you a hangover until noon the next day, and Sorrento winetasted of vinegar.In recent decades though, Campania has gained respect for its boutique reds. Due to the rugged landscape, small farms, and limited mechanization, prices can berelatively high, but the quality is high as well.P I Z Z A : I T W A S N ’ T L I K E T H I S B A C K H O M E …Naples is the undisputed homeland of pizza, and you’ll usually encounter it here in two classic forms: margherita and marinara. Ranging from the size of a 12-inchrecord to that of a Hummer wheel, Neapolitan pizza is pretty different from anything you might find elsewhere in Italy—or anything calling itself “pizza” served uparound the world these days. Given the size of standard pizzas it is legitimate to ask for a mignon (kids’ portion), or even share, divided on two plates. Whenpressed for time and stomach space, you can choose from take-away outlets in most town centers selling pizza by the slice, along with the usual range of friedarancini (rice balls) and crocchè di patate (potato fritters).Purists insist on the marinara, a simple base with a topping of tomatoes marinated in garlic and oregano, but other favorite pizzas are:Capricciosa (the “capricious”), made with whatever the chef has on hand.Siciliana with mozzarella and eggplant.Diavola with spicy salami.Quattro stagione (“four seasons”), made with produce from each season.Salsiccia e friarielli with sausage and a broccoli-like vegetable.A P I Z Z A F I T F O R A Q U E E NLegend has it that during the patriotic fervor following Italian unification in the late 19th century, a Neapolitan chef decided to celebrate the arrival in the city of thenew Italian queen Margherita by designing a pizza in her—and the country’s—honor. He took red tomatoes, white mozzarella cheese, and a few leaves of freshgreen basil—reflecting the three colors of the Italian flag—and gave birth to the modern pizza industry.O N L Y T H E B E S TAn association of Neapolitan pizza chefs have recently standardized the ingredients and methods that have to be used to make pizza certified doc (denominazioned’origine controllata) or stg (specialità tradizionale garantita). The best pizza should come out with the cheese bubbling and be ever-so-slightly charred around itsedges. The dough has to use the right kind of durum wheat flour and be left to rise at least six hours. Only buffalo-milk mozzarella or fior di latte cheese should beused. Locally grown San Marzano tomatoes are also a must.F I R E D U P !The Neapolitan pizza must be made in a traditional wood-burning oven. Chunks of beech or maple are stacked up against the sides of the huge, tiled ovens, thenshoved onto the slate base of the oven where they burn quickly at high temperatures. If you visit Pompeii, you will see how similar the old Roman bread-bakingovens are to the modern pizza oven. The pizzaiolo (pizza chef) then uses a long wooden shovel to put the pizza into the oven where it cooks quickly.P I Z Z E R I EThere are hundreds of restaurants that specialize in pizza in Naples, and the best of these make pizza and nothing else. As befits the original fast food, pizzerie tendto be simple, fairly basic places, with limited menu choices, and quick, occasionally brusque service: the less complicated your order, the happier the waiters.T H E R E A L T H I N GNaples takes its contribution to world cuisine seriously. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana ( was founded in 1984 in order toshare expertise, maintain quality levels, and provide courses for aspirant pizza chefs and pizza lovers. They also organize the annual Pizzafest—three days inSeptember, dedicated to the consumption of pizza, when maestri from all over the region get together and cook off.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 85. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsExploring Royal Naples | Exploring the Vomero | Exploring Spaccanapoli and Capodimonte | Where to Eat in Naples | Where to Stay in Naples | Nightlife and theArts in Naples | Shopping in NaplesIn the period before the Italian unification of 1860, Naples rivaled Paris as a brilliant and refined cultural capital, the ultimate destination for northern Europeantravelers on their Grand Tour. Although a decade of farsighted city administration and a massive injection of European Union funds have put the city back oncourse, signs of urban malaise are still evident. Naples is a difficult place for the casual visitor to take a quick liking to: noise and air pollution levels areuncomfortably high, graffiti on urban trains and monuments are unsightly, unemployment protest marches and industrial disputes frequently disrupt publictransportation and may even result in the temporary closure of major tourist attractions. Armed with the right attitude—”be prepared for the worst but hope for thebest”—you will find that Napoli does not disappoint. Among other things, it’s one of Italy’s top città d’arte, with world-class museums and a staggering number offine churches. The most important finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum are on display at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale—a cornucopia of sculpture, frescoes,and mosaics—and seeing them will add to the pleasure of trips to the ancient ruins. And Naples has a wonderful location: thanks to the backdrop of Vesuvius andthe islands in the bay, it’s one of those cities that are instantly recognizable.In Naples you need a good sense of humor and a firm grip on your pocketbook and camera. Expect to do a lot of walking (take care crossing the chaotic streets);buses are crowded, and taxis often get held up in traffic. Use the funiculars or the metro Line 1 to get up and down the hills, and take the quick—but erratic—metroLine 2 (the city’s older subway system) when crossing the city between Piazza Garibaldi and Pozzuoli. For Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Sorrento, take theCircumvesuviana train line, while the Cumana line from Piazza Montesanto is best for the port of Pozzuoli and Baia.The artecard ( is a great way to save on public transportation and museums. A three-day card (€16) includes admission to three city museums orarchaeological sites in the Campi Flegrei, half-price admission to other attractions, and free public transportation. A seven-day card (€30) gives admission to fivemuseums and archaeological sites but doesn’t include a travel pass. Alternatively, if you want to focus on ancient sites, the three-day archaeology card (€30) willinclude entry to all sites around Naples, including Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as the Museo Archeologico and free public transportation to get you there.You can purchase these cards at the airport, train stations, and major museums.
  • 86. G E T T I N G A R O U N D N A P L E SPublic TransitNaples’s rather old Metropolitana (subway system), also called Linea 2, provides fairly frequent service and can be the fastest way to get across the traffic-cloggedcity.The other urban subway system, Metropolitana Collinare (or Linea 1), links the hill area of the Vomero and beyond with the National Archaeological Museum andPiazza Dante. Trains on both lines run from 5 AM until 10:30 PM.For standard public transportation, including the subways, buses, and funiculars, a Uniconapoli pass costs €1.10 and is valid for 90 minutes as far as Pozzuoli to thewest and Portici to the east; €3.10 (€2.60 on weekends) buys a biglietto giornaliero, good for the whole day.Bus service has become viable over the last few years, especially with the introduction of larger buses on the regular R1, R2, and R3 routes. Electronic signs displaywait times at many stops.ParkingIf you come to Naples by car, find a garage, agree on the cost, and leave it there for the duration of your stay. (If you park on the street, you run the risk of theft.)Garage Cava (Via Mergellina 6 | 80122 | 081/660023) , Grilli (Via Ferraris 40, near Stazione Centrale | 80142 | 081/264344) , and Turistico (Via de Gasperi 14,near the port | 80133 | 081/5525442) are all centrally located, safe, and open 24 hours a day.TaxisWhen taking a taxi in Naples, make sure that the meter is switched on at the start of your trip. Trips around the city are unlikely to cost less than €10 or more than€20. Set fares for various destinations within the city should be displayed in the taxi, as should extra charges for things like baggage and night service. For tripsoutside the city, negotiate your fare before getting in.Watch out for overcharging at three locations: the airport, the railway station, and the hydrofoil marina. And in peak summer weeks, don’t forget that many cabs inNaples have no air-conditioning—which the city’s buses and metro do have—and you can practically bake if caught in one during a half-hour traffic jam.ToursHandily close to the port is the terminal for double-decker buses belonging to City Sightseeing (Piazza Municipio | 80133 | 081/5517279 | For €22 you can take three or four different excursions, giving you reasonable coverage of the downtown sights and outlying attractions like theMuseo di Capodimonte and the Posillipo headland.For in-depth tours of Naples, the Comune di Napoli (Piazza Municipio | 80133 | 081/5422090 | occasionally offers English-languageguided tours. These tours are a great way to see monuments that are otherwise off-limits.E X P L O R I N G R O Y A L N A P L E SNaples hasn’t been a capital for 150 years, but it still prides itself on its royal heritage. Most of the modern center of the town owes its look and feel to variousmembers of the Bourbon family, who built their palaces and castles in this area. Allow plenty of time for museum visits, especially the Palazzo Reale. The views ofthe bay from the Castel dell’Ovo are good at any time, but are especially fine at sunset.
  • 87. T O P A T T R A C T I O N S I N R O Y A L N A P L E SCastel dell’Ovo.Dangling over the Porto Santa Lucia on a thin promontory, this 12th-century fortress built over the ruins of an ancient Roman villa overlooks the whole harbor—proof, if you need it, that the Romans knew a premium location when they saw one. For the same reason, some of the city’s top hotels share the site. Walk up ontothe roof’s Sala della Terrazze for a postcard-come-true view of Capri. Then, as the odd car honk drifts across from inland, use the tiled map to identify the sights ofthe city and maybe plot an itinerary for the rest of the day. It’s a peaceful spot for strolling and enjoying the views. | Santa Lucia waterfront, Via Partenope | 80121 |081/2400055 | Free | Mon.–Sat. 8:30–7, Sun. 8:30–2.Castel Nuovo.Known to locals as Maschio Angioino, in reference to its Angevin builders, this imposing castle is now used more for marital than military purposes—a portion of itserves as a government registry office. Its looming Angevin stonework is upstaged by a white four-tiered triumphal entrance arch, ordered by Alfonso of Aragonafter his entry into the city in 1443 to seize power from the increasingly beleaguered Angevin Giovanna II. At the arch’s top, as if justifying Alfonso’s claim to thethrone, the Archangel Gabriel slays a demon.Across the courtyard within the castle is the Sala Grande, also known as the Sala dei Baroni, which has a stupendous vaulted ceiling 92 feet high. In 1486 localbarons hatched a plot against Alfonso’s son, King Ferrante, who reacted by inviting them to this hall for a wedding banquet, which turned promptly into a massarrest. (Ferrante is also said to have kept a crocodile in the castle as his special executioner.) You can also visit the Sala dell’Armeria, where a glass floor revealsrecent excavations of Roman baths from the Augustan period. In the next room on the left, the Cappella Palatina, look on the frescoed walls for Nicolo di Tomaso’spainting of Robert Anjou, one of the first realistic portraits ever.The castle’s first floor holds a small gallery that includes a beautiful early Renaissance Adoration of the Magi by Marco Cardisco, with the roles of the three Magiplayed by the three Aragonese kings, Ferrante I, Ferrante II, and Charles V. | Piazza Municipio, Toledo | 80133 | 081/7952003 | €5 | Mon.–Sat. 9–6.Palazzo Reale.Dominating Piazza del Plebiscito, this huge palace—perhaps best described as overblown imperial—dates from the early 1600s. It was renovated and redecoratedby successive rulers, including Napoléon’s sister Caroline and her ill-fated husband, Joachim Murat (1767–1815), who reigned briefly in Naples after the Frenchemperor sent the Bourbons packing and before they returned to reclaim their kingdom. Don’t miss seeing the royal apartments, sumptuously furnished and full ofprecious paintings, tapestries, porcelains, and other objets d’art. The monumental marble staircase gives you an idea of the scale on which Neapolitan rulers lived. |Piazza del Plebiscito | 80132 | 081/400547 | | €4 | Thurs.–Tues. 9–7.Palazzo Zevallos.Tucked inside this beautifully restored palazzo, which houses the Banca Intesa San Paolo (one of Italy’s major banks), is a small museum that’s worth seeking out.Enter the bank through Cosimo Fanzago’s gargoyled doorway and take the handsome elevator to the upper floor. The first room to the left holds the star attraction,Caravaggio’s last work, The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula. The saint here is, for dramatic effect, deprived of her usual retinue of a thousand followers. On the left, aface of pure spite, is the king of the Huns, who has just shot Ursula with an arrow after his proposal of marriage has been rejected. Opposite the painting is anelaborate map of the city of Caravaggio’s day, not so different from now. | Via Toledo 185, Piazza Plebiscito | 80132 | 081/400547 | | €3| Mon.–Sat. 10–6.Piazza del Plebiscito.The vast square next to the Palazzo Reale was laid out by order of Murat, whose architect was clearly inspired by the colonnades of St. Peter’s in Rome. The largechurch of San Francesco di Paola in the middle of the colonnades was added as an offering of thanks for the Bourbon restoration by Ferdinand I, whose titles reflectthe somewhat garbled history of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, made up of Naples (which included most of the southern Italian mainland) and Sicily. They wereunited in the Middle Ages, then separated, then unofficially reunited under Spanish domination during the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1816, with Napoléon out ofthe way on St. Helena, Ferdinand IV (1751–1825) of Naples, who also happened to be Ferdinand III of Sicily, officially merged the two kingdoms, proclaiminghimself Ferdinand I of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies. His reactionary and repressive rule earned him a few more colorful titles among his rebellious subjects.Teatro San Carlo.This large theater was built in 1737, 40 years earlier than Milan’s La Scala—though it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1816. You can visit the interior,decorated in the white-and-gilt stucco of the neoclassical era, as part of a 30-minute guided tour. Tours were suspended due to renovation work when we visited inearly 2010, but should resume by the time this book is published. The space is made for opera on a grand scale: nearly 200 boxes are arranged on six levels, and thehuge stage (12,000 square feet) permits productions with horses, camels, and elephants. A removable backdrop can be lifted to reveal the Palazzo Reale Gardens. |Via San Carlo between Piazza Municipio and Piazza Plebiscito | 80132 | 081/7972331 or 081/7972412 | | €5 | Guided tours daily 9–6,except during rehearsals.Via Toledo.Sooner or later you’ll wind up at one of the busiest commercial arteries, also known as Via Roma, which is thankfully closed to through traffic—at least along thestretch leading from the Palazzo Reale. Don’t avoid dipping into this parade of shops and coffee bars where plump pastries are temptingly arranged.Quick Bites in Royal Naples
  • 88. Across from the Palazzo Reale is the most famous coffeehouse in town, the Caffè Gambrinus (Piazza Trieste e Trento, near Piazza delPlebiscito | 80132 |081/417582). Founded in 1850, this 19th-century jewel once functioned as a brilliant intellectual salon. The glory days are over, but the inside rooms, with amazingmirrored walls and gilded ceilings, make this an essential stop for any visitor to the city. To its credit, the café doesn’t inflate prices to cash in on its fame.Across from the Teatro San Carlo towers the imposing entrance to the glass-roof neoclassical Galleria Umberto (Via San Carlo, near PiazzaPlebiscito | 80132), alate-19th-century shopping arcade where you can sit at one of several cafés and watch the vivacious Neapolitans as they go about their business.E X P L O R I N G T H E V O M E R OHeart-stopping views of the Bay of Naples are framed by this gentrified neighborhood on a hill served by the Montesanto, Centrale, and Chiaia funiculars. Theupper stations for all three are an easy walk from Piazza Vanvitelli, a good starting point for exploring this thriving district with no shortage of smart bars andtrattorias.T O P A T T R A C T I O N S I N T H E V O M E R OCastel Sant’Elmo.Perched on the Vomero, this massive castle is almost the size of a small town. It was built by the Angevins in the 14th century to dominate the port and the old cityand remodeled by the Spanish in 1537. The parapets, configured in the form of a six-pointed star, provide fabulous views: the whole bay on one side; on another,the city spread out like a map, its every dome and turret clearly visible; and to the east, slumbering Vesuvius. Once a major military outpost, the castle these dayshosts occasional cultural events. You get in free if you have a ticket to the adjoining Certosa di San Martino. | Largo San Martino, Vomero | 80129 | 081/5784030 |€3 | Wed.–Mon. 8:30–7:30.Certosa di San Martino.Atop a rocky promontory with a fabulous view of the entire city, and with majestic salons that would please any monarch, the Certosa di San Martino is amonastery that seems more like a palace. A Carthusian monastery restored in the 17th century in exuberant Neapolitan baroque style, this structure has now beentransformed into a diverse museum. The gorgeous Chiostro Grande (great cloister) and the panoramic garden terraces—strangely quiet, with a view of the citysprawling below—are among the most impressive spots in the city. Popular exhibits include the presepi (Christmas crèches) and an anonymous painting that depictsthe Naples waterfront in the 15th century and the return of the Aragonese fleet from the Battle of Ischia. Take the funicular from Piazza Montesanto to Vomero. |Largo San Martino 5, Vomero | 80129 | 081/2294589 | €6 includes admission to Castel Sant’Elmo | Thurs.–Tues. 8:30–7:30.E X P L O R I N G S P A C C A N A P O L I A N D C A P O D I M O N T ENowhere embodies the spirit of Naples better than the arrow-straight street informally known as Spaccanapoli (literally, “split Naples”). Gazing down it, you cansense where the name comes from—the street resembles a trench, running from the central station (near where the old city walls stood) up to the Vomero hill,retracing one of the main arteries of the ancient Greek, and later Roman, settlements. Along its western section, Spaccanapoli is officially named Via BenedettoCroce, in honor of the illustrious philosopher born here in 1866, in the building at No. 12. As it runs its course, the street changes it name seven times. No matter thename, it’s a place of vibrant street culture.Capodimonte, to the north, was open countryside until the Bourbon kings built a hunting lodge there, after which it rapidly became part of the city proper. Betweenthe two neighborhoods is the Museo Archeologico, Naples’s finest museum. It’s best to visit shortly after lunchtime, when the crowds have thinned out. Two hourswill be just enough to get your bearings and cover the more important collections. The museum in Capodimonte—unlike many of the churches and thearchaeological museum—is well lighted and can be viewed in fading daylight, so it’s best left until last.
  • 89. T O P A T T R A C T I O N S I N S P A C C A N A P O L I A N D C A P O D I M O NCappella Sansevero.Off Vicolo Domenico Maggiore at the beginning of Via Francesco de Sanctis, this chapel/museum has one of the most intriguing sculpture collections you’re likelyfind anywhere. The chapel was founded in 1590 by Prince Giovan Francesco di Sangro, fulfilling a vow to the Virgin after recovery from an illness. (His statue ison the second niche to the left.) Over the generations the simple chapel became a family mausoleum, with statues of the various princes lining the walls.Most of the building work here is due to restructuring in the mid-18th century under the seventh Sangro di Sansevero prince, Raimondo—a larger-than-life figure,popularly believed to have signed a pact with the devil allowing him to plumb nature’s secrets. Prince Raimondo commissioned the young sculptor GiuseppeSammartino to create numerous works, including the chapel’s centerpiece, the remarkable Veiled Christ, which has a seemingly transparent marble veil some saywas created using a chemical formula provided by the prince. If you have the stomach for it, take a look in the crypt, where some of the anatomical experimentsconducted by the prince are gruesomely displayed. | Via de Sanctis 19, Spaccanapoli | 80134 | 081/5518470 | | €6 | Mon. and Wed.–Fri.10–5:10, weekends 10–1:10.Duomo di San Gennaro.Though the Duomo was established in the 1200s, the building you see was erected a century later and has since undergone radical changes, especially during thebaroque period. Inside the cathedral, 110 ancient columns salvaged from pagan buildings are set into the piers that support the 350-year-old wooden ceiling. Off theleft aisle you step down into the 4th-century church of Santa Restituta, which was incorporated into the cathedral; though Santa Restituta was redecorated in the late1600s in the prevalent baroque style, a few very old mosaics remain in the Battistero (Baptistery).On the right aisle of the cathedral, in the Cappella di San Gennaro, are multicolor marbles and frescoes honoring Saint Januarius, miracle-working patron saint ofNaples, whose altar and relics are encased in silver. Three times a year—on September 19 (his feast day); on the Saturday preceding the first Sunday in May, whichcommemorates the transfer of his relics to Naples; and on December 16—his dried blood, contained in two sealed vials, is believed to liquefy during rites in hishonor. On these days large numbers of devout Neapolitans offer up prayers in his memory. The Museo del Tesoro di San Gennaro houses a rich collection oftreasures associated with the saint. Paintings by Solimena and Luca Giordano hang alongside statues, busts, candelabras, and tabernacles in gold, silver, and marbleby Cosimo Fanzago and other 18th-century baroque masters. An audio tour is included in the ticket price. | Via Duomo 147, Spaccanapoli | 80138 | 081/449097 | | Duomo free, museum €6 | Duomo daily 7:30–noon and 4–7. Museum Tues.–Sat. 9–4:30, Sun. 9–2.Gesù Nuovo.The oddly faceted stone facade of this church dates to the late 16th century. It was designed as part of a palace, but plans were changed as construction progressed,and it became the front of an elaborately decorated baroque church. Be sure not to miss the votive chapel dedicated to San Ciro (Saint Cyrus) in the far left corner.Here hundreds of tiny silver ex-voto images have been hung on the walls to give thanks to the saint for his assistance in medical matters. | Piazza Gesù Nuovo,Spaccanapoli | 80134 | 0815578111 | Daily 7–12:30 and 4–7:30.Fodor’s Choice | Museo Archeologico Nazionale(National Museum of Archaeology). Those who know and love this legendary museum have the tendency upon hearing it mentioned to heave a sigh: it’s famousnot only for its unrivaled collections but also for its cordoned-off rooms, missing identification labels, poor lighting, billows of dust, suffocating heat in summer, andindifferent personnel—a state of affairs seen by some critics as an encapsulation of everything that’s wrong with southern Italy in general.Precisely because of this emblematic value, the National Ministry of Culture has decided to lavish attention and funds on the museum in a complete reorganization.This process has been ongoing for some time and looks as if it will continue for a while longer. Ticketing has been privatized and opening hours extended (for thecenter-core “masterpiece” collection, that is; other rooms are subject to staffing shortages and can be closed on a rotating basis). Some of the “newer” rooms,covering archaeological discoveries in the Greco-Roman settlements and necropolises in and around Naples, have helpful informational panels in English. Afascinating free display of the finds unearthed during digs for the Naples metro has been set up in the Museo station close to the museum entrance.
  • 90. fascinating free display of the finds unearthed during digs for the Naples metro has been set up in the Museo station close to the museum entrance.Even if some rooms may be closed, this still leaves available the core of the museum, a nucleus of world-renowned archaeological finds that puts most othermuseums to shame. It includes the legendary Farnese collection of ancient sculpture, together with local sculptural finds, and almost all the good stuff—the bestmosaics and paintings—from Pompeii and Herculaneum. The quality of these collections is unexcelled and, as far as the mosaic, painting, and bronze sections areconcerned, unique in the world. | Piazza Museo 19, Spaccanapoli | 801235 | 081/440166 | | €6.50, €10 for special exhibits | Wed.–Mon. 9–7.Museo di Capodimonte.The grandiose 18th-century neoclassical Bourbon royal palace houses an impressive collection of fine and decorative art. Capodimonte’s greatest treasure is theexcellent collection of paintings well displayed in the Galleria Nazionale, on the palace’s first and second floors. Besides the art collection, part of the royalapartments still has a complement of beautiful antique furniture, most of it on the splashy scale so dear to the Bourbons, and a staggering collection of porcelain andmajolica from the various royal residences. The walls of the apartments are hung with numerous portraits, providing a close-up of the unmistakable Bourbonfeatures, a challenge to any court painter. Most rooms have fairly comprehensive information cards in English, whereas the audio guide is overly selective andsomewhat quirky. The main galleries on the first floor are devoted to work from the 13th to 18th century, including many pieces by Dutch and Spanish masters. Onthe second floor look out for stunning paintings by Simone Martini (circa 1284–1344), Titian (1488/90–1576), and Caravaggio (1573–1610). The palace is situatedin the vast Bosco di Capodimonte (Capodimonte Park), which served as the royal hunting preserve and later as the site of the Capodimonte porcelain works. | ViaMiano 2, Porta Piccola, Via Capodimonte | 80131 | 081/7499111 | | €7.50, €6.50 after 2 PM | Thurs.–Tues. 8:30–7:30; ticket officecloses at 6:30.Pio Monte della Misericordia.One of the defining landmarks of Spaccanapoli, this octagonal church was built around the corner from the Duomo for a charitable institution founded in 1601 byseven noblemen. The institution’s aim was to carry out acts of Christian charity: feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, nursing the sick, sheltering pilgrims, visitingprisoners, ransoming Christian slaves, and burying the indigent dead—acts immortalized in the history of art by the famous altarpiece, painted by Caravaggiodepicting the Sette Opere della Misericordia (Seven Acts of Mercy). In this haunting work the artist has brought the Virgin, borne atop the shoulders of two angels,down into the streets of Spaccanapoli (scholars have suggested a couple of plausible locations) populated by figures in whose spontaneous and passionatemovements the people could see themselves. The original church was considered too small and destroyed in 1655 to make way for a new church, designed byAntonio Picchiatti and built between 1658 and 1678. Pride of place is given to the great Caravaggio above the altar, but there are other important baroque-erapaintings on view here; some hang in the church while others are in the adjoining pinacoteca (picture gallery). | Via Tribunali 253, Spaccanapoli | 80139 |081/446973 | | €5 | Thurs.–Tues. 9–2:30.Santa Chiara.This monastery church is a Neapolitan landmark and the subject of a famous old song. It was built in the 1300s in Provençal Gothic style, and it’s best known forthe quiet charm of its cloister garden, with columns and benches sheathed in 18th-century ceramic tiles painted with delicate floral motifs and vivid landscapes. Anadjoining museum traces the history of the convent; the entrance is off the courtyard at the left of the church. | Piazza Gesù Nuovo, Spaccanapoli | 80134 |081/7971231 | | Museum and cloister €5 | Church: daily 7–12:30 and 4:30–6:30. Museum and cloister: Mon.–Sat. 9:30–5:30, Sun. 10–2:30.Quick Bites in Spaccanapoli and CapodimonteTimpani e Tempura(Vico della Quercia 17, Spaccanapoli | 80134 | 081/5512280) is a tiny shrine to local culinary culture. There are no tables; instead, you perch yourself at thecounter, but it’s worth squeezing in for the timballi di maccheroni (baked pasta cakes) and the unique mangiamaccheroni (spaghetti in broth with caciocavallocheese, butter, basil, and pepper). Wonderful wines by the glass make this a good spot for a quick, delicious lunch. You can also buy cheese and salami to takehome with you.While you’re exploring the old part of town, take a break at what the Neapolitans call “the best pastry shop in Italy”—Scaturchio (Piazza San Domenico Maggiore19, Spaccanapoli | 80134 | 081/5516944). The café was founded in 1918 by two brothers, one of whom, Francesco, invented the cakes called ministeriali to attractAnna Fouché, a famous actress of the time. You can still buy these cakes today, along with other Neapolitan baked goods such as babà, rafioli, and pastiera, whichyou can eat here with a coffee or have gift-wrapped.W O R T H N O T I N G I N S P A C C A N A P O L I A N D C A P O D I M O N T EQuadreria dei Girolamini.Off an improbably quiet cloister enclosing a prolific forest of citrus, fig, and loquat trees, the Girolamini art museum is attached to the restored Girolamini church. Itsintimate, high-quality collection of 16th- and 17th-century paintings is one of the city’s best-kept secrets, well worth a half-hour visit. | Via Duomo 142,Spaccanapoli | 80138 | 081/294444 | | Free | Mon.–Sat. 9–1.San Lorenzo Maggiore.It’s unusual to find French Gothic style in Naples, but it has survived to great effect in this church, which was built in the Middle Ages and decorated with 14th-century frescoes. Outside the 17th-century cloister is the entrance to the underground archaeological site, revealing what was once part of the Roman forum, andbefore that the Greek agora. You can walk among the streets, shops, and workshops of the ancient city and see a model of how the Greek Neapolis might havelooked. Next door to the church is the four-story museum, housed in a 16th-century palazzo, displaying a wealth of archaeological finds and religious art (panelsregrettably are only in Italian). | Via Tribunali 316, Spaccanapoli | 80138 | 081/2110860 | | Church free, museum €9 | Daily 8–noon and 5–7; museum Mon.–Sat. 9–5:30 and Sun. 9:30–1:30.W H E R E T O E A T I N N A P L E SC H I A I ACoco Loco.
  • 91. Coco Loco.$$$ | ITALIAN | This place has taken the Naples dining scene by storm, thanks to the innovative cuisine of master chef Diego Nuzzo, a stylish ambience, and aquiet location off Via Filangieri, a 10-minute walk from the Palazzo Reale. If possible, take a table in the more-spacious outdoor section in the square, and then bepampered with subtle dishes like pesce bandiera farcito di provola, melanzane e olive nere (scabbardfish stuffed with provola cheese, eggplant, and black olives). |Piazzetta Rodinò 31, Chiaia | 80121 | 081/415482 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun. and 3 wks in Aug. No lunch.Dora.$$$ | NEAPOLITAN | Despite its location up an unpromising-looking vicolo (alley) off the Riviera di Chiaia, this small restaurant has achieved cult status for itsseafood platters. It’s remarkable what owner-chef Giovanni can produce in his tiny kitchen. Start with the pasta dish linguine alla Dora, laden with local seafoodand fresh tomatoes, and perhaps follow up with grilled pezzogna (blue-spotted bream). Like many restaurants on the seafront, Dora has its own guitarist, who isoften robustly accompanied by the kitchen staff. | Via Fernando Palasciano 30, Chiaia | 80122 | 081/680519 | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | ClosedSun., 2 wks in Dec., and 2 wks in mid-Aug.L’Ebbrezza di Noè.$ | ITALIAN | A small bar leads into a larger dining area decorated in the style of a very elegant farmhouse. Owner Luca has an enthusiasm for what he does that isquite moving—as you sip a recommended wine you can sense that he hopes you like it as much as he does. The attention paid to the quality of the wine carries overto the food—here you can taste a delicate range of vegetable-based antipasti, rare cheeses such as the Sicilian ragusano di razza modicana and the localcaciocavallo podolico, and a daily selection of hot dishes listed on the blackboard by the bar. | Vico Vetriera a Chiaia 8b/9, Chiaia | 80132 | 081/400104 | AE, DC,MC, V | Closed Mon. and mid-July–Aug. No lunch.Umberto.$$ | NEAPOLITAN | Run by the Di Porzio family since 1916, Umberto is one of the city’s classic restaurants. It combines the classiness of the Chiaianeighborhood and the friendliness of other parts of the city. Try the tubettini ‘do tre dita (“three-finger” pasta with a mixture of seafood), which bears the nicknameof the original Umberto. Owner Massimo and sister Lorella (Umberto’s grandchildren) are both wine experts and oversee a fantastic cellar. Umberto is also one ofthe few restaurants in the city that caters to those who have a gluten allergy. | Via Alabardieri 30–31, Chiaia | 80121 | 081/418555 | | AE, DC, MC,V | Closed Mon. and 3 wks in Aug.P I A Z Z A G A R I B A L D IFodor’s Choice | Da Michele.¢ | PIZZA | You have to love a place that has, for more than 130 years, offered only two types of pizza—marinara (with tomato, garlic, and oregano) andmargherita (with tomato, mozzarella, and basil)—and a small selection of drinks, and still manages to attract long lines. The low prices have something to do withit. But the pizza itself suffers no rivals, and even those waiting in line are good-humored; the boisterous, joyous atmosphere wafts out with the smell of yeast andwood smoke onto the street. At almost all times there is a wait for a table; get a number at the door and hang out outside until it’s called. Note: the restaurant is offCorso Umberto, between Piazza Garibaldi and Piazza Amore. | Via Sersale 1/3, Piazza Garibaldi | 80139 | 081/5539204 | No credit cards | Closed Sun. and last 2wks in Aug.Mimì alla Ferrovia.$$ | NEAPOLITAN | Clients of this Neapolitan institution have included Fellini and that magnificent true-Neapolitan comic genius and aristocrat of dubiouslineage, Totò. Mimì manages to live up cheerfully to its history, proudly serving fine versions of everything from pasta e fagioli (with beans) to the sea bass alpresidente, baked in a pastry crust and enjoyed by any number of Italian presidents on their visits to Naples. Not so much a place to see and be seen as a commonground where both the famous and the unknown can mingle, feast, and be of good cheer, Mimì’s sober beige-and-green hues, accented with updated art decofeatures, pale-yellow tablecloths, and retro bentwood chairs, pleasantly tone down the bustle. Given the fairly seedy neighborhood, splurge on a taxi there and back,especially at night. | Via A. D’Aragona 19/21, PiazzaGaribaldi | 80139 | 081/289004 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun. and middle 2wks in Aug.S A N T A L U C I ALa Bersagliera.$$ | ITALIAN | On the picturesque Borgo Marinaro—the port at Santa Lucia—in the shadow of the looming medieval Castel dell’Ovo, this spot is touristy but fun,with an irresistible combination of spaghetti and mandolins. Dalí and De Chirico, Sophia and Marcello all came here in the grand old days to enjoy uncomplicatedtime-tested classics, such as spaghetti with mixed seafood and eggplant alla parmigiana. Recent additions to the menu include octopus and swordfish carpaccio.But as any Neapolitan will tell you, simple grilled fish always tastes better when seasoned with sea air and a waterfront view. | Borgo Marinaro 10, SantaLucia |80132 | 081/7646016 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Tues.S P A C C A N A P O L IGino Sorbillo.¢ | PIZZA | There are three restaurants called Sorbillo along Via dei Tribunali; this is the one with the crowds waiting outside. Order the same thing the locals arehere for: a basic Neapolitan pizza (try the unique pizza al pesto or the stunningly simple marinara—just tomatoes and oregano). They’re cooked to perfection by thethird generation of pizza makers who run the place. The pizzas are enormous, flopping over the edge of the plate onto the white marble tabletops. | Via dei Tribunali32, Spaccanapoli | 80138 | 081/446643 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun. (except Dec.) and 2 wks in Aug.Osteria da Carmela.$ | ITALIAN | Close to the archaeological museum, yet surprisingly off the tourist beat, this small eatery is patronized by professori from the nearby Academy ofFine Arts and theatergoers from the Teatro Bellini next door. A specialty here is seafood—try the meal-in-one pappardelle con gamberoni e pistacchi (pasta withking prawns and ground pistacchios) or a risotto seppie e zucca (garnished with cuttlefish and pumpkin). The service is both swift and obliging. | Via Conte di Ruvo11–12, Spaccanapoli | 80135 | 081/5499738 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun.Fodor’s Choice | Palazzo Petrucci.
  • 92. Fodor’s Choice | Palazzo Petrucci.$$$ | NEAPOLITAN | Nestled in a 17th-century mansion facing Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, Palazzo Petrucci doesn’t lack for dramatic dining options.Choose between tables under the vaulted ceiling of the former stables, in the gallery where a glass partition lets you keep an eye on the kitchen, or in the cozy roomoverlooking the piazza. Fortify yourself with a complimentary glass of prosecco before making the agonizing choice between the à la carte offerings and the €40menu degustazione. A popular starter is lasagnette baccalà con scarole e pinoli tostati (layered cod with escarole and roasted pine nuts). The paccheri all’impiedi(tube-shape pasta served standing up) in a rich ricotta and meat sauce is an interesting twist on an old regional favorite. | Piazza San Domenico Maggiore 4,Spaccanapoli | 80134 | 081/5524068 | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed most of Aug. No dinner Sun., no lunch Mon.T O L E D OCantina della Tofa.¢ | NEAPOLITAN | Two blocks up one of the narrow alleys that lead off Via Toledo into the Quartieri Spagnoli, this small, welcoming restaurant serves traditionalNeapolitan fare that goes beyond standard pasta with seafood or tomatoes. Try the vellutata di cicerchie, a creamy soup made from beans that are a cross betweenchickpeas and fava beans. The orange-walled dining room has large wooden tables that seem more Tuscan than Campanian. Service is friendly and unhurried. |Vico Tofa 71, PiazzaMunicipio | 80132 | 081/406840 | No credit cards | Closed Sun. and 3 wks in Aug.V O M E R OI Bishcheri.$ | TUSCAN | A relative newcomer to the city’s dining scene, I Bischeri has happily filled a gastronomic niche by serving excellent Tuscan fare. For starters try thethinly sliced carpaccio di Chianina con carciofini di Pienza (raw beef from Chianina with small artichokes from Pienza), then sample the pinci (fresh local pasta)with a rich meat sauce. Wines can be bought by the glass from an ingenious dispenser near the entrance, so you ensure you get the right pairing for every dish. | ViaCimarosa 26/28, Vomero | 80129 | 081/19575736 | AE, DC, MC, V.Trattoria Vanvitelli.$ | ITALIAN | A small low-key entrance on Piazza Vanvitelli opens into a labyrinth of underground cellars and a large covered courtyard surrounded by palazzos.This bustling eatery suits both a wide range of palates and budgets: pizzas and several variants of filletto (fillet steak) are highly recommended, while the €9 three-course lunch is a great bargain. Portions are large, so be conservative when ordering. | Piazza Vanvitelli 9c, Vomero | 80129 | 081/5563015 | AE, DC, MC, V.F O L K S O N G S À L A C A R T EIf you want to hear canzoni napoletane—the fabled Neapolitan folk songs—performed live, you can try to catch the city’s top troupes, such as the Cantori diPosillipo and I Virtuosi di San Martino, in performances at venues like the Teatro Trianon. But an easier alternative is to head for one of the city’s more traditionalrestaurants, such as La Bersagliera or Mimì alla Ferrovia, where most every night you can expect your meal to be interrupted by a posteggiatore. These singersaren’t employed by the restaurants, but they’re encouraged to come in, swan around the tables with a battered old guitar, and belt out classics such as “Santa Lucia,”“O’ Surdato Innamurate,” “Torna a Surriento,” and, inevitably, “Funiculi Funiculà.”These songs are the most famous of a vast repertoire that found international fame with the mass exodus of southern Italians to the United States in the early 20thcentury. “Funiculi Funiculà” was written by Peppino Turco and Luigi Denza in 1880 to herald the new funicular railway up Vesuvius. “O Sole Mio,” by GiovanniCapurro and Eduardo di Capua, has often been mistakenly taken for the Italian national anthem. “Torna a Surriento” was composed by Ernesto di Curtis in 1903 tohelp remind the current Italian prime minister how wonderful he thought Sorrento was (and how many government subsidies he had promised the township).The singers are more than happy to do requests, even inserting the name of your innamorato or innamorata into the song. When they’ve finished they’ll standdiscreetly by your table. Give them a few euros and you’ll have friends for life (or at least for the night).W H E R E T O S T A Y I N N A P L E SChiaja Hotel de Charme.$$ | No views, but there’s plenty of atmosphere in these converted first-floor apartments that occupy a spruce 18th-century palazzo, part of which includes aconverted historic brothel. Above the fireplace in the cozy entrance hall, the distinguished-looking chap with the moustache in the painting is the Marchese NicolaLe Caldano Sasso III, original owner of the building, whose grandson now runs the place. Antiques, many of them original to the Marquis’s home, give a personaltouch to the elegant guest rooms (most have whirlpool baths). The location is tops, a two-minute walk from Piazza Plebiscito and the Royal Palace and a staggerfrom the liveliest nightlife in town in the backstreets around Piazza dei Martiri. Pros: central location on pedestrian street. Cons: small rooms get hot in summer;elevator is small and the stairs are steep. | Via Chiaia 216 | 80121 | 081/415555 | | 27 rooms | In-room: safe, Internet. In-hotel: bar | AE, DC,MC, V | BP.Costantinopoli 104.$$ | An oasis of what Italians call stile liberty (art-deco style), with impressive colored glass fittings, this calm and elegant hotel sits in the bustling centro storiconear the Museo Archeologico Nazionale. Each room is individually decorated. Ask for a room with a balcony in the warmer months and enjoy your breakfastalfresco, or opt for one of the garden rooms that open onto the small swimming pool. Pros: perfectly situated for the centro storico; swimming pool. Cons: difficultto find; courtyard clogged with cars. | Via Costantinopoli 104, Spaccanapoli | 80138 | 081/5571035 | | 19 rooms | In-room: safe,refrigerator, Internet. In-hotel: bar, pool, laundry service, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Grand Hotel Oriente.$$ | This excellent business hotel has all the conveniences and a great location. A three-minute walk away is the Via Toledo, leading down to Piazza Plebiscito andthe Royal Palace. Despite the severe marble facade, the interior is welcoming: after a long day it’s a boon to return here and find comfortable, soundproof guestrooms and friendly, professional staff. Pros: near Via Toledo shops; refreshingly modern. Cons: nearby construction; parking expensive. | Via Diaz 44, Toledo |80134 | 081/5512133 | | 131 rooms | In-room: safe (some). In-hotel: restaurant, bar, Internet terminal, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V |BP.
  • 93. Grand Hotel Parker’s.$$–$$$ | This landmark hotel, which opened its doors in 1870, continues to serve up a supremely elegant dose of old-style atmosphere and surprisingly personalservice. It welcomes visiting VIPs, ranging from rock stars to foreign leaders, who probably enjoy the neoclassical decor, brought to Naples by Napoléon and hisgeneral Joachim Murat. Gilt-trimmed Empire bureaus, shimmering chandeliers, fluted pilasters, and ornate ceilings all glitter. Set near the bottom of the Vomero hill,and a bit of a walk from its funicular stops, the hotel’s perch offers fine views of the bay and distant Capri. Drink it all in from the superb rooftop-garden restaurant,which proffers regional specialties. Pros: excellent restaurant; fabulous views; fine sculptures in public spaces. Cons: a long walk from city center; on a busy street. |Corso Vittorio Emanuele 135, Chiaia | 80121 | 081/7612474 | | 82 rooms | In-room: safe, Wi-Fi.In-hotel: restaurant, bar, gym, spa,parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Grand Hotel Vesuvio.$$$–$$$$ | You’d never guess from the modern exterior that this is the oldest of Naples’s great seafront hotels—the place where Enrico Caruso died, Oscar Wildeescaped with lover Lord Alfred Douglas, and Bill Clinton charmed the waitresses. Fortunately, the spacious, soothing interior compensates for what’s lacking onthe outside. Guest rooms are done in luxurious, traditional style with antique accents, vibrantly colored walls, and gleaming bathrooms. The best ones overlook thebay. You can pamper yourself at the spa, where there are myriad special services (though they come at a price). The famous Caruso restaurant sits atop the hotel,affording wonderful views. Pros: luxurious atmosphere; historic setting; location directly opposite Borgo Marinaro. Cons: extra charge for health club; receptionstaff can be cool; not all rooms have great views. | Via Partenope 45, Santa Lucia | 80121 | 081/7640044 | | 146 rooms, 17 suites | In-room: safe,refrigerator, Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, gym, spa, Internet terminal, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Il Convento.$$ | In a 17th-century palazzo tucked away in the Quartieri Spagnoli, Il Convento is close to Via Toledo. Rooms are small but elegant, with original architecturalfeatures such as arched or beamed ceilings. They are decorated in simple, modern Mediterranean style. Two junior suites have private roof gardens. Pros: close tocafés and shops. Cons: church bells may wake you in the morning; on a busy street. | Via Speranzella 137/A, Toledo | 80132 | 081/403977 | | 12 rooms, 2 suites | In-room: refrigerator. In-hotel: bar, Internet terminal | AE, MC, V | BP.Majestic.$$ | Heralded by a huge blue mosaic “M,” which covers much of the facade of this otherwise unspectacular building, the Majestic is perfectly located for the swishVia dei Mille shopping street, the buzzing Chiaia nightlife, and the contemporary art gallery. There’s a spacious and welcoming lobby area, which makes for a greatmeeting place if you’re in town to check up on friends or do business. Only a few of the rooms on the higher floors have sea views, however, so ask for one whenyou book. Pros: located in chic Chiaia; great for shopping. Cons: uninteresting building. | Largo Vasto a Chiaia 68, Chiaia | 80121 | 081/416500 | |120 rooms | In-room: a/c, safe. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, Wi-Fi | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Palazzo Alabardieri.$$ | Just off the chic Piazza dei Martiri, Palazzo Alabardieri is a top choice among the city’s growing number of smaller, modern luxury hotels. A spacious marble-floored lobby makes the place seem bigger than it actually is, yet maintains a feeling of discretion and intimacy. The hotel prides itself on its comfortableaccommodations, especially its marble bathrooms. Pros: impressive common areas; central yet quiet location. Cons: no sea view; difficult to reach by car. | ViaAlabardieri 38, Chiaia | 80121 | 081/415278 | | 33 rooms | In-room: safe, Internet. In-hotel: bar, Internet terminal, parking (paid), somepets allowed | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Palazzo Turchini.$$ | Directly behind the impressive fontana di Nettuno, just a few minutes’ walk from the Castel Nuovo, Palazzo Turchini is one of the more attractive smallerhotels in the city center. Its location is an 18th-century building with older roots, and the elegant design mixes historical styles, as seen in the combination of marblefloors and wooden fittings throughout the hotel. Rooms are small but surprisingly quiet despite being on a busy street, and many offer views over the roofs anddomes of the old town. Pros: good location for centro storico; more intimate than nearby hotels. Cons: unimpressive buffet breakfast; Via Medina can get very busy.| Via Medina 21/22, Toledo | 80132 | 081/5510606 | | 27 rooms | In-room: a/c, safe, Internet. In-hotel: bar, Internet terminal | AE, DC, MC,V | BP.Pinto Storey.$$ | This fascinating hotel overflows with warmth and charm—its late-19th-century style makes you feel like a character in a period movie. The simple and airyguest rooms are on the fourth and fifth floors of an elegant building off the chic Piazza Amedeo. Rooms here are always in demand, so book far in advance. Pros:nice neighborhood; near public transportation. Cons: not close to major sights; rickety elevator; only a few rooms have views. | Via G. Martucci 72, Chiaia | 80121 |081/681260 | | 16 rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Internet. In hotel: Internet terminal | AE, MC, V | EP.San Francesco al Monte.$$–$$$ | This high-end hotel retains hints of its former life as a Franciscan monastery: the small lobby leads to narrow corridors lined with doors that lookdauntingly cell-like, until you enter and find surprisingly spacious, simply decorated rooms, many with their own hot tubs, antique furnishings, majolica-tile floors,and stunning views of the city below and the bay beyond. The hotel’s restaurant serves regional specialties, and the wine bar has a selection of smaller dishes. Pros:rooftop pool; several dining options. Cons: isolated location; need a taxi if you go out at night. | Corso Vittorio Emanuele 328, Toledo | 80135 | 081/4239111 | | 44 rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Internet. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, bar, pool, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.N I G H T L I F E A N D T H E A R T S I N N A P L E SO P E R AOpera is a serious business in Naples—not in terms of the music so much as the costumes, the stage design, the players, and the politics. What’s happening on stagecan be secondary to the news of who’s there, who they’re with, and what they’re wearing. Given the circumstances, it’s hardly surprising that the city’s famous SanCarlo Company doesn’t offer a particularly innovative repertoire. Nonetheless, the company is usually of very high quality—and if they’re not in form the audiencelets them know it. Performances take place in the historic Teatro San Carlo (Via San Carlo 101–103, PiazzaMunicipio | 80133 | 081/7972412 box office,081/7972331 |, the luxury liner of opera houses in southern Italy. In 2008 the concert hall underwent a massive renovation, with everything
  • 94. 081/7972331 |, the luxury liner of opera houses in southern Italy. In 2008 the concert hall underwent a massive renovation, with everythingfrom the seats to the gold inlay on the ceiling frescoes replaced, and the statue of the mermaid Parthenope (missing since 1969) restored to its place on the building’sfacade. You can also book ahead by calling Concerteria (Via Schipa 23, Chiaia | 80122 | 081/7611221). For an additional fee you can order tickets online.N I G H T L I F EBars and clubs are found in many areas around Naples. The sophisticated crowd heads to Posillipo and the Vomero, Via Partenope along the seafront, and theChiaia area (between Piazza dei Martiri and Via dei Mille). A more bohemian crowd makes for the centro storico and the area around Piazza Bellini. The scene isrelatively relaxed—you might even be able to sit down at a proper table. Keep in mind that clubs, and their clientele, can change rapidly, so do some investigatingbefore you hit the town.Caffè Intramoenia(Piazza Bellini 70, Spaccanapoli | 80138 | 081/290988) is the granddaddy of all the bars in Piazza Bellini; it was set up as a bookshop in the late 1980s and still hasits own small publishing house with a variety of attractive titles. Seats in the heated veranda are at a premium in winter, though many sit outside all year round. BereVino (62 Via San Sebastiano, Spaccanapoli | 80134 | 081/29313) looks like a shop from the outside, but inside you can find long wooden tables and shelves ofwine from all over Italy that are consumed on the premises. Peppery taralli biscuits, olives, and selections of cheeses and smoked meats can be used to appoggiare(“prop up”) whatever you’re drinking. Look for recommended wines by the glass on the chalkboard or spend ages perusing the encyclopedic list. Aret’ a’ Palm(Piazza Santa Maria la Nova, Spaccanapoli | 80134 | 339/8486949) is Neapolitan for “behind the palm tree,” and that’s exactly where you can find this agreeablydark bar on Piazza Santa Maria La Nova. Its long marble bar and mirrored walls suggest Paris more than Naples. The Enoteca Belledonne (Vico Belledonne aChiaia 18, Chiaia | 80121 | 081/403162) is something of an institution among inhabitants of the more upscale Chiaia area. Between 8 and 9 in the evening it seemslike the whole neighborhood has descended into the tiny space for an aperitivo (cocktail). The small tables and low stools are notably uncomfortable, but the cozyatmosphere and the pleasure of being surrounded by glass-front cabinets full of wine bottles with beautiful labels more than makes up for it. Excellent local winesare available by the glass at great prices. A particularly quiet and refined option in Chiaia is L’ebbrezza di Noè (Vico Vetriera a Chaia 9, Chiaia | 80135 |081/400104), which is both a stand-up bar and a sit-down eatery.S H O P P I N G I N N A P L E SLeather goods, jewelry, and cameos are some of the best items to buy in Campania. In Naples you can generally find good deals on handbags, shoes, and clothing.Most boutiques and department stores are open Monday 4:30–8 and Tuesday–Saturday 9:15–1 and 4:30–8. The larger chains now open on Sunday.S H O P P I N G D I S T R I C T SThe immediate area around Piazza dei Martiri, in the center of Chiaia, has the densest concentration of luxury shopping, with perfume shops, fashion outlets, andantiques on display. Via dei Mille and Via Filangieri, which lead off Piazza dei Martiri, are home to Bulgari, Mont Blanc, and Hermès stores. The small, pedestrian-only Via Calabritto, which leads from Piazza dei Martiri toward the sea, is where you can find high-end retailers such as Prada, Gucci, Versace, Vuitton, Cacharel,Damiani, and Cartier. Via Chiaia and Via Toledo are the two busiest shopping streets for most Neapolitans; there you can find reasonably priced clothes and shoes,with a sprinkling of cafés and food shops. The Vomero district yields more shops, especially along Via Scarlatti and Via Luca Giordano, as well as a bustlingmorning market near Piazza degli Artisti. Via Santa Maria di Costantinopoli, which runs from Piazza Bellini to the Archaeological Museum, is the street forantiques shops. You can also find an antiques market on the third weekend of each month in the gardens of Villa Comunale and a flower market early everymorning in the Castel Nuovo moat.S P E C I A L T Y S T O R E SGay-Odin(Via Toledo 214, PiazzaPlebiscito | 80132 | 081/400063) produces handmade chocolates that you can find only in its Naples shops. Buy a delicious chocolateMount Vesuvius, or try the famous foresta (flaked chocolate).Shops selling Nativity scenes cluster along the Via San Gregorio Armeno in Spaccanapoli, and they’re all worth a glance, but the most famous is Ferrigno (ViaSan Gregorio Armeno 10, Spaccanapoli | 80138 | 081/5523148) Maestro Giuseppe Ferrigno died in 2008, but the family business continues, still faithfully using18th-century techniques. Nel Regno di Pulcinella (Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, Spaccanapoli | 80134 | 081/5514171) is the workshop of Lello Esposito,renowned Neapolitan artist, famous for his renderings of a famous puppet named Pulcinella.The Ospedale delle Bambole (Via San Biagio dei Librai 81, Spaccanapoli | 80138 | 081/203067), a tiny storefront operation, is a world-famous “hospital” fordolls. It’s a wonderful place to take kids.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 95. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsHerculaneum | Vesuvius | PompeiiVolcanic ash and mud preserved the Roman towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii almost exactly as they were on the day Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79,leaving them not just archaeological ruins but museums of daily life in the ancient world. The two cities and the volcano that buried them can be visited from eitherNaples or Sorrento, thanks to the Circumvesuviana, the suburban railway that provides fast, frequent, and economical service.H E R C U L A N E U M10 km (6 mi) southeast of Naples.Getting HereTake a train on the Circumvesuviana to Ercolano. From the station, walk across at the nearest roundabout and head down Via 4 Novembre for 10 minutes. Ifdriving from Naples, take the Ercolano exit from the Napoli-Salerno autostrada. Follow signs for Scavi di Ercolano.Lying more than 60 feet below the present-day town of Ercolano, the ruins of Herculaneum are set among the acres of greenhouses that make this area one ofEurope’s principal flower-growing centers. About 5,000 people lived here when it was destroyed; many of them were fishermen, craftsmen, and artists. In AD 79the gigantic eruption of Vesuvius (which also destroyed Pompeii) buried the town under a tide of volcanic mud. The semiliquid mass seeped into the crevices andniches of every building, covering household objects and enveloping textiles and wood—sealing all in a compact, airtight tomb.Casual excavation—and haphazard looting—began in the 18th century, but systematic digs were not initiated until the 1920s. Today less than half of Herculaneumhas been excavated; with present-day Ercolano and the unlovely Resina Quarter (famous among bargain hunters for its secondhand-clothing market) sitting on topof the site, progress is limited. From the ramp leading down to Herculaneum’s well-preserved edifices, you get a good overall view of the site, as well as an idea ofthe amount of volcanic debris that had to be removed to bring it to light.Though Herculaneum had only one-fourth the population of Pompeii and has been only partially excavated, what has been found is generally better preserved. Insome cases you can even see the original wooden beams, staircases, and furniture. Much excitement is presently focused on one excavation in a corner of the site,the Villa dei Papiri, built by Julius Caesar’s father-in-law. The building is named for the 1,800 carbonized papyrus scrolls dug up here in the 18th century, leadingscholars to believe that this may have been a study center or library. Given the right funds and political support, it is hoped that the villa can be properly excavatedand ultimately opened to the public.Make sure to stock up on refreshments beforehand, as there is no food at the archaeological site. At the entrance, pick up a map showing the gridlike layout of thedig. Splurge on an audio guide (€6.50 for one, €10 for two) and head down the tunnel to start the tour at the old shoreline. Though many of the houses are closedand some are in dire need of restoration, a fair cross section of domestic, commercial, and civic buildings is still accessible. Decorations are especially delicate in theCasa del Nettuno ed Anfitrite (House of Neptune and Amphitrite), named for the subjects of a still-bright mosaic on the wall of the nymphaeum (a recessed grottowith a fountain), and in the Terme Femminili (Women’s Baths), where several delicate black-and-white mosaics embellished the rooms. Annexed to the formerhouse is a remarkably preserved wine shop, where amphorae still rest on carbonized wooden shelves. On the other side of the house is the Casa del Bel Cortile(House of the Beautiful Courtyard). In one of its inner rooms is the temporary display of a cast taken of two skeletons found in the storerooms down at the oldseafront, where almost 300 inhabitants sought refuge from the eruption and were ultimately encapsulated for posterity. The Casa dei Cervi (House of the Stags),with an elegant garden open to the sea breezes, is evocative of a lively and luxurious way of life. The sumptuously decorated Terme Suburbane (Suburban Baths)was closed at the time of this writing, but is well worth a visit if it is open. | Corso Ercolano, a 10-min walk downhill from Ercolano Circumvesuviana station |80056 | 081/8575347 | | €11; €20 includes 3-day ticket for Oplontis, Pompeii, and Boscoreale | Apr.–Oct., daily 8:30–7:30 (ticket office
  • 96. 80056 | 081/8575347 | | €11; €20 includes 3-day ticket for Oplontis, Pompeii, and Boscoreale | Apr.–Oct., daily 8:30–7:30 (ticket officecloses at 6); Nov.–Mar., daily 8:30–5 (ticket office closes at 3:30).V E S U V I U S8 km (5 mi) northeast of Herculaneum, 16 km (10 mi) east of Naples.Getting HereTake a train on the Circumvesuviana to Ercolano, then hop on the Vesuvio Express shuttle service. By car, take the Ercolano exit off the A3 autostrada and followthe brown signs to Vesuvio.Vesuvius.As you tour the cities that it destroyed, you may be overwhelmed by the urge to explore Vesuvius. In summer especially, the prospect of rising above the sticky heatof Naples is a heady one. The view when the air is clear is magnificent, with the curve of the coast and the tiny white houses among the orange and lemonblossoms. If the summit is lost in mist you’ll be lucky to see your hand in front of your face. When you see the summit clearing—it tends to be clearer in theafternoon—head for it. If possible, see Vesuvius after you’ve toured the ruins of buried Herculaneum to appreciate the magnitude of the volcano’s power.From Ercolano train station, riding a 10-seat minibus run by Vesuvio Express (081/7393666 | is a quick, painless, and relatively cheap wayof getting to the top. The vehicles thread their way rapidly up on back roads, reaching the top in 20 minutes. Allow at least 2½ hours for the journey, including a 30-minute walk to the crater on a soft cinder track. The cost is €16.50, including admission to the crater. The fee includes a compulsory guide service, usually younggeologists with a smattering of English. At the bottom you’ll be offered a stout walking stick (a small tip is appreciated on return). The climb can be tiring if you’renot used to steep hikes. Because of the volcanic stone you should wear athletic shoes, not sandals. | 80056 | 081/7775720 | €6.50 | Daily 9 AM–2 hrs before sunset.You can visit Osservatorio Vesuviano (Vesuvius Observatory)—2,000 feet up—and view instruments used to study the volcano, some dating to the mid-19thcentury. | Via Osservatorio, | 80056 | Ercolano | 081/6108483 or 081/7777149 | | Free | Weekends 10–2.P O M P E I IThe site of Pompeii, petrified memorial to Vesuvius’s eruption on the morning of August 23, AD 79, is the largest, most accessible, and probably most famous ofexcavations anywhere. A busy commercial center with a population of 10,000–20,000, ancient Pompeii covered about 160 acres on the seaward end of the fertileSarno Plain. Today Pompeii is choked with both the dust of 25 centuries and more than 2 million visitors every year; only by escaping the hordes and lingeringalong its silent streets can you truly fall under the site’s spell. Come in the late afternoon when the site is nearly deserted and you will understand that the truepleasure of Pompeii is not in the seeing but in the feeling.Getting HereTo get to Pompeii by car, take the A3 Napoli–Salerno highway to the “Pompei” exit and follow signs for the nearby “Scavi” excavations. There are numerousguarded car parks near the Porta Marina, Piazza Essedra, and Anfiteatro entrances where you can leave your vehicle for a fee.Pompeii has two central Circumvesuviana stations served by two separate train lines. The Naples–Sorrento train stops at “Pompei Scavi-Villa dei Misteri,” 100yards from the Porta Marina ticket office of the archaeological site, while the Naples–Poggiomarino train stops at Pompei Santuario, more convenient for theSantuario della Madonna del Rosario and the hotels and restaurants in the modern town center. A third FS (state) train station south of the town center is only reallyconvenient if arriving from Salerno or Rome.Visitor InformationThe Pompeii offices of Azienda Autonoma di Cura Soggiorno e Turismo (Via Sacra 1, | Pompeii | 80045 | 081/8507255 | are open 8–3in winter, 8–7 in summer, closed Sunday. The Ufficio Informazione (Piazza Porta Marina, | Pompei | 80045 | 081/8575347 | outside thearchaeological site is open 9–5 daily.P O M P E I I P R E PPompeii is impressive under any circumstances, but it comes alive if you do some preparation before your visit.First, read up—there are piles of good books on the subject, including these engaging, jargon-free histories: Pompeii: The Day a City Died by Robert Etienne,Pompeii: Public and Private Life by Paul Zanker, and The Lost World of Pompeii by Colin Amery. For accurate historical information woven into the pages of athriller, pick up Pompeii: A Novel by Robert Harris.Second, be sure to visit the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, where most of the finest art from Pompeii now resides. The museum is a remarkable treasuretrove—it’s a rewarding place to visit even if Pompeii isn’t in your plans.E X P L O R I N G P O M P E I IMention Pompeii and most travelers will think of ancient Roman villas, prancing bronze fauns, writhing plaster casts of Vesuvius’s victims, and the fabled days ofthe Emperors. Mention Pompeii to many southern Italians, however, and they will immediately think of Pompei (to use the modern-day Italian spelling, not theancient Latin), home to the Santuario della Madonna del Rosario, the 19th-century basilica in the center of the new town, with the archaeological ruins takingsecond place. Although millions of culture seekers worldwide head for ancient Pompeii every year, the same number of Italian pilgrims converge on Pompei’sbasilica as a token of faith—joining processions, making ex-voto offerings, or just honoring a vow. Wealthy Neapolitans come to make their donations to help theChurch carry out its good deeds. New-car owners come to get their vehicles blessed—and given driving standards in these parts of the world, insurance coveragefrom on high is probably a sensible move.
  • 97. from on high is probably a sensible move.Caught between the hammer and anvil of cultural and religious tourism, the modern town of Pompei has shaken off its rather complacent approach and is nowendeavoring to polish up its act. In attempts to ease congestion, parts of the town have been made pedestrian-friendly and parking restrictions tightened. Departingfrom the rather sleazy reputation of previous years, several hotels have filled the sizable niche in the market for quality deals at affordable prices. As forrecommendable restaurants, if you deviate from the archaeological site and make for the center of town, you will be spoiled for choice. The modern town may be acircus but the center ring is always Pompeii itself.As you enter the ruins at Porta Marina, make your way to the Foro (Forum), which served as Pompeii’s cultural, political, and religious center. You can still seesome of the two stories of colonnades that used to line the square. Like the ancient Greek agora in Athens, the Forum was a busy shopping area, complete withpublic officials to apply proper standards of weights and measures. Fronted by an elegant three-column portico on the eastern side of the forum is the Macellum, thecovered meat and fish market dating to Augustan times. It was also in the Forum that elections were held, politicians let rhetoric fly, speeches and officialannouncements were made, and worshippers crowded the Tempio di Giove (Temple of Jupiter), at the northern end of the forum.On the southwestern corner is the Basilica, the city’s law court and the economic center. These oblong buildings ending in a semicircular projection were the modelfor early Christian churches, which had a nave (central aisle) and two side aisles separated by rows of columns.The Anfiteatro (Amphitheater) was the ultimate in entertainment for local Pompeians and offered a gamut of experiences, but essentially this was for gladiatorsrather than wild animals. Built in about 80 BC, it was oval and divided into three seating areas like a theater. There were two main entrances—at the north andsouth ends—and a narrow passage on the west called the Porta Libitinensis, through which the dead were most probably dragged out.The first buildings to the left after you’ve gone through the ticket turnstiles are the Terme Suburbane (Suburban Baths), built—by all accounts without planningpermission—right up against the city walls. The baths have eyebrow-raising frescoes in the apodyterium (changing room) that strongly suggest that more than justbathing and massaging went on here. On the walls of the Lupanare (brothel) are scenes of erotic games in which clients could engage. The Terme Stabiane (StabianBaths) had underground furnaces, the heat from which circulated beneath the floor, rose through flues in the walls, and escaped through chimneys. The watertemperature could be set for cold, lukewarm, or hot.Several homes were captured in various states by the eruption of Vesuvius, each representing a different slice of Pompeiian life. The Casa del Poeta Tragico (Houseof the Tragic Poet) is a typical middle-class house. On the floor is a mosaic of a chained dog and the inscription cave canem (“Beware of the dog”). Many paintingsand mosaics were executed at Casa del Menandro (House of Menander), a patrician’s villa named for a fresco of the Greek playwright. Two blocks beyond theStabian Baths you’ll notice on the left the current digs at the Casa dei Casti Amanti (House of the Chaste Lovers). A team of plasterers and painters were at workhere when Vesuvius erupted, redecorating one of the rooms and patching up cracks caused by earth tremors a matter of days before. The House of the Vettii is thebest example of a house owned by wealthy mercatores (merchants). The vivid murals here—except for those in the two wings off the atrium—were all painted afterthe earthquake of AD 62. Once inside, cast an admiring glance at the delicate frieze around the wall of the triclinium (on the right of the peristyle garden as youenter from the atrium), depicting cupids engaged in various activities, such as selling oils and perfumes or performing in chariot races.There is no more astounding, magnificently memorable evidence of Pompeii’s devotion to the pleasures of the flesh than the frescoes on view at the Villa deiMisteri (Villa of the Mysteries), a palatial abode built at the far northwestern fringe of Pompeii. Unearthed in 1909, this villa had more than 60 rooms painted withfrescoes; the finest are in the triclinium. Painted in the most glowing Pompeiian reds and oranges, the panels relate the saga of a young bride (Ariadne) and herinitiation into the mysteries of the cult of Dionysus, who was a god imported to Italy from Greece andthen given the Latin name of Bacchus.To get the most out of Pompeii, rent an audio guide (€6.50 for one, €10 for two; you’ll need to leave an ID card) and opt for one of the three itineraries (2 hours, 4hours, or 6 hours). If hiring a guide, make sure the guide is registered for an English tour and standing inside the gate; agree beforehand on the length of the tour andthe price, and prepare yourself for soundbites of English mixed with dollops of hearsay. | 081/8575347 | | €11, tickets are valid for one fullday | Apr.–Oct., daily 8:30–7:30 (last admission at 6), and Nov.–Mar., daily 8:30–5 (last admission at 3:30) | Station: Pompei-Villa dei Misteri.W H E R E T O E A T I N P O M P E I IIl Principe$$–$$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | This is the closest you’ll get to experience the tastes of ancient Pompeii, though the wines (fortunately) will be quantum leapsbetter. At times the food is so artistically presented that it seems boorish to pick up a knife and fork. Try the pasta vermiculata garo, otherwise known as spaghettiwith garum pompeianum, a fish-based sauce consumed widely in Roman times. Round off the meal with the cassata di Oplontis (a sweet made with ricotta cheeseand honey), inspired by a famous still-life fresco found in a triclinium at the site of Oplontis. If you’re overawed by the grandiose decor inside, opt for more informaloutdoor dining. | Piazza B. Longo 8 | 80045 | 081/8505566 | Fax 081/8633342 | | AE, DC, V | Closed Sun. dinner, Mon. (except lunch insummer), and 3 wks in Aug.Ristorante dei Platani$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | The simple, seasonal food at this family-run establishment a few minutes’ walk from the Anfiteatro ticket office will take your mindoff the kitschy faux frescoes inspired by the Villa dei Misteri. Locals and informed tourists alike are drawn to their classic stand-bys like gnocchi alla sorrentina(with tomato and mozzarella) and frittura di paranza (fried fish) as well as to their more inventive takes on local tradition—try the fusilli con crema di ceci e frutti dimare (with pureed chickpeas and seafood). Those who make it through to the dolce (desserts) should sample the delicate delizia al limone (lemon profiteroles)brought in daily from Minori on the Amalfi Coast. | Via Colle S. Bartolomeo 8 | 80045 | 081/8633973 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Wed.Ristorante President$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | The Gramaglia brother-and-sister team is well versed in top-level catering and makes sure that customers sigh with satisfaction afterevery course. For something different, try the aragosta ubriacata (“drunken” lobster cooked in white wine) accompanied by some imaginative side dishes, likesfoglie di zucca in agrodolce (sweet-and-sour pumpkin strips). Beautiful presentation, impeccable service, and excellent value all add up to a stellar meal. They alsohost decadent Roman inspired banquets with musical accompaniment, worth a try if you are spending the night in town. | Piazza Schettini 12 | 80045 | 081/8507245| Fax 081/8638147 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon. Nov.–Mar.
  • 98. W H E R E T O S T A Y I N P O M P E I IHotel Amleto$ | Appassionati and connoisseurs of historical styles of furnishings will find this hotel a real treat. Enjoy the Pompeian-type mosaic in the reception room and themesmerizing House-of-the-Vettii–type scene in the breakfast room before retiring to your quarters, either 19th-century Neapolitan in style or Venetian in taste.Convenient to say the least, this spot is near the archaeological site and close to Pompei’s cathedral. As traffic noise may be a problem, ask for a quieter room on theupper floor. Pros: very convenient location near sites and restaurants; excellent, attentive service. Cons: books up in high season; rooms facing are street noisy. | ViaB. Longo 10 | 80045 | 081/8631004 | Fax 081/8635585 | | 26 rooms | In-room: Internet. In-hotel: bar, parking (free) | AE, D, MC, V | BP.Hotel Diana$ | At the lower end of the price range, this small family-run hotel is a convenient base for budget travelers who wish to be in striking distance of Pompeii’s ruins orthe Sanctuary. It’s a 3-minute walk from the train, a 10-minute walk from the Amphitheater entrance and close to the action in Pompeii’s main square—yetseemingly miles away from the tourist throngs—and ideal for travelers without private transport. Clean and well-appointed rooms and an outgoing young staff makethis place an attractive. Pros: 10-minute walk to archaeological site; convenient location for strolling in evening; charming garden, quiet setting and very helpfulstaff; 2 wheelchair accessible rooms. Cons: no pool; a bit noisy when fully booked due to tiled halls and echoes; smallish rooms. | Vico Sant’Abbondio 12 | 80045 |081/8631264 | | 13 rooms with private bath | In-room: Internet | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 99. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsProcida | IschiaThough Capri gets star billing among the islands that line the bay of Naples, Ischia and Procida also have their own, lower-key appeal. Ischia is a populardestination on account of its spas, beaches, and hot springs. Procida, long the poor relation of the three and the closest to Naples, is starting to capitalize on its chiefnatural asset, the unspoiled isle of Vivara. The pastel colors of Procida will be familiar to anyone who has seen the widely acclaimed film Il Postino.Getting HereSeveral companies offer a variety of fast craft and passenger and car ferries connecting the islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida with Naples and Pozzuoli year-round. Hydrofoils and other fast craft leave from Naples’s Molo Beverello, adjacent to Piazza Municipio, and also from Mergellina, about 1½ km (1 mi) west ofPiazza Municipio. Slower car ferries leave from the more inaccessible berths at Calata Porta di Massa, a 10-minute walk east of Molo Beverello.Information on departures is published every day in the local paper, Il Mattino. Alternatively, ask at the tourist office or at the port, or contact the companies—Alilauro (081/7614909 | , Caremar (081/5513882 | , Coop Sant’Andrea (089/873190 |,Navigazione Libera del Golfo (NLG | 089/5520763 | , and SNAV (081/7612348 | —directly. Always double-check schedulesin stormy weather.P R O C I D A35 mins by hydrofoil, 1 hr by car ferry from Naples.Getting HereTake a ferry from Pozzuoli or a hydrofoil from Naples.Visitor InformationProcida tourism office (Via Vittorio Emanuele 173 | 80079 | 081/8969628 | X P L O R I N G P R O C I D ALying barely 3 km (2 mi) from the mainland and 10 km (6 mi) from the nearest port of Pozzuoli, Procida is an island of enormous contrasts. It is the most denselypopulated island in Europe—just over 10,000 people crammed into less than 3½ square km (less than 1½ square mi)—and yet there are oases such as MarinaCorricella and Vivara that seem to have been bypassed by modern civilization. It’s no surprise that picturesque Procida has strong artistic traditions and is widelyconsidered a painters’ paradise.The sleepy fishing village of Corricella, used as the setting for the waterfront scenes in the Oscar-winning film Il Postino, has been relatively immune to life in thelimelight. Apart from the opening of an extra restaurant and bar, there have been few changes. This is the type of place where even those with failing grades in artclass feel like reaching for a paintbrush to record the delicate pink and yellow facades. The Graziella bar at the far end of the seafront offers the island’s famouslemons squeezed over crushed ice to make an excellent granita.W H E R E T O E A T I N P R O C I D A
  • 100. W H E R E T O E A T I N P R O C I D ALa Conchiglia.$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | A dinner at this beachfront spot really lets you appreciate the magic of Procida. Beyond the lapping of the waves, Capri twinkles inthe distance. The seafood is divinely fresh, the pasta dishes usually soul-warming. Access here is either by foot down the steps from Via Pizzaco or by boat from theCorricella harbor front—phone owner Gianni if you want the boat to pick you up. | Via Pizzaco10 | 80079 | 081/8967602 | | AE,MC, V | Closed mid-Nov.–Mar.I S C H I A45 mins by hydrofoil, 90 mins by car ferry from Naples, 60 mins by ferry from Pozzuoli.Getting HereIschia can be reached by car ferry and fast craft from Molo Beverello in central Naples, by fast craft from Mergellina, and by ferry from Pozzuoli.Visitor InformationIschia Porto tourism office (Via A. Sogliuzzo 72 | 80077 | 081/5074211 | X P L O R I N G I S C H I AWhereas Capri wows you with its charm and beauty, Ischia takes time to cast its spell. In fact, an overnight stay is probably not long enough for the island to getinto your blood. It does have its share of vine-growing villages beneath the lush volcanic slopes of Monte Epomeo, and unlike Capri it enjoys a life of its own thatsurvives when the tourists head home. But there are few signs of antiquity here, the architecture is unremarkable, the traffic can be overwhelming, and hoteliershave yet to achieve a balanced mix of clientele—most are either German (off-season) or Italian (in-season). But should you want to plunk down in the sun for a fewdays and tune out the world, this is an ideal spot; just don’t expect an unspoiled, undiscovered Capri. When Augustus gave the Neapolitans Ischia for Capri, heknew what he was doing.Ischia is volcanic in origin. From its hidden reservoir of seething molten matter come the thermal springs said to cure whatever ails you. As early as 1580 a doctornamed Lasolino published a book about the mineral wells at Ischia. “If your eyebrows fall off,” he wrote, “go and try the baths at Piaggia Romano. If you knowanyone who is getting bald, anyone who suffers from elephantiasis, or another whose wife yearns for a child, take the three of them immediately to the Bagno diVitara; they will bless you.” Today the island is covered with thermal baths, often surrounded by tropical gardens.A good 35-km (22-mi) road makes a circuit of the island; the ride takes most of a day if you stop along the way to enjoy the views and perhaps have lunch. You canbook a boat tour around the island at the booths in various ports along the coast; there’s a one-hour stop at Sant’Angelo. The information office is at the harbor. Youmay drive on Ischia year-round. There’s also fairly good bus service, and you’ll find plenty of taxis.Ischia Portois the largest town on the island and the usual point of debarkation. It’s no workaday port, however, but a lively resort with plenty of hotels, the island’s bestshopping area, and low, flat-roof houses on terraced hillsides overlooking the water. Its narrow streets often become flights of steps that scale the hill, and its villasand gardens are framed by pines.Most of the hotels are along the beach in the part of town called Ischia Ponte, which gets its name from the ponte (bridge) built by Alfonso of Aragon in 1438 tolink the picturesque castle on a small islet offshore with the town and port. For a while the castle was the home of Vittoria Colonna, poetess, granddaughter ofRenaissance Duke Federico da Montefeltro (1422–82), and platonic soul mate of Michelangelo, with whom she carried on a lengthy correspondence. You’ll find atypical resort atmosphere: countless cafés, shops, and restaurants, and a 1-km (½-mi) stretch of fine-sand beach.Casamicciola,a popular beach resort, is 5 km (3 mi) west of Ischia Porto.Chic and upscale Lacco Ameno, next to Casamicciola, is distinguished by a mushroom-shape rock offshore and some of the island’s best hotels. Here, too, you canenjoy the benefits of Ischia’s therapeutic waters.The far-western and southern coasts of Ischia are more rugged and attractive. Forio, at the extreme west, has a waterfront church and is a good spot for lunch ordinner.The sybaritic hot pools of the Giardini Poseidon Terme (Poseidon Gardens Spa) are on Citara Beach, south of Forio. You can sit like a Roman senator on a stonechair recessed in the rock and let the hot water cascade over you—all very campy, and fun.Sant’Angelo,on the southern coast, is a charming village; the road doesn’t reach all the way into town, so it’s free of traffic. It’s a five-minute boat ride from the beach of Maronti,at the foot of cliffs.The inland town of Fontana is the base for excursions to the top of Monte Epomeo, the long-dormant volcano that dominates the island landscape. You can reachits 2,585-foot peak in less than 1½ hours of relatively easy walking.W H E R E T O E A T I N I S C H I ADa Gennaro.$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | The oldest restaurant on the island, this is a favorite of the stars, including Rod Stewart and Sophia Loren. Family-run, it opened on
  • 101. $$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | The oldest restaurant on the island, this is a favorite of the stars, including Rod Stewart and Sophia Loren. Family-run, it opened onthe seafront overlooking the boats in 1965 and continues to serve excellent fish in a convivial atmosphere. Specialties include gnocchi alla pescatore (dumplingswith shellfish) and linguine all’aragosta (with lobster). In perfect English, friendly owner Gennaro will happily take you through the celebrity-laden wall of photos.| Via Porto 59 | 80077 | 081/992917 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–mid-Mar.Il Melograno.$$$$ | ITALIAN | Ischia’s top high-end restaurant is tucked away on the road leading to Citara Beach. Try the crudo italiana (an Italian take on sushi) to start andthen just indulge in food that tastes as good as it looks. New dishes with a twist are regularly introduced—the fried anchovies stuffed with provola cheese andhomemade tomato bread was one year’s winner. Those on a higher budget and with a healthy appetite should treat themselves to the featured special menu, repletewith local fish and vegetables given a nouvelle twist. There’s an excellent if pricey wine cellar. | Via G. Mazzella 110 | 80075 | 081/998450 | | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Jan.–mid-Mar., Mon. and Wed. in Nov. and Dec.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N I S C H I AAlbergo Il Monastero.$$ | Within the Castello Aragonese at Ischia Ponte, with rustic rooms that peer down into the Mediterranean hundreds of feet below, this is the ultimate in ambiencecombined with the peace and quiet of a traffic-free area. Rooms are on the simple side, but the management is friendly and tries to warm things up. You can alsochoose to dine here (guests only) on the spectacular terrace, if you can’t face the climb down to the town. This is a popular hotel, so book far in advance. Pros:stunning views; castle setting. Cons: difficult-to-negotiate steps to the elevator; a bit far from the action. | Castello Aragonese 3 | 80077 | 081/992435 | | 21 rooms | In-room: no TV. In-hotel: restaurant, Internet terminal | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed mid-Oct.–late Mar. | BP.Grande Albergo Mezzatorre.$$$$ | Far from the crowds, this luxurious getaway is perched on the extreme promontory of Punta Cornacchia. The hotel has nearly everything to tempt itsprivileged guests to stay put and relax: storybook cove, glamorous pool area, serious chef, full health and beauty treatments, and hundreds of pine trees for truepeace and quiet. The ancient fortress has been sleekly renovated; inside, all is white-on-white glamour with antiques and ancestral portraits. The address is Forio butthis is much closer to Lacco Ameno, where you should get off if you’re on the bus; a shuttle bus is available to pick you up. Pros: an ideal getaway; wonderfulviews. Cons: a bit isolated; facilities in separate buildings require some walking. | Via Mezzatorre 13, Località San Montano, | 80075 | Forio d’Ischia | 081/986111 | | 61 rooms | In-room: safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, tennis court, pool, spa | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Apr. | BP.La Villarosa.$$$ | A highlight at this gracious family-run hotel, in a villa with bright and airy rooms, is the thermally heated pool in the garden. Meals are served in the roofgarden overlooking the town of Ischia and the Bay of Naples. In high season half board is required, and you must reserve well in advance. It’s in the heart of IschiaPorto and a short walk from the beach. Pros: view from roof garden; wonderful pool. Cons: too close to the town for some; decor not to everyone’s taste. | ViaGiacinto Gigante 5 | 80077 | 081/991316 | | 37 rooms | In-hotel: restaurant, pool | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar. | MAP.Villa Antonio.$ | Blessed with a stunning perch over the Bay of Cartaromana, with the Castello Aragonese posing front and center in a panoramic vista, the Antonio offers a quiethaven five minutes from the crowds. Direct access to the sea is a few steps away from the lovely whitewashed villa, but sunny spots abound at several gardenlevels, so most guests tend not to stray too far. Owner Antonio’s brother Giovanni is a sculptor—his granite and marble works are scattered around the flower-decked terraces. Rooms are basic, but most have air-conditioning and all have sea views. Pros: no better view of the castle; direct access to sea. Cons: quite a fewsteps to negotiate before elevator; rooms rather basic. | Via San Giuseppe della Croce 77 | 80077 | 081/982660 | | 18 rooms | In-room: no a/c(some). In-hotel: bar | No credit cards | Closed Nov.–mid-Mar. | BP.Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 102. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsExploring Capri | Where to Eat in Capri | Where to Stay in CapriOnce a pleasure dome to Roman emperors and now Italy’s most glamorous seaside getaway, Capri (pronounced with an accent on the first syllable) is a craggyisland at the southern end to the bay, 75 minutes by boat, 40 minutes by hydrofoil from Naples. The boom in cruises to the Naples area (almost 1 million passengersannually) means that Capri is inundated with day-trippers, making seemingly simple trips (like the funicular ride up from Marina Grande) a nerve-frayingexperience. Yet even the crowds are not enough to destroy Capri’s special charm. The town is a Moorish opera set of shiny white houses, tiny squares, and narrowmedieval alleyways hung with flowers. It rests on top of rugged limestone cliffs hundreds of feet above the sea, and on which herds of capre (goats) once used toroam (giving the name to the island). Unlike the other islands in the Bay of Naples, Capri is not of volcanic origin; it may be a continuation of the limestoneSorrentine Peninsula.Limestone caves on Capri have yielded rich prehistoric and Neolithic finds. The island is thought to have been settled by Greeks from Cumae in the 6th century BCand later by other Greeks from Neapolis, but it was the Romans in the early Imperial period who really left their mark. Emperor Augustus vacationed here; Tiberiusbuilt a dozen villas around the island, and, in later years, he refused to return to Rome, even when he was near death. Capri was one of the strongholds of the 16th-century pirate Barbarossa, who first sacked it and then made it a fortress. In 1806 the British wanted to turn the island into another Gibraltar and were beginning tobuild fortifications until the French took it away from them in 1808. Over the next century, from the opening of its first hotel in 1826, Capri saw an influx of visitorsthat reads like a Who’s Who of literature and politics, especially in the early decades of the 20th century.Like much else about Capri, the island’s rare and delicious white wine is sensuous and intoxicating. Note that most of the wine passed off as “local” on Capri comesfrom the much-more-extensive vineyards of Ischia.Getting HereCapri can be reached by ferry and hydrofoil from Naples and Sorrento throughout the year. Additional departures from Salerno, Amalfi, Positano, andCastellammare are available in the summer months.Visitor InformationCapri tourism offices (Marina Grande, | 80073 | Capri Town | 081/8370634 | Piazza Umberto I, | 80073 | Capri | Town | 081/8370686 | X P L O R I N G C A P R IOn arrival at the port, pick up the excellent map of the island at the tourist office (€1). You may have to wait in line for the funicular railway (€2.80 round-trip) toCapri Town, perched some 450 feet above the harbor. This might be the time to splurge on an open-top taxi—it could save you an hour in line for the funicular.From the upper station, walk out into Piazza Umberto I, much better known as the Piazzetta, the island’s social hub.You can window-shop in expensive boutiques and browse in souvenir shops along Via Vittorio Emanuele, which leads south toward the many-domed Certosa diSan Giacomo. You will be able to visit the church and cloister of this much-restored monastery and also pause long enough to enjoy the breathtaking view of PuntaTragara and the Faraglioni, three towering crags, from the viewing point at the edge of the cliff. | Via Certosa | 80073 | 081/8376218 | Tues., Wed., Fri.–Sun. 9–2,Thurs. 3–7.From the terraces of Giardini di Augusto
  • 103. (Gardens of Augustus), a beautifully planted public garden with excellent views, you can see the village of Marina Piccola below—restaurants, cabanas, andswimming platforms huddle among the shoals—and admire the steep and winding Via Krupp, actually a staircase cut into the rock. Friedrich Krupp, the Germanarms manufacturer, loved Capri and became one of the island’s most generous benefactors. You can reach the beach by taking a bus from the Via Roma terminusdown to Marina Piccola. | Via Matteotti beyond monastery of San Giacomo | 80073 | Daily dawn–dusk.A tortuous road leads up to Anacapri, the island’s “second city,” about 3 km (2 mi) from Capri Town. To get here you can take a bus either from Via Roma inCapri Town or from Marina Grande (both €1.40), or a taxi (about €25 one-way; agree on the fare before starting out). Crowds are thick down Via Capodimonteleading to Villa San Michele and around the square, Piazza Vittoria, which is the starting point of the chairlift to the top of Monte Solaro. Elsewhere, Anacapri isquietly appealing. It’s a good starting point for walks, such as the 80-minute round-trip journey to the Migliara Belvedere, on the island’s southern coast.An impressive limestone formation and the highest point on Capri (1,932 feet), Monte Solaro affords gasp-inducing views toward the bays of both Naples andSalerno. A 12-minute chairlift ride will take you right to the top (refreshments available at the bar), which is a starting point for a number of scenic trails on thewestern side of the island. Picnickers should note that even in summer it can get windy at this height, and there are few trees to provide shade or refuge. | PiazzaVittoria, | 80071 | Anacapri | 081/8371428 | €6 one-way, €8 round-trip | Daily 9:30–1 hr before sunset; closed in bad weather.In the heart of Anacapri, the octagonal baroque church of San Michele, finished in 1719, is best known for its exquisite majolica pavement designed by Solimenaand executed by the mastro-riggiolaro (master tiler) Chiaiese from Abruzzo. A walkway skirts the depiction of Adam and a duly contrite Eve being expelled fromthe Garden of Eden, but you can get a fine overview from the organ loft, reached by a winding staircase near the ticket booth (a privileged perch you have to payfor). Outside the church is the Via Finestrale, which leads to Anacapri’s noted Le Boffe quarter. This section of town, centered on the Piazza Ficacciate, owes itsname to the distinctive domestic architecture prevalent here, which uses vaults and sculpted groins instead of crossbeams. | Piazza San Nicola, | 80071 | Anacapri |081/8372396 | | €2 | July–Oct., daily 9–7; Nov.–Mar., daily 10–2.From Anacapri’s Piazza Vittoria, picturesque Via Capodimonte leads to Villa San Michele, the charming former home of Swedish doctor and philanthropist AxelMunthe (1857–1949) that Henry James called “the most fantastic beauty, poetry, and inutility that one had ever seen clustered together.” At the ancient entrancewayto Anacapri at the top of the Scala Fenicia, the villa is set around Roman-style courtyards, marble walkways, and atria. Rooms display the doctor’s variedcollections, which range from bric-a-brac to antiquities. Medieval choir stalls, Renaissance lecterns, and gilded statues of saints are all part of the setting, with somerooms preserving the doctor’s personal memorabilia. A spectacular pergola path overlooking the entire Bay of Naples leads from the villa to the famous SphinxParapet, where an ancient Egyptian sphinx looks out toward Sorrento; you cannot see its face—on purpose. It is said that if you touch the sphinx’s hindquarterswith your left hand while making a wish, it will come true. The parapet is connected to the little Chapel of San Michele, on the grounds of one of Tiberius’s villas.Besides hosting summer concerts, the Axel Munthe Foundation has an ecomuseum that fittingly reflects Munthe’s fondness for animals. There you can learn aboutvarious bird species—accompanied by their songs—found on Capri. Munthe bought up the hillside and made it a sanctuary for birds. | Viale Axel Munthe, | 80071 |Anacapri | 081/8371401 | | €6 | May–Sept., daily 9–6; Apr. and Oct., daily 9–5; Mar., daily 9–4:30; Nov.–Feb., daily 9–3:30.Only when the Grotta Azzurra was “discovered” in 1826 by the Polish poet August Kopisch and Swiss artist Ernest Fries, did Capri become a tourist haven. Thewatery cave’s blue beauty became a symbol of the return to nature and revolt from reason that marked the Romantic era, and it soon became a required stop on theGrand Tour. In fact, the grotto had long been a local landmark. During the Roman era—as testified by the extensive remains, primarily below sea level, and severallarge statues now at the Certosa di San Giacomo—it had been the elegant, mosaic-decorated nymphaeum of the adjoining villa of Gradola. Historians can’t quiteagree if it was simply a lovely little pavilion where rich patricians would cool themselves or truly a religious site where sacred mysteries were practiced. The water’sextraordinary sapphire color is caused by a hidden opening in the rock that refracts the light. At highest illumination the very air inside seems tinted blue.The Grotta Azzurra can be reached from Marina Grande or from the small embarkation point below Anacapri on the northwest side of the island, accessible by busfrom Anacapri. If you’re pressed for time, however, skip this sometimes frustrating and disappointing excursion. You board one boat to get to the grotto, thentransfer to a smaller boat that takes you inside. If there’s a backup of boats waiting to get in, you’ll be given precious little time to enjoy the gorgeous color of thewater and its silvery reflections. | Grotta Azzurra | 80071 | €21 from Marina Grande, €10.50 by rowboat from Grotta Azzurra near Anacapri | Daily 9–1 hr beforesunset; closed if sea is even minimally rough.O F F T H E B E A T E N P A T HVilla Jovis.From Capri Town, the 45-minute hike east to Villa Jovis, the grandest of those built by Tiberius, is strenuous but rewarding. Follow the signs for Villa Jovis, takingVia Le Botteghe from the Piazzetta, then continuing along Via Croce and Via Tiberio. At the end of a lane that climbs the steep hill, with pretty views all the way,you come to the precipice over which the emperor reputedly disposed of the victims of his perverse attentions. From a natural terrace above, near a chapel, arespectacular views of the entire Bay of Naples and, on clear days, part of the Gulf of Salerno. Here starts the footpath around the somewhat neglected ruins ofTiberius’s palace. Allow 45 minutes each way for the walk alone. | Via A. Maiuri | 80073 | 081/8374549 | €2 | Feb.–Oct., daily 9–1 hr before sunset; Nov.–Jan.,daily 9–3:15.W H E R E T O E A T I N C A P R IAl Grottino.$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | This small and friendly family-run restaurant, which is handy to the Piazzetta, in a 14th-century building, has arched ceilings and lotsof atmosphere; autographed photos of celebrity customers cover the walls. (Jerry Springer makes a point of dining here every year.) House specialties are scialatielliai frutti di mare (homemade seafood pasta) and linguine ai gamberetti (with shrimp and tomato sauce), but the owner delights in taking his guests through themenu. | Via Longano 27, | 80073 | Capri Town | 081/8370584 | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–mid-Mar.Barbarossa.$$ | PIZZA | This ristorante-pizzeria is the first you’ll see if you arrive in Anacapri by bus. Its covered terrace takes in views of the Barbarossa castle on the hill aswell as the sea. The no-frills ambience belies the quality of the cucina: besides pizze they specialize in local dishes—be sure to try the risotto con gamberi a limone(with shrimp and lemon). Barbarossa is open all year. | Piazza Vittoria 1, | 80071 | Anacapri | 081/8371483 | AE, DC, MC, V.
  • 104. Da Gelsomina.$$ | ITALIAN | Set amid its own terraced vineyards with inspiring views to the island of Ischia and beyond, this is much more than just a well-reputed restaurant.The owner’s mother was a friend of writer-philanthropist Axel Munthe, and he encouraged her to open a kiosk serving hot food, which evolved into Da Gelsomina.It has an immaculately kept swimming pool, which is open to the public for a small fee—a buffet is also served as you lounge there. Located close to the island’sfiner walks, it’s an excellent base for a whole day or longer. There’s also a five-room pensione, with free transfer service by request from Anacapri center. | ViaMigliera 72, | 80071 | Anacapri | 081/8371499 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Jan.–mid-Feb. and Tues. in winter. No dinner in winter.I Faraglioni.$$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | With shade provided by a 100-year-old wisteria plant, this popular restaurant is immersed in Mediterranean greenery. Meals in thefairly stylish dining room usually kick off with uovo alla Monachina, a fried, hard-boiled egg dish with béchamel and nutmeg. For the first course, try the straccetticon gamberi e pomodorini (fresh green pasta with shrimp and cherry tomatoes). | Via Camerelle 75, | 80073 | Capri Town | 081/8370320 | Reservations essential |AE, DC, MC, V | Closed mid-Oct.–Mar.La Canzone del Mare.$$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | This is the legendary spot at the Marina Piccola, erstwhile haunt of Grace Fields, Emilio Pucci, Noël Coward, and any number of’50s and ’60s glitterati. The VIPs may have departed for the beach at the Bagni di Tiberio, but the setting is as magical as ever. Enjoy lunch (no dinner is served) inthe thatch-roof pavilion looking out over the sea and I Faraglioni in the distance—this is Capri as picture-perfect as it comes. For a fee you can use the bathingfacilities here. | Via Marina Piccola 93, | 80073 | Capri Town | 081/8370104 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed mid-Oct.–Mar. No dinner.La Capannina.$$$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | One of Capri’s finest restaurants, La Capannina is only a few steps from the busy social hub of the Piazzetta. It has a discreetcovered veranda—open in summer—for dining by candlelight; most of the regulars avoid the stuffy dining rooms. The specialties are homemade ravioli andlinguine con lo scorfano (with scorpion fish). Look for the authentic Capri wine with the house label. | Via Le Botteghe 12b, | 80073 | Capri Town | 081/8370732 | | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–mid-Mar. and Wed. in Mar. and Oct.L’Aurora.$$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Though often frequented by celebrities—photographs of famous guests adorn the walls inside and out—this restaurant offerscourtesy and simpatia irrespective of your persona. It’s the oldest restaurant on the island, now in its third generation, but you couldn’t tell from the sleek minimalistdecor. If you want to see and be seen, reserve one of the outdoor tables on one of Capri’s most chic thoroughfares; otherwise go for privacy and ambience within.The cognoscenti start by sharing a pizza all’Acqua, a thin pizza with mozzarella and a sprinkling of peperoncino (chili). If you’re tiring of pasta, try the sformatinoalla Franco (rice pie in prawn sauce), but leave room for the homemade sweets. The place fills up really quickly, so be sure to reserve. | Via Fuorlovado 18–20, |80073 | Capri Town | 081/8370181 | | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Jan.–mid-Mar.Le Grottelle.$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Enjoying one of Capri’s most distinctive settings, this informal trattoria is built up against the limestone rocks not far from the ArcoNaturale—a cave at the back doubles as the kitchen and wine cellar. The menu—as elsewhere—is chiefly seafood, with linguine con gamberetti e rucola (withshrimp and arugula) one of the more interesting specialties. | Via Arco Naturale 13 | 80073 | 081/8375719 | MC, V | Closed mid-Nov.–Mar.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N C A P R IIl Girasole.$$ | A popular option for those wanting tranquillità, Il Girasole is set in a grove of olive trees. It has small but bright rooms that look out onto a flower-filled terrace.Pros: relaxing pool; obliging owner. Cons: not in central Anacapri; poorly lighted paths. | Via Linciano 47, | 80071 | Anacapri | 081/8372351 | |26 rooms | In-room: safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: pool | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar. | BP.La Tosca.$$ | Although it’s hard to find in the warren of side streets in Capri Town, La Tosca is worth all the trouble. Its quiet location, unassuming vibe, terrace views, andreasonable rates means it gets booked up ages in advance. As an added bonus, the owner is generous with island advice and restaurant recommendations. Pros: inthe heart of things; pleasant owner. Cons: skimpy facilities; not all rooms have good views. | Via Birago 5, | 80073 | Capri Town | 081/8370989 | | 10 rooms | In-room: Wi-Fi | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Feb.Punta Tragara.$$$$ | Clinging to the Punta Tragara, this gorgeous hotel has a hold-your-breath perch directly over the rocks of I Faraglioni. Originally a villa visited by Churchilland Eisenhower, its exterior was renovated by Le Corbusier in traditional Capri style. Baronial fireplaces, gilded antiques, and travertine marble set the style in themain salons, while guest rooms—no two are alike—are sumptuous. The garden area has two beautiful saltwater pools and an arbor-covered restaurant, La Bussola,which might be the prettiest spot on the island. To top it off, the staff seems to have been sent to the finest finishing schools. Pros: unbelievable views; good locationfor coastal walks. Cons: room rates high even by Capri standards; 15-minute walk to town. | Via Tragara 57, | 80073 | Capri Town | 081/8370844 | | 48 rooms | In-room: safe, Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, pool, laundry service | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar. | BP.Quisisana.$$$$ | This grand hotel, one of the island’s most luxurious, sits in the center of Capri Town. The bright and spacious rooms have some antique accents. Many havearcaded balconies with views of the sea or the charming enclosed garden surrounding a swimming pool. The Quisisana is particularly popular with Americans.Pros: terrace good for people-watching; close to shopping. Cons: extra charges add up; building lacks warmth. | Via Camerelle 2, | 80073 | Capri Town |081/8370788 | | 148 rooms | In-room: safe, Internet. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, bar, tennis court, pool, gym, spa | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–mid-Mar. | MAP.Scalinatella.$$$$ | The name means “little stairway,” and that’s how this charming but modern small hotel is built, on terraces following the slope of the hill, overlooking the
  • 105. $$$$ | The name means “little stairway,” and that’s how this charming but modern small hotel is built, on terraces following the slope of the hill, overlooking thegardens, pool, and sea. The Scalinatella is the more private neighbor of the nearby Quisisana, with intimate bedrooms in fresh, bright colors; the bathrooms havewhirlpool baths. Pros: all rooms have sea views; his-and-her bathrooms. Cons: a bit removed from the center; main pool visible from road. | Via Tragara 10, | 80073| Capri Town | 081/8370633 | | 30 rooms | In-room: safe, Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, tennis court, pools, gym, laundry service | AE,DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–mid-Mar. | BP.Villa Helios.$$ | An art nouveau treasure, the charming Villa Helios is in a 19th-century, lilac-hue, Moorish-inspired villa, surrounded by extensive orchards on a quiet Caprilane—birdsong provides the sound track here. Rooms are simple with ceramic floors, and peace reigns—a lovely chapel occupies part of the first floor. For a smallfee all guests become members of the Centro Italiano Turismo Sociale, a Christian organization operating Italy-wide. Run by Franciscan nuns, profits from theoperation are thoughtfully channeled into the hospice next door—the residents often take a shortcut through the garden. Pros: beautiful villa; quiet grounds; profitshelp the local hospice. Cons: slightly run down; a short climb from the center. | Via Croce 4, | 80073 | Capri Town | 081/8370240 | | 28 rooms, 20with bath | In-room: no TV | AE, MC, V | Closed mid-Oct.–Apr. | BP.Villa Krupp.$$ | Occupying a beautiful house overlooking the idyllic Gardens of Augustus, this historic hostelry was once the home of Maxim Gorky, whose guests includedLenin. Rooms are plain but spacious, with comfy beds (“… crisp white sheets accentuate the blueness outside,” waxed poetic one Fodor’s reader), and some havesouth-facing terraces with awesome views. Breakfast is served on the glorious terrace, and Certosa di San Giacomo and I Faraglioni are just a few minutes away.Pros: direct access to the Gardens of Augustus; sleep in Gorky’s old abode. Cons: a lot of steps to be negotiated; rooms are very simple. | Viale Matteotti 12, | 80073| Capri Town | 081/8370362 | | 12 rooms | In-room: no TV | MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar. | BP.Villa Sarah.$$ | This family-run whitewashed Mediterranean building has a homey look and bright, simply furnished rooms. It’s close enough to the Piazzetta (a 10-minutewalk) to give easy access to the goings-on there, yet far enough away to ensure restful nights. There’s a luxuriant garden and an enticing mosaic-tile pool. Pros:secluded setting; friendly staff. Cons: no good restaurants nearby; basic rooms. | Via Tiberio 3/a, | 80073 | Capri | Town | 081/8377817 | | 20rooms | In-hotel: bar, pool | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar. | BP.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 106. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsSorrento | Positano | Grotta dello Smeraldo | Amalfi | Ravello | PaestumAs you journey down the fabled Amalfi Coast, your route takes you past rocky cliffs plunging into the sea and small boats lying in sandy coves like brightly coloredfish. Erosion has contorted the rocks into shapes resembling figures from mythology and hollowed out fairy grottoes, where the air is turquoise and the water an icyblue. In winter, Nativity scenes of moss and stone are created in the rocks. White villages dripping with flowers nestle in coves or climb like vines up the steep,terraced hills. Lemon trees abound, loaded with blossoms (and netting in winter to protect the fruit—locals joke that they look after their lemons better than theirchildren). The road must have a thousand turns, each with a different view, on its dizzying 69-km (43-mi) journey from Sorrento to Salerno.S O R R E N T O50 km (31 mi) south of Naples, 50 km (31 mi) west of Salerno.Getting HereYou have many options for getting to Sorrento. From downtown Naples, take a Circumvesuviana train from Stazione Centrale or a ferry from Molo Beverello. Ifyou’re coming directly from the airport in Naples, grab a direct bus to Sorrento. By car, take the Naples-Salerno autostrada, exiting at Castellammare, and thenfollowing signs to Sorrento.Visitor InformationSorrento tourism office (Via de Maio 35 | 80067 | 081/8074033 | X P L O R I N G S O R R E N T OSorrento is across the Bay of Naples from Naples itself, on the SS145 road accessed from autostrada A3. The Circumvesuviana railway, which stops atHerculaneum and Pompeii, provides another connection. The coast between Naples and Castellammare, where road and railway turn onto the Sorrento Peninsula,seems at times depressingly overbuilt and industrialized. Yet Vesuvius looms to the left, you can make out the 3,000-foot-high mass of Monte Faito ahead, and on aclear day you can see Capri off the tip of the peninsula. The scenery improves considerably as you near Sorrento, where the coastal plain is carved into russet cliffsof compacted volcanic ash rising perpendicularly from the sea. This is the Sorrento (north) side of the peninsula; on the other side is the more dramatically scenicAmalfi Coast. But Sorrento has at least two advantages over Amalfi: the Circumvesuviana railway terminal and a fairly flat terrain. A stroll around town is apleasure—you’ll encounter narrow alleyways and interesting churches, and the views of the Bay of Naples from the Villa Comunale and the Museo Correale arepriceless.Until the mid-20th century Sorrento was a small, genteel resort favored by central European princes, English aristocrats, and American literati. Now the town hasgrown and spread out along the crest of its famous cliffs, and apartments stand where citrus groves once bloomed. Like most resorts, Sorrento is best off-season, inspring, autumn, or even winter, when Campania’s mild climate can make a stay pleasant anywhere along the coast.A highlight of Sorrento is Museo Correale di Terranova, an 18th-century villa with a lovely garden on land given to the patrician Correale family by Queen Joanof Aragon in 1428. It has an eclectic private collection amassed by the count of Terranova and his brother. The building itself is fairly charmless, with few periodrooms, but the garden offers an allée of palm trees, citrus groves, floral nurseries, and an esplanade with a panoramic view of the Sorrento coast. The collection itselfis one of the finest devoted to Neapolitan paintings, decorative arts, and porcelains, so for connoisseurs of the seicento (Italian 17th century), this museum is a must.Magnificent 18th-century inlaid tables by Giuseppe Gargiulo, Capodimonte porcelains, and rococo portrait miniatures are reminders of the age when pleasure and
  • 107. Magnificent 18th-century inlaid tables by Giuseppe Gargiulo, Capodimonte porcelains, and rococo portrait miniatures are reminders of the age when pleasure anddelight were all. Also on view are regional Greek and Roman archaeological finds, medieval marble work, glasswork, old-master paintings, 17th-century majolicas—even the poet Tasso’s death mask. | Via Correale 50 | 80067 | 081/8781846 | | €6 | Wed.–Mon. 9–2; July–Sept., also open Wed.–Mon.8:15 PM–10:45 PM.Worth checking out is the Museo Bottega della Tarsialignea, set up by local architects to ensure the continuity of the intarsia (wood inlay) tradition. It houseshistorical collections as well as exhibitions of modern work. Guided tours, the only way to see the displays, depart every half hour. Hours are a bit erratic in the lowseason, so call ahead. | Via San Nicola 28 | 80067 | 081/8771942 | | €8 | Apr.–Oct., Tues.–Sun. 9:30–noon and 5–7; Nov.–Mar., Tues.–Sun. 9:30–noon and 3–5.Via Marina Grande turns into a pedestrian lane, then a stairway leading to Sorrento’s only real beach at Marina Grande, where fishermen pull up their boats andthere are some good seafood restaurants. A frequent bus also plies this route; tickets are sold at the tabacchi (tobacconist).W H E R E T O E A T I N S O R R E N T OFodor’s Choice | Antico Francischiello da Peppino.$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Overlooking rows of olive trees that seem to run into the sea, this eatery is away from the throng, halfway between Sorrento andMassa Lubrense. Two huge, beamed dining rooms with brick archways, old chandeliers, antique mirrored sideboards, hundreds of mounted plates, and tangerinetablecloths make for quite a sight. Specialties at this fourth-generation establishment include ravioli filled with sea bass and baked bream in a potato crust withlemon. The towering dessert trolley is full of goodies, and you can taste as many as you like. Via Partenope 27, | 80061Massa Lubrense | 081/5339780 | AE, DC,MC, V | Closed Wed. Nov.–Mar.Aurora-’O Canonico 1898.$$ | PIZZA | This 110-year-old institution actually consists of two side-by-side eateries differing in tone, price, and menu. To make up your mind, just look at thetwo menus outside: while Aurora serves wood-oven pizzas with a choice of 50 toppings, ‘O Canonico specializes in homemade pasta and fresh fish, accompaniedby a 1,750-label wine cellar. Wherever you sit, you can order the local specialty called delizia al limone, a rich spongy dessert with creamy lemon sauce. Both setsof outdoor tables look discreetly onto Sorrento’s Piazza Tasso. | Piazza Tasso 7/10 | 80067 | 081/8783277 | | AE, DC, MC, V | ClosedJan. and Feb., and Mon. in Nov., Dec., Mar., and Apr.Don Alfonso 1890.$$$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | The most heralded restaurant in Campania is the domain of Alfonso Iaccarino; haute-hungry pilgrims come here to feast onculinary rarities, often centuries-old recipes given a unique spin. The braciola of lamb with pine nuts and raisins is a recipe that dates to the Renaissance, and thecannoli stuffed with foie gras pays homage to the Neapolitan Bourbon court. Nearly everything is homegrown, and the wine cellar is one of the finest in Europe.Those who want to make a night of it can stay in one of five apartments above the restaurant. | Corso Sant’Agata 13, | 80064 | Sant’Agata sui due Golfi | 7 km (4mi) south of Sorrento | 081/8780026 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar.; Mon. and Tues. in Apr., May, and Oct.; Mon. in June–Sept. Nolunch June–Sept.La Favorita—O’ Parrucchiano.$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Set in a greenhouse with soaring ceilings, this sprawling eatery has enough tables and chairs amid enough tropical greenery to fill aVictorian conservatory. Opened in 1890 by a former priest (the name means “the priest’s place” in the local dialect), La Favorita continues to serve Sorrentineclassics. Though the prawns baked in lemon leaves, the long candele pasta with traditional meat and tomato ragu sauce, and the lemon tart are all excellent, it’s theunique decor that sets La Favorita apart. | Corso Italia 71 | 80067 | 081/8781321 | | MC, V | Closed Wed. mid-Nov.–mid-Mar.La Fenice.$$ | ITALIAN | In case you wonder where the locals go to escape from the crowds, this is it. Near the western end of Corso Italia, La Fenice has a leafy verandashielded from the passing traffic. The varied menu includes everything from pizzas to seafood, and the service is professional and efficient. | Via degli Aranci 11 |80067 | 081/8781652 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon. and Feb.Trattoria da Emilia.$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | You can sit outside at this trattoria on the Marina Grande and watch the life of the port go by. This simple, rustic restaurant withwooden tables has been run by Donna Emilia and her offspring since 1947 and provides typical Sorrento home cooking and a family atmosphere. Fried seafood isthe specialty. Sofia Loren ate here while filming Pane, amore…. | Via Marina Grande 62 | 80067 | 081/8072720 | No credit cards | Closed Tues. Sept.–June.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N S O R R E N T OBellevue Syrene.$$$$ | Set in a cliff-top garden close to the center of Sorrento, this exclusive hotel retains its old-fashioned comfort and sumptuous charm with Victorian nooks andalcoves, antique paintings, and exuberant frescoes. You can find interior-facing rooms at lower prices if you’re willing to forgo the splendid views over the sea. Trybreakfast on the sunny terrace in summer. Pros: atmospheric bar; close to shopping. Cons: rooms vary greatly in size; high fee for parking. | Piazza della Vittoria 5 |80067 | 081/8781024 | | 65 rooms | In-room: safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, bar, gym, beachfront, parking (paid), some pets allowed |AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Excelsior Vittoria.$$$$ | Magnificently situated overlooking the Bay of Naples, this is a belle-epoque dream come true. Gilded salons, stunning gardens, and an impossibly romanticterrace where orchestras lull you twice a week with Neapolitan and modern music: in all, it’s a truly intoxicating experience. Enrico Caruso stayed here and, morerecently, Luciano Pavarotti. An outdoor swimming pool and gym add more modern comforts. Pros: secluded setting; great breakfast; good deals during low season.Cons: pricey restaurant; some rooms are better than others. | Piazza Tasso 34 | 80067 | 081/8071044 | | 98 rooms, 20 suites | In-room: safe, Internet.In-hotel: 2 restaurants, bars, pool, gym, some pets allowed | AE, DC, MC, V | BP | Closed mid-Jan.–Mar.Mignon Meublè.
  • 108. Mignon Meublè.$ | Spacious and simple yet stylish accommodations, a central location, friendly service, and bargain rates—with this winning combination, it’s understandable whyyou should book well in advance. Pros: pleasant rooms; near restaurants. Cons: stairs to climb; no sea views. | Via Sersale 9 | 80067 | 081/8073824 | | 24 rooms | In-room: safe, no phone. In-hotel: Internet terminal | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Settimo Cielo.$$ | Even if your wallet won’t allow a stay at one of Sorrento’s grand hotels, you can still find lodgings overlooking the water. This hotel, an excellent choice forbudget travelers, is on the road to Capo Sorrento. The grounds have pretty gardens and a swimming pool. The rooms, which all face the sea, are simple andmodern. Pros: plenty of parking; excellent views. Cons: no-frills decor; long walk along busy road into Sorrento. | Via Capo 27 | 80067 | 081/8781012 | | 20 rooms | In-room: safe. In-hotel: bar, pool, parking (free) | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–mid-Dec. and Jan.–Mar. | BP.P O S I T A N O14 km (9 mi) east of Sorrento, 57 km (34 mi) south of Naples.Getting HereLocal buses leave from the Circumvesuviana train station in Sorrento. In summer, buses also run from Rome and Naples. From June to September, your best optionis the ferry from Sorrento, Salerno, or Naples.Visitor InformationPositano tourism office (Via del Saracino 4 | 84017 | 089/875067 | X P L O R I N G P O S I T A N OWhen John Steinbeck lived here in 1953, he wrote that it was difficult to consider tourism an industry because “there are not enough tourists.” It’s safe to say thatPositano, a village of white Moorish-style houses clinging to slopes around a small sheltered bay, has since been discovered. Another Steinbeck observation stillapplies, however: “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.… The smallcurving bay of unbelievably blue and green water laps gently on a beach of small pebbles. There is only one narrow street, and it does not come down to the water.Everything else is stairs, some of them as steep as ladders. You do not walk to visit a friend, you either climb or slide.”In the 10th century Positano was part of Amalfi’s maritime republic, which rivaled Venice as an important mercantile power. Its heyday was in the 16th and 17thcenturies, when its ships traded in the Near and Middle East carrying spices, silks, and precious woods. The coming of the steamship in the mid-19th century led tothe town’s decline; some three-fourths of its 8,000 citizens emigrated to America.What had been reduced to a forgotten fishing village is now the number-one attraction on the coast. From here you can take hydrofoils to Capri in summer, escortedbus rides to Ravello, and tours of the Grotta dello Smeraldo. If you’re staying in Positano, check whether your hotel has a parking area. If not, you will have to payfor space in a parking lot, which is almost impossible to find during the high season, from Easter to September. The best bet for day-trippers is to arrive by bus—there is a regular, if crowded, service from Sorrento—or else get to Positano early enough to find an overpriced parking space.No matter how much time you spend in Positano, make sure you have some comfortable walking shoes (no heels) and that your back and legs are strong enough tonegotiate those daunting scalinatelle (little stairways). Alternatively, you can ride the municipal bus, which frequently plies along the one-and-only-one-way ViaPasitea, a hairpin road running from Positano’s central Piazza dei Mulini to the mountains and back, making a loop through the town every half hour. Headingdown from the Sponda bus stop toward the beach, you pass Le Sirenuse, the hotel where John Steinbeck stayed in 1953. Its stepped terraces offer vistas over thetown, so you might splurge on lunch or a drink here on the pool terrace, a favorite gathering place for Modigliani-sleek jet-setters.Past a bevy of resort boutiques, head to Via dei Mulini 23 to view the prettiest garden in Positano—the 18th-century courtyard of the Palazzo Murat, named forJoachim Murat, who sensibly chose the palazzo as his summer residence. This was where Murat, designated by his brother-in-law Napoléon as King of Naples in1808, came to forget the demands of power and lead the simple life. Since Murat was one of Europe’s leading style setters, it couldn’t be too simple; he built thisgrand abode (now a hotel) just steps from the main beach. | Via dei Mulini 23 | 84017 | 089/875177 | the Palazzo Murat is the Chiesa Madre, or parish church of Santa Maria Assunta, its green-and-yellow majolica dome topped by a perky cupola visiblefrom just about anywhere in town. Built on the site of the former Benedictine abbey of Saint Vito, the 13th-century Romanesque structure was almost completelyrebuilt in 1700. The last piece of the ancient mosaic floor can be seen under glass behind the altar. Note the carved wooden Christ, a masterpiece of devotionalreligious art, with its bathetic face and bloodied knees, on view before the altar. At the altar is a Byzantine 13th-century painting on wood of Madonna with Child,known popularly as the Black Virgin, carried to the beach every August 15 to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. Legend claims that the painting was oncestolen by Saracen pirates, who, fleeing in a raging storm, heard from a voice on high saying, “Posa, posa”—“Put it down, put it down.” When they placed theimage on the beach near the church, the storm calmed, as did the Saracens. Embedded over the doorway of the church’s bell tower, set across the tiny piazza, is amedieval bas-relief of fishes, a fox, and a pistrice, the mythical half-dragon, half-dog sea monster. This is one of the few relics of the medieval abbey of Saint Vito. |Piazza Flavio Gioia above main beach | 84017 | 089/875067 | Daily 8:30–noon and 4–7.The walkway from the Piazza Flavio Gioia leads down to the Spiaggia Grande, or main beach, bordered by an esplanade and some of Positano’s best—andpriciest—restaurants. Head over to the stone pier to the far right of the beach as you face the water.A staircase leads to the Via Positanesi d’America, a lovely seaside walkway. Halfway up the path you can find the Torre Trasìta, the most distinctive of Positano’sthree coastline defense towers, which, in various states of repair, define the edges of Positano. The Trasìta—now a residence available for summer rental—was oneof the defense towers used to warn of pirate raids. Continuing along the Via Positanesi d’America you pass tiny inlets and emerald coves until the large beach,Spiaggia di Fornillo, comes into view.
  • 109. If the Spiaggia Grande is too orderly for you, take the small boat to the Spiaggia di Laurito. (Look for the boat on the right side of the harbor as you approach thebeach—it has a sign with a big red smiling fish on it.) You can spend an entire day in this little cove, taking the two steps up to the restaurant Da Adolfo when theexertion of swimming has worked up your appetite.Quick Bites in PositanoIf you want to catch your breath after a bus ride to Positano, take a quick time-out for an espresso, a slice of Positanese (a delectable chocolate cake), or a fresh-fruiticed granita in the lemon-tree garden at Bar-Pasticceria La Zagara (Via dei Mulini 8 | 84017 | 089/875964).W H E R E T O E A T I N P O S I T A N OBuca di Bacco.$$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | After an aperitif at the town’s most famous and fashionable café downstairs, you dine on a veranda overlooking the beach. Thespecialties include zuppa di cozze (mussel soup), fresh spigola (sea bass), and figs and oranges in caramel. | Via Rampa Teglia 8 | 84017 | 089/875699 | AE, DC,MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar.Da Adolfo.$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | At this completely informal spot on Spiaggia di Laurito, most diners sit for hours in their swimsuits, whiling away the time reading orchatting over a jug of the light local wine (with peaches in summer) or a hefty plate of totani con patate (squid and potatoes with garlic and oil). The brusque butamusing waiters are part of the scene. | Spiaggia di Laurito | 84017 | 089/875022 | | Reservations not accepted | No credit cards | Closed Oct.–Apr.Donna Rosa.$$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Locals in Montepertuso prefer to dine in this family-run establishment on the main square. It’s slightly more upmarket thanneighboring Il Ritrovo (which is also a good option). You can choose from four seating areas: watch your meal being prepared in the main room with its openkitchen, sit in the smaller romantic area (tables for two only), overlook the soccer field from the terrace, or join the smokers outside on the main square. The menuincludes fresh homemade pasta and a selection of fresh meat and fish, depending on the day’s catch. Digest in style with a glass of their homemade limoncello. | ViaMontepertuso 97/99, | 84017 | Montepertuso | 089/811806 | | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Tues. and mid-Nov.–mid-Mar.La Tagliata.$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | If your enthusiasm for overpriced seafood dishes is waning, La Tagliata has the answer: great antipasti, homemade pastas with richtomato sauce, and meats grilled before your eyes in the dining room. (Ask for a piccola porzione unless you are ravenous.) All this comes with endless views of theAmalfi Coast. The prices are reasonable, and include a jug of red wine. (Aficionados will do better choosing their own bottle, however.) Though it lies betweenMontepertuso and Nocelle, the restaurant will arrange a shuttle to pick you up from your hotel in Positano. | Via Tagliata 22 | 84017 | 089/875872 | Reservationsessential | DC, MC, V | Closed weekdays, Dec.–Feb.O’Capurale.$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Even though ‘o capurale (“the corporal”) himself no longer runs the place, his eponymous restaurant is still a great find in thecrowded center of Positano. There’s one large dining room with simple wooden tables, a marble floor, and a high coved ceiling with Fauvist-style frescoes. Thespace remains cool even in the height of summer when filled with diners digging into fresh pasta with mussels and pumpkin or rockfish all’acqua pazza, with a fewtomatoes and garlic. | Via Saracino 7 | 84017 | 089/875374 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.– Feb.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N P O S I T A N OCasa Albertina.$$ | Clinging to the cliff, this little house is well loved for its Italian charm, its homey atmosphere, and its owners, the Cinque family. Rooms have high ceilings,bright fabrics, tile flooring, and sunny terraces or balconies overlooking the sea and coastline. Cars can’t drive to the doorway, but porters will ferry your luggage.Note: it’s 300 steps down to the main beach. Pros: wonderful restaurant; excellent breakfast on terrace; attentive staff. Cons: difficult to find; many steps to climb. |Via della Tavolozza 3 | 84017 | 089/875143 | | 21 rooms | In-room: safe, Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, parking (paid), some pets allowed | AE,DC, MC, V | BP.Il San Pietro.$$$$ | An oasis for its affluent international clientele, the San Pietro lies a few bends outside the town and is set amid gardens high above the sea. The hotel hassumptuous Neapolitan baroque decor and masses of flowers in the lounges, elegantly understated rooms (most with terraces), and marvelous views. There’s a poolon an upper level, and an elevator whisks you down to the private beach and beach bar. The proprietors organize boating excursions and provide car and minibusservice into town. Pros: secluded and quiet; all rooms have sea views; includes complimentary boat tour. Cons: outside Positano; three-night minimum in highseason. | Via Laurito 2 | 84017 | 089/875455 | | 60 rooms | In-room: safe, Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, bars, tennis court, pool, gym, spa,beachfront | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar. | BP.La Fenice.$$ | This tiny and unpretentious hotel on the outskirts of town beckons with bougainvillea-laden vistas, castaway cottages, and a turquoise sea water pool, allperched over a private beach, just across a cove from Franco Zefferelli’s famous villa. Once past the gate, you climb a steep stairway to the main house—but treadslowly: the paths and stairways here enchantingly frame (sometimes literally with vines) vistas over land and sea. Thanks to the wonderful family of the owner,Constantino Mandara, you’ll feel right at home in a few minutes—that’s because this is his home. Guest rooms, accented with coved ceilings, whitewashed walls,and native folk art, are simple havens of tranquility. Several accommodations are in a house perched above the road (a bit noisy if trucks rumble by, but this rarelyhappens at night), although others are adorable little cottages set close to the sea. All are linked by very steep walkways—covered with arbors and zigzaggingacross the hill, they tie together these little acres of heaven. Pros: gorgeous hillside by the sea; happy guests. Cons: not facing scenic Positano; lots of stairs. | Via G.Marconi 4 | 84017 | 089/875513 | | 15 rooms | In-room: no a/c, no TV. In-hotel: pool | No credit cards | BP.
  • 110. Le Sirenuse.$$$$ | A handsome 18th-century palazzo in the center of town has been transformed into this luxury hotel with bright tile floors, precious antiques, and tastefulfurnishings. The bedrooms are spacious and comfortable; most have splendid views from balconies or terraces. The top-floor suites have huge bathrooms andwhirlpool baths. One side of a large terrace has an inviting swimming pool; on the other side is an excellent restaurant. Pros: personalized service; impressive gym;amazing breakfasts. Cons: sea-view rooms cost much more; meals are pricey. | Via Cristoforo Colombo 30 | 84017 | 089/875066 | | 51 rooms, 9suites | In-room: safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, pool, gym, spa | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Palazzo Murat.$$$ | The location is perfect—in the heart of town, near the beachside promenade, but set inside a quiet, walled garden. The older wing is a historic palazzo with tallwindows and wrought-iron balconies; the modern wing is a whitewashed Mediterranean building with arches and terraces. You can relax in antiques-accentedlounges or in the charming vine-draped patio and enjoy gorgeous views from the comfortable bedrooms. Pros: central location; secluded feel; beautiful leafycourtyard. Cons: no pool; expensive parking. | Via dei Mulini 23 | 84017 | 089/875177 | | 31 rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar. | BP.Pensione Maria Luisa.$ | With two resident cats and many other felines who are “regular visitors,” this place is a real find for cat-lovers (but should be avoided by anyone suffering fromallergies). Very small but very friendly, and wonderfully located in a quiet winding street just above the Fornillo beach, this is as close to staying in a friendly familyhome as you’ll get in Positano. They also organize Italian language courses—even dog-lovers could become converts. Pros: ideal for cat-lovers; the closest toexperiencing a real Positano home. Cons: not for cat-haters; a bit far from the main hub of the town. | Via Fornillo 42 | 84017 | 089/875023 | | 10 rooms | In-room: no a/c, no TV | No credit cards | BP.N I G H T L I F E I N P O S I T A N OL’Africana(Vettica Maggiore, | 84017 | Praiano | 10 km [6 mi] east of Positano on coast road | 089/874042) is the premier nightclub on the Amalfi Coast, built into a fantasticgrotto above the sea.G R O T T A D E L L O S M E R A L D O13 km (8 mi) east of Positano, 27 km (17 mi) east of Sorrento.A peculiar green light that casts an eerie emerald glow over impressive formations of stalagmites and stalactites, many of them under water, inspired the name of theGrotta dello Smeraldo (Emerald Grotto). You can park at the signposts for the grotto along the coast road and take an elevator down, or you can drive to Amalfi andtake a return trip to the grotto by more romantic means—via boat (€10 return from Amalfi, excluding entrance to grotto). | Beyond Punta Acquafetente by boat, oroff Amalfi Dr. | 84010 | 089/871107 Amalfi tourist board | €5 | Daily 9–3:30.A M A L F I17 km (11 mi) east of Positano, 35 km (22 mi) east of Sorrento.From April to October, the best way to get to Amalfi is by ferry from Salerno. From June to September, you can also get here from Naples by fast craft. For the restof the year, buses from Sorrento and Salerno are the only option.Visitor InformationAmalfi tourism office (Corso delle Repubbliche Marinare 27 | 84011 | 089/871107 | X P L O R I N G A M A L F I“The sun—the moon—the stars—and Amalfi,” Amalfitans used to say. During the Middle Ages Amalfi was an independent maritime state with a population of50,000. The republic also brought the art of papermaking to Europe from Arabia. Before World War II there were 13 mills making paper by hand in the ValleMolini, but now only two remain. The town is romantically situated at the mouth of a deep gorge and has some good hotels and restaurants. It’s also a convenientbase for excursions to Capri, Positano, and the Grotta dello Smeraldo. The parking problem here is as bad as that in Positano. The small lot in the center of townfills quickly; if you’re willing to pay the steep prices, make a lunch reservation at one of the hotel restaurants and have your car parked for you.Amalfi’s main historical sight is its Duomo (also known as Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea), which shows an interesting mix of Moorish and early Gothic influences.You’re channeled first into the adjoining Chiostro del Paradiso (Paradise Cloister), built around 1266 as a burial ground for Amalfi’s elite and one of thearchitectural treasures of southern Italy. Its flower-and-palm-filled quadrangle has a series of exceptionally delicate intertwining arches on slender double columns ina combination of Byzantine and Arabian styles. Next stop is the 9th-century basilica, a museum housing sarcophagi, sculpture, Neapolitan gold artifacts, and othertreasures from the cathedral complex.Steps from the basilica lead down into the Cripta di Sant’Andrea (Crypt of Saint Andrew). The cathedral above was built in the 13th century to house the saint’sbones, which came from Constantinople and supposedly exuded a miraculous liquid believers call the “manna of Saint Andrew.” Following the one-way traffic upto the cathedral itself, you finally get to admire the elaborate polychrome marbles and painted, coffered ceilings from its 18th-century restoration; art historians shaketheir heads over this renovation, as the original decoration of the apse must have been one of the wonders of the Middle Ages. | Piazza del Duomo | 84011 |089/871324 | €2.50 | Daily: Mar.–June and Oct., 9–6:45; July–Sept., 9–7:30; Nov.–mid-Jan., 10–1 and 2:30–4:30; closed mid-Jan.–Feb. (daily servicesexcepted).The Valle dei Mulini (Valley of the Mills), uphill from town, was for centuries Amalfi’s center for papermaking, an ancient trade learned from the Arabs (who
  • 111. The Valle dei Mulini (Valley of the Mills), uphill from town, was for centuries Amalfi’s center for papermaking, an ancient trade learned from the Arabs (wholearned it from the Chinese). Beginning in the 12th century, former flour mills in the town were converted to produce paper made from cotton and linen, beingamong the first in Europe to do so. In 1211 Frederick II of Sicily prohibited this lighter, more readable paper for use in the preparation of official documents,favoring traditional sheepskin parchment, but by 1811 more than a dozen mills here, with more along the coast, were humming. Natural waterpower ensured thatthe handmade paper was cost-effective, but catastrophic flooding in 1954 closed most of the mills for good, and many of them have now been converted into privatehousing. The Museo della Carta (Museum of Paper) opened in 1971 in a 15th-century mill; paper samples, tools of the trade, old machinery, and the audiovisualpresentation are all enlightening. | Via delle Cartiere 23 | 84011 | 089/8304561 | | €3.50 | Mar.–Oct., daily 10–6:30; Nov.–Feb., Tues.–Sun.10–3.W H E R E T O E A T I N A M A L F IA’ Paranza.$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | In the hamlet of Atrani, a 15-minute walk from the center of Amalfi along the road to Salerno, this seafood restaurant is worth thejourney. With coved ceilings and immaculate linen tablecloths, the two dining rooms are at once homey and quite formal. Each day’s menu depends on the catch;the tasting menu (antipasti ranging from marinated tuna to fried rice balls, pasta, and risotto, and a choice of dessert) is a good option. If that sounds like too much,go for the scialatielli ai frutti di mare (fresh pasta strips with seafood). Finish your meal with one of the divine cakes. | Via Dragone 1/2 | 84010 | 089/871840 | AE,DC, MC, V | Closed Dec. 8–26 and Tues. Sept.–July.Al Teatro.$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Once a children’s theater, this informal white-stucco building in the medieval quarter is 50 steps above the main drag and mostcharming. A house specialty is grilled squid and calamari with mint sauce, reflecting the position of the place—suspended between sea and mountains. Try also theScialatielli al Teatro, with tomatoes and eggplant. The pizzas, from their wood-burning oven, are terrific. | Via E. Marini 19 | 84011 | 089/872473 | AE, MC, V |Closed Wed. and Jan.–mid-Feb.Da Gemma.$$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Cognoscenti have sung the praises of this understated landmark since 1872. Tile floors, white tablecloths, and a terrace set abovethe main street are soothing elements. The kitchen glistens, the menu is printed on local handmade paper, and Italian foodies appreciate dishes such as tubettoni allamasaniello, tiny pieces of pasta with capers, mussels, and prawns. For dessert try the local specialty of eggplant and chocolate. | Via Fra Gerardo Sasso 9 | 84010 |089/871345 | | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Wed. and mid-Jan.–Feb.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N A M A L F IL’Antico Convitto.$$ | Up an impossibly narrow alley two blocks from the Duomo, this compact hotel is in the heart of Amalfi. The rooms are elegantly but sparsely furnished. Optfor lodging on the upper floor where the views are slightly better. Pros: charming staff; quiet location. Cons: no sea views; basic furnishings. | Via Salita dei Curiali4 | 84011 | 089/871849 | | 16 rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Internet | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–mid-Dec. and early Jan. andFeb.Santa Caterina.$$$$ | A large mansion perched above a terraced and flowered hillside just outside Amalfi proper, the Santa Caterina is one of the top hotels on the coast. Therooms are tastefully decorated; most have small terraces or balconies with spectacular views. There are lovely lounges, gardens, and terraces for relaxing, and anelevator delivers you to the seaside saltwater pool, bar, and swimming area. On grounds lush with lemon and orange groves, there are two romantic villa annexes.Pros: romantic atmosphere; airy rooms. Cons: need a car to get around; a long walk from Amalfi’s sights. | Strada Amalfitana 9 | 84011 | 089/871012 | | 57 rooms, 9 suites | In-room: safe, Internet. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, bars, pool, gym, beachfront, parking (free) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.R A V E L L O5 km (3 mi) northeast of Amalfi, 40 km (25 mi) east of Sorrento.Getting HereBuses from Amalfi make the 20-minute trip along white-knuckle roads. From Naples, take the Naples-Salerno motorway, then exit at Angri and follow signs forRavello. The journey takes about 75 minutes. Save yourself the trouble of driving by hiring a car and driver.Visitor InformationRavello tourism office (Via Roma 18b | 84010 | 089/857096 | X P L O R I N G R A V E L L OPerched on a ridge high above Amalfi and the neighboring town of Atrani, the enchanting village of Ravello has stupendous views, quiet lanes, two importantRomanesque churches, and several irresistibly romantic gardens. Set “closer to the sky than the sea,” according to André Gide, the town has been the ultimate aerieever since it was founded as a smart suburb for the richest families of Amalfi’s 12th-century maritime republic. Rediscovered by English aristocrats a century ago,the town now hosts one of Italy’s most famous music festivals.The Duomo, dedicated to patron saint Pantaleone, was founded in 1086 by Orso Papiro, the town’s first bishop. Rebuilt in the 12th and 17th centuries, it retainstraces of medieval frescoes in the transept, an original mullioned window, a marble portal, and a three-story 13th-century bell tower playfully interwoven withmullioned windows and arches. The 12th-century bronze door has 54 embossed panels depicting Christ’s life, and saints, prophets, plants, and animals, all narratingbiblical lore. It was crafted by Barisano da Trani, who also fashioned the doors of the cathedrals of Trani and Monreale. The nave’s three aisles are divided byancient columns, and treasures include sarcophagi from Roman times and paintings by southern Renaissance artist Andrea da Salerno. Most impressive are the two
  • 112. ancient columns, and treasures include sarcophagi from Roman times and paintings by southern Renaissance artist Andrea da Salerno. Most impressive are the twomedieval pulpits: the earlier one (on your left as you face the altar), used for reading the Epistles, is inset with a mosaic scene of Jonah and the whale, symbolizingdeath and redemption. The more famous one opposite, used for reading the Gospels, was commissioned by Nicola Rufolo in 1272 and created by Niccolò diBartolomeo da Foggia. It seems almost Tuscan in style, with exquisite mosaic work and bas-reliefs and six twisting columns sitting on lion pedestals. An eaglegrandly tops the inlaid marble lectern.A chapel to the left of the apse is dedicated to Saint Pantaleone, a physician who was beheaded in the 3rd century in Nicomedia. Every July 27 devout believersgather in hope of witnessing a miracle (similar to that of San Gennaro in Naples), in which the saint’s blood, collected in a vial and set out on an inlaid marble altar,appears to liquefy and come to a boil; it hasn’t happened in recent years. In the crypt is the Museo del Duomo, which displays treasures from about the 13th century,during the reign of Frederick II of Sicily. Enter through the side door when the church is closed. | Museo del Duomo, Piazza del Duomo | 84010 | 089/858311 | €2 |Daily 8:30–7; from noon to 5:30, access to church is through museum.Directly off Ravello’s main piazza is the Villa Rufolo, which—if the master storyteller Boccaccio is to be believed—was built in the 13th century by LandolfoRufolo, whose immense fortune stemmed from trade with Moors and Saracens. Within is a scene from the earliest days of the Crusades. Norman and Arabarchitecture mingle in profusion in a welter of color-filled gardens so lush that composer Richard Wagner used them as his inspiration for the home of the FlowerMaidens in his opera Parsifal. Beyond the Arab-Sicilian cloister and the Norman tower are two flower-bedded terraces that offer a splendid vista of the Bay ofSalerno; the lower “Wagner Terrace” is the major site for the yearlong Festival Musicale di Ravello (089/858149 | | Piazza del Duomo |84010 | €5 | Apr.–Oct., daily 9–8; Nov.–Mar., daily 9–5.From Ravello’s main piazza, head west along Via San Francesco and Via Santa Chiara to the Villa Cimbrone, a medieval-style fantasy that sits 1,500 feet abovethe sea. Created in 1905 by England’s Lord Grimthorpe and made world famous when Greta Garbo stayed here in 1937, the Gothic castle is set in fragrant rosegardens that lead to the Belvedere dell’Infinità (Belvedere of Infinity), a grand stone parapet that overlooks the impossibly blue Gulf of Salerno and frames apanorama that former Ravello resident Gore Vidal has called “the most beautiful in the world.” The villa itself is now a hotel. | Via Santa Chiara 26 | 84010 |089/857459 | | €6 | Daily 9–½ hr before sunset.W H E R E T O E A T I N R A V E L L OCumpa’ Cosimo.$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | More robust looking than most Ravello spots, Cumpa’ Cosimo is run devotedly by Netta Bottone, who tours the tables to ensure herclients are content. Her family has owned this cantina for 75 of its 300-plus years, and she has been cooking under the arched ceiling for almost 60 of them. Afavorite local dish (share it—it’s huge) is a misto of fettuccine, fusilli, tortellini, and whatever other homemade pasta inspires her, served with a fresh, fragrant pesto.Meats are generally excellent—after all, they are supplied by the butcher shop next door, also run by Netta. The mushroom starter and the cheesecake areparticularly delicious. | Via Roma 46 | 84010 | 089/857156 | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Sometimes closed Mon. in winter.Vittoria.$$ | PIZZA | Down the bustling arcade of pottery shops adjacent to the Villa Rufolo, this is a good place to escape the crowds. Vittoria’s thin-crust pizza with loadsof fresh toppings is the star attraction, but also consider the pasta, maybe fusilli with tomatoes, zucchini, and mozzarella. The decor is extremely simple, with whitewalls and a few etchings of Ravello. | Via dei Rufolo 3 | 84010 | 089/857947 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N R A V E L L OHotel Palumbo.$$$$ | Occupying a 12th-century patrician palace outfitted with antiques and modern comforts, this elegant hotel has the feel of a private home as well as its ownannexed winery. A young Jack and Jackie stayed here, as did Brad and Angelina. It has beautiful garden terraces, breathtaking views, and a sumptuous, 18th-century dining room, ashimmer with chandeliers and old-master paintings. In summer you can descend to a villa and be pampered in the hotel’s seaside retreat. Halfboard is compulsory except in winter, when the restaurant is closed. Pros: romantic atmosphere; majestic dining room. Cons: some rooms are small; needs somerenovations. | Palazzo Confalone, Via San Giovanni del Toro 16 | 84010 | 089/857244 | | 18 rooms | In-room: safe, Internet. In-hotel:restaurant, bar, pool, beachfront, laundry facilities, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | MAP.Palazzo Sasso.$$$$ | Glitzy with gold trim and offering the latest word in comfortable amenities, this 12th-century palace was renovated by Richard Branson more than a decadeago and dazzles some with its marble atrium and lofty coastal views. But in genteel Ravello, the naked nymph fountain and hot tubs on the roof strike a wrong,Donald Trump note. Happily, the Rossellini restaurant, open to the public in the evenings, is highly recommended, with a top chef and very elegant decor. Mostrooms have ocean views, with high arched ceilings and tile floors that lend a Mediterranean feel—some are accented with antiques. The “infinity suite” has to beseen to be believed, though its price also approaches infinity. Pros: great attention to detail; tasty breakfasts. Cons: silly glass elevators; overly restored historicmansion. | Via San Giovanni del Toro 28 | 84010 | 089/818181 | | 32 rooms, 8 suites | In-room: Internet. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, bar, pool,spa, parking (paid), some pets allowed | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar | BP.Parsifal.$$ | Offering a viable alternative to its deluxe neighbors up the road, this diminutive property originally housed an order of Augustinian friars. Ancient ivy-coveredstone arches and a tiled walkway lead to a cozy interior. Sunny terraces, a lush garden, and an alfresco dining area (better food at lunch) all overlook the sea. Asrooms are small (they were monks’ cells, after all), ask for one with a balcony. Note that half board is often required in peak season. Pros: friendly staff; old-worldatmosphere. Cons: some rooms are small; a little removed from town. | Viale Gioacchino d’Anna 5 | 84010 | 089/857144 | | 19 rooms | In-hotel: restaurant, bar, Internet terminal, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | MAP.Villa Amore.$ | A 10-minute walk from the Piazza del Duomo, this family-run hotel has a pretty garden and an exhilarating view of the sea from most of its bedrooms. If you’relooking for tranquility, you’ve found it, especially at dusk, when the valley is tinged with a glorious purple light. Rooms are small, with modest modern furnishings.Full board is available, and at least half board is required from July through September. Let the staff know in advance if you need luggage transported from theparking lot. Pros: good value; quiet location. Cons: books up long in advance; far from parking lot. | Via del Fusco 5 | 84010 | 089/857135 | | 12
  • 113. parking lot. Pros: good value; quiet location. Cons: books up long in advance; far from parking lot. | Via del Fusco 5 | 84010 | 089/857135 | | 12rooms | In-room: no a/c, no TV. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, some pets allowed | DC, MC, V | MAP.Villa Cimbrone.$$$$ | Suspended over the azure sea and set amid rose-laden gardens, this magical place was once the hideaway of Greta Garbo. Now the Gothic-style castello(castle) has guest rooms ranging from cozy to palatial. (Opt for the Peony Room, which has its own terrace.) Tapestried armchairs, framed prints, vintage art books,and other antiques grace the enchantingly elegant sitting room. Best of all, guests have the villa’s world-famous gardens all to themselves once the gates are closedat sunset. The villa is a strenuous hike from the town center, but porters will carry your luggage and the distance helps keep this the most peaceful place on theAmalfi Coast. Pros: good restaurant; access to gardens after crowds have left. Cons: parking lot not at the hotel; a 10-minute walk from town center. | Via SantaChiara 26 | 84010 | 089/857459 | | 13 rooms | In-room: Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, pool | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Easter| BP.P A E S T U M99 km (62 mi) southeast of Naples.Getting HereTrains to Paestum depart from Stazione Centrale in Naples every hour. The archaeological site is a 10-minute walk from the station.Visitor InformationPaestum tourism office (Via Magna Grecia 887 | 84063 | 0828/811016 | X P L O R I N G P A E S T U MOne of Italy’s most majestic sights lies on the edge of a flat coastal plain: the remarkably well-preserved Greek temples of Paestum. This is the site of the ancientcity of Poseidonia, founded by Greek colonists probably in the 6th century BC. When the Romans took over the colony in 273 BC and the name was latinized toPaestum, they changed the layout of the settlement, adding an amphitheater and a forum. Much of the archaeological material found on the site is displayed in thewell-labeled Museo Nazionale, and several rooms are devoted to the unique tomb paintings discovered in the area, rare examples of Greek and pre-Roman pictorialart.At the northern end of the site opposite the ticket barrier is the Tempio di Cerere (Temple of Ceres). Built in about 500 BC, it’s now thought to have been originallydedicated to the goddess Athena. Follow the road south past the Foro Romano (Roman Forum) to the Tempio di Nettuno (Temple of Poseidon), a magnificentDoric edifice with 36 fluted columns and an extraordinarily well-preserved entablature (area above the capitals) that rivals those of the finest temples in Greece.Beyond is the so-called Basilica, the earliest of Paestum’s standing edifices; it dates from early in the 6th century BC. The name is an 18th-century misnomer, forthe structure was in fact a temple to Hera, the wife of Zeus. Try to see the temples in the late afternoon, when the light enhances the deep gold of the limestone andtourists have left them almost deserted. | Via Magna Grecia | 84063 | 0828/811023 | Site €4, museum €4, combination ticket €6.50 | Excavations daily 8:45–1 hrbefore sunset (8:45–4 in winter); museum Tues.–Sun. 9–7.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N P A E S T U MAzienda Agricola Seliano.$ | This working farm-with-a-difference is about 3 km (2 mi) from the temples and consists of a cluster of 19th-century baronial buildings. The Baronessa Ceciliaherself presides over all, with sons Ettore and Massimino handling visitor logistics. The farm dogs will be your faithful companions on country walks past apricotorchards and fields of artichokes. Opt for half-board terms as most of the food is home-produced, including the rich buffalo stew, fresher-than-ever mozzarella, andmore elaborate dishes brought with relentless regularity from the kitchens; you’ll be seated, as is the tradition, with other guests around a banquet table. Transferscan be arranged from Paestum main-line station; bicycles may be borrowed on a first-come, first-served basis. Pros: a great taste of a working farm; a banquet everyevening. Cons: difficult to find; not for non–dog fans. | Via Seliano, about 1 km (½ mi) down dirt track west off main road from Capaccio Scalo to Paestum | 84063| 0828/723634 | | 14 rooms | In-hotel: restaurant, pool, bicycles, some pets allowed | AE, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Feb. | MAP.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 114. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsC A M P A N I A T H R O U G H T H E A G E SA N C I E N T H I S T O R YLying on Mediterranean trade routes plied by several pre-Hellenic civilizations, Campania was settled by the ancient Greeks from approximately 800 BC onward.Here myth and legend blend with historical fact: the town of Herculaneum is said—rather improbably—to have been established by Hercules himself, and Naples inancient times was called Parthenope, the name attributed to one of the sirens who preyed on hapless sailors in antiquity.Thanks to archaeological research, some of the layers of myth have been stripped away to reveal a pattern of occupation and settlement well before Rome becameestablished. Greek civilization flourished for hundreds of years all along this coastline, but there was nothing in the way of centralized government until centurieslater when the Roman Republic, uniting all Italy for the first time, absorbed the Greek colonies with little opposition. Generally, the peace of Campania wasundisturbed during these centuries of Roman rule.F O R E I G N I N F L U E N C E SNaples and Campania, with the rest of Italy, decayed with the Roman Empire and collapsed into the abyss of the Middle Ages. Naples itself regained someimportance under the rule of the Angevins in the latter part of the 13th century and continued its progress in the 1440s under Aragonese rule. The nobles whoserved under the Spanish viceroys in the 16th and 17th centuries enjoyed their pleasures, even as Spain milked the area for taxes.After a short Austrian occupation, Naples became the capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which the Bourbon kings established in 1738. Their rule wasgenerally benevolent as far as Campania was concerned, and their support of papal authority in Rome was important in the development of the rest of Italy. Theirrule was important artistically, too, contributing to the architecture of the region, and attracting great musicians, artists, and writers drawn by the easy life at court.Finally, Giuseppe Garibaldi launched his famous expedition, and in 1860 Naples was united with the rest of Italy.M O D E R N T I M E SThings were relatively tranquil through the years that followed—with visitors thronging to Capri, to Sorrento, to Amalfi, and, of course, to Naples—until WorldWar II. Allied bombings did considerable damage in and around Naples. At the fall of the fascist government, the sorely tried Neapolitans rose up against Nazioccupation troops and in four days of street fighting drove them out of the city. A monument was raised to the scugnizzo (the typical Neapolitan street urchin),celebrating the youngsters who participated in the battle. The war ended, and artists, tourists, writers, and other lovers of beauty returned to the Campania region.As the years passed by, some parts gained increased attention from knowing visitors, while others lost the cachet they once had. Though years of misgovernmenthave left their mark, the region’s cultural and natural heritage is finally being revalued as local authorities and inhabitants recognize the importance the area’s largestindustry—tourism.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 115. Main Table of ContentsIntroducing Puglia, Basilicata, and CalabriaPuglia, Basilicata, and Calabria PlannerBari and the Adriatic CoastThe Gargano PromontoryThe Trulli DistrictSalento and Ports of the HeelBasilicataCalabriaPuglia, Basilicata, and Calabria In Depth
  • 116. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsTop Reasons to Go | Getting OrientedMaking up the heel and toe of Italy’s boot, the Puglia, Basilicata, and Calabria regions are the largest part of what is known informally as the Mezzogiorno, a namethat translates literally as “midday.” It’s a curiously telling nickname, because midday is when it’s quietest here. While the blazing sun bears down, cities, fishingports, and sleepy hillside villages turn into ghost towns, as residents retreat to their homes for three or more hours. This is Italy’s deep south, where whitewashedbuildings stand silently over three turquoise seas, castles guard medieval alleyways, and grandmothers dry their handmade orecchiette (ear-shape pasta), the mostPuglian of pastas, in the mid-afternoon heat. The city-states of Magna Graecia (Greek colonies) once ruled here, and ancient names, such as Lucania, are stillcommonly used.At every turn, these three regions boast unspoiled scenery, a wonderful country food tradition, and an openness to outsiders that’s unequaled elsewhere on the boot.It’s here that the Italian language is at its lilting, hand-gesturing best, and it’s here that a local you’ve met only minutes before is most likely to whisk you away toshow you the delights of the region.Some of Italy’s finest beaches grace the rugged Gargano Peninsula, the south of Puglia, and the coastline of Calabria, and there are cultural gems everywhere, fromValle d’Itria’s fairy-tale trulli (curious conical structures, some dating from the 15th century) to Matera’s Sassi (a network of ancient dwellings carved out of rock) tothe baroque churches in vibrant Lecce, the town that’s the jewel of the south. Beyond the cities, seaside resorts, and the few major sights, there’s a sparselypopulated, sun-baked countryside where road signs are rare and expanses of silvery olive trees, vineyards of primitivo and aglianico grapes, and giant prickly pearcacti fight their way through the rocky soil in defiance of the relentless summer heat. Farmhouses, country trattorias, and weary low-lying factories sit amongeternally half-built structures that tell a hard-luck story of economic stagnation. Year after year, even as tourism grows in the region—especially in Salento—economic woes persist. In any case, the region still doesn’t make it onto the itineraries of most visitors to Italy. This translates into an unusual opportunity to engagewith a rich culture and landscape virtually untouched by international tourism.T O P R E A S O N S T O G OA wander through Matera’s Sassi: A complex network of ancient cave dwellings partially hewn from rock, some of which now house chic bars and restaurants,endow this simple Basilicata town with one of the most unique landscapes in Europe.A trip to peasant-food heaven: Dine on Puglia’s famous puree of fava beans with chicory and olive oil in a humble country restaurant, and you’ll be transportedback to a simpler culinary era.Lecce and its baroque splendors: The beautiful, friendly city of Lecce might be known for its peculiar brand of fanciful baroque architecture, but it’s not yetfamous enough to have lost even an ounce of its Pugliese charm.The trulli of the Valle d’Itria: Strange, conical homes—many of them still in use—dot the rolling countryside of Puglia, centering around Alberobello, a town stillcomposed almost entirely of these trulli—they must be seen to be believed.G E T T I N G O R I E N T E DThe Mezzogiorno (“midday”) is the informal name for Italy’s languid deep south, known for its sun-drenched olive groves, fertile hills, and time-frozen towns. Thearea includes the regions of Calabria, the toe of Italy’s boot, on the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas; Puglia, the heel; and between them, Basilicata, the instep. Alongboth coasts, stretches of pristine coastline are interspersed with rough-and-tumble fishing and shipping ports. By definition, the Mezzogiorno comprises Campania
  • 117. both coasts, stretches of pristine coastline are interspersed with rough-and-tumble fishing and shipping ports. By definition, the Mezzogiorno comprises Campaniaand Sicily as well.Bari. Puglia’s biggest city is a lively, quirky, and sometimes seamy port on the Adriatic Coast. It’s also home to the region’s principal airport.Gargano Promontory. Jutting into the Adriatic like a spur, this region is full of summertime beaches, wooded campgrounds, and cliff-hanging hotels.The Trulli District. Named for its mysterious conical houses, the Trulli District is centered on the town of Alberobello.Salento and Ports of the Heel. The ports of Puglia include Casbah-like fishing villages such as Gallipoli and the gritty shipping centers of Taranto and Brindisi.Italy’s heel finally smoothes out and terminates in a region of Puglia known as Salento, home to the youthful nerve center of Lecce, famous for its ornate baroquearchitecture.Basilicata. One of Italy’s least visited and most secluded regions, Basilicata is home to the unique town of Matera, whose Sassi cave dwellings make the city feellike a Nativity scene.Calabria. The region that makes up Italy’s “toe” is a land of dusty hill towns, rows of olive trees, and spicy food. Cosenza mixes turn-of-the-20th-century caféswith fascist-era architecture, and Tropea is an enticing seaside getaway.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 118. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsMaking the Most of Your Time On the Beach | Finding a Place to Stay | Getting Around by Car Getting Around by Bus | Getting Around by Train | Fabulous Fava| Pasta | Meat | Peppers | Seafood | WinesM A K I N G T H E M O S T O F Y O U R T I M EIf your priority is relaxing on the beach, plan on a few days in the Gargano Promontory’s seaside fishing villages-cum-resorts, such as Peschici, Rodi Garganico,and Vieste, and perhaps a further stay at one of the Calabrian coastal resorts, such as Diamante or Tropea, or Maratea in Basilicata.Otherwise, begin your jaunt in Bari, where you should spend a morning exploring the atmospheric old town and bustling port. Take a day trip to the Valle d’Itriaand its conical trulli, then head east along the Adriatic route (SS16), stopping to see Polignano a Mare and idyllic hilltop Ostuni before continuing on to Lecce,where you’ll want to spend at least two to three nights exploring the city’s baroque wonders and taking a day trip down to Otranto and Gallipoli.Next, take regional roads and Via Appia (SS7) to reach Matera, whose Sassi cave dwellings are a Southern Italian highlight; allow at least two nights here. Then it’sback out to the SS106 to Calabria and picturesque, time-frozen Cosenza. Reggio di Calabria is worthwhile only if you’re an archaeology buff and must see itsmuseum.O N T H E B E A C HItalians and foreign visitors alike return summer after summer to the beaches of the south, where the relative lack of industry has preserved mile after mile of largelyunpolluted coastline. One of southern Italy’s most popular vacation destinations is the Gargano Promontory, where safe, sandy shores and secluded coves arenestled between whitewashed coastal towns and craggy limestone cliffs. Elsewhere the beach scene is more laid back. You won’t find impeccably manicured sandlined with regiments of sunbathers, but you can pick and choose strands at whim and spread out.F I N D I N G A P L A C E T O S T A YHotels in the region range from grand, if slightly faded, high-class resorts to family-run rural agriturismi (country inns, often part of farms), which compensate for alack of amenities with their famous southern hospitality. Fattorie and masserie (small farms and grander farm estates) offering accommodation are listed at localtourist offices.In beach areas such as the Gargano Promontory and Salento, campgrounds and bungalow lodgings are ubiquitous and popular with families and young budgettravelers alike. Note that many seaside hotels open up just for the summer season, when they often require several-day stays with full or half board. And doremember that in a region like this—blazingly hot in summer and chilly in winter—air-conditioning and central heating can be important. What It Costs (In Euros) Restaurant prices are for a first course (primo), second course (secondo), and dessert (dolce). Hotel prices are for two people in a standard double room in high season, including tax and service. Restaurants Hotels ¢ under €20 under €75 $ €20–€30 €75–€125
  • 119. $$ €30–€45 €125–€200 $$$ €45–€65 €200–€300 $$$$ over €65 over €300G E T T I N G A R O U N DG E T T I N G A R O U N D B Y C A RThe south is a fairly easy place to get around by car. Roads are generally good, and major cities are linked by fast autostrade. From Puglia’s Bari, take the SS96south for 44 km (28 mi) to Altamura, then the SS99 south 19 km (12 mi) to Matera. The A3 Autostrada del Sole runs between Salerno and Reggio di Calabria, withexits for Crotone (the Sila Massif), Pizzo, and Rosarno (for Tropea); it takes an inland route as far as Falerna, then tracks the Tyrrhenian Coast south (except for thebulge of the Tropea Promontory). The A3 is free south of Salerno, but it’s under seemingly eternal construction, so factor in plenty of time for delays. Take theSS18 for coastal destinations—or for a better view—on the Tyrrhenian side, and likewise the SS106 (which is uncongested and fast) for the Ionian.Entering the centers of many towns requires a very small car, folding side-view mirrors, and a bit of nerve; tentative drivers should park outside the center andventure in by foot. If you’re squeamish about getting lost, don’t plan on night driving in the countryside—roads can be confusing without the aid of landmarks orlarge towns. Bari, Brindisi, and Reggio di Calabria are notorious for car thefts and break-ins. In these cities, do not leave valuables in the car, and find a guardedparking space if possible.G E T T I N G A R O U N D B Y B U SDirect, if not always frequent, connections operate between most destinations within Calabria, Puglia, and Basilicata. In many cases bus service is the backup whenproblems with train service arise. Matera is linked with Bari by frequent Ferrovie Appulo-Lucane (080/5725229 | buses and with Taranto by SITA(0835/385007 | Calabria various companies make the north–south run with stops along both coasts. Ferrovie della Calabria (0961/896111 | operates many of the local routes.G E T T I N G A R O U N D B Y T R A I NWithin Puglia, the Italian national railway FS (892021 | links Bari to Brindisi, Lecce, and Taranto, but smaller destinations can oftenbe reached only by completing the trip by bus. The private Ferrovie Sud-Est (080/5462111 in Bari, 0832/668111 in Lecce | connects MartinaFranc cona with Bari and Taranto, and the fishing port of Gallipoli with Lecce. Ferrovie Appulo-Lucane (080/5725229 | links Matera to Altamurain Puglia (for connections to Bari) and to Ferrandina (for connections to Potenza). FS trains run to Calabria, either following the Ionian Coast as far as Reggio diCalabria or swerving inland to Cosenza and the Tyrrhenian Coast.E A T I N G A N D D R I N K I N G W E L L I N T H E S O U TSouthern Italian cuisine is rustic and healthful, showcasing homemade pastas and cheeses, fresh vegetables, seafood, and olive oil. A defining principle of Italiancooking is to take exceptional ingredients and prepare them simply. That philosophy reaches its purest expression here.The best—and cheapest—meals are often found at a rustic family-run trattoria (sometimes referred to as a casalinga), commonly located in the countryside or cityoutskirts. These bare-bones places often dispense with printed menus, but they manage to create flavors rivaling those of any high-brow restaurant. Assent to thewaiter’s suggestions with a simple va bene (that’s fine) or faccia Lei (you decide) and leave yourself in the chef’s hands.More-upscale establishments turn authentic local ingredients into deliciously inventive dishes. Fish, unsurprisingly, is the star attraction on the coast. Many suchrestaurants are set in breathtaking locations, yet prices remain relative bargains compared to similar places farther north.F A B U L O U S F A V APuré di fave e cicorielle, a puree of dried fava beans topped with sautéed chicory, is unique to Puglia and Basilicata.The simple recipe has been prepared here for centuries and continues to be a staple of the local diet. The dried favas are soaked overnight, cooked with potatoes,seasoned with salt and olive oil, and served warm with wild green chicory, often with a side of cracked cayenne pepper.Mix it together before eating and wash it down with a glass of primitivo or aglianico.P A S T APuglia is the home of orecchiette (ear-shape pasta), pictured at right, with cime di rapa (broccoli rabe) and olive oil, a melodious preparation that’s wondrous in itssimplicity. Try also cavatelli (rolled up orecchiette) and strascenate (rectangles of pasta with one rough side and one smooth side).M E A TWith cattle grazing on the plains and pigs fed only natural foods, the south is a meat eater’s paradise. As well as its excellent beef, Basilicata is known for itssalsicce lucani (sausages), seasoned with salt, cayenne pepper, and fennel seeds. Enormous grills are a feature of many of the region’s restaurants, infusing thedining area with the aroma of freshly cooked meat. Adventurous eaters in Puglia should look for turcinieddhri (a blend of lamb’s innards) and pezzetti di cavallo
  • 120. dining area with the aroma of freshly cooked meat. Adventurous eaters in Puglia should look for turcinieddhri (a blend of lamb’s innards) and pezzetti di cavallo(braised horse meat).P E P P E R SCalabria is known for hot peppers—try peperonata, a stew of peppers and capers. They also pop up in nduja (creamy spicy salami), sopressata (dried spicy salami)and salsiccia piccante (hot sausage), pictured at left, often sold by street vendors on a roll with peppers, onions, french fries, and mayonnaise. Pasta dishes are oftenseasoned with dried peperoncini or olio piccante (spicy olive oil). The delicious peperoni cruschi or senesi are grown in Basilicata—they’re used both fresh anddried, and are often powdered for seasoning cheeses and cured meats.S E A F O O DWith so much coastline, seafood is an essential element of Southern Italian cuisine. Fish can be grilled (alla griglia), baked (al forno), roasted (arrosto), or steamed(in umido). Among the highlights are delicate orata (sea bream), pictured below, branzino (sea bass), gamberi rossi (sweet red shrimp), and calamari, while Pugliais the home of cozze pelose (an indigenous mussel). The frutti di mare (shellfish) can be enjoyed as an antipasto, in a zuppa (soup), or with homemade linguine.W I N E SPuglia produces around 17% of Italy’s wine, more than the whole of Australia. For years, most of it was vino sfuso (jug wine), but since the mid-1990s quality hasrisen. The ancient primitivo grape (an ancestor of California’s zinfandel), yields strong, heady wines like Primitivo di Manduria. The Negroamaro grape istransformed into palatable rosato (rosé), as well as the robust Salice Salentino. Pair a dessert with the sweet red Aleatico di Puglia.In Basilicata, producers use the aglianico grape variety to outstanding effect in the prestigious Aglianico del Vulture. In Calabria, they’ve worked wonders with thegaglioppo variety.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 121. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsBari | Trani | Polignano a Mare | Castel del MonteThe coast of Puglia has a strong flavor of the Norman presence in the south, embodied in the distinctive Puglian-Romanesque churches, the most atmospheric beingin Trani. The busy commercial port of Bari offers architectural nuggets in its compact, labyrinthine old quarter abutting the sea, while Polignano a Mare combinesaccessibility to the major centers with the charm of a medieval town. For a unique excursion, drive inland to the imposing Castel del Monte, an enigmatic 13th-century octagonal fortification.B A R I260 km (162 mi) southeast of Naples, 450 km (281 mi) southeast of Rome.Getting HereBy car, take the Bari exit from the A14 motorway. Bari’s train station is a hub for Puglia-bound trains. Alitalia, Air One, and easyJet fly to Bari Airport from Romeand Milan.Visitor InformationBari tourism office (Piazza Moro 33/a | 70121 | 080/09909341 | X P L O R I N G B A R IThe biggest city in the region, Bari is a major port and a transit point for travelers catching ferries across the Adriatic to Greece, Croatia, and Albania. It’s also acosmopolitan city with one of the most interesting historic centers in the region. Most of Bari is set out in a logical 19th-century grid, following the designs ofJoachim Murat (1767–1815), Napoléon’s brother-in-law and King of the Two Sicilies. The heart of the modern town is Piazza della Libertà, but just beyond it,across Corso Vittorio Emanuele, is the città vecchia (old town), a maze of narrow streets on the promontory that juts out between Bari’s old and new ports,circumscribed by Via Venezia, offering elevated views of the Adriatic in every direction.By day, explore the old town’s winding alleyways, where Bari’s open-door policy offers a glimpse into the daily routine of southern Italy—matrons hand-rollingpasta with their grandchildren home from school for the midday meal, and handymen perched on rickety ladders, patching up centuries-old arches and doorways.Back in the new town, join the evening passeggiata (stroll) on pedestrians-only Via Sparano, then, when night falls, saunter among the exploding scene of outdoorbars and restaurants in Piazza Mercantile, past Piazza Ferrarese at the end of Corso Vittorio Emanuele.In the città vecchia, overlooking the sea and just off Via Venezia, is the Basilica di San Nicola, built in the 11th century to house the bones of Saint Nicholas, alsoknown as Saint Nick, or Santa Claus. His remains, buried in the crypt, are said to have been stolen by Bari sailors from Myra, where Saint Nicholas was bishop, inwhat is now Turkey. The basilica, of solid and powerful construction, was the only building to survive the otherwise wholesale destruction of Bari by the Normansin 1152. | Piazza San Nicola | 70126 | 080/5737111 | | Daily 7:30–1 and 4–7:30.Looming over Bari’s cathedral is the huge Castello SvevoThe current building dates from the time of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (1194–1250), who rebuiltan existing Norman-Byzantine castle to his own exacting specifications. Designed more for power than beauty, it looks out beyond the cathedral to the small PortoVecchio (Old Port). Inside a haphazard collection of medieval Puglian art is frequently enlivened by changing exhibitions featuring local, national, and international
  • 122. artists. | Piazza Federico II di Svevia | 70122 | 080/5286262 | €2 | Thurs.–Tues. 8:30–7:30. Last entrance at 6:30.Bari’s 12th-century Cattedrale di San Sabino is the seat of the local bishop and was the scene of many significant political marriages between important families inthe Middle Ages. The cathedral’s solid architecture reflects the Romanesque style favored by the Normans of that period. | Piazza dell’Odegitria | 70122 |080/5210605 | Mon.–Sat. 8:30–12:30 and 4–7:30, Sun. 8–12:30 and 5–8:30.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N B A R IRistorante al Pescatore$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | This is one of Bari’s best seafood restaurants, in the old town opposite the castle and just around the corner from the cathedral. Insummer the fish is grilled outdoors, so you can enjoy the delicious aroma as you sit amid a cheerful clamor of quaffing and dining. Try a whole fish accompanied bycrisp salad and a carafe of invigorating local wine. Reservations are essential in July and August. Beware of bag snatchers if you sit outside. | Piazza Federico II diSvevia 6/8 | 70122 | 080/5237039 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon.Domina Hotel Bari-Palace$$ | This downtown landmark is steps away from Corso Vittorio Emanuele in the New City, but is also extremely convenient to the medieval center. The large,comfortable rooms are furnished lightly and tastefully. The rooftop restaurant has great views outdoors in summer. Pros: convenient location. Cons: often very busy;staff can be brusque. | Via Lombardi 13 | 70122 | 080/5216551 | | 196 rooms, 6 suites | In-room: a/c, safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bars,room service, laundry service, gym, bicycles, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | MAP.T R A N I43 km (27 mi) northwest of Bari.Getting HereBy car, take the Trani exit from the A14 motorway. Frequent trains run from Bari.Visitor InformationTrani tourism office (Piazza Trieste10 | 70059 | 0883/588830 | X P L O R I N G T R A N ISmaller than the other ports along this coast, Trani has a harbor filled with fishing boats and a quaint old town with polished stone streets and medieval churches.Trani is also justly famous for its sweet dessert wine, Moscato di Trani.The boxy, well-preserved Castello (Piazza Manfredi 16 | 70059 | 0883/506603 | | €2 | Daily 8:30–7) was built by Frederick IIin 1233.The stunning, pinkish-white-hue 11th-century Duomo (Piazza Duomo | 70059 | No phone | Daily 8–12:30 and 3–7:30), considered one of the finest in Puglia, isbuilt on a spit of land jutting into the sea.The Jewish community flourished here in medieval times, and on Via Sinagoga (Synagogue Street) two of the four synagogues still stand. Santa Maria Scolanovaand Santa Anna, both built in the 13th century, are now churches; the latter still bears a Hebrew inscription.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N T R A N ILa Regia$$ | This small hotel-restaurant occupies a 17th-century palazzo superbly positioned in front of the Duomo, on a swath of land jutting out into the sea. Don’t expectgrand or spacious rooms, though they are newly renovated. The restaurant has attractive stonework and vaulted ceilings. Regional specialties are imaginativelypresented in dishes like grilled fish and baked crepes (similar to cannelloni). Reservations are essential for Sunday lunch and for dinner on summer weekends. Pros:great restaurant; hospitable staff; some sea views. Cons: very little parking; in a crowded area. | Piazza Mons. Addazi2 | 70059 | 0883/584444 | |10 rooms | In-room: safe. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, Internet terminal | MC, V | Restaurant closed Mon. | BP.P O L I G N A N O A M A R E35 km (22 mi) southeast of Bari, 14 km (9 mi) north of Castellana.Getting HereFrom Bari, take the Polignano exit from the SS16. Frequent trains run from Bari.E X P L O R I N G P O L I G N A N O A M A R EWith a well-preserved whitewashed old town perched on limestone cliffs overlooking the Adriatic, Polignano a Mare makes an atmospheric base for exploring thesurrounding area. The town is virtually lifeless all winter, but becomes something of a weekend hot spot for city dwellers in summer.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N P O L I G N A N O A M A R EGrotta Palazzese
  • 123. Grotta Palazzese$$ | Carved out of a cliff opening onto the Adriatic, the Grotta Palazzese inhabits a stunning group of rocks and grottoes that have wowed onlookers from timeimmemorial. Though most rooms have sea views, ask for one of the seven cave-apartments across the road rather than the more-boxlike rooms in the main block.Grotta Palazzese’s main draw is its summer restaurant. The dramatic setting incorporates rock formations, with tables actually standing on an implausible bridgeinside a jagged cave, while waves cast blue-green shadows on the grotto walls. It’s one of the most romantic settings in all Italy, even though the food is overpriced.Pros: romantic restaurant; great location. Cons: a long climb down to the sea. | Via Narciso 59 | 70044 | 080/4240677 | | 23 rooms | In-room:a/c, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, bar, laundry service, beachfront, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking (free) | AE, DC, MC, V | Outdoor restaurant closed Nov.–Apr. | BP.C A S T E L D E L M O N T E56 km (35 mi) southwest of Bari.Getting HereTake the Andria-Barletta exit from the A14 motorway, then follow the SS170d to Castel del Monte. There is minibus service from Piazza Bersaglieri d’Italia.Visitor InformationCastel del Monte tourism office (Via Vespucci 114, | 70031 | Andria | 0883/592283 | X P L O R I N G C A S T E L D E L M O N T EFodor’s Choice | Castel del MonteBuilt by Frederick II in the first half of the 13th century, Castel del Monte is an imposing octagonal castle with eight austere towers. Little is known about thestructure on an isolated hill, since virtually no records exist: the gift shop has many books that explore its mysterious past and posit fascinating theories based on itsdimensions and Federico II’s love of mathematics. It has none of the usual defense features associated with medieval castles, so it probably had little militarysignificance. Some theories suggest it might have been built as a hunting lodge or may have served as an astronomical observatory, or even a stop for pilgrims ontheir quest for the Holy Grail. Guided tours in English can be arranged through the tourist office in Andria; a few days’ notice is recommended.| On signpostedminor road 18 km (11 mi) south of Andria | 70031 | 0883/569997, 0883/592283 tour reservations | | €3 | Mar.–Sept., daily10:15–7:45; Oct.–Feb., daily 9:15–6:45. Last entrance 30 mins before closing.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 124. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsMattinata | Vieste | PeschiciForming the spur of Italy’s boot, the Gargano Promontory (Promontorio del Gargano) is a striking contrast to the Adriatic’s flatter coastline. This is a land ofwhitewashed coastal towns, wide sandy beaches interspersed with secluded coves, and craggy limestone cliffs topped by deep-green pine and lush Mediterraneanmaquis. Not surprisingly, it pulls in the crowds in July and August, driving up the prices considerably. Camping is almost always an option, as plentiful and prettycampgrounds dot the Gargano’s curvy, cliff-hugging roads. For the kids, the beaches and the Foresta Umbra national park are great places to let off steam.M A T T I N A T A138 km (86 mi) northwest of Bari.Getting HereFrom Foggia (the chief city in Puglia’s northernmost province), take the winding SS89. Regular buses leave from Foggia’s train station.Visitor InformationMattinata tourism office (Corso Mattino 68 | 71030 | 0884/559169 | X P L O R I N G M A T T I N A T AJust inland from a fine sandy beach, where you can find most of the campsites and hotels, this is a generally quiet village that comes into its own in the summerseason.Pilgrims have flocked to the nearby town of Monte Sant’Angelo for nearly 1,500 years—among them, Saint Francis of Assisi and crusaders setting off for the HolyLand from the then-flourishing port of Manfredonia. Monte Sant’Angelo is centered on the Santuario di San Michele (0884/561150 | June–Sept., Mon.–Sat.7:30–7, Sun. 6:30 AM–7:30 PM; Oct.–May, Mon.–Sat. 7:30–12.30 and 2:30–6, Sun. 6:30 AM–7 PM), built over the grotto where the archangel Michael isbelieved to have appeared before shepherds in the year 490. Walk down a long series of steps to get to the grotto itself; on its walls you can see the hand tracingsleft by pilgrims.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N M A T T I N A T ATrattoria dalla Nonna$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | The waves lap at the shore just inches from your table at this elegant but unpretentious coastal restaurant. The memorable assortedraw seafood antipasto includes some shellfish you might not find anywhere else. Cozze pelose (an indigenous Puglian mussel), hiding inside spiked-hair shells, arebriny and buttery; tiny noci shellfish have a wonderful sweetness; and big, rich local oysters are all about texture. Try sweet grilled scampi with oil and lemon, andwash it all down with one of the great white wines on the extensive list. If you find it hard to leave, you can stay the night in their simple, inexpensive rooms. |Contrada Funni al Lido, LocalitàFunni | 71030 | 0884/559205 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Jan., 1st 2 wks of Feb., and Mon. Oct.–Apr.Baia delle Zagare$$ | This secluded cluster of bungalows, on the shore road between Mattinata and Vieste, overlooks an inlet and stands of 500-year-old olive trees. A pair ofelevators built into the cliff takes you down to a long, pebbly private beach. The hotel’s restaurant is decent, but the menu is limited. Be careful when approaching
  • 125. elevators built into the cliff takes you down to a long, pebbly private beach. The hotel’s restaurant is decent, but the menu is limited. Be careful when approachingon the road, as the gated entrance is easy to miss. Pros: incredible location. Cons: impossible to get to without a car; rooms a bit drab. | Litoranea Mattinata-Vieste,17 km (10 mi) northeast of Mattinata | 71030 | 0884/550155 | | 150 rooms | In-room: a/c, safe. In-hotel: restaurant, bars, tennis court,pool, beachfront, children’s programs (ages 6–12), Internet terminal, parking (free) | AE, DC, V | Closed mid-Sept.–May | MAP.V I E S T E93 km (58 mi) northeast of Foggia, 179 km (111 mi) northwest of Bari.Getting HereIf you’re driving from Foggia, take the winding SS89. Regular buses leave from Foggia’s train station.Visitor InformationVieste tourism office (Piazza Kennedy | 71019 | 0884/708806 | X P L O R I N G V I E S T EThis large, whitewashed town jutting off the tip of the spur of Italy’s boot is an attractive place to wander around. Though curvy mountain roads render it slightlyless accessible from the autostrada and mainline rail stations than, say, Peschici and Mattinata, the range of accommodations (including camping) makes it a usefulbase for exploring Gargano. The resort attracts legions of tourists in summer, some bound for the Isole Tremiti, a tiny archipelago connected to Vieste by regularferries.While in Vieste, take a look at the Castello SvevoOriginally built by Frederick II, it was enlarged by the Spanish to defend against attacks from the Turks. Today itis occupied by the Italian navy, and the interior is not open to the public. | Via Duomo | 71019 | 0884/712232.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N V I E S T EFodor’s Choice | Al Dragone$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Dine on exquisite Gargano fare at this charmingly intimate eatery in the shadow of the cathedral. The menu is dominated by locallycaught fish. While dishes draw on traditional recipes, expect occasional innovations like cuttlefish, shrimp, and zucchini soufflé. Such desserts as millefoglie, layersof puff pastry and crema chantilly, make it worth the visit. The wine list is an exhaustive who’s who of great Pugliese producers. | Via Duomo 8 | 71019 |0884/701212 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar. and Tues. in Apr., May, Sept., and Oct.Punta San Francesco$ | After starting its life as an olive-oil factory, this hotel was tastefully refurbished in the mid-1990s. Thanks to its location near the waterfront in the heart of oldVieste, it is both quiet and close to the action. The owner is a warm, welcoming friend (and ardent promoter of local culture) to all who arrive, and the view fromthe rooftop is beautiful, especially at dawn. Pros: quiet location; hospitable staff. Cons: parking can be difficult; rooms are basic. | Via San Francesco 2 | 71019 |0884/701422 | | 14 rooms | In-room: a/c. In-hotel: bar, restaurant, parking (free) | MC, V.P E S C H I C I22 km (14 mi) northwest of Vieste, 199 km (124 mi) northwest of Bari.Getting HereFrom Foggia, take the winding S89 road. Regular buses leave from Foggia’s train station. Seasonal ferry service leaves from the Trémiti archipelago between Juneand September.Visitor InformationPeschici tourism office (Via Magenta 3 | 71010 | 0884/915362 | X P L O R I N G P E S C H I C IPeschici is a pleasant resort on Gargano’s north shore, a cascade of whitewashed houses and streets with a beautiful view over a sweeping cove. Some surroundingareas are particularly popular with campers from northern Europe. Development has not wreaked too much havoc on the town: the mazelike center retains itscharacteristic low houses topped with little Byzantine cupolas.In the middle of the Gargano Promontory is the majestic Foresta Umbra (Shady Forest), a dense growth of beech, maple, sycamore, and oak generally found inmore northerly climates, thriving here because of the altitude, 3,200 feet above sea level. Between the trees in this national park are occasional dramatic vistasopening out over the Golfo di Manfredonia.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 126. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsAlberobello | Ostuni | Ceglie Messapica | Martina FrancaThe inland area to the southeast of Bari is one of Italy’s oddest enclaves, mostly flat terrain given over to olive cultivation and interspersed with the idiosyncratichabitations that have lent their names to the district. The origins of the beehive-shape trulli go back to the 15th century and maybe further. The trulli, found nowhereelse in the world, are built of local limestone, without mortar, and with a hole in the top for escaping smoke. Some are painted with mystical or religious symbols,some are isolated, and others are joined together with common roofs. Legends of varying credibility surround the trulli (for example, that they were originally builtso that residents could quickly take apart their homes when the tax collectors came by). The center of trulli country is Alberobello in the enchanting Valle d’Itria: ithas the greatest concentration of the buildings. You will spot them all over this region, some in the middle of desolate fields, and many in disrepair, but alwaysadding a quirky charm to the landscape.A L B E R O B E L L O59 km (37 mi) southeast of Bari, 45 km (28 mi) north of Taranto.Getting HereBy car, take the Monopoli exit from the SS16, follow the SP237 to Putignano, then SS172 to Alberobello. Trains run hourly from Bari.Visitor InformationAlberobello tourism office (Piazza Ferdinando IV | 70011 | 080/4325171).E X P L O R I N G A L B E R O B E L L OAlthough Alberobello is something of a tourist trap, the amalgamation of more than 1,000 trulli huddled together along steep, narrow streets is nonetheless a strikingphenomenon that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As one of the most popular destinations in Puglia, Alberobello has spawned some excellentrestaurants (and some not-so-excellent trinket shops).Alberobello’s largest trullo, the Trullo Sovrano, is up the hill through the trulli zone (head up Corso Vittorio Emanuele past the obelisk and the basilica). Thoughyou can go inside, where you can find a fairly conventional domestic dwelling, the real interest is the structure itself.The trulli in Alberobello itself are impressive, but the most beautiful concentration of trulli are scattered throughout the Valle d’Itria and along Via Alberobello–Martina Franca. Numerous conical homes and buildings stand along a stretch of about 15 km (9 mi) between those two towns. Amid expanses of vineyards, youcan see delightfully amusing examples of trulli put to use in every which way—including as wineries.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N A L B E R O B E L L OIl Poeta Contadino$$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Proprietor Leonardo Marco serves creative regional cooking in this upscale country restaurant in the heart of the attractive trullizone. The refined, understated dining room features candles casting shadows on the ancient stone walls. Dishes might include triglie con vinaigrette alla menta (redmullet with a mint vinaigrette) or coda di rospo in crosta di patate (monkfish in a potato crust). In season, try anything with white truffles. | Via Indipendenza 21 |70011 | 080/4321917 | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon. and 3 wks in Jan. No dinner Sun. Sept.–June.
  • 127. 70011 | 080/4321917 | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon. and 3 wks in Jan. No dinner Sun. Sept.–June.Fodor’s Choice | L’Aratro.$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | This welcoming rustic restaurant set inside adjoining trulli has dark-wood beams, whitewashed walls, and an outdoor patio forsummer dining. The antipasti misti could stand as a meal in itself, but leave room for country-style dishes using lamb and veal. Among the seasonal specialties arecavatellucci di terra madre (tomatoes, onions, and capocollo la on a bed of fava beans) and roast lamb with lampasciuni (a type of wild onion). | Via Monte SMichele 25–29 | 70011 | 080/4322789 | | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V.Hotel Lanzillotta$$ | This modern structure in Alberobello’s main piazza is near one of the two trulli districts. The rooms have all been recently renovated, and some have roofterraces with sweeping views over the town. The management is warm and accommodating, exactly what you might expect from four generations of experience.Pros: convenient location; helpful staff. Cons: lacks charm; lackluster restaurant. | Piazza Fernando IV 33 | 70011 | 080/4321511 | | 30 rooms| In-room: a/c, safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking (free) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.O S T U N I50 km (30 mi) west of Brindisi, 85 km (53 mi) southeast of Bari.Getting HereBy car, take the Ostuni exit from the SS16. The Ferrovie dello Stato (FS, the national railway) runs frequent trains from Bari.Visitor InformationOstuni tourism office (Corso Mazzini 8 | 72017 | 0831/301268 | X P L O R I N G O S T U N IThis sun-bleached, medieval town lies on three hills not far from the coast. From a distance, Ostuni is a jumble of blazingly white houses and churches spilling overa hilltop and overlooking the sea—thus earning it the nickname la Città Bianca (the White City).The old town, on the highest of the hills, has steep cobbled lanes, wrought-iron lanterns, some good local restaurants, and stupendous views out over the coast andthe surrounding plain.Piazza Libertà, the city’s main square, divides the new town to the west and the old town to the east.W H E R E T O E A T I N O S T U N IFodor’s Choice | Al Fornello Da Ricci$$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Any respectable culinary tour of Puglia must pass through this elegant dining room run in the whitewashed town of CeglieMessapica, 11 km (7 mi) southwest of Ostuni. The distinguished kitchen sends out antipasti in a long succession, all inspired by ancient Pugliese traditions—meats,cheeses, perhaps fried zucchini flowers stuffed with fresh goat’s ricotta. Then come delicate pasta dishes and ambitious meat preparations. It’s an haute Puglieseexperience not to be missed. | Contrada Montevicoli | 72013 | 0831/377104 | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Tues., Feb. 1–10, and Sept. 10–30.No dinner Mon.Osteria del Tempo Perso$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Buried in the side streets of the old town, this laid-back restaurant has rough-hewn stone interiors, with intriguing objects adorningthe walls. Service is friendly and preparations focus on local cuisine such as delectable eggplant Parmesan and homemade orecchiette con cime di rapa (with bittergreens and fried breadcrumbs). | Via G. Tanzarella Vitale 47 | 72017 | 0831/304819 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon. and 2 wks inJan. No lunch Tues.–Fri.C E G L I E M E S S A P I C A11 km (7 mi) southwest of Ostuni, 18 km (11 mi) southwest of Martina Franca.Getting HereBy car, take the Ostuni exit from the SS16, and follow SP22 to Ceglie Messapica. Ferrovie del Sud-Est runs frequent trains from Bari.Visitor InformationCeglie Messapica tourism office (Via G. Elia 16 | 72013 | 0831/371003).E X P L O R I N G C E G L I E M E S S A P I C AWith its 14th-century Piazza Vecchia, tattered baroque balconies, and lordly medieval castles, the little whitewashed town of Ceglie Messapica is a jewel. The town,at the center of the triangle formed by Taranto, Brindisi, and Fasano, was once the military capital of the region, and often defended itself against invasions from theTaranto city-state, which wanted to clear a route to the Adriatic. Nowadays, more and more visitors come to Ceglie Messapica for its restaurants alone.
  • 128. W H E R E T O E A T I N C E G L I E M E S S A P I C ACibus$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Amid the vaulted stone archways of this humble but elegant osteria (tavernlike restaurant) in the old city sit rows of bottles andbooks devoted to the worship of food and wine. It’s no wonder, then, that the food is so good: after an antipasto del territorio (sampling of local meats, cheeses, andother delights) comes lasagne di pasta fresca con cime di rape e bottarga (with bitter greens and cured tuna roe), and then perhaps an arrosto misto di capretto,capocollo, e salsiccia (a mixture of roast meats including baby goat and sausage). For the more adventurous: braised horse meat in ragù (a tomato-based meatsauce). | Piazza Vecchia 7 | 72013 | 0831/388980 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Tues., 1 wk at end of June, and 1 wk beginning of July.M A R T I N A F R A N C A29 km (18 mi) west of Ostuni, 36 km (22 mi) north of Taranto.Getting HereBy car, take the Fasano exit from the SS16, then follow the SS172. The Ferrovie Sud-Est runs frequent trains from Bari and Taranto.Visitor InformationMartina Franca tourism office (Piazza XX Settembre 3 | 74015 | 080/4805702 | X P L O R I N G M A R T I N A F R A N C AMartina Franca is a beguiling town with a dazzling mixture of medieval and baroque architecture in the light-color local stone. Ornate balconies hang above thetwisting, narrow streets, with little alleys leading off into the hills. Martina Franca was developed as a military stronghold in the 14th century, when a surroundingwall with 24 towers was built, but now all that remains of the wall are the four gates that had once been the only entrances to the town. Each July and August, thetown holds the Della Valle D’Itria music festival ( H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N M A R T I N A F R A N C ARistorante Sagittario$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | This restaurant just outside the historical center in Martina Franca’s new town is a favorite for locals. The homemade pastas and pizzasare delicious, but it is the excellent grilled meats (lamb chops and pork shoulder are first-rate) that keep people coming back for more. The atmosphere is warm andconvivial. | Via Quarto 15 | 74015 | 080/4858982 | AE, DC, MC, V.Park Hotel San Michele$ | This garden hotel makes a pleasant base in the warm months, thanks to its pool. There are two types of rooms: those with shower and a view of Martina Franca,and larger ones, with a bathtub, overlooking the garden. All are spacious and include nice touches like complimentary bowls of fruit. Pros: pretty pool area. Cons:old-fashioned handheld showers. | Viale Carella 9 | 74015 | 080/4807053 | | 85 rooms | In-room: a/c, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar,pool, laundry service, Wi-Fi hotspot | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 129. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsTaranto | Lecce | Otranto | GallipoliThis far south, the mountains run out of steam and the land is uniformly flat. The monotony of endless olive trees is redeemed by the region’s most dramaticcoastline, with sandstone cliffs falling fast toward the sea. Here you can find a handful of small, alluring fishing towns, such as Otranto and Gallipoli. Taranto andBrindisi don’t quite fit this description: both are big ports where historical importance is obscured by unsightly heavy industry. Nonetheless, Taranto has itsarchaeological museum, and Brindisi, an important ferry jumping-off point, marks the end of the Via Appia (the “Queen of Roads” built by the Romans). Farthersouth, Salento (the Salentine Peninsula) is the local name for the part of Puglia that forms the end of the heel. Lecce is an unexpected oasis of grace andsophistication, and its swirling architecture will melt even the most uncompromising critic of the baroque.T A R A N T O100 km (62 mi) southeast of Bari, 40 km (25 mi) south of Martina Franca.Getting HereBy car, the A16 motorway takes you directly to Taranto. The Ferrovie dello Stato runs frequent trains from Bari and Brindisi.Visitor InformationTaranto tourism office (Corso Umberto 113 | 74100 | 099/4532397 | X P L O R I N G T A R A N T OTaranto (the stress is on the first syllable) was an important port even in Roman times. It lies toward the back of the instep of the boot on the broad Mare Grandebay, which is connected to a small internal Mare Piccolo basin by two narrow channels, one artificial and one natural. The old town is a series of old palazzi invarying states of decay and narrow cobblestone streets on an island between the larger and smaller bodies of water, linked by causeways; the modern city stretchesinward along the mainland. Circumnavigate the old town and take in a dramatic panorama to the north, revealing Italy’s shipping industry at its busiest: steelworks,dockyards, a bay dotted with fishing boats, and a fish market teeming with pungent activity along the old town’s western edge.Little remains of Taranto’s past except the 14th-century church of San Domenico (Via Duomo 33 | 74100 | No phone | Daily 8:30–noon and 4–7) jutting into thesea at one end of the island, and its famous naval academy.Taranto’s Museo Nazionale has a large collection of prehistoric, Greek, and Roman artifacts discovered mainly in the immediate vicinity, including Puglian tombsdating from before 1000 BC. Just over the bridge from the old town, the museum is a testament to the importance of this ancient port, which has always taken fulladvantage of its unique trading position at the end of the Italian peninsula. | Via Cavour 10 | 74100 | 099/4532112 | | €5 | Daily 8:30–7:30;last entrance at 7.L E C C E40 km (25 mi) southeast of Brindisi, 87 km (54 mi) east of Taranto.Getting Here
  • 130. Getting HereBy car, take the SS16 to Brindisi and continue along the SS613 to Lecce. Frequent trains run along the coast from Bari and beyond. The closest airport is inBrindisi.Visitor InformationLecce tourism office (Corso Vittorio Emanuele24 | 73100 | 0832/332463 | X P L O R I N G L E C C ELecce is the crown jewel of the Mezzogiorno. The city is affectionately referred to as “the Florence of the south,” but that sobriquet doesn’t do justice to Lecce’suniqueness in the Italian landscape. Though its pretty boutiques, lively bars, and the impossibly intricate baroque architecture draw comparisons to the culturalcapitals of the north, Lecce’s bustling streets, laid-back student cafés, and magical evening passeggiata are distinctively southern. The city is a cosmopolitan oasistwo steps from the idyllic Otranto–Brindisi coastline and a hop from the olive-grove countryside of Puglia. Relatively undiscovered by foreign tourists, Lecceexudes an optimism and youthful joie de vivre unparalleled in any other baroque showcase. There is no Lecce of the north.Summer is a great time to visit. In July, courtyards and piazzas throughout the city are the settings for dramatic productions. Autumn has its charms as well. Abaroque music festival is held in churches throughout the city in September and October.Although Lecce was founded before the time of the ancient Greeks, it’s often associated with the term Barocco lecesse, the result of a citywide impulse in the 17thcentury to redo the town in an exuberant fashion. But this was baroque with a difference. Such architecture is often heavy and monumental, but here it took on alighter, more fanciful air. Just look at the church of Santa Croce and the adjoining Palazzo della Prefettura. Although every column, window, pediment, andbalcony is given a curling baroque touch—and then an extra one for good measure—the overall effect is lighthearted. The buildings’ proportions are unintimidating,and the local stone is a glowing honey color: it couldn’t look menacing if it tried. | Via Umberto I 3 | 73100 | 0832/241957 | | Daily 9–noon and 5–8.Lecce’s ornate Duomo, first built in 1114 but reconstructed in baroque style from 1659 to 1670, is uncharacteristically set in a solitary lateral square off a mainstreet, rather than at a crossroads of pedestrian traffic. To the left of the Duomo, the more austere bell tower, reconstructed by master baroque architect GiuseppeZimbalo in the 17th century, takes on a surreal golden hue at dusk. The facades of the adjoining 18th-century Palazzo Vescovile (Bishops’ Palace), farther past theright side of the Duomo, and the Seminario on the piazza’s right edge complement the rich ornamentation of the Duomo to create an effect almost as splendid as thatof Santa Croce. The Seminario’s tranquil cloister is also worth a visit. | Piazza Duomo off Corso Vittorio Emanuele | 73100 | 0832/308557 | Daily 7:30–noon and4:30–7:30.In the middle of Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the city’s putative center, surrounded by cafés, pastry shops, and newsstands, is a Roman column that once stood at the endof the Via Appia in Brindisi. This war trophy, carried off in 1660, is imaginatively surmounted by an 18th-century statue of the city’s patron saint, Orontius. Next tothe column, the shallow rows of seats in the Anfiteatro Romano suggest Verona’s arena or a small-scale Roman Colosseum.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N L E C C EAlle Due Corti$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Rosalba De Carlo, a local character, runs this traditional trattoria. The menu is printed in the Leccese dialect; the adventurous can trycountry dishes like pezzetti te cavallu (spicy horse meat in tomato sauce) or turcineddhi (roasted baby goat entrails)—a crisp, gamy, fully flavored delight. Thewhite-wall decor is stark, but character comes from the red-and-white checked tablecloths and the gregarious local families and groups of friends that inevitably fillthe place. | Corte dei Giugni | 73100 | 0832/242223 | | MC, V | Closed Sun.Corte dei Pandolfi$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Here you can choose from a vast list of Salento’s best wines and feast on an unparalleled spread of artisanal salumi (cured meats) andlocal cheeses, accompanied by delicious local honey and mostarda (preserved fruit). Traditional primi (first courses) and secondi (second courses) are also served,as well as vegetarian specialties. The location is on a little piazza just off Via degli Ammirati, which starts on the back side of the Duomo. | Piazzetta Orsini | 73100| 0832/332309 | | AE, MC, V | No lunch Mon.–Thurs. Closed 1 wk in Nov.Fodor’s Choice | Le Zie.$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | This is an excellent place to try traditional Pugliese cooking in a warm, casual setting of white walls and loud chatter. Don’t expect amenu; choose from the daily specials, which might include homemade whole wheat pasta served with a delicate sauce of tomato and sharp, aged ricotta scante. Therustic purè di fave e cicoria (puree of fava bean with chicory) is topped with local olive oil and hot peppers; mix it together before eating. Service is informal andwelcoming. | Via Costadura 19 | 73100 | 0832/245178 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon., 1 wk at Easter, last wk in Aug., 1st wk in Sept., last wk inDec., 1st wk in Jan. No dinner Sun.Patria Palace$$ | It’s a nice coincidence that the best hotel in Lecce happens to be in one of the best possible locations, a few steps from all the action. This hotel is impeccablefrom top to bottom, from the warm and elegant lobby with its recessed bar to the sumptuously designed rooms. For €70 more, you can reserve a room with astunning private terrace overlooking Santa Croce, the crown jewel of Lecce baroque. If not, you can take in the view from the beautiful rooftop gazebo. Pros:luxurious rooms; ideal location. Cons: not all rooms have great views. | Piazzetta Riccardi 13 | 73100 | 0832/245111 | | 67 rooms | In-room: a/c, safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, gym, spa, laundry service, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.President$$ | Rub elbows with visiting dignitaries at this business hotel near Piazza Mazzini. The reception is expansive and furnishings are 1980s tasteful, with an emphasison primary colors and modernist fixtures. Pros: comfortable rooms; convenient location. Cons: more for business than pleasure; a bit dated. | Via Salandra 6 | 73100| 0832/456111 | | 150 rooms, 3 suites | In-room: a/c, safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, laundry service, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking (paid)
  • 131. | 0832/456111 | | 150 rooms, 3 suites | In-room: a/c, safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, laundry service, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking (paid)| AE, DC, MC, V | BP.O T R A N T O36 km (22 mi) southeast of Lecce, 188 km (117 mi) southeast of Bari.Getting HereBy car from Lecce, take the southbound SS16 and exit at Maglie. To follow the coast, take the SS53 from Lecce, then follow SS611 south. There is regular trainservice from Lecce on Ferrovia del Sud-Est.Visitor InformationOtranto tourism office (Piazza Castello | 73028 | 0836/801436 | X P L O R I N G O T R A N T OIn one of the first great Gothic novels, Horace Walpole’s 1764 The Castle of Otranto, the English writer immortalized this city and its mysterious medieval fortress.Otranto (the stress is on the first syllable) has likewise had more than its share of dark thrills. As the easternmost point in Italy—and therefore closest to the BalkanPeninsula—it has often borne the brunt of foreign invasions during its checkered history. A flourishing port from ancient Greek times, Otranto (Hydruntum to theRomans) has a history like most of southern Italy: after the fall of the western Roman Empire, centuries of Byzantine rule interspersed with Saracen incursions,followed by the arrival of the Normans. Modern Otranto’s dank cobblestone alleyways alternatively reveal dusty, forgotten doorways and modern Italian fashionchains, and the spooky castle still looms above, between city and sea. On a clear day you can see across to Albania.The historic city center nestles within impressive city walls and bastions, dominated by the famous Castello Aragonese, which is attributed to the Spanish of the16th century. | Piazza Castello | 73028 | 334/8863111 | | €4 | Jan.–May and Oct.-Dec., daily 10–12:30 and 3:30–7; June andSept., daily 10–1 and 4–11; July and August, daily 10–1 and 4–midnight.The real jewel in Otranto is the Cattedrale, originally begun by the Normans and conserving an extraordinary 12th-century mosaic pavement in the nave and aisles.| Piazza Basilica | 73028 | 0836/802720 | Daily 7:30–noon and 3–5.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N O T R A N T OFodor’s Choice | Masseria Montelauro$$$ | This masseria—a working farmhouse for communal living, quite common in these parts—has had many incarnations since it was built in 1878: monastery,herbal pharmacy, discotheque, and restaurant. Now, the owners have refurbished the place in whitewashed Mediterranean minimalist chic. Wrought-iron beds,arched ceilings, gorgeous stone-and-marble bathrooms, and flowing white curtains all contribute to the atmosphere, and the lobby looks like something out of amagazine. Friendly, helpful service, and delicious food (much of which is plucked from the hotel’s own garden) at breakfast, lunch (poolside), and dinner make thisan oasis of comfort a short drive from lovely Otranto. Pros: interesting building; lovely decor; great food. Cons: car is absolutely necessary; food is pricey. | S.P.Otranto–Uggiano, Località Montelauro | 73028 | 0836/806203 | | 27 rooms, 3 suites | In-room: a/c (some), safe. In-hotel: restaurant,pool, bicycles, parking (free), some pets allowed | AE, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar. | BP.G A L L I P O L I37 km (23 mi) south of Lecce, 190 km (118 mi) southeast of Bari.Getting HereFrom Lecce, take the SS101. From Taranto, follow the coastal SS174. Frequent trains run from Lecce.Visitor InformationGallipoli tourism office (Piazza Imbriani 9 | 73014 | 0833/262529).E X P L O R I N G G A L L I P O L IThe fishing port of Gallipoli, on the Golfo di Taranto, is divided between a new town, on the mainland, and a beautiful fortified town, across a 17th-century bridge,crowded onto its own small island in the gulf. The Greeks called it Kallipolis, the Romans Anxa. Like the infamous Turkish town of the same name on theDardanelles, the Italian Gallipoli occupies a strategic location and thus was repeatedly attacked through the centuries—by the Normans in 1071, the Venetians in1484, the British in 1809. Today, life in Gallipoli revolves around its fishing trade. Fishing boats in primary colors breeze in and out of the bay during the day, andGallipoli’s fish market, below the bridge, throbs with activity all morning.Gallipoli’s historic quarter, a mix of narrow alleys and squares, is guarded by Castello Aragonese, a massive fortification that grew out of an earlier Byzantinefortress you can still see at the southeast corner.Gallipoli’s Duomo (Via Antonietta de Pace | 73014 | 0833/261987 |, open daily 7:30–noon and 3:30–9, is a notable baroque church.The church of La Purità (Riviera Nazaro Sauro | 73014 | 0833/261699) has a stuccoed interior as elaborate as a wedding cake, with an especially noteworthy tilefloor. You can visit daily 9–noon and 5–8, though it’s best to call ahead to make sure there is someone to let you in.
  • 132. W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N G A L L I P O L IMarechiaro$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Unless you arrive by boat—as many do—you have to cross a little bridge to reach this simple waterfront restaurant, not far from thetown’s historic center. It’s built out onto the sea, replete with wood paneling, flowers, and terraces, with panoramic coastal views. Try the renowned zuppa di pescealla gallipolina (a stew of fish, local red shrimp, clams, and mussels) and linguine with seafood. | Lungomare Marconi | 73014 | 0833/266143 | DC, MC, V.Costa Brada$$$$ | The rooms all have terraces with sea views at this classic Mediterranean beach hotel. The interiors are uncluttered and tasteful; the suites are particularlyspacious and overlook the private beach. The hotel, just outside Gallipoli, accepts only half- or full-board guests in summer. Room rates go down significantly atother times of year. Pros: lovely views; stunning location. Cons: meal plans required in summer. | Baia Verde, Litoranea Santa Maria di Leuca | 73014 |0833/202551 | | 80 rooms | In-room: a/c, safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 4 restaurants, pools, spa, gym, beachfront, laundry service, Wi-Fihotspot, parking (free) | AE, DC, MC, V | MAP.B E A C H E S I N G A L L I P O L IAmple swimming, water sports, and clean, fine sand make Gallipoli’s beaches a good choice for families. The 5-km (3-mi) expanse of sand sweeping south fromtown has both public and private beaches, the latter equipped with changing rooms, sun beds, and umbrellas. Water-sports equipment can be bought or rented at thewaterfront shops in town.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 133. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsMatera | MarateaOccupying the instep of Italy’s boot, Basilicata formed part of Magna Graecia, the loose collection of colonies founded along the coast of southern Italy whosewealth and military prowess rivaled those of the city states of Greece itself. More recently it was made famous by Carlo Levi (1902–75) in his Christ Stopped atEboli, a book that underscored the poverty of the region. Basilicata is no longer so desolate, as it draws travelers in search of bucolic settings, great food, andarchaeologic treasures. The city of Matera, the region’s true highlight, is built on the side of an impressive ravine that is honeycombed with Sassi, rock-hewndwellings, some of them still occupied, forming a separate enclave that contrasts vividly with the attractive baroque town above.M A T E R A62 km (39 mi) south of Bari.Getting HereFrom Bari, take the SS96 to Altamura, then the SS99 to Matera.Visitor InformationMatera tourism office (Via De Viti De Marco9 | 75100 | 0835/331983 | Sassi tourism office (Via Lucana 238 | 75100 | 0835/319458 | X P L O R I N G M A T E R AMatera is one of southern Italy’s most unusual towns. On their own, the elegant baroque churches, palazzi, and broad piazzas—filled to bursting during the eveningpasseggiata, when the locals turn out to stroll the streets—would make Matera stand out in Basilicata’s rugged landscape. But what really sets this town apart are theSassi.Fodor’s Choice | Sassiare rock-hewn dwellings piled chaotically atop one another, strewn across the sides of a steep ravine. They date from Paleolithic times, when they were truly cavehomes. In the years that followed, the grottoes were slowly adapted as houses only slightly more modern, with their exterior walls closed off and canals regulatingrainwater and sewage. Until relatively recently, these troglodytic abodes presented a Dante-esque vision of squalor and poverty, graphically described in CarloLevi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli, but in the 1960s most of them were emptied of their inhabitants, who were largely consigned to the ugly block structures seen on theway into town. Today, having been designated a World Heritage Site, the area has been cleaned up and is gradually being populated once again—and evengentrified, as evidenced by the bars and restaurants that have moved in. (The filming here of Mel Gibson’s controversial film The Passion of the Christ also raisedthe area’s profile.) The wide Strada Panoramica leads you safely through this desolate region, which still retains its eerie atmosphere and panoramic views.There are two areas of Sassi, the Sasso Caveoso and the Sasso Barisano, and both can be seen from vantage points in the upper town. Follow the StradaPanoramica down into the Sassi and feel free to ramble among the strange structures, which, in the words of H. V. Morton in his A Traveller in Southern Italy,“resemble the work of termites rather than of man.” Among them you can find several chiese rupestri, or rock-hewn churches, some of which have medievalfrescoes, notably Santa Maria de Idris, right on the edge of the Sasso Caveoso, near the ravine. | Sasso Caveoso | 75100 | 0835/319458 | €2.5 | Apr.–Oct., daily 9–1and 3–7; Nov.–Mar., daily 9:30–1:30 and 2:30–4:30.
  • 134. The Duomo in Matera was built in the late 13th century and occupies a prominent position between the two Sassi. It has a pungent Apulian-Romanesque flavor;inside, there’s a recovered fresco, probably painted in the 14th century, showing scenes from the Last Judgment. On the Duomo’s facade the figures of Saints Peterand Paul stand on either side of a sculpture of Matera’s patron, Madonna della Bruna. | Piazza Duomo | 75100 | 0835/332908.In town you can find the 13th-century Romanesque church of San Giovanni Battista, restored to its pre-baroque simplicity in 1926. As you go in through a sidedoor—the original end door and facade were incorporated into later buildings—note the interesting sculpted decorations in the porch. The interior still maintains itsoriginal cross vaulting, ogival arches, and curious capitals. | Via San Biagio | 75100 | 0835/334182 | Daily 7:30–12:30 and 3:30–7:30.Matera’s archaeological Museo Archaeologico Nazionale Domenico Ridola is housed in the former monastery of Santa Chiara. Illustrating the history of the area,the museum includes an extensive selection of prehistoric and classical finds, notably Bronze Age weaponry and beautifully decorated Greek ceramics. | Via Ridola24 | 75100 | 0835/310058 | €2.50 | Tues.–Sun. 9–8, Mon. 2–8.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N M A T E R ALe Botteghe$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | This stylish restaurant occupies a pleasingly restored building in the Sassi. Carnivores will delight in the charcoal-grilled steak,especially selected by a local butcher. Cooked wonderfully rare, this is one of the finest pieces of meat in the region. It’s best washed down with local Aglianico delVulture red wine. Solid renditions of local pasta dishes are also available. | Piazza San Pietro Barisano 22 | 75100 | 0835/344072 | DC, MC, V | No lunchTues.–Fri. Oct.–Mar.Fodor’s Choice | Lucanerie$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | On the edge of Sasso Barisano, this restaurant’s menu is based on seasonal ingredients from around Matera, some of which aregathered by the owner himself. The cavatelli con peperoni cruschi (dried peppers) is dusted with breadcrumbs and full of flavor. The grilled bistecca (steak) is fromthe Podolico, a native breed of cow that grazes below the Sassi and has a tenderness all its own. Top off your meal with a slice of homemade goat cheesecake. | ViaSanto Stefano 61 | 75100 | 0835/332133 | DC, MC, V | Closed Sun.Hotel Sant’Angelo$$ | Looking across a piazza to the church of San Pietro Caveoso, this unusual hotel has an ideal view of the Sasso Caveoso. Each of the rooms was once a cavedwelling, so they have authentic touches like rough-hewn walls. Don’t worry, there are also modern touches like air-conditioning. Because of the number of steps,this hotel is not ideal for people with limited mobility. Pros: unrivaled views; atmospheric rooms. Cons: no elevator and many steps to climb. | Piazza San PietroCaveoso | 75100 | 0835/314010 | | 23 rooms | In-room: a/c, safe, Internet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, Wi-Fi hotspot | AE, DC,MC, V | BP.Fodor’s Choice | Locanda di San Martino$ | Combining good taste, an agreeable ambience, and excellent value, the Locanda is a prime place to stay among Matera’s Sassi. In fact, you can drive right up tothe front door. The historic rooms—formerly cave dwellings—have been impeccably restored under the guidance of owner Antonio Panetto and Dorothy Zinn. Anelevator whisks you to your floor, and a short walk outdoors takes you to your room. Stepping out onto your terrace overlooking the old town is like being on a filmset. In 2009, the couple transformed one of the old town wells into an indoor swimming pool with and sauna. Pros: convenient location; comfortable rooms. Cons:rooms are reached via outdoor walkway; many steps to climb. | Via Fiorentini 71 | 75100 | 0835/256600 | | 21 rooms, 11 suites | In-room: a/c, safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: bar, pool, spa, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.M A R A T E A217 km (135 mi) south of Naples.Getting HereBy car, take the Lagonegro exit from the A3 motorway and continue along the SS585. Intercity and regional trains from Reggio Calabria and Naples stop atMaratea. In the summer months there is a bus linking the train station to the upper town 4 km (2½ mi) away.Visitor InformationMaratea tourism office (Piazza del Gesù 32, Località Fiumicello | 85040 | 0973/876908 | X P L O R I N G M A R A T E AWhen encountering Maratea for the first time, you can be forgiven for thinking you’ve somehow arrived at the French Riviera. The high, twisty road resemblesnothing so much as a corniche, complete with glimpses of a turquoise sea below. Divided by the craggy rocks into various separate localities—Maratea, MarateaPorto, Marina di Maratea, Fiumicello, and Cersuta. Maratea is the name given to this cluster of towns, as well as to the main inland village, a tumble of cobblestonestreets where the ruins of a much older settlement (Maratea Antica) can be seen. At the summit of the hill stands the giagantic Christo Redentore, a massive statue ofChrist reminiscent of the one in Rio de Janeiro. There’s no shortage of secluded sandy strips in between the rocky headlands, which can get crowded in August. Asummer minibus service connects all the different points once or twice an hour.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N M A R A T E ADa Cesare$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | With an open kitchen so you can watch the chef and a veranda overlooking the azure waters of the Golfo di Policastro, this family-run seafood restaurant serves some of the freshest catch in town. The only drawback may be that the portions are very large, so you might not want every coursefrom antipasto to dolce. Try the linguine al nero di seppie (pasta with cuttlefish ink) and grigliata mista (mixed grilled fish and seafood). | Strada Statale 18,
  • 135. from antipasto to dolce. Try the linguine al nero di seppie (pasta with cuttlefish ink) and grigliata mista (mixed grilled fish and seafood). | Strada Statale 18,Località Cersuta | 85046 | 0973/871840 | AE, MC, V | Closed Thurs. Nov.–Mar.Villa Cheta Elite$$ | Immersed in Mediterranean greenery, this historic villa is in the seaside village of Acquafredda, just north of Maratea. Although not on the beach, the villa isjust across the street. Rooms are spruce and stylish without being overfurnished, while dining out on the restaurant’s garden terrace is simply fabulous. Pros:surrounded by lush vegetation; beautiful views of the coast and mountains; lovely art deco building. Cons: on a busy road; no pool; steps to climb. | Via Timpone46, Località Acquafredda | 85046 | 0973/878134 | | 23 rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, Wi-Fi hotspot,parking (free) | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar. | MAP.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 136. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsDiamante | Castrovillari | Cosenza | Rende | Camigliatello | Tropea | Reggio di CalabriaItaly’s southernmost mainland region may be poor, but it also claims more than its share of fantastic scenery and great beaches. The accent here is on the landscape,the sea, and the constantly changing dialogue between the two. Don’t expect much in the way of sophistication in this least trodden of regions, but do remain opento the simple pleasures to be found—the country food, the friendliness, the disarming hospitality of the people. Aside from coast and culture, there are also somedestinations worth going out of your way for, from the vividly colored murals of Diamante to the hiking trails of the Pollino and Sila national parks.The drive on the southbound A3 highway alone is a breathtaking experience, the more so as you approach Sicily, whose image grows tantalizingly nearer as theroad wraps around the coastline once challenged by Odysseus. The road has been under reconstruction since his time, with little sign of completion.D I A M A N T E51 km (32 mi) south of Maratea, 225 km (140 mi) south of Naples.Getting HereDriving from Maratea, take the SS18; from Cosenza, take the SS107 to Paola, then the SS18. Regional trains leave from Naples and Paola six times a day.Visitor InformationDiamante tourism office (Discesa Corvino Superiore | 87023 | 0985/876046).E X P L O R I N G D I A M A N T EOne of the most fashionable of the string of small resorts lining Calabria’s north Tyrrhenian Coast, Diamante makes a good stop for its whitewashed maze ofnarrow alleys, brightly adorned with a startling variety of large-scale murals. The work of local and international artists, the murals—which range from cartoons topoems to serious portraits, and from tasteful to downright ugly—give a sense of wandering through a huge open-air art gallery. Flanking the broad, palm-linedseaside promenade are sparkling beaches to the north and south.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N D I A M A N T EGrand Hotel San Michele$$$ | A survivor from a vanishing age, the San Michele, operated by the illustrious Claudia Sinisalchi and her marine biologist son, Andrea, occupies a belleepoque–style villa. It sits on the top of a cliff near the village of Cetraro, 20 km (12 mi) south of Diamante on SS18. Mingling Mediterranean charm with old-styleelegance, the hotel is set within extensive gardens, and an elevator takes you down to three private beaches at the base of the cliff, as well as a summer bar andrestaurant. As with most hotels on Calabria’s coast, substantial bargains are available on room rates outside July and August. Pros: lovely views; nice gardens;comfortable accommodations. Cons: a bit pricey. | Località Bosco 8/9, | 87022 | Cetraro | 0982/91012 | | 80 rooms, 6 suites, 20 apartments | In-room: Internet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, golf course, tennis court, beachfront, laundry service, parking (free) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.C A S T R O V I L L A R I68 km (43 mi) east of Diamante, 75 km (48 mi) north of Cosenza.
  • 137. 68 km (43 mi) east of Diamante, 75 km (48 mi) north of Cosenza.Getting HereBy car, take the A3 motorway and exit at Frascineto-Castrovillari. Ferrovie della Calabria runs buses from Cosenza, but service is irregular.Visitor InformationCastrovillari tourism office (Corso Garibaldi160 | 87012 | 0981/209595 | X P L O R I N G C A S T R O V I L L A R IAccent the first “i” when you pronounce the name of this provincial Calabrian city, notable for its Aragonese castle, synagogue, and 16th-century San Giulianochurch. It’s also a great jumping-off point for the Parco Nazionale Pollino. Castrovillari’s world-class restaurant-inn, La Locanda di Alia, has made the citysomething of an out-of-the-way gastronomical destination in Calabria.W H E R E T O E A T I N C A S T R O V I L L A R IFodor’s Choice | La Locanda di Alia$$$ | MODERN ITALIAN | It’s hard to say what’s more surprising about this inn and gastronomical temple: its improbable location in Castrovillari, or the fact thatit’s been here since 1952. At the restaurant, chef Gaetano Alia’s menu swerves from the unique (beef with a delicious strawberry-and-onion sauce) to thedangerously spicy (candele, like rigatoni without the ridges, in a pecorino cheese sauce). If you like it so much you want to stay, more than a dozen guest rooms aresurrounded by plenty of greenery. They are decorated in bright colors with frescoes from local artists. | Via Ietticelle 55 | 87012 | 0981/46370 | |Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun.C O S E N Z A75 km (48 mi) south of Diamante, 185 km (115 mi) north of Reggio di Calabria.Getting HereBy car, take the Cosenza exit from the A3 motorway. By train, change at Paola on the main Rome–Reggio di Calabria line. Regional trains run from Naples.Ferrovie della Calabria runs buses from Spezzano della Sila, Castrovillari, and Camigliatello.Visitor InformationCosenza tourism office (Piazza Matteoti | 87100 | 0984/21032 | X P L O R I N G C O S E N Z ACosenza has a steep, stair-filled centro storico (historic center) that truly hails from another age. Wrought-iron balconies overlook narrow alleyways with old-fashioned storefronts and bars that have barely been touched by centuries of development. Flung haphazardly—and beautifully—across the top and side of a steephill ringed by mountains, and watched over by a great, crumbling medieval castle, Cosenza also provides the best gateway for the Sila, whose steep walls rear up tothe town’s eastern side. Though Cosenza’s outskirts are largely modern and ugly, culinary gems and picturesque views await in the rolling farmland nearby and themountains to the east.Crowning the Pancrazio hill above the old city, with views across to the Sila mountains, Castello Svevo is largely in ruins, having suffered successive earthquakesand a lightning strike that ignited gunpowder stored within. The castle takes its name from the great Swabian emperor Frederick II (1194–1250), who added twooctagonal towers, though it dates originally to the Normans, who fortified the hill against their Saracen foes. Occasional exhibitions and concerts are staged here insummer, and any time of year it’s fun to check out the old ramparts and take in the views of the old and new cities—a shocking study in contrast. It is currentlyundergoing extensive restorations. | Colle Pancrazio | 87100 | No phone | Free | Daily 8–8.Cosenza’s noblest square, Piazza XV Marzo (commonly called Piazza della Prefettura), houses government buildings as well as the elegant Teatro Rendano. Fromthe square, the Villa Comunale (public garden) provides plenty of shaded benches for a rest.Cosenza’s original Duomo was probably built in the middle of the 11th century but was destroyed by the earthquake of 1184. A new cathedral was consecrated inthe presence of Emperor Frederick II in 1222. After many baroque additions, later alterations have restored some of the Provençal Gothic style. Inside, look for thelovely monument to Isabella of Aragon, who died after falling from her horse en route to France in 1271. | Piazza del Duomo 1 | 87100 | 0984/77864 | May–Oct.,daily 8–noon and 4:30–8; Nov.–Apr., daily 8–noon and 3:30–7.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N C O S E N Z AOsteria dell’Arenella$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | On the banks of the river, this grilled-meat specialist caters to the local bourgeoisie with a comfortable, friendly set of rooms underold archways. The place is for carnivores; go for the grigliata mista and enjoy the wonderful meatiness of local grass-fed beef—but be sure to ask for it all alsangue (rare). The wine list, too, is excellent. The local wine made with the gaglioppo grape pairs nicely with meat, sausage, and aged cheeses. | Via Arenella12 |87100 | 0984/76573 | AE, MC, V | Closed Mon. Oct.–Mar. No lunch Tues.–Sat.Taverna L’Arco Vecchio$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | This tavern-restaurant, right in the middle of the old town along the path up to the castle, sits under the famous Arch of Ciaccio. Itserves traditional Calabrian dishes in a warm, elegant vaulted room. Try the excellent lagane e ceci (homemade pasta with chickpeas, garlic, and oil). | Via Archi di
  • 138. serves traditional Calabrian dishes in a warm, elegant vaulted room. Try the excellent lagane e ceci (homemade pasta with chickpeas, garlic, and oil). | Via Archi diCiaccio 21 | 87100 | 0984/72564 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon.Royal Hotel$ | Decent accommodations are hard to come by in Cosenza, which makes this hotel in the new center quite a find. The location is a 15-minute walk from thetown’s centro storico. The lobby is regal, the rooms not so much; still, they’re simple and clean, with basic furnishings. Pros: one of the town’s best lodgings. Cons:not in the best part of the city. | Via Molinella 24/e | 87100 | 0984/412165 | | 80 rooms | In-room: a/c, refrigerator, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant,bar, laundry service, Wi-Fi hotspot | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.R E N D E13 km (8 mi) northwest of Cosenza.Getting HereBy car, take the A3 motorway and exit at Cosenza-Rende. Local buses make the trip from nearby Cosenza.E X P L O R I N G R E N D ERende is a pleasing stop on the way to or from Cosenza. Leave your car in the parking lot at the base of a long and bizarre series of escalators and staircases, whichwill whisk you off to this pristine, cobblestoned hilltop town, whose winding streets and turrets preside over idyllic countryside views.W H E R E T O E A T I N R E N D EPantagruel$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | You are completely in the hands of the chef at this prix-fixe–only temple to seafood. They are good hands indeed, which is whyPantagruel is one of the most respected restaurants in Calabria. The set menu depends on the day’s catch, but you’ll surely encounter something memorable: forinstance, a salad of octopus so thinly sliced and delicate that it’s reminiscent of carpaccio, or a tender whole orata (sea bream) with fava beans. Pantagruel is set inan elegant old house with sweeping views of hills dotted with little towns. | Via Pittor Santanna 2 | 87036 | 0984/443508 | | AE, DC,V | Closed Sun., 1 wk in late Dec., and 1 wk in Sept.C A M I G L I A T E L L O30 km (19 mi) east of Cosenza.Getting HereBy car, take the Cosenza Nord exit from the A3, then follow the SS107.Visitor InformationCamigliatello tourism office (Via Roma 5 | 87052 | 0984/578159).E X P L O R I N G C A M I G L I A T E L L OLined with chalets, Camigliatello is one of the Sila Massif’s major resort towns. Most of the Sila is not mountainous at all; it is, rather, an extensive, sparselypopulated plateau with areas of thick forest. Unfortunately, there has been considerable deforestation. However, since 1968, when the area was designated anational park called Parco Nazionale della Sila, strict rules have limited the felling of timber, and forests are now regenerating. There are well-marked trails throughpine and beech woods, and ample opportunities for horseback riding. Fall and winter see droves of locals hunting mushrooms and gathering chestnuts, while skislopes near Camigliatello draw crowds.A couple of miles east of town, Lago Cecita makes a good starting point for exploring La Fossiata, a lovely wooded conservation area within the park. The touristoffice in nearby Cupone can provide maps and arrange guides. | Cupone Frazione Spezzano della Sila | 87052 | 0984/579757 | H E R E T O S T A Y I N C A M I G L I A T E L L OTasso$ | On the edge of Camigliatello, less than 1 km (½ mi) from the ski slopes, this hotel is in a peaceful, picturesque location. Don’t be put off by its oddly ’70s-erafuturistic look—the lodging is well equipped, with plenty of space for evening entertainment, including live music, and relaxation after a day of hiking or skiing.The restaurant has a terrace shaded by a walnut tree, and all rooms have balconies. There are good full-board deals in summer. Pros: beautiful surroundings; niceviews, lively atmosphere. Cons: dated architecture; two-night minimum. | Via degli Impianti Sportivi, Spezzano della Sila | 87052 | 0984/578113 || 82 rooms | In-room: no a/c. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking (free) | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Apr.–May and Nov. | BP.T R O P E A120 km (75 mi) south of Cosenza, 107 km (66 mi) north of Reggio.Getting HereBy car, exit the A3 motorway at Pizzo and follow the southbound SP6/SS522. Eight trains depart daily from Lamezia Terme.
  • 139. Visitor InformationTropea tourism office (Piazza Ercole | 89861 | 0963/61475 | X P L O R I N G T R O P E ARinged by cliffs and wonderful sandy beaches, the Tropea Promontory is still mostly undiscovered by foreign tourists. The main town of Tropea, its old palazzibuilt in simple golden stone, easily wins the contest for prettiest town on the Tyrrhenian Coast. On a clear day the seaward views from the waterfront promenadetake in Stromboli’s cone and at least four of the other Aeolians. You can visit the islands by motorboats that depart daily in summer. Accommodations are good, andbeach addicts will not be disappointed by the choice of magnificent sandy bays within easy reach. Two of the best are south at Capo Vaticano and north at Briatico.In Tropea’s harmonious warren of lanes, seek out the old Norman Cattedrale, whose interior displays a couple of unexploded U.S. bombs from World War II,with a grateful prayer to the Madonna attached to each. | Largo Duomo | 89861 | 0963/61034 | Daily 7:30–noon and 4–7.From the belvedere at the bottom of the main square, Piazza Ercole, the church and Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria dell’Isola glisten on a rockypromontory above an aquamarine sea. The path out to the church is lined with fishermen’s caves. Dating to medieval times, the church was remodeled in the Gothicstyle, then given another face-lift after an earthquake in 1905. The interior has an 18th-century Nativity and fragments of medieval tombs. At this writing, themonastery was closed for reconstruction. | Lungomare A Sorrentino | 89861 | 0963/61475.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N T R O P E APimm’s$$$ | SOUTHERN ITALIAN | Since its glory days in the 1960s, this underground restaurant in Tropea’s historic center has offered the town’s top diningexperience. Seafood is the best choice, with such specialties as pasta with sea urchins, smoked swordfish, and stuffed squid. The splendid sea views are an extraenticement. | Corso Vittorio Emanuele 2 | 89861 | 0963/666105 | DC, MC, V | Closed Mon. Oct.–May.Rocca Nettuno$$$ | Perched on the cliffs south of the town center, this large complex has reasonably spacious rooms, almost all with balconies. A favorite with British andScandanavian families, it has plenty of activities for children and a babysitting service. Some of the best—and quietest—rooms are immersed in greenery near thecliff top. Pros: family-friendly environment; 10-minute stroll from town. Cons: not the place for a quiet getaway. | Via Annunziata | 89861 | 0963/998111 | | 276 rooms | In-room: a/c, safe, refrigerator. In-hotel: 4 restaurants, bars, tennis court, pool, bicycles, spa, gym, beachfront, children’sprograms (ages 4–12), Internet terminal | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Nov.–Mar. | FAP.R E G G I O D I C A L A B R I A115 km (71 mi) south of Tropea, 499 km (311 mi) south of Naples.Getting HereThe A3 motorway runs directly to Reggio di Calabria. Five trains depart from Naples and Rome daily. There are daily flights from Rome.Visitor InformationReggio di Calabria tourism office (Via Venezia 1a | 89128 | 0965/21010 | X P L O R I N G R E G G I O D I C A L A B R I AReggio di Calabria, on the tip of Italy’s toe, is departure point for Sicily-bound ferries. It was laid low by the same catastrophic earthquake that struck Messina in1908. This raw city is one of Italy’s busiest ports, where you can find every type of container ship and smokestack.Reggio has one of southern Italy’s most important archaeological museums, the Museo Nazionale della Magna GreciaPrize exhibits here are two statues, knownas the Bronzi di Riace, that were discovered by an amateur deep-sea diver off Calabria’s Ionian Coast in 1972. Flaunting physiques gym enthusiasts would die for,the pair is thought to date from the 5th century BC and have been attributed to both Pheidias and Polykleitos. It’s possible they were taken by the Romans astrophies from the site of Delphi and then shipwrecked on the trip to Italy. The museum will be closed for restoration until at least March 2011, but in the meantimethe bronzes will be displayed in Palazzo Campanella on Via Cardinale Portanova. | Piazza De Nava 26 | 89123 | 0965/812255 | | €8 |Tues.–Sun. 9–7.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N R E G G I O D I C A L A B R I AE’Hotel$$ | A gently curving facade adds a bit of drama to this sleek modern hotel. On the seafront beside the Lido Comunale, the grand white-and-ochre building has oneof the best locations in town. Its spacious patios and open-air bars offer views over the city and the Strait of Messina. The hotel is geared to business travelers anddoubles as a conference center, so expect the service to be formal and, at times, aloof. Pros: great location; unbeatable views; luxurious rooms. Cons: can be busyduring conferences. | Via Giunchi 6 | 89121 | 0965/893000 | | 52 rooms, 4 suites | In-room: a/c, safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, roomservice, bar, pool, laundry service, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 140. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsPuglia Past and PresentP U G L I A P A S T A N D P R E S E N TPuglia has long been inhabited, conquered, and visited. On sea voyages to their colonies and trading posts in the west, the ancient Greeks invariably headed forPuglia first—it was the shortest crossing—before filtering southward into Sicily and westward to the Tyrrhenian coast. In turn, the Romans—often bound in theopposite direction—were quick to recognize the strategic importance of the peninsula. Later centuries were to see a procession of other empires raiding orcolonizing Puglia: Byzantines, Saracens, Normans, Swabians, Turks, and Spaniards all swept through, each group leaving its mark. Romanesque churches and thepowerful castles built by 13th-century Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (who also served as king of Sicily and Jerusalem), are among the most impressive of thebuildings in the region. Frederick II, dubbed Stupor Mundi (Wonder of the World) for his wide-ranging interests in literature, science, mathematics, and nature, wasone of the foremost personalities of the Middle Ages.The last 10 years have brought a huge economic revival after the decades of neglect following World War II. Having benefited from EU funding, state incentiveprograms, and subsidies for irrigation, Puglia is now Italy’s biggest producer of wine, with most of the rest of the land devoted to olives, citrus fruits, and vegetables.The main ports of Bari, Brindisi, and Taranto are thriving centers, though there remain serious problems of unemployment and poverty. However, the muchpublicized arrival of thousands of asylum seekers from Eastern Europe and beyond has not significantly destabilized these cities, as had been feared, and theeconomic and political refugees have dispersed throughout Italy. Today a strong air of prosperity wafts through the streets of Lecce, Trani, and other towns.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 141. Main Table of ContentsIntroducing SicilySicily PlannerThe Ionian CoastSiracusaThe InteriorAgrigento and Western SicilyPalermoThe Tyrrhenian CoastThe Aeolian Islands
  • 142. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsTop Reasons to Go | Getting OrientedSicily has beckoned seafaring wanderers since the trials of Odysseus were first sung in Homer’s Odyssey—perhaps the world’s first travel guide. Strategicallypoised between Europe and Africa, this mystical land of three corners and a fiery volcano once hosted two of the most enlightened capitals of the West—oneGreek, in Siracusa, and one Arab-Norman, in Palermo. The island has been a melting pot of every great civilization on the Mediterranean: Greek and Roman; thenArab and Norman; and finally French, Spanish, and Italian. Today, the ancient ports of call peacefully fuse the remains of sackings past: graceful Byzantine mosaicsstand adjacent to Greek temples, Roman amphitheaters, Romanesque cathedrals, and baroque flights of fancy.The invaders through the ages weren’t just attracted by the strategic location; they recognized a paradise in Sicily’s deep blue skies and temperate climate, its lushvegetation and rich marine life—all of which prevail to this day. Factor in Sicily’s unique cuisine—another harmony of elements, mingling Arab and Greek spices,Spanish and French techniques, and some of the world’s finest seafood, all accompanied by big, fruity wines—and you can understand why visitors continue to bedrawn here, and often find it hard to leave.In modern times, the traditional graciousness and nobility of the Sicilian people have survived side by side with the destructive influences of the Mafia under Sicily’ssemiautonomous government. Alongside some of the most exquisite architecture in the world lie the shabby, half-built results of some of the worst speculationimaginable. In recent years coastal Sicily, like much of the Mediterranean Coast, has experienced a surge in condominium development and tourism. The island hasemerged as something of an international travel hot spot, drawing increasing numbers of visitors. Astronomical prices in northern Italy have contributed to the boomin Sicily, where tourism doesn’t seem to be leveling off as it has elsewhere in the country. Brits and Germans flock in ever-growing numbers to Agrigento andSiracusa, and in high season, Japanese tour groups seem to outnumber the locals in Taormina. And yet, in Sicily’s windswept heartland, a region that tourists havebarely begun to explore, vineyards, olive groves, and lovingly kept dirt roads leading to family farmhouses still tie Sicilians to the land and to tradition, forming ahappy connectedness that can’t be defined by economic measures.T O P R E A S O N S T O G OA walk on Siracusa’s Ortygia Island: Classical ruins rub elbows with faded seaside palaces and fish markets in Sicily’s most beautiful port city, whose Duomo isliterally built on the columns of an ancient Greek temple.The palaces, churches, and crypts of Palermo: Virtually every great European empire ruled Sicily’s strategically positioned capital at some point, and it showsmost of all in the diverse architecture, from Roman to Byzantine to Arab-Norman.The Valley of the Temples, Agrigento: This stunning set of ruins is proudly perched above the sea in a grove full of almond trees; not even in Athens will youfind Greek temples this finely preserved.Taormina’s Teatro Greco: Watch a Greek tragedy in the very amphitheater where it was performed two millennia ago—in the shadow of smoking Mount Etna.G E T T I N G O R I E N T E DThis splendid island is known as Trinacria for its three corners. At the northeastern corner is Messina, connected by car and train ferry to the mainland. The easternedge of Sicily is its Ionian Coast, which continues south to Catania, Siracusa, and the island’s southeastern corner. Sicily’s northern edge is the Tyrrhenian Coast,which includes Palermo and extends out to the island’s third (western) corner.
  • 143. The Ionian Coast. For many, the Ionian Coast is all about touristy Taormina, spectacularly perched on a cliff near Mount Etna; but don’t overlook lively Catania,Sicily’s modern nerve center.Siracusa. This was one of the great powers of the classical world. Today, full of fresh fish and remarkable ruins, it’s content to be one of Italy’s most charmingcities.The Interior. In hill towns such as Enna, the interior of Sicily reveals a slower pace of life than in the frenetic coastal cities. Piazza Armerina features the VillaCasale and its ancient Roman mosaics.Western Sicily. Following the island’s northern edge west of Palermo, the western coast meanders past Monreale and its mosaics, Segesta with its temple, and thefairy-tale town of Erice. Greek ruins stand sentinel in Agrigento at the Valley of the Temples, blanketed in almond and juniper blossoms. Nearly as impressive isSelinunte, rising above rubble and overlooking the sea.Palermo. Sicily’s capital and one of Italy’s most hectic cities, Palermo conceals notes of extraordinary beauty amid the uncontained chaos of fish markets andimpossible traffic.Tyrrhenian Coast. Filled with summer beachgoers, the Tyrrhenian Coast also has several quaint villages, including Cefalù, with its famous cathedral.Aeolian Islands. You may know these tranquil islands, windswept from the Odyssey, and some of them seem to have changed little since Homer.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 144. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsMaking the Most of Your Time About the Sicilian Mafia | Finding a Place to Stay | Getting Around by Car Getting Around by Bus | Getting Around by Train |Sicilian Markets | Delicious Fish | Snacks | Local Specialties | Wines | SweetsM A K I N G T H E M O S T O F Y O U R T I M EYou should plan a visit to Sicily around Palermo, Taormina, Siracusa, and Agrigento, four don’t-miss destinations. The best way to see them all is to travel in acircle. Start your circuit in the northeast in Taormina, worth at least a night or two. If you have time, stay also in Catania, a lively, fascinating city that’s oftenoverlooked. From there, connect to the regional, two-lane SS114 toward the spectacular ancient Greek port of Siracusa, which merits at least two nights.Next, backtrack north on the SS114, and take the A19 toward Palermo. Piazza Armerina’s impressive mosaics and Enna, a sleepy mountaintop city, are worthwhilestops in the interior. Take the SS640 to the Greek temples of Agrigento. Stay here for a night before driving west along the coastal SS115, checking out Selinunte’sruins before reaching magical Erice, a good base for one night. You’re now near some of Sicily’s best beaches at San Vito Lo Capo. Take the A19 to Palermo, thechaotic and wonderful capital city, to wrap up your Sicilian experience. Give yourself at least two days here—or, ideally, four or five.A B O U T T H E S I C I L I A N M A F I AThough Sicily may conjure up images of Don Corleone and his Hollywood progeny, you won’t come in contact with the Mafia during your time in Sicily otherthan in the newspapers. The “Cosa Nostra,” as the Italians sometimes refer to it (don’t use the term yourself) is focused on its own business and poses virtually norisk to tourists.Sicily is working hard to rid itself of its Mafia heritage, with some success. Still, wandering through sleepy interior Sicilian hill towns like Corleone (yes, it’s a realplace) and Prizzi, you might be subject to some curious and guarded stares by the locals, but nothing more than that.F I N D I N G A P L A C E T O S T A YThe high-quality hotels tend to be limited to the major cities and resorts of Palermo, Catania, Taormina, Siracusa, and Agrigento, along with the odd beach resort.However, there has recently been an explosion in the development of agriturismo lodgings (rural bed-and-breakfasts), many of them quite basic but othersproviding the same facilities found in hotels. These country houses also offer all-inclusive, inexpensive full-board plans that can make for some of Sicily’s mostmemorable meals. What It Costs (In Euros) Restaurant prices are for a first course (primo), second course (secondo), and dessert (dolce). Hotel prices are for two people in a standard double room in high season, including tax and service. Restaurants Hotels ¢ under €20 under €75 $ €20–€30 €75–€125 $$ €30–€45 €125–€200
  • 145. $$$ €45–€65 €200–€300 $$$$ over €65 over €300G E T T I N G A R O U N DG E T T I N G A R O U N D B Y C A RThis is the ideal way to explore Sicily. Modern highways circle and bisect the island, making all main cities easily reachable. A20 connects Messina and Palermo;Messina and Catania are linked by A18; running through the interior, from Catania to west of Cefalù, is A19; threading west from Palermo, A29 runs to Trapaniand the airport, with a leg stretching down to Mazara del Vallo. The superstrada (highway) SS115 runs along the southern coast, and connecting superstrade lacethe island.You will likely hear stories about the dangers of driving in Sicily. Some are true, and others less so. In the big cities—especially Palermo, Catania, and Messina—streets are a honking mess, with lane markings and traffic lights taken as mere suggestions; you can avoid the chaos by leaving your car in a garage. However, onceoutside the urban areas and resort towns, the highways and regional state roads are a driving enthusiast’s dream—they’re winding, sparsely populated, and wellmaintained, and around most bends there’s a striking new view.G E T T I N G A R O U N D B Y B U SAir-conditioned coaches connect major and minor cities and are often faster and more convenient than local trains, but are also slightly more expensive. Variouscompanies serve the different routes. SAIS runs frequently between Palermo and Catania, Messina, and Siracusa, in each case arriving at and departing from nearthe train stations. Cuffaro (091/6161510 | runs between Palermo and Agrigento. On the south and east coasts and in the interior, SAIS(800/211020 toll-free | connects the main centers, including Catania, Agrigento, Enna, Taormina, and Siracusa. Interbus/Etna Trasporti(0935/565111 | operates between Catania, Caltagirone, Piazza Armerina, Taormina, Messina, and Siracusa.G E T T I N G A R O U N D B Y T R A I NThere are direct express trains from Milan and Rome to Palermo, Catania, and Siracusa. The Rome–Palermo and Rome–Siracusa trips take at least 10 hours. AfterNaples, the run is mostly along the coast, so try to book a window seat on the right if you’re not on an overnight train. At Villa San Giovanni, in Calabria, the trainis separated and loaded onto a ferryboat to cross the strait to Messina.Within Sicily, main lines connect Messina, Taormina, Siracusa, and Palermo. Secondary lines are generally very slow and unreliable. The Messina–Palermo run,along the northern coast, is especially scenic. For schedules, check the Web site of the Italian state railway, FS (892021 | A T I N G A N D D R I N K I N G W E L L I N S I C I L YSicilian cuisine is one of the oldest in existence, with records of cooking competitions dating to 600 BC. Food in Sicily today reflects the island’s unique culturalmix, imaginatively combining fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts with Italian pastas and Arab and North African elements.It is hard to eat badly in Sicily. From the lowliest of trattorias to the most highfalutin’ ristorante, you’ll find the classic dishes that have been the staples of the familydinner table for years—basically pasta and seafood. A more sophisticated place may introduce a few adventurous items onto the menu, but the main differencebetween the cheapest and the most expensive restaurants will be the level of service and the accoutrements: in more formal places you’ll find greater attention todetail and a more respectful atmosphere, while less pretentious trattorias tend to be family-run affairs, often without even a menu to guide you. However, in thismost gregarious of regions in the most convivial of countries, you can expect a lively dining experience wherever you choose to eat.S I C I L I A N M A R K E T SSicily’s natural fecundity is evident wherever you look, from the prickly pears sprouting on roadsides to the slopes of vine and citrus groves covering the inland tothe ranks of fishing boats moored in every harbor.You can come face-to-face with this bounty in the clamorous street markets of Palermo (pictured above) and Catania. Here, you’ll encounter teetering piles of olivesand oranges, enticing displays of cheeses and meats, and pastries and sweets of every description. The effect is heady and sensuous. Immerse yourself in the hustleand bustle of the Sicilian souk, and you’ll emerge enriched.D E L I C I O U S F I S HIn Sicily, naturally, you can find some of the freshest seafood in all of Italy. Pasta con le sarde (an emblematic dish that goes back to the Saracen conquerors, withfresh sardines (pictured at right), olive oil, raisins, pine nuts, and wild fennel, gets a different treatment at every restaurant. Grilled tonno (tuna) and orata (daurade)are coastal staples, while delicate ricci (sea urchins) is a specialty. King, however, is pesce spada (swordfish), best enjoyed marinato (marinated), affumicato(smoked), or as the traditional involtini di pesce spada (swordfish roulades).S N A C K SSicily offers a profusion of toothsome snacks, two prime examples being arancini (“little oranges”—rice croquettes with a cheese or meat filling; pictured below),and panelle (seasoned chickpea flour boiled to a paste, cooled, sliced, and fried), normally bought from street vendors. Other tidbits to look out for include specialfoods associated with festivals, often pastries and sweets, such as the ominously named ossa dei morti (“dead men’s bones,” rolled almond cookies). But the most
  • 146. foods associated with festivals, often pastries and sweets, such as the ominously named ossa dei morti (“dead men’s bones,” rolled almond cookies). But the mosteye-catching of all are the frutta martorana, also known as pasta reale—sweet marzipan confections shaped to resemble fruits, temptingly arrayed in bars andpasticcerie (pastry shops).L O C A L S P E C I A L T I E SMany ingredients and recipes are unique to particular Sicilian towns and regions. In Catania, for example, you’ll be offered caserecci alla Norma (a short pasta witha sauce of tomato, eggplant, ricotta, and basil), named after an opera by Bellini (a Catania native). The mandorla (bitter almond), the pride of Agrigento, plays intoeverything from risotto alle mandorle (with almonds, butter, Grana cheese, and parsley) to incomparable almond granita—an absolute must in summer. Pistachiosproduced around Bronte, on the lower slopes of Etna, go into pasta sauces as well as ice cream and granita, while capers from the Aeolian Islands add zest to saladsand fish sauces.W I N E SSicily produces more wine than all of Australia, but until recent years most of it was unimpressive. Today, Sicilian wines are up-and-coming but still among Italy’sbest bargains. The earthy Nero d’Avola grape bolsters many of Sicily’s traditionally sunny, expansive reds, but now it’s often softened with cabernet or merlot.Sicily also produces crisp white varieties such as Catarratto Biano, Inzoli, and Grillo that marry delightfully with the island’s seafood. Lipari and Pantelleria producesweet, golden Malvasia, but Marsala remains Sicily’s most famous dessert wine.S W E E T SSicily is famous for its desserts, none more than the wonderful cannoli (cannolo is the singular), whose delicate pastry shell and just-sweet-enough ricotta barelyresemble their foreign impostors. They come in all sizes, from pinkie-size bites to holiday cannoli the size of a coffee table. Even your everyday bar will display awindow piled high with dozens of varieties of ricotta-based desserts, including delicious fried balls of dough. The traditional cake of Sicily is the cassata siciliana, arich chilled sponge cake with sheep’s-milk ricotta and candied fruit. Often brightly colored, it’s the most popular dessert at many Sicilian restaurants, and youshouldn’t miss it. From behind bakery windows and glass cases beam tiny marzipan sweets fashioned into brightly colored apples, cherries, and even hamburgersand prosciutto.If it’s summer, do as the locals do and dip your morning brioche—the best in Italy—into a cup of brilliantly refreshing coffee- or almond-flavored granita. Theworld’s first ice cream is said to have been made by the Romans from the snow on the slopes of Mount Etna. Top-quality gelato is also prevalent throughout theisland.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 147. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsMessina | Taormina | Castelmola | Mount Etna | Acireale | CataniaOn the northern stretch of Sicily’s eastern coast, Messina commands an unparalleled position across the Ionian Sea from Calabria, the mountainous tip of mainlandItaly’s boot. Halfway down the coast, Catania has the vivacity of Palermo, if not the artistic wealth; the city makes a good base for exploring lofty Mount Etna, asdoes Taormina.M E S S I N A8 km (5 mi) by ferry from Villa San Giovanni, 94 km (59 mi) northeast of Catania, 237 km (149 mi) east of Palermo.Getting HereFrequent hydrofoils and ferries carry passengers across the Straits of Messina. There are many more daily departures from Villa San Giovanni than from Reggio diCalabria. Trains are ferried here from Villa San Giovanni.Visitor InformationMessina tourism office (Piazza Cairoli 45 | 98123 | 090/2935292).E X P L O R I N G M E S S I N AMessina’s ancient history lists a series of disasters, but the city nevertheless managed to develop a fine university and a thriving cultural environment. At 5:20 AMon December 28, 1908, Messina changed from a flourishing metropolis of 120,000 to a heap of rubble, shaken to pieces by an earthquake that turned into a tidalwave and left 80,000 dead and the city almost completely leveled. As you approach the city by ferry, you won’t notice any outward indication of the disaster,except for the modern countenance of a 3,000-year-old city. The somewhat flat look is a precaution of seismic planning: tall buildings are not permitted.The reconstruction of Messina’s Norman and Romanesque Duomo, originally built by the Norman king Roger II and consecrated in 1197, has retained much of theoriginal plan, including a handsome crown of Norman battlements, an enormous apse, and a splendid wood-beam ceiling. The adjoining bell tower contains one ofthe largest and most complex mechanical clocks in the world, constructed in 1933 with a host of gilded automatons, including a roaring lion, that spring into actionevery day at the stroke of noon. | Piazza del Duomo | 98122 | 090/774895 | Weekdays 7:20–7, weekends 7:20–12:30 and 4–7.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N M E S S I N AAl Padrino.$ | SICILIAN | The jovial owner of this stripped-down trattoria keeps everything running smoothly. Meat and fish dishes are served with equal verve in the white-wall dining room. Start with antipasti like eggplant stuffed with ricotta, then move on to supremely Sicilian dishes such as pasta with chickpeas or polpette dialalunga (albacore croquettes). | Via Santa Cecilia 54 | 98123 | 090/2921000 | MC, V | Closed Sun. and Aug. No dinner Sat.Grand Hotel Liberty.$$ | Across from the train station, this hotel is a haven from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets. There’s meticulous attention to detail in the publicrooms, which are sumptuously fitted out in a black-and-white neoclassical style. Marble adds a touch of elegance. The bedrooms are plainer, but comfortablyequipped. Cold meals are available in-house; hotel guests also get discounts on fixed-price meals at a restaurant two doors down. Pros: close to bus and train
  • 148. equipped. Cold meals are available in-house; hotel guests also get discounts on fixed-price meals at a restaurant two doors down. Pros: close to bus and trainstations; plush public rooms. Cons: carpets a bit threadbare; poor views from most rooms. | Via I Settembre 15 | 98123 | 090/6409436 | | 48rooms, 3 junior suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator, DVD (some). In-hotel: bar, Internet terminal | AE, DC, MC, V | BP | Closed 2 wks in Dec. and 6 wks insummer.T A O R M I N A43 km (27 mi) southwest of Messina.Getting HereBuses from Messina or Catania arrive near the center of Taormina, while trains from these towns pull in at the station at the bottom of the hill. Local buses bring youthe rest of the way. A cable car takes passengers up the hill from a parking lot about 2 km (1 mi) north of the train station.Visitor InformationTaormina tourism office (Palazzo Corvaja, Piazza Santa Caterina | 98039 | 0942/23243 | X P L O R I N G T A O R M I N AThe medieval cliff-hanging town of Taormina is overrun with tourists, but its natural beauty is still hard to dispute. The view of the sea and Mount Etna from itsjagged cactus-covered cliffs is as close to perfection as a panorama can get, especially on clear days, when the snowcapped volcano’s white puffs of smoke riseagainst the blue sky. Writers have extolled Taormina’s beauty almost since its founding in the 6th century BC by Greeks from Naples; Goethe and D. H. Lawrencewere among its well-known enthusiasts. The town’s boutique-lined main streets get old pretty quickly, but don’t overlook the many hiking paths that wind throughthe beautiful hills surrounding Taormina. Nor should you miss the trip up to stunning Castelmola—whether by foot or by car.Below the main city of Taormina is Taormina Mare, where beachgoers jostle for space on the minuscule pebble beach in summer. Taormina Mare is accessible bya funivia (Down hill from town center | 0942/23906 | €2.50 one-way, €3.50 round-trip | Daily 8–8), or suspended cable car, that glides past incredible views on itsway down. It departs every 15 minutes. In June, July, and August, the normal hours are extended until midnight or later.The Greeks put a premium on finding impressive locations to stage their dramas, such as Taormina’s hillside Teatro Greco. Beyond the columns you can see thetown’s rooftops spilling down the hillside, the arc of the coastline, and Mount Etna in the distance. The theater was built during the 3rd century BC and rebuilt bythe Romans during the 2nd century AD. Its acoustics are exceptional: even today a stage whisper can be heard in the last rows. In summer Taormina hosts an artsfestival of music and dance events and a film festival; many performances are held in the Teatro Greco. | Via Teatro Greco | 98039 | 0942/620198 | €6 | Daily 9–1hr before sunset.Many of Taormina’s 14th- and 15th-century palaces have been carefully preserved. Especially beautiful is the Palazzo Corvaja, with characteristic black-lava andwhite-limestone inlays. Today it houses the tourist office and the Museo di Arte e Storia Popolare, which has a collection of puppets and folk art, carts and cribs. |Largo Santa Caterina | 98039 | 0942/610274 | Museum €2.60 | Museum Tues.–Sun. 9–1 and 4–8.Stroll down Via Bagnoli Croce from the main Corso Umberto to the Villa Comunale. Also known as the Parco Duca di Cesarò, the lovely public gardens weredesigned by Florence Trevelyan Cacciola, a Scottish lady “invited” to leave England following a romantic liaison with the future Edward VII (1841–1910).Arriving in Taormina in 1889, she married a local professor and devoted herself to the gardens, filling them with Mediterranean plants, ornamental pavilions(known as the beehives), and fountains. Stop by the panoramic bar, which has stunning views. | Daily 9 AM–sunset.A 20-minute walk along the Via Crucis footpath takes you to the medieval Castello Saraceno, perched on an adjoining cliff above town. (You can also drive, ofcourse.) The gate is often locked, but it’s worth the climb just for the panoramic views. | Monte Tauro | 98039 | No phone.Quick Bites in TaorminaA marzipan devotee should not leave Taormina without trying one of the almond sweets—maybe in the guise of the ubiquitous fico d’India (prickly pear) or inmore unusual frutta martorana (fruit-shape) varieties—at Pasticceria Etna (Corso Umberto 112 | 98039 | 0942/24735). A block of almond paste makes a goodsouvenir—you can bring it home to make an almond latte or granita. It’s closed Monday.W H E R E T O E A T I N T A O R M I N ABella Blu.¢ | SICILIAN | If you fancy a meal with a view but don’t want to spend a lot, it would be hard to do much better than to come here for the decent €18 three-courseprix-fixe meal. Seafood is the specialty; try the spaghetti with fresh clams and mussels. Through giant picture windows you can watch the gondola fly up and downfrom the beach, with the coastline in the distance. A pianist performs Saturday night in winter. | Via Pirandello 28 | 98039 | 0942/24239 | | AE, DC,MC, V.La Giara.$$$ | SICILIAN | This restaurant, named after a giant vase unearthed under the bar, is famous for being one of Taormina’s oldest restaurants. The food’s not bad,either. The kitchen blends upscale modern techniques with the simple flavors of traditional specialties. The restaurant specializes in everything fish: one spectaculardish is the fish cartoccio (wrapped in paper and baked). You can extend your evening by enjoying an after-dinner drink at the popular, if touristy, piano bar.There’s also a terrace with stunning views. | Vico La Floresta 1 | 98039 | 0942/23360 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun. Apr.–Oct. andSun.–Fri. Nov.–Mar. No lunch.La Piazzetta.
  • 149. $$ | SICILIAN | Sheltered from the city’s hustle and bustle, this elegant little eatery exudes a mood of relaxed sophistication. Classic dishes such as risotto allamarinara (with seafood) are competently prepared, the grilled fish is extremely fresh, and the service is informal and friendly. The modest room has simple whitewalls—you’re not paying for a view. | Vico Francesco Paladini, off Corso Umberto | 98039 | 0942/626317 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon., Nov., and Feb.L’Arco dei Cappuccini.$$ | SICILIAN | Just off Via Costantino Patricio lies this diminutive restaurant. Outdoor seating and an upstairs kitchen help make room for a few extra tables—anecessity, as locals are well aware that neither the price nor the quality is equaled elsewhere in town. Indulge in sorpressa di polipo (steamed octopus carpaccio),linguine alle vongole veraci (with clam sauce), or the fresh catch of the day. Reservations are usually essential for more than two people. | Via Cappuccini 5A, offVia Costantino Patricio | 98039 | 0942/24893 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Wed., Feb., and 1 wk in Nov.Vecchia Taormina.¢ | PIZZA | Warm, inviting, and unassuming, Taormina’s best pizzeria produces deliciously seared crusts topped with fresh, well-balanced ingredients. Try thepizza alla Norma, featuring the classic Sicilian combination of eggplant and ricotta—here, in the province of Messina, it’s made with ricotta al forno (cookedricotta), while in the province of Catania, it’s made with ricotta salata (uncooked, salted ricotta). The restaurant also offers fresh fish in summer, and there’s a goodlist of Sicilian wines. Choose between small tables on two levels or on a terrace. | Vico Ebrei 3 | 98039 | 0942/625589 | AE, DC, MC, V.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N T A O R M I N AFodor’s Choice | Grand Hotel Timeo.$$$$ | The deluxe Timeo—on a princely perch overlooking the town—wears a graceful patina that suggests la dolce vita. A splash of baroque mixes with theMediterranean in the lobby, which has tile- and brickwork and vaulted ceilings. Wrought-iron and wicker chairs surround marble tables in the original bar from1873 (made of gesso) and on the adjoining palatial patio. Exquisite moldings hang on walls the color of butter. Fine linens and drapes, Oriental rugs, and prints ingilt frames decorate the rooms, 32 of which are in the neighboring Villa Flora. Ask for a room with a terrace—given the extraordinary prices you’re already paying,it’s worth a few more euros to be able to gaze over one of Italy’s most memorable vistas. Pros: feeling of indulgence; central location; quiet setting. Cons: veryexpensive; some rooms are small; staff can be scarce. | Via Teatro Greco 59 | 98039 | 0942/23801 | | 83 rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator,Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bar, pool, gym, spa, Wi-Fi hotspot | AE, DC, MC, V | MAP.Hotel Villa Paradiso.$$ | On the edge of the old quarter, overlooking the lovely public gardens and facing the sea, this smaller hotel is not as well known as some of its neighbors. Butwith views of Etna from many rooms, delightful service, and a good rooftop restaurant, it’s only a matter of time. Proprietor Salvatore Martorana will gladly sharestories of Taormina in Goethe’s day over an aperitivo. A regular hotel bus service runs to the beach between May and October. Pros: friendly service; good value;great rooftop views. Cons: only three free parking spaces; not all rooms have views; disappointing food. | Via Roma 2 | 98039 | 0942/23921 | | 20 rooms, 17 junior suites | In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bar, beachfront, Internet terminal, Wi-Fi hotspot | AE, DC,MC, V | BP.San Domenico Palace.$$$$ | Sweeping views from this converted 15th-century Dominican monastery linger in your mind: the sensuous gardens—full of red trumpet flowers,bougainvillea, and lemon trees—afford a dramatic vista of the castle, the sea, and Mount Etna. Expect luxury and ease at this hotel, considered to be among the bestin Europe. Rooms have hand-painted or hand-carved furnishings, exquisite linens, and ultramodern amenities. Not all have sea views, but at this price you shouldmake sure to ask for one. The San Domenico’s Renaissance flavor is preserved by two exquisite cloisters, convent rooms, and the chapel, now a conference facility.Pros: overflowing with character; attentive service; quiet and restful. Cons: very expensive; dull corridors; some small rooms. | Piazza San Domenico 5 | 98039 |0942/613111 | | 87 rooms, 15 suites | In-room: refrigerator, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 3 restaurants, room service, bar, pool, gym, Internet terminal |AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Villa Ducale.$$$ | The former summer residence of a local aristocrat has been converted into a luxurious hotel. Individually styled rooms, furnished with antiques, each havetheir own balconies with a view. An intimate wood-paneled library is at once homelike and romantic, and the vast roof terrace, where a fantastic breakfast is served,takes full advantage of the wide panorama embracing Etna and the bay below. It’s a 10- to 15-minute walk to the center of Taormina; in summer a free shuttle buswhisks you to the area’s best beaches or to the city center. Pros: away from the hubbub; fantastic views. Cons: long walk to the center. | Via Leonardo da Vinci 60 |98039 | 0942/28153 | | 10 rooms, 6 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator. In-hotel: bar, gym, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V |Closed 1 month in winter (exact dates vary) | BP.Villa Fiorita.$–$$ | This converted private home near the cable-car station has excellent north-coast views from nearly every room. Rooms vary in size and furnishings, but mostare bright, breezy, and colorful, with large windows and balconies (do ask). Prices are reasonable considering amenities like the compact swimming pool and thegarden. You have to climb 65 steps to get to the elevator. Pros: good rates; pretty rooms. Cons: service can be slack; lots of stairs to climb. | Via Pirandello 39 |98039 | 0942/24122 | | 24 rooms, 2 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator. In-hotel: room service, bar, pool | AE, MC, V | BP.N I G H T L I F E A N D T H E A R T S I N T A O R M I N AThe Teatro Greco and the Palazzo dei Congressi, near the entrance to the theater, are the main venues for the summer festival dubbed Taoarte (0942/21142 |, held each year between June and August. Performances encompass classical music, ballet, and theater. The famous Taormina FilmFestival ( takes place in June . The Teatro dei Due Mari (Via Teatro Greco | 98039 | 0941/243176 | stagesGreek tragedy at the Teatro Greco, usually in May.C A S T E L M O L A5 km (3 mi) west of Taormina.
  • 150. Getting HereRegular buses bound for Castelmola leave from two locations in Taormina: the bus station on Via Pirandello and Piazza San Pancrazio.E X P L O R I N G C A S T E L M O L AAlthough many believe that Taormina has the most spectacular views, tiny Castelmola, floating 1,800 feet above sea level, takes the word “scenic” to a whole newlevel. Along the cobblestone streets within the ancient walls, the 360-degree panoramas of mountain, sea, and sky are so ubiquitous that you almost get used to them(but not quite). Collect yourself with a sip of the sweet almond wine (best served cold) made in the local bars, or with lunch at one of the humble pizzerias or panino(sandwich) shops.Fodor’s Choice | Castello Normanno,reached by a set of steep staircases rising out of the town center. In all Sicily, there may be no spot more scenic than atop the castle ruins, where you can gaze upontwo coastlines, smoking Mount Etna, and the town spilling down the mountainside. You can visit anytime, but come during daylight hours for the view.A 10-minute drive on a winding but well-paved road leads from Taormina to Castelmola; you must park in one of the public lots on the hillside below and climb aseries of staircases to reach the center. On a nice day, hikers are in for a treat if they walk instead of drive. It’s a serious uphill climb, but the 1½-km (¾-mi) path isextremely well maintained and not too challenging. You’ll begin at Porta Catania in Taormina, with a walk along Via Apollo Arcageta past the Chiesa di SanFrancesco di Paolo on the left. The Strada Comunale della Chiusa then leads past Piazza Andromaco, revealing good views of the jagged promontory ofCocolanazzo di Mola to the north. Allow around an hour on the way up, a half hour down. There’s another, slightly longer—2-km (1-mi)—path that heads up fromPorta Messina past the Roman aqueduct, Convento dei Cappuccini, and the northeastern side of Monte Tauro. You could take one path up and the other down. Inany case, avoid the midday sun, wear comfortable shoes, and carry plenty of water with you.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N C A S T E L M O L AIl Vicolo.¢–$ | SICILIAN | This is one of the simpler dining choices in town, and also one of the better ones. It might not boast the views you’ll find elsewhere, but a pleasantrustic ambience and a great selection of handmade pasta and, in the evening, forno a legna (wood-fired-oven) pizzas make up for that shortcoming (in winter, pizzasare served weekends only). Friendly staff serves the food in a pleasant little room along a side street. | Via Pio IX 26 | 98030 | 0942/28481 or 331/9094077 | | MC, V | Closed Tues. Nov.–June and 2 wks late Jan.–early Feb.Ristorante Pizzichella.$ | ITALIAN | On the road heading down to Taormina stands this three-level terrace restaurant. The food—seafood dishes like mixed shellfish risotto, grilledprawns or swordfish, and pizzas from a wood-burning oven—is eclipsed by the memorable views from almost every table on the terraces. | Via Madonna dellaScala 1 | 98030 | 0942/28831 | | AE, MC, V | Closed Wed. Oct.–Apr. and occasionally on other days in winter.Villa Sonia.$$ | All of the rooms at Castelmola’s best hotel have private terraces with spectacular views. Along with a refreshing swimming pool, public spaces include a sauna,a lobby, bar, and lounge that take advantage of the vistas, plus a restaurant with a wine bar and wine store called Enoteca Divino. A shuttle to the beach, about 2 kmaway (via hilly terrain), is available for €7 round-trip. The rates are a good value when you bear in mind the price gouging in nearby Taormina. Pros: far from themadding crowds; stupendous views. Cons: not much to do in the evening; a bit old-fashioned. | Via Porta Mola 9 | 98030 | 0942/28082 | |42 rooms, 2 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, pool, gym, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Dec.–Feb. | BP.N I G H T L I F E I N C A S T E L M O L AThe famous Bar Turrisi (Piazza del Duomo 19 | 98030 | 0942/28181 | is truly one of the most unusual places to have a drink in all of Italy. Thecozy nooks and crannies of its three levels are decked out with phallus images of every size, shape, and color imaginable, from bathroom wall murals inspired bythe brothels of ancient Greece to giant wooden carvings honoring Dionysus. The roof terrace has extraordinary views of Taormina and the coast.The Bar San Giorgio (Piazza San Antonino | 98030 | 0942/28228) has lorded over Castelmola’s town square since 1907. The interior of the bar is filled withknickknacks that tell a fascinating history of the tiny town.M O U N T E T N A64 km (40 mi) southwest of Taormina, 30 km (19 mi) north of Catania.Getting HereReaching the lower slopes of Mount Etna is easy, either by driving yourself or taking a bus from Catania. Getting to the more interesting higher levels requirestaking one of the stout four-wheel-drive minibuses that leave from Piano Provenzana on the north side and Rifugio Sapienza on the south side. A cable car fromRifugio Sapienza takes you part of the way.Visitor InformationNicolosi tourism office (Piazza Vittorio Emanuele 32/33, | Nicolosi | 95030 | 095/914488 | Funivia dell’Etna (Piazza Vittorio Emanuele 45,| Nicolosi | 95030 (095/914141 or 095/914142 | X P L O R I N G M O U N T E T N AFodor’s Choice | Mount Etna
  • 151. Fodor’s Choice | Mount Etnais one of the world’s major active volcanoes and is the largest and highest in Europe—the cone of the crater rises to 10,902 feet above sea level. Plato sailed in justto catch a glimpse in 387 BC; in the 9th century AD, the oldest gelato of all was shaved off its snowy slopes; and in the 21st century the volcano still claims annualheadlines. Etna has erupted a dozen times in the past 30 or so years, most spectacularly in 1971, 1983, 2001, 2002, and 2005; there were a pair of medium-sizeeruptions in 2008 and one in 2009. Travel in the proximity of the crater depends on Mount Etna’s temperament, but you can walk up and down the enormous lavadunes and wander over its moonlike surface of dead craters. The rings of vegetation change markedly as you rise, with vineyards and pine trees gradually givingway to growths of broom and lichen.Club Alpino Italianoin Catania is a great resource for Mount Etna climbing and hiking guides. If you have some experience and don’t like a lot of hand-holding, these are the guides foryou. | Piazza Scammacca 1 | 95031 | 095/7153515 | you’re a beginning climber, call the Gruppo Guide Etna Nord to arrange for a guide. Their service is a little more personalized—and expensive—than others.Reserve ahead. | Via Roma 93 | 95015, | Linguaglossa | 095/7774502 | of climbing up Mount Etna, you can circle it on the Circumetnea, which runs near the volcano’s base. The private railway almost circles the volcano,running 114 km (71 mi) between Catania and Riposto—the towns are 30 km (19 mi) apart by the coast road. The line is small, slow, and only single-track, but hassome dramatic vistas of the volcano and goes through lava fields. The round-trip takes about four hours; there are about 10 departures a day. | Via Caronda 352 |95028, | Catania | 095/541250 | | €11.50 round-trip | Mon.–Sat. 6 AM–9 PM.Off the Beaten PathThe villages that surround Mount Etna offer much more than pretty views of the smoldering giant. They are charming and full of character in their own right, andmake good bases for visiting nearby cities such as Catania, Acireale, and Taormina. Zafferana Etnea is famous for its orange-blossom honey; Nicolosi, at nearly3,000 feet, is known as La Porta dell’Etna (The Door to Etna); Trecastagni (The Three Chestnut Trees) has one of Sicily’s most beautiful Renaissance churches;Randazzo, the largest of the surrounding towns, is the site of a popular Sunday-morning wood, textile, and metalwork market; and Bronte is Italy’s center ofpistachio cultivation. The bars there offer various pistachio delicacies such as nougat, colomba (Easter sponge cake), panettone (Christmas fruitcake), and ice cream.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N M O U N T E T N AHotel Villa Paradiso dell’Etna.$$$ | This 1920s hotel 10 km (6 mi) northeast of Catania was a haunt for artists before General Rommel took over during World War II. When the tide turned in thewar, it became a military hospital. Today, after a painstaking renovation, Paradiso dell’Etna resembles an elegant private villa housing mementos of a memorablepast. The hotel has four exceptional suites and 29 sumptuous rooms, each filled with tasteful 19th-century Sicilian antiques and all the modern accessories befitting afour-star hotel—the pool is even heated. Pros: beautiful furnishings; delightful gardens; excellent food. Cons: difficult to find; not much to do in the area. | Via perViagrande 37, | 95037 | San Giovanni La Punta; exit A18 ME-CT toward San Gregorio, or A19 PA-CT toward Paesi Etnei | 095/7512409 | |29 rooms, 4 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bar, pool, gym, spa, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking (free) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.A C I R E A L E40 km (25 mi) south of Taormina, 16 km (10 mi) north of Catania.Getting HereBuses arrive frequently from Taormina and Catania. Acireale is on the main coastal train route, though the station is a long walk south of the center. Local busespass every 20 minutes or so.Visitor InformationAcireale tourism office (Via Oreste Scionti 15 | 95024 | 095/891999 | X P L O R I N G A C I R E A L EAcireale sits amid a clutter of rocky pinnacles and lush lemon groves. The craggy coast is known as the Riviera dei Ciclopi, after the legend narrated in the Odysseyin which the blinded Cyclops Polyphemus hurled boulders at the retreating Ulysses, thus creating spires of rock, or faraglioni (pillars of rock rising dramatically outof the sea). Tourism has barely taken off here, so it’s a good destination if you feel the need to put some distance between yourself and the busloads of tourists inTaormina. And though the beaches are rocky, there’s good swimming here, too.The Carnival celebrations, held the two weeks before Lent, are considered the best in Sicily. The streets are jammed with thousands of revelers. Acireale is an easyday trip from Catania.Begin your visit to Acireale with a stroll down to the public gardens, Villa Belvedere, at the end of the main Corso Umberto, for superb coastal views.With its cupola and twin turrets, Acireale’s Duomo is an extravagant baroque construction dating to the 17th century. In the chapel to the right of the altar, look forthe 17th-century silver statue of Santa Venera, patron saint of Acireale, made by Mario D’Angelo, and the early-18th-century frescoes by Antonio Filocamo. |Piazza del Duomo | 95024 | 095/601797 | Daily 8–noon and 4–7:30.The sulfur-rich volcanic waters from Mount Etna found at Terme di Acireale were first enjoyed by the ancient Greeks. Book in advance to use the baths and enjoyspa treatments, or just show up and wander around the gardens for free. | Via delle Terme 47 | 95024 | 095/7686111 or 095/601250 | |Baths €2, gardens free | May–Oct., daily 9–8; Nov.–Apr., daily 9–1.
  • 152. Lord Byron (1788–1824) visited the Belvedere di Santa Caterina to look out over the Ionian Sea during his Italian wanderings. The viewing point is south of theold town, near the Terme di Acireale, off SS114.Quick Bites in AcirealeEl Dorado(Corso Umberto 5 | 95024 | 095/601464) serves delicious ice creams, and the granita di mandorla (almond granita), available in summer, invites a firsthandacquaintance. It’s closed Thursday between October and March.W H E R E T O E A T I N A C I R E A L ELa Grotta.$$ | SICILIAN | This rustic trattoria above the harbor of Santa Maria La Scala hides a dining room within a cave, part of whose wall is exposed. Try the insalata dimare (a selection of delicately boiled fish served with lemon and olive oil), pasta with clams or cuttlefish ink, or fish grilled over charcoal. Chef Rosario Strano’smenu is small, but there isn’t a dud among the selections. | Via Scalo Grande 46 | 95024 | 095/7648153 | Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Tues. andmid-Oct.–mid-Nov.N I G H T L I F E A N D T H E A R T S I N A C I R E A L EAlthough it has died out in most other parts of the island, the puppet-theater tradition carries on in Acireale. The Teatro dell’Opera dei Pupi (Via Alessi 11 | 95024| 095/606272 | has puppet shows and a puppet exhibit.S H O P P I N G I N A C I R E A L EAcireale is renowned in Sicily for its marzipan, made into fruit shapes and delicious biscuits available at many pasticcerie (pastry shops) around town. Open since1953, Castorina (Piazza del Duomo 20 | 95024 | 095/601546) sells marzipan candies (and cute gift boxes for them). A unique creation at Belvedere (CorsoUmberto 230 | 95024 | 095/894164) is the nucatole, a large cookie made with heaping quantities of chocolate, Nutella, nuts, and other wholesome ingredients.E N R O U T E F R O M A C I R E A L EAci Castello and Aci Trezza.These two gems of the coastline between Acireale and Catania—the Riviera dei Ciclopi (Cyclops Riviera)—fill with city dwellers in the summer months, but evenin colder weather their beauty is hard to fault. Heading south from Acireale on the litoranea (coastal) road, you’ll first reach Aci Trezza, said to be the land of theblind Cyclops in Homer’s Odyssey. Legend has it that when the Cyclops threw boulders at Odysseus they became the faraglioni offshore. It should be easy tosatisfy your literal (rather than literary) hunger at Trattoria da Federico (Via Provinciale 115, | 95021 | Aci Trezza | 095/276364 | Closed Mon.), which lays out asprawling antipasto buffet featuring delectable marinated anchovies and eggplant parmigiana. Less developed than Aci Trezza, Aci Castello has its own fish housesplus the imposing Castello Normanno (Norman Castle), which sits right on the water. The castle was built in the 11th century with volcanic rock from Mount Etna—the same rock that forms the coastal cliffs.C A T A N I A16 km (10 mi) south of Acireale, 94 km (59 mi) south of Messina, 60 km (37 mi) north of Siracusa.Getting HereCatania is well connected by bus and train with Messina, Taormina, Siracusa, Enna, and Palermo.Visitor InformationCatania tourism office (Via Cimarosa 10 | 95124 | 095/7306222 | Stazione Centrale | 95129 | 095/7306255 | Aeroporto Fontanarossa | 95121 | 095/7306266).E X P L O R I N G C A T A N I AThe chief wonder of Catania, Sicily’s second city, is that it is there at all. Its successive populations were deported by one Greek tyrant, sold into slavery by another,and driven out by the Carthaginians. Every time the city got back on its feet it was struck by a new calamity: plague decimated the population in the Middle Ages, amile-wide stream of lava from Mount Etna swallowed part of the city in 1669, and 25 years later a disastrous earthquake forced the Catanese to begin again.Today Catania is completing yet another resurrection—this time from crime, filth, and urban decay. Although the city remains loud and full of traffic, signs ofgentrification are everywhere. The elimination of vehicles from the Piazza del Duomo and the main artery of Via Etnea, and scrubbing of many of the historicbuildings has added to Catania’s newfound charm. Home to what is arguably Sicily’s best university, Catania is full of exuberant youth, and it shows in the chicosterie (taverns) that serve wine, designer bistros, and trendy ethnic boutiques that have popped up all over town. Even more impressive is the vibrant cultural life.Each February 3–5, the Festa di Sant’Agata (095/7306222) honors Catania’s patron saint with one of Italy’s biggest religious festivals. A staggering number ofpeople crowd the streets and piazzas for several processions and music, dancing, art, theater, and all-out street partying. Many of the town’s buildings areconstructed from three-centuries-old lava; the black buildings combine with baroque architecture to give the city a singular appearance. Nowhere is this clearer thanin the centro storico (historic center). Don’t miss the stunning Piazza Università, a nerve center made interesting by the facade of a majestic old university building,and the nearby Castello Ursino.At the heart of Piazza del Duomo, which is closed to traffic, stands an elephant carved out of lava, balancing an Egyptian obelisk—the city’s informal mascot,called “u Liotru,” the Sicilian pronunciation of Heliodorus, an 8th-century sorcerer tied by legend to the origins of the statue.The piazza shines from a 21st-century
  • 153. called “u Liotru,” the Sicilian pronunciation of Heliodorus, an 8th-century sorcerer tied by legend to the origins of the statue.The piazza shines from a 21st-centuryrenovation. From here you can look way down the long, straight Via Garibaldi to see a black-and-white-striped fortress and entrance to the city, the Porta Garibaldi.The Giovanni Vaccarini–designed facade of the Cattedrale di Sant’Agata (Duomo) dominates the Piazza del Duomo. Inside the church, composer VincenzoBellini is buried. Also of note are the three apses of lava that survive from the original Norman structure and a fresco from 1675 in the sacristy that portraysCatania’s submission to Etna’s attack. A guided tour of the museum is available with a reservation. Across from the Cattedrale are underground ruins of Greco-Roman baths. | Piazza del Duomo, bottom end of Via Etnea | 95121 | 095/320044, 095/281635 tour reservations | Daily 7–noon and 4–7.Via Etneais host to one of Sicily’s most enthusiastic passeggiate (early-evening strolls), in which Catanese of all ages take part. Closed to automobile traffic until 10 PMduring the week and all day on weekends, the street is lined with cafés and jewelry, clothing, and shoe stores.Catania’s greatest native son was the composer Vincenzo Bellini (1801–35), whose operas have thrilled audiences since their premieres in Naples and Milan. Hishome, now the Museo Belliniano, preserves memorabilia of the man and his work. | Piazza San Francesco 3 | 95124 | 095/7150535 | Free | Mon.–Sat. 9–1.An underground river, the Amenano, flows through much of Catania. You can glimpse it at the Fontana dell’Amenano, but the best place to experience the river isat the bar-restaurant of the Agorà Youth Hostel. Here you can sit at an underground table as swirls of water rush by. If you’re not there when the bar is open,someone at the reception desk can let you in. | Piazza Currò 6 | 95121 | 095/7233010 | Bites in CataniaThe lively Pasticceria Savia (Via Etnea 302/304 and Via Umberto 2 near Villa Bellini | 95028 | 095/322335 | makes superlative arancini (friedrisotto balls) with ragù (a slow-cooked, tomato-based meat sauce). Or you could choose cannoli or other snacks to munch on while you rest. It’s closed Monday.W H E R E T O E A T I N C A T A N I AAmbasciata del Mare.$$ | SICILIAN | When a seafood restaurant sits next door to a fish market, it bodes well for the food’s freshness. Choose swordfish or gamberoni (large shrimp)from a display case in the front of the restaurant, then enjoy it simply grilled with oil and lemon. This simple, bright, and cozy place could not be friendlier or moreeasily accessed—it’s right on the corner of Piazza del Duomo by the fountain. Book early. | Piazza del Duomo 6/7 | 95121 | 095/341003 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon.La Siciliana.$$ | SICILIAN | Salvo La Rosa and sons serve memorable seafood and meat dishes, exquisite homemade desserts, and a choice of more than 220 wines. Therestaurant specializes in the ancient dish ripiddu nivicatu (risotto with cuttlefish ink and fresh ricotta cheese), as well as sarde a beccafico (stuffed sardines) andcalamari ripieni alla griglia (stuffed and grilled squid). A meal at this fine eatery more than justifies the short taxi ride 3 km (2 mi) north of the city center. | VialeMarco Polo 52 | 95126 | 095/376400 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon. No dinner Sun.Ristorante-Pizzeria Vico Santa Filomena.¢ | PIZZA | This typical forno a legna pizzeria, on a narrow side street off Via Umberto, is one of the most respected in the city for its outstanding “apizza,” as thelocals call it. Enjoy it as Catanians do: only at night, and with a beer or soda—never wine. The pizzas are named after saints or Sicilian cities. The antipasti spreadsare delicious, as are the meat and seafood dishes. The setting is simple, with brick arches and a few agricultural tools displayed on the exposed stone walls. Expect along wait on weekend evenings. | Vico Santa Filomena 35 | 95129 | 095/316761 | MC, V | Closed Mon.Sicilia in Bocca alla Marina.$–$$ | SICILIAN | This bright, bustling seafood restaurant near the marina is a Catania institution, favored by locals for its faithful renditions of traditional cusine.The well-thought-out wine list includes more than 200 Sicilian wines. | Via Dusmet 35 | 95121 | 095/315472 | | MC, V | No lunch Mon.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N C A T A N I AExcelsior Grand Hotel.$$$ | This large, modern hotel sits in a quiet part of downtown Catania. Ask for a room facing Piazza Verga, a neat tree-lined square. The atmosphere is restrained,with a spacious, marbled lobby. Impeccably designed rooms have a careful balance of neoclassical and new furnishings, and double-pane windows add to thepeace. The service can be erratic, as the hotel tends to fill up with groups. The American Bar should provide solace if you’re craving a Manhattan. Pros: efficientstaff; modern facilities; clean rooms. Cons: chain hotel lacking personality; a longish walk from the main sights. | Piazza Verga 39 | 95129 | 095/7476111 | | 158 rooms, 18 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bar, gym, spa | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Fodor’s Choice | Residence Angiolucci.$$ | This renovated 19th-century palazzo is stunning—not just for the impressive detail of the restoration work, but even more for the elegance of the modernapartments inside. Almost all of the gleaming units (even the studios) have two floors—unique in eastern Sicily—and all have basic kitchen fittings, including amicrowave. Some also have large living rooms. There are discounts for weeklong stays. Pros: friendly service; elegant building; nice kitchens. Cons: rooms a littlesterile; limited parking. | Via E. Pantano 1B | 95129 | 095/3529420 | | 30 apartments | In-room: safe, kitchen, Internet. In-hotel:room service, laundry service, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | EP, BP.S H O P P I N G I N C A T A N I ACatania is justly famous for its sweets and bar snacks. Sample the hustle and bustle of Catania at Café del Duomo (Piazza Duomo 11–13 | 95124 | 095/7150556),which has handmade cookies and cakes and a great local atmosphere.The selection of almond-based delights from I Dolci di Nonna Vincenza (Palazzo Biscari, Piazza San Placido 7 | 95124 | 095/7151844 |
  • 154. | Aeroporto Fontanarossa | 95121 | 095/7234522 | Stazione Marittima main | No phone) may be small, but everything is fresh andphenomenally good. International shipping is available.The outdoor fish and food market, which begins on Via Zappala Gemelli and emanates in every direction from Piazza di Benedetto, is one of Italy’s mostmemorable markets. It’s a feast for the senses: thousands of impeccably fresh fish, some still wriggling, plus endless varieties of meats, ricotta, and fresh produce,and a symphony of vendor shouts to fill the ears. Open Monday–Saturday, the market is at its best in the early morning.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 155. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsArchaeological Zone | Ortygia IslandSiracusa, known to English speakers as Syracuse, is a wonder to behold. One of the great ancient capitals of Western civilization, the city was founded in 734 BCby Greek colonists from Corinth and soon grew to rival, and even surpass, Athens in splendor and power; Siracusa became the largest, wealthiest city-state in theWest and a bulwark of Greek civilization. Although the city lived under tyranny, rulers such as Dionysus filled their courts with Greeks of the highest artistic stature—among them Pindar, Aeschylus, and Archimedes. The Athenians did not welcome the rise of Siracusa and set out to conquer Sicily, but the natives outsmartedthem in what was one of the greatest naval battles of ancient history (413 BC). Siracusa continued to prosper until it was conquered two centuries later by theRomans.Siracusa still has some of the finest examples of baroque art and architecture; dramatic Greek and Roman ruins; and a Duomo that is the stuff of legend, amicrocosm of the city’s entire history in one building. The modern city also has a wonderful lively baroque old town worthy of extensive exploration, pleasantpiazzas, outdoor cafés and bars, and a wide assortment of excellent seafood. There are essentially two areas to explore in Siracusa: the Parco Archeologico, on themainland; and the island of Ortygia, the ancient city first inhabited by the Greeks, which juts out into the Ionian Sea and is connected to the mainland by two smallbridges. Ortygia is becoming increasingly popular with tourists and is starting to lose its old-fashioned charm in favor of modern boutiques.Siracusa’s old nucleus of Ortygia is a compact area, a pleasure to amble around without getting unduly tired. In contrast, mainland Siracusa is a grid of wideravenues. At the northern end of Corso Gelone, above Viale Paolo Orsi, the orderly grid gives way to the ancient quarter of Neapolis, where the sprawling ParcoArcheologico is accessible from Viale Teracati (an extension of Corso Gelone). East of Viale Teracati, about a 10-minute walk from the Parco Archeologico, thedistrict of Tyche holds the archaeological museum and the church and catacombs of San Giovanni, both off Viale Teocrito (drive or take a taxi or city bus fromOrtygia). Coming from the train station, it’s a 15-minute trudge to Ortygia along Via Francesco Crispi and Corso Umberto. If you’re not up for that, take one of thefree electric buses leaving every 10 minutes from the bus station around the corner.Getting HereOn the main train line from Messina and Catania, Siracusa is also linked to Catania by frequent buses.Visitor InformationSiracusa tourism office (Via Maestranza 33, Ortygia | 96100 | 0931/464255 | R C H A E O L O G I C A L Z O N ET O P A T T R A C T I O N S I N T H E A R C H A E O L O G I C A L Z O N EParco Archeologico.Siracusa is most famous for its dramatic set of Greek and Roman ruins. Though the various ruins can be visited separately, see them all, along with the MuseoArcheologico. If the park is closed, go up Viale G. Rizzo from Viale Teracati to the belvedere overlooking the ruins, which are floodlighted at night. The last ticketsare sold one hour before closing.Before the park’s ticket booth is the gigantic Ara di Ierone (Altar of Hieron), which was once used by the Greeks for spectacular sacrifices involving hundreds ofanimals. The first attraction in the park is the Latomia del Paradiso (Quarry of Paradise), a lush tropical garden full of palm and citrus trees. This series of quarriesserved as prisons for the defeated Athenians, who were enslaved; the quarries once rang with the sound of their chisels and hammers. At one end is the famous
  • 156. served as prisons for the defeated Athenians, who were enslaved; the quarries once rang with the sound of their chisels and hammers. At one end is the famousOrecchio di Dionisio (Ear of Dionysus), with an ear-shape entrance and unusual acoustics inside, as you will hear if you clap your hands. The legend is thatDionysus used to listen in at the top of the quarry to hear what the slaves were plotting below.The Teatro Greco (Greek Theater) is the chief monument in the Archaeological Park—and indeed one of Sicily’s greatest classical sites and the most completeGreek theater surviving from antiquity. Climb to the top of the seating area (which could accommodate 15,000) for a fine view: all the seats converge upon a singlepoint—the stage—which has the natural scenery and the sky as its background. Hewn out of the hillside rock in the 5th century BC, the theater saw the premieresof the plays of Aeschylus. Greek tragedies are still performed here every year in May and June. Above and behind the theater runs the Via dei Sepulcri, in whichstreams of running water flow through a series of Greek sepulchres.The well-preserved and striking Anfiteatro Romano (Roman Amphitheater) reveals much about the differences between the Greek and Roman personalities. Wheredrama in the Greek theater was a kind of religious ritual, the Roman amphitheater emphasized the spectacle of combative sports and the circus. This arena is one ofthe largest of its kind and was built around the 2nd century AD. The corridor where gladiators and beasts entered the ring is still intact, and the seats, some of whichstill bear the occupants’ names, were hauled in and constructed on the site from huge slabs of limestone. | Viale Teocrito (entrance on Via Agnello), ArchaeologicalZone | 96100 | 0931/65068 | €8 | Apr.–mid-Sept., daily 9–7; mid-Sept.–mid-Oct., daily 9–3:45; mid-Oct.–Feb., Mon.–Sat. 9–5, Sun. 9–1; Mar., daily 9–6.Quick Bites in the Archaeological ZoneFor some great Sicilian cakes and ice cream on your way to the Archaeological Park, visit Leonardi (Viale Teocrito 123, Archaeological Zone | 96100 |0931/61411), a bar-cum-pasticceria. It’s popular with the locals, so you may have to line up for your cakes during holiday times. It’s closed Wednesday.W O R T H N O T I N G I N T H E A R C H A E O L O G I C A L Z O N ECatacomba di San Giovanni.Not far from the Archaeological Park, off Viale Teocrito, the catacombs below the church of San Giovanni are one of the earliest-known Christian sites in the city.Inside the crypt of San Marciano is an altar where Saint Paul preached on his way through Sicily to Rome. The frescoes in this small chapel are mostly bright andfresh, though some dating from the 4th century AD show their age. Open hours may be extended in summer. | Piazza San Giovanni, Tyche | 96016 | 0931/64694 |€6 | Daily 9:30–12:30 and 2:30–5:30; last entry at 4:30. Closed Mon. in winter.Museo Archeologico.The impressive collection of Siracusa’s splendid archaeological museum is organized by region around a central atrium and ranges from Neolithic pottery to fineGreek statues and vases. Compare the Landolina Venus—a headless goddess of love who rises out of the sea in measured modesty (a 1st-century AD Roman copyof the Greek original)—with the much earlier (300 BC) elegant Greek statue of Hercules in Section C. Of a completely different style is a marvelous fangedGorgon, its tongue sticking out, that once adorned the cornice of the Temple of Athena to ward off evildoers. At this writing, part of the museum has been reopenedafter an extensive renovation; the rest is expected to open in 2011 or 2012. | Viale Teocrito 66, Tyche | 96016 | 0931/464022 | €4, €9 ticket (good for 2 days)includes Parco Archeologico | Tues.–Sat. 9–7, Sun. 9–2; last entry 1 hr before closing.Museo del Papiro.Close to Siracusa’s Museo Archeologico, the Papyrus Museum demonstrates how papyri are prepared from reeds and then painted—an ancient tradition in the city.Siracusa, it seems, has the only climate outside the Nile Valley in which the papyrus plant—from which the word “paper” comes—thrives. | Viale Teocrito 66,Tyche | 96016 | 0931/61616 | Free | Tues.–Sun. 9–2; last entry 1 hr before closing.O R T Y G I A I S L A N D
  • 157. T O P A T T R A C T I O N S O N O R T Y G I A I S L A N DFodor’s Choice | Duomo.Siracusa’s Duomo is an archive of island history: the bottommost excavations have unearthed remnants of Sicily’s distant past, when the Siculi inhabitantsworshipped their deities here. During the 5th century BC (the same time as Agrigento’s Temple of Concord was built), the Greeks built a temple to Athena over it,and in the 7th century Siracusa’s first Christian cathedral was built on top of the Greek structure. The massive columns of the original Greek temple wereincorporated into the present structure and are clearly visible, embedded in the exterior wall along Via Minerva. The Greek columns were also used to dramaticadvantage inside, where on one side they form chapels connected by elegant wrought-iron gates. The baroque facade, added in 1700, displays a harmonious rhythmof concaves and convexes. In front, the piazza is encircled by pink and white oleanders and elegant buildings ornamented with filigree grillwork. | Piazza delDuomo, Ortygia | 96100 | 0931/65328 | Daily 8–7.Fonte Aretusa.A freshwater spring, the Fountain of Arethus, sits next to the sea, studded with Egyptian papyrus that is reportedly natural. This anomaly is explained by a Greeklegend that tells how the nymph Arethusa was changed into a fountain by the goddess Artemis (Diana) when she tried to escape the advances of the river godAlpheus. She fled from Greece, into the sea, with Alpheus in close pursuit, and emerged in Sicily at this spring. It’s said if you throw a cup into the Alpheus Riverin Greece it will emerge here at this fountain, which is home to a few tired ducks and some faded carp—but no cups. If you want to stand right by the fountain, youneed to gain admission through the aquarium; otherwise look down on it from Largo Aretusa. | Off promenade along harbor, Ortygia | 96100.Piazza Archimede.The center of this piazza has a baroque fountain, the Fontana di Diana, festooned with fainting sea nymphs and dancing jets of water. Look for the Chiaramonte-style Palazzo Montalto, an arched-window gem just off the piazza on Via Montalto.Piazza del Duomo.In the heart of Ortygia, this ranks as one of Italy’s most beautiful piazzas, its elongated space lined with Sicilian baroque treasures and outdoor cafés.Tempio di Apollo.Scattered through the piazza just across the bridge to Ortygia are the ruins of a temple dedicated to Apollo, a model of which is in the Museo Archeologico. In fact,little of this noble Doric temple remains except for some crumbled walls and shattered columns; the window in the south wall belongs to a Norman church that wasbuilt much later on the same spot. | Piazza Pancali, Ortygia | 96100.W O R T H N O T I N G O N O R T Y G I A I S L A N DCastello Maniace.The southern tip of Ortygia island is occupied by a castle built by Frederick II (1194–1250), now an army barracks, from which there are fine views of the sea.Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco.At one end of Piazza del Duomo, this elegant palazzo is a private residence, but you can take a peek at the impressive interior courtyard with its central staircase. |Piazza del Duomo, Ortygia | 96100.W H E R E T O E A T I N S I R A C U S AArchimede.¢ | PIZZA | Considered the best pizzeria in Ortygia, this place offers pizzas with classical names: for example, the Medea, with tomato, ham, and mayonnaise; andthe Teocrite, topped with fresh tomato, mozzarella, garlic, onion, and basil. For those who can’t face the full-size offerings, mini pizzas are also available. Thecalzone del ciclope (literally “of the Cyclops”) is stuffed with tomato, mozzarella, ham, and egg. Wash it all down with a good selection of beers. | Via Gemmellaro8, Ortygia | 96100 | 0931/69701 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun. Sept.–May.Fodor’s Choice | Don Camillo.$$$ | SICILIAN | A gracious series of delicately arched rooms, lined with wine bottles and sepia-tone images of Old Siracusa, overflows with locals in the know.Preparations bring together fresh seafood and inspired creativity: taste, for instance, the sublime spaghetti delle Sirene (with sea urchin and shrimp in butter); adelicate zuppa di mucco (tiny fish floating in a broth with cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and egg); or gamberoni prepared, unexpectedly (and wonderfully), in pork fat.The wine list is, in a word, extraordinary. | Via Maestranza 96, Ortygia | 96100 | 0931/67133 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun.Il Fermento.$$ | SICILIAN | “Hip” and “family-run” aren’t normally terms you’ll find paired together, but they accurately describe this Ortygia eatery. It’s a lovely place,graced with a wonderful vaulted ceiling in the dining area. The menu revolves around seafood, including some of the freshest fish around. Leave room for theluscious homemade desserts. Two-course set-price menus (starting at €20) provide a good sampler of the delights on offer. | Via Crocifisso 44/46, Ortygia | 96100 |0931/64422 | MC, V | Closed Tues. No lunch Oct.–May.Ionico.$$ | SICILIAN | Enjoy seaside dining in the coastal Santa Lucia district. The Ionico has a terrace and veranda for alfresco meals, and the interior is plastered withdiverse historical relics and has a cheerful open hearth for winter. Chef-proprietor Roberto Giudice cooks meals to order or will suggest a specialty from a selectionof market-fresh ingredients. Try the farfalle ricotta e gamberi (farfalle with ricotta and prawns). | Riviera Dionisio il Grande 194, Santa Lucia | 96100 | 0931/65540| AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Tues. Sept.–May.Oinos.$$$ | MODERN ITALIAN | This restaurant–wine bar’s ambitious food represents the most modern face of Siracusa. The dining rooms are stark but inviting,carefully balancing style consciousness with restrained refinement. Surrender to the sensational antipasto sformatino di patate, cavolo capuccio, scamorza ebraduro, a molded potato tart with cabbage and rich, creamy cheeses. In season, special dishes spotlight white truffles from Alba priced by the gram (as is
  • 158. customary) and worth every penny. | Via della Giudecca 69/75, Ortygia | 96100 | 0931/464900 | AE, DC, MC, V | No dinner Sun. No lunch Mon.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N S I R A C U S AAirone.¢–$ | In a pretty old palazzo, this bare-bones inn caters mostly to backpackers and those who have the stamina to brave the four-story climb. Service is friendly andhassle-free (you get your own key to the building), and the price and location can’t be beat. Rooms are aging but clean enough; some are spacious, and someoverlook the coastline. Pros: good value; full of character. Cons: breakfast is not always served on the premises; some rooms are poorly furnished; stairs to climb. |Via Maestranza 111, Ortygia | 96100 | 0931/69475 | 9 rooms, 5 with bath | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Domus Mariae.$$ | You can see the sea at the end of the corridor as you enter this hotel on Ortygia’s eastern shore. In an unusual twist, it’s owned by nuns of the Ursuline order,who help to make the mood placid and peaceful. There’s a chapel and library for guests. Don’t expect monastic conditions, however: refined furnishings distinguishthe public rooms. Guest rooms—six with sea views (an extra €15) and six others with balconies overlooking the street—are bright, modern, and comfortable. Apretty roof terrace takes advantage of the hotel’s superb position. Pros: nice breakfast room; gorgeous sea views; enthusiastic staff. Cons: stairs to climb. | ViaVittorio Veneto 76, Ortygia | 96100 | 0931/24854 or 0931/24858 | | 12 rooms | In-room: refrigerator. In-hotel: bar, gym, parking (free) | AE,DC, MC, V | BP.Grand Hotel Ortigia.$$$ | An elegant, fantasy-inspired design prevails at this venerable institution, which has enjoyed a prime position, the Porto Grande, at the base of Ortygia, since1898. A surreal seascape painting and a whimsical chandelier set a dreamy tone in the lobby. Guest rooms have fine wood floors, inlaid wood furniture, andstained-glass windows. Spacious bi-level suites with staircases cost about €60 more. While you indulge in excellent food at the rooftop restaurant, take in the superbviews over the harbor and seafront. A shuttle service is provided to the hotel’s private beach between June and September. Pros: wonderful views from the rooftoprestaurant; attentive service. Cons: back rooms have no view; small bathrooms; Wi-Fi weak in some rooms. | Viale Mazzini 12, Ortygia | 96100 | 0931/464600 | | 41 rooms, 17 suites | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, beachfront, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking (free) | AE, DC, MC, V |BP.Hotel des Étrangers et Miramare.$$$ | This stylish hotel is one of the city’s top addresses for visiting dignitaries and luxury tourists. Rooms are refreshingly simple for a hotel of this caliber, but atthe same time elegant. Some have balconies overlooking the sea. The hotel, which stands beside the Fonte Aretusa in Ortygia, has a rooftop restaurant with niceviews of the city—a great place to meet for a cocktail. Pros: well-maintained facility; attentive service; central location. Cons: some bathrooms are poorly designed;no parking. | Passeggio Adorno 10/12, Ortygia | 96100 | 0931/319100 | | 65 rooms, 11 suites | In-room: safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant,room service, bars, pool, gym, spa | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.N I G H T L I F E A N D T H E A R T S I N S I R A C U S AFrom mid-May to late June, Siracusa’s Teatro Greco (Parco Archeologico, Archaeological Zone | 96100 | 0931/487200, 800/542644 toll-free in Italy | stages performances of classical drama and comedy. Tickets run €30 to €60, with a small discount if you buy the ticket in person.The folks at Eunoè (Via Castello Maniace 8, Ortygia | 96100 | 0335/6496803) are passionate about Sicilian wines. The place serves almost every local wine by theglass. It’s open for lunch but is at its best in the evening when it draws in jazz aficionados and arty types.Popular and filled with locals, Il Bagatto (Piazza San Giuseppe 1, Ortygia | 96100 | 0931/464076) is a bar in the heart of Ortygia, with tables in the piazza.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 159. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsRagusa | Caltagirone | Piazza Armerina | EnnaSicily’s interior is for the most part untrammeled, though the Imperial Roman Villa at Casale, outside Piazza Armerina, gives precious evidence from an epoch goneby. Don’t miss windy mountaintop Enna, called the Navel of Sicily, or Caltagirone, a ceramics center of renown.R A G U S A90 km (56 mi) southwest of Siracusa.Getting HereTrains and buses leave from Siracusa four or five times daily.Visitor InformationRagusa tourism office (Piazza San Giovanni | 97100 | 0932/676635 | X P L O R I N G I N R A G U S ARagusa and Modica are the two chief cities in Sicily’s smallest and sleepiest province, and the centers of a region known as Iblea. The dry, rocky, gentlecountryside filled with canyons and grassy knolls is a unique landscape in Sicily. Iblea’s trademark squat walls divide swaths of land in a manner reminiscent of thehigh English countryside—but summers are decidedly Sicilian, with dry heat so intense that life grinds to a standstill for several hours each day. This remoteprovince hums along to its own tune, clinging to local customs, cuisines, and traditions in aloof disregard even for the rest of Sicily.Ragusa is known for some great local red wines and its wonderful cheese, a creamy, doughy, flavorful version of caciocavallo, made by hand every step of theway. It’s a modern city with a beautiful old town called Ibla, which was completely rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1693. A tumble of buildings perchedon a hilltop and suspended between a deep ravine and a sloping valley, Ibla’s tiny squares and narrow lanes make for pleasant meandering.The Basilica di San Giorgio, designed by Rosario Gagliardi in 1738, is a fine example of Sicilian baroque.C A L T A G I R O N E66 km (41 mi) northwest of Ragusa.Getting HereBuses and trains from Catania stop in the lower town, a pleasant stroll from the center and also well connected by local buses and taxis. Connections with Ragusa,Enna, and Piazza Armerina are less frequent.Visitor InformationCaltagirone tourism office (Galleria Luigi Sturzo s/n | 95041 | 0933/41365 |
  • 160. Caltagirone tourism office (Galleria Luigi Sturzo s/n | 95041 | 0933/41365 | X P L O R I N G C A L T A G I R O N EBuilt over three hills, this charming baroque town is a center of Sicily’s ceramics industry. Here you can find majolica balustrades, tile-decorated windowsills, andthe monumental Scala Santa Maria del Monte, a tile staircase of 142 steps—each decorated with a different pattern—leading up to the neglected Santa Maria delMonte church. On the feast of San Giacomo (July 24), the city’s patron saint, the staircase is illuminated with candles that form a tapestry design over the steps. It’sthe result of months of work preparing the 4,000 coppi, or cylinders of colored paper that hold oil lamps. At 9:30 PM on the nights of July 24, July 25, August 14,and August 15 a squad of hundreds of youngsters (tourists are welcome to participate) springs into action to light the lamps, so that the staircase flares up all at once.| Begins at Piazza Municipio (main town square).Caltagirone was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site for its ceramics as well as for its numerous baroque churches, and it has a worthwhile Ceramics Museum. |Via Roma 1 (inside Giardini Pubblici) | 95041 | 0933/48418 or 0933/58423 | €3 | Tues.–Sun. 9–6:30.P I A Z Z A A R M E R I N A30 km (18 mi) northwest of Caltagirone.Getting HerePiazza Armerina is linked to Caltagirone, Catania, Enna, and Palermo by regular buses. There is no train station.Visitor InformationPiazza Armerina tourism office (Via Generale Muscará 47a | 94015 | 0935/680201 | X P L O R I N G P I A Z Z A A R M E R I N AA quick look around the fanciful town of Piazza Armerina is rewarding—it has a provincial warmth, and the crumbling yellow-stone architecture with Sicily’strademark bulbous balconies creates quite an effect. The greatest draw, however, lies just down the road.Fodor’s Choice | Imperial Roman Villais thought to have been a hunting lodge of the emperor Maximianus Heraclius (4th century AD). The excavations were not begun until 1950, and the walldecorations and vaulting have been lost. However, some of the best mosaics of the Roman world cover more than 12,000 square feet under a shelter that hints at thelayout of the original buildings. The mosaics were probably made by North African artisans; they are similar to those in the Tunis Bardo Museum. The entrancewas through a triumphal arch that led into an atrium surrounded by a portico of columns, after which the thermae, or bathhouse, is reached. It’s colorfully decoratedwith mosaic nymphs, a Neptune, and slaves massaging bathers. The peristyle leads to the main villa, where in the Salone del Circo you look down on mosaicsillustrating Roman circus sports. Room 38 even reveals a touch of eroticism—surely only scratching the surface of the bacchanalian festivities that Maximianusconjured up. The villa was partially renovated in 2009, and that part is now open to the public, but the remainder is expected to remain closed for several years.Entry prices have been lowered accordingly. | SP15, Contrada Casale, 4 km (2½ mi) southwest of Piazza Armerina | 94100 | 0935/680036 | | €3 | Daily 8–1 hr before sunset.W H E R E T O E A T I N P I A Z Z A A R M E R I N AFodor’s Choice | Al Fogher.$$$ | MODERN ITALIAN | A beacon of culinary light shines in Sicily’s interior, a region generally filled with good, but simple, places to eat. Ambitious—andsuccessful—dishes here combine traditional ingredients with the creative flare of chef Angelo Treno. Try the tuna tartare with orange essence, or the fillet of babypig served with a sauce made from bottarga (cured tuna roe) and green olives. The wine list includes nearly 500 labels, and there is even a water list featuring morethan a dozen kinds of mineral water. The dining room decor is simple and elegant, but the terrace is the place to be in summer. From town, follow Viale Ciancioand Viale Gaeta about 1 km (½ mi) north of Piazza Cascino. | Contrada Bellia, near SS117bis, Aidone exit | 94015 | 0935/684123 | | AE, DC,MC, V | Closed Mon. No dinner Sun.E N N A33 km (20 mi) northwest of Piazza Armerina, 136 km (85 mi) southeast of Palermo.Getting HereJust off the A19 autostrada, Enna is easily accessible by car. With the train station 5 km (3 mi) below the upper town, the most practical public transport is by busfrom Palermo or Catania.Visitor InformationEnna tourism office (Piazza Colajanni 6 | 94100 | 0935/528228 | X P L O R I N G E N N ADeep in Sicily’s interior, the fortress city of Enna (altitude 2,844 feet) commands exceptional views of the surrounding rolling plains, and, in the distance, MountEtna. It is the highest provincial capital in Italy and, thanks to its central location, it is known as the “Navel of Sicily.” Virtually unknown by tourists and relativelyuntouched by industrialization, this sleepy town charms and prospers in a distinctly old-fashioned, provincial, and Sicilian way. Enna makes a good stopover for thenight or just for lunch, as it’s right along the autostrada between Palermo and Catania (and thus Siracusa).
  • 161. night or just for lunch, as it’s right along the autostrada between Palermo and Catania (and thus Siracusa).The narrow, winding streets are dominated at one end by the impressive cliff-hanging Castello di Lombardia, built by Frederick II, easily visible as you approachtown. Inside the castle, you can climb up the tower for great views from the dead center of the island; on a very clear day, you can see to all three coasts. | Piazza diCastello di Lombardia | Free | Daily 9–1 hr before sunset.The Greek cult of Demeter, goddess of the harvest, was said to have centered on Enna. It’s not hard to see why its adherents would have worshipped at the Roccadi Cerere (Rock of Demeter), protruding out on one end of town next to the Castello di Lombardia. The spot enjoys spectacular views of the expansive countrysideand windswept Sicilian interior. From here you can see Lake Pergusa, where mythology asserts that Persephone was abducted by Hades. While a prisoner in hisunderworld realm she ate six pomegranate seeds, and therefore was doomed to spend half of each year there. Because of its sulfur content, Lake Pergusa turns redonce a year, a phenomenon that some say represents the blood of Persephone, and others believe represents the pomegranate seeds.In town, head straight for Via Roma, which leads to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, the center of Enna’s shopping scene and evening passeggiata. The attached PiazzaCrispi, dominated by the shell of the grand old Hotel Belvedere, affords breathtaking panoramas of the hillside and smoking Etna looming in the distance. Thebronze fountain at the center of the piazza is a reproduction of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s famous 17th-century sculpture The Rape of Persephone, a depiction ofHades abducting Persephone.The mysterious Torre di Federico II stands above the lower part of town. This octagonal tower, of unknown purpose, has been celebrated for millennia asmarking the exact geometric center of the island—thus the tower’s, and city’s, nickname, Umbilicus Siciliae (Navel of Sicily). The interior is not open to the public,but the surrounding park is.Follow Via Libertá toward Via Panoramica Monte to reach SS. Crocifisso di Papardura, a sanctuary built near a cave where some of the earliest evidence ofChristianity in Sicily was discovered in 1659.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N E N N ACentrale.¢ | SICILIAN | Housed in an old palazzo, this casual place has served meals since 1889. One entire wall is covered with a vast mirror, the others are adorned withSicilian pottery. An outdoor terrace soothes diners in summer. The seasonal menu includes local preparations such as coppole di cacchio (peppers stuffed withspaghetti, potato, and basil) and grilled pork chops. Choose from a decent selection of Sicilian wines to accompany your meal. | Piazza VI Dicembre 9 | 94100 |0935/500963 | | AE, DC, MC, V | No lunch Sat. (with some deviation).Hotel Sicilia.$ | Sicily’s interior has few decent accommodations, and of Enna’s two hotels, this one has more character. Behind the unprepossessing exterior you’ll find an artdeco lobby and sunny rooms dotted with antiques. Reserve ahead for one of the back-facing rooms, which have views of the hillside rather than the piazza. Low-season discounts can be as much as a third off. Pros: central location; friendly staff; good breakfast. Cons: a bit dated; some rooms can be noisy. | Piazza NapoleoneColajanni 7 | 94100 | 0935/500850 | | 65 rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator, Wi-Fi (some). In-hotel: room service, bar, Wi-Fi hotspot,parking (free) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 162. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsAgrigento | Selinunte | Marsala | Erice | Segesta | MonrealeThe crowning glory of western Sicily is the concentration of Greek temples at Agrigento, on a height between the modern city and the sea. The mark of ancientGreek culture also lingers in the cluster of ruined cliff-side temples at Selinunte and at the splendidly isolated site of Segesta. Traces of the North African culture thatfor centuries exerted a strong influence on this end of the island are most tangible in the coastal towns of Trapani and Marsala, and on the outlying island ofPantelleria, nearer to the Tunisian coast than the Sicilian. In contrast, the cobbled streets of hilltop Erice, outside Trapani, retain a strong medieval complexion,giving the quiet town the air of a last outpost on the edge of the Mediterranean. On the northern coast, not far outside Palermo, Monreale’s cathedral glitters withmosaics that are among the finest in Italy.A G R I G E N T O60 km (37 mi) southwest of Caltanissetta.Getting HereYou can reach Agrigento by bus from Palermo, Caltanissetta, and Catania, and by train from Palermo, Caltanissetta, and Catania, usually with a stop in Enna. Bothbus and train stations are centrally located. By car, the town is easily accessed by the coastal SS115, by the SS189 from Palermo, and by the SS640 fromCaltanissetta.Visitor InformationAgrigento tourism office (Piazzale Aldo Moro 1 | 92100 | 0922/20391, 800/315555 toll-free in Italy).E X P L O R I N G A G R I G E N T OAgrigento owes its fame almost exclusively to its ancient Greek temples—though it was also the birthplace of playwright Luigi Pirandello (1867–1936).There are a few other things to do and see in the area. Along the coast around 8 km (5 mi) to the east of Agrigento is the Scala dei Turchi (Stairs of the Turks),natural white cliffs eroded into unusual shapes, and the coast closest to the temples, in the village of San Leone di Agrigento, is popular with sunbathers. Among thereasons to go up the hill from Valle dei Templi to the modern city is the opportunity to eat a more local, less overpriced meal or to stay at an inexpensive hotel;another is to ring the doorbell at the Monastero di Santo Spirito and try the kus-kus (sweet cake), made of pistachio nuts, almonds, and chocolate, that the nunsprepare. The courtyard to the church is open to the public. | Salita di Santo Spirito off Via Porcello, cortile Santo Spirito 8 | 92100 | No phone | Mon.–Sat., hrsirregular.Fodor’s Choice | Valle dei Templi.Whether you first come upon the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples) in the early morning light, bathed by golden floodlights at night, or at its very best inFebruary, when the valley is awash in the fragrant blossoms of thousands of olive trees, it’s easy to see why Akragas (the Agrigento region’s first name, underGreek rule) was celebrated by the Greek poet Pindar as “the most beautiful city built by mortal men.” One ticket covers all temples, and none of the plaques isparticularly helpful.Though getting to, from, and around the dusty ruins of the Valle dei Templi is no great hassle, this important archaeological zone deserves several hours. The site,which opens at 8:30 AM, is divided into western and eastern sections. For instant aesthetic gratification, walk through the eastern zone; for a more comprehensive
  • 163. which opens at 8:30 AM, is divided into western and eastern sections. For instant aesthetic gratification, walk through the eastern zone; for a more comprehensivetour, start way out at the western end and work your way back uphill.The temples are a bit spread out, but the valley is all completely walkable and generally toured on foot. However, note that there is only one hotel (Villa Athena)that is close enough to walk to the ruins, so you will most likely have to drive to reach the site; parking is at the entrance to the temple area.The eight pillars of the Tempio di Ercole (Temple of Hercules) make up Agrigento’s oldest temple complex, dating from the 6th century BC. Partially reconstructedin 1922, it reveals the remains of a large Doric temple that originally had 38 columns. Like all the area temples, it faces east. The Museo Archeologico Nazionalecontains some of the marble warrior figures that once decorated its pediment.The beautiful Tempio della Concordia (Temple of Concord), up the hill from the Temple of Hercules, is perhaps the best-preserved Greek temple in existence. Thestructure dates from about 430 BC, and owes its exceptional state of preservation to the fact that it was converted into a Christian church in the 6th century and wasextensively restored in the 18th. Thirty-two Doric columns surround its large interior, and everything but the roof and treasury are still standing. For preservation,this temple is blocked off to the public, but you can still get close enough to appreciate how well it’s withstood the past 2,400 years.The Tempio di Giunone (Temple of Juno), east on the Via Sacra from the Temple of Concord, commands an exquisite view of the valley, especially at sunset. It’ssimilar to but smaller than the Concordia and dates from about 450 BC. Traces of a fire that probably occurred during the Carthaginian attack in 406 BC, whichdestroyed the ancient town, can be seen on the walls of the cellar. Thirty of the original 34 columns still stand, of which 16 still retain their capitals.Though never completed, the Tempio di Giove (Temple of Jupiter) was considered the eighth wonder of the world. The temple was probably built in gratitude forvictory over Carthage and was constructed by prisoners captured in that war. Basically Doric in style, it did not have the usual colonnade of freestanding columnsbut rather a series of half columns attached to a solid wall. Inside the excavation you can see a cast (not the original) of one of the 38 colossal Atlas-like figures, ortelamones, that supported the temple’s massive roof. This design is unique among known Doric temples, and with a length of more than 330 feet the building wasonce the biggest of the Akragas temples and one of the largest temples in the Greek world.The Tempio di Castore e Polluce (Temple of Castor and Pollux) is a troublesome reconstruction of a 5th-century BC temple. It was pieced together by someenthusiastic if misguided 19th-century romantics, who, in 1836, haphazardly put together elements from diverse buildings. Ironically, the four gently crumblingcolumns supporting part of an entablature of the temple have become emblematic of Agrigento.Right opposite the Temple of Castor and Pollox, facing north, the Santuario delle Divinità Ctonie (Sanctuary of the Chthonic Divinities) has cultic altars and eightsmall temples dedicated to Demeter, Persephone, and other Underworld deities. In the vicinity are two columns of a temple dedicated to Hephaestus (Vulcan).To the left of the Temple of Concord is a Paleochristian necropolis. Early Christian tombs were both cut into the rock and dug into underground catacombs. At theend of Via dei Templi, where it turns left and becomes Via Petrarca, stands the Museo Archeologico Nazionale (Contrada San Nicola | 0922/401565 | €6, €10including temples | Tues.–Sat. 9–7, Sun. and Mon. 9–1) An impressive collection of antiquities from the site includes vases, votives, everyday objects, weapons,statues, and models of the temples. Visit the museum after you’ve seen the temples. The Hellenistic and Roman Quarter, across the road from the archaeologicalmuseum, consists of four parallel streets, running north–south, that have been uncovered, along with the foundations of some houses from the Roman settlement(2nd century BC). Some of these streets still have their original mosaic pavements.| Zona Archeologica, Via dei Templi | 0922/621611 | | Site €6, with museum €10. One ticket covers all temples | Daily 8:30–7; Nov.–Mar.,western section closes at 5.W H E R E T O E A T I N A G R I G E N T OLeon d’Oro.$$ | SICILIAN | In the community of San Leone di Agrigento, lying between the temples and the seaside, sits Leon d’Oro, run by local food and wine personalityTotó Collura. Making adventurous use of traditional ingredients, the seasonal menu is full of pleasant surprises. Try the pasta with sardines, made with traditionalAgrigento spices. The wine list is playful, organized with an opera theme and featuring sad faces when a certain label is temporarily out of stock. | Viale Emporium102, San Leone di Agrigento | 92100 | 0922/414400 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon.Fodor’s Choice | Trattoria dei Templi.$$ | SICILIAN | Along a road on the way up to Agrigento proper from the temple area, this simple family-run vaulted restaurant serves up some of the best food inthe area. The menu includes five different homemade pastas each day and plenty of fresh fish dishes, all prepared with a Sicilian flare. The antipasti, such as thecarpaccio of cernia (grouper), are exceptional, and the ample wine list has many Sicilian choices. The best bet is to ask for the advice of brothers Giuseppe andSimone. Reservations are recommended in the high season, as things get busy after it becomes too dark for temple exploring. | Via Panoramica dei Templi 15 |92100 | 0922/403110 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed 2 wks in late June–early July. No lunch Fri.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N A G R I G E N T OForesteria Baglio della Luna.$$–$$$ | Fiery sunsets and moonlight cast a glow over a tower dating from the 8th century, which is central to the farmhouse-hotel complex. Stone buildingssurround a peaceful geranium- and ivy-filled courtyard and a garden beyond. Standard rooms, some with views of the temples, are nothing fancy, with mellowwalls and wooden furniture. The rustic restaurant, Il Dehors, serves very expensive, hit-or-miss foodie fare. The hotel, in the valley below the temples, is on anunmarked dirt road about 3 km (2 mi) southeast of the old town. Pros: quiet location; serene environment. Cons: difficult to reach from the temples and the city(buses run hourly); service can be slipshod; restaurant is overpriced. | Contrada Maddalusa, Via Serafino Amabile Guastella 1 | 92100 | 0922/511061 | | 21 rooms, 4 suites | In-room: refrigerator, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, some pets allowed | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Tre Torri.$–$$ | Stay here if you are sports-minded and bent on exploring the countryside around Agrigento. Bicycle tours and nature walks can be arranged. Two heatedpools (one indoor, one out) are pleasant enough, the public areas spacious, and rooms are basic and modern. The hotel’s location is in Villagio Mosè, 5 km (3 mi)southeast of town. Pros: good facilities; sociable atmosphere; multilingual staff. Cons: a bit run-down; some rooms are small; busy with tour groups; a bit far from
  • 164. southeast of town. Pros: good facilities; sociable atmosphere; multilingual staff. Cons: a bit run-down; some rooms are small; busy with tour groups; a bit far fromthe temples and the city. | Viale Cannatelo 7, Villagio Mosè | 92100 | 0922/606733 | | 118 rooms | In-room: refrigerator, Wi-Fi (some). In-hotel: restaurant, bars, pools, gym, spa, bicycles, Wi-Fi hotspot | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.S E L I N U N T E100 km (62 mi) northwest of Agrigento, 114 km (71 mi) south of Palermo.Getting HereYou can get here by bus or car via the town of Castelvetrano, 11 km (7 mi) north, which is itself accessible from Palermo by car on the A29 autostrada, as well asby bus and train.Visitor InformationSelinunte tourism office (Piazzale Bovio Marconi s/n | 91022 | 0924/46251).E X P L O R I N G S E L I N U N T ENear the town of Castelvetrano, numerous Greek temple ruins perch on a plateau overlooking an expanse of the Mediterranean at Selinunte (or Selinus). The citywas one of the most superb colonies of ancient Greece. Founded in the 7th century BC, Selinunte became the rich and prosperous rival of Segesta, which in 409BC turned to the Carthaginians for help. The Carthaginians sent an army commanded by Hannibal to destroy the city. The temples were demolished, the city wasrazed, and 16,000 of Selinunte’s inhabitants were slaughtered. The remains of Selinunte are in many ways unchanged from the day of its sacking—burn marks stillscar the Greek columns, and much of the site still lies in rubble at its exact position of collapse at the hands of the Carthaginian attack. The original complex heldseven temples scattered over two sites separated by a harbor. Of the seven, only one—reconstructed in 1958—is whole. This is a large archaeological site, so youmight make use of the navetta (shuttle) to save a bit of walking.Selinunte is named after a local variety of wild parsley (Apium graveolens or petroselinum) that in spring grows in profusion among the ruined columns andoverturned capitals. Although there are a few places to stay right around Selinunte, many people see it as an easy stop along the road to or from Agrigento. It takesonly an hour or two to see—a richly rewarding stopover. | SS115, 13 km (8 mi) southeast of Castelvetrano | 91022 | 0924/46277 | €6 | Apr.–Oct., Tues.–Sat. 9–6;Nov.–Mar., daily 9–4.M A R S A L A88 km (55 mi) northwest of Selinunte.Getting HereBuses and trains from Palermo, Trapani, and Castelvetrano stop in Marsala. Drivers can take the coastal SS115.Visitor InformationMarsala tourism office (Via XI Maggio 100 | 91025 | 0923/714097 | X P L O R I N G M A R S A L AThe quiet seaside town of Marsala was once the main Carthaginian base in Sicily, from which Carthage fought for supremacy over the island against Greece andRome. Nowadays it’s more readily associated with the world-famous, richly colored sweet wine named after the town. In 1773 a British merchant named JohnWoodhouse happened upon Marsala and discovered that the wine here was as good as the port the British had long imported from Portugal. Two other winemerchants, Whitaker and Ingram, rushed in, and by 1800 Marsala was exporting its wine all over the British Empire.A sense of Marsala’s past as a Carthaginian stronghold is captured by the well-preserved Punic warship displayed in the town’s Museo Archeologico BaglioAnselmi, along with some of the amphoras and other artifacts recovered from the wreck. The vessel, which was probably sunk during the great sea battle that endedthe First Punic War in 241 BC, was dredged up from the mud near the Egadi Islands in the 1970s. There’s also a good display of maritime and archaeological finds.| Lungomare Boéo 2 | 91025 | 0923/952535 | €3 | Daily 9–6.One of Sicily’s foremost wine producers, the 150-year-old Donnafugata Winery is open for tours of its cantina, (wine cellar); reservations are required. It’s aninteresting look at the winemaking process in Sicily, and it ends with a tasting of several whites and reds and a chance to buy; don’t miss the delicious, full-bodiedred Mille e Una Notte, and the famous Ben Ryè Passito di Pantelleria, a sweet dessert wine made from dried grapes. | Via Lipari 18 | 91025 | 0923/724245 | | Free | Weekdays 9–1 and 3–6:30.E R I C E15 km (9 mi) northeast of Trapani.Getting HereA funivia (suspended cable car) runs from the outskirts of Trapani to Erice Monday 2 PM to 8:30 PM, Tuesday to Friday 7:30 AM to 8:30 PM, and weekends 9:45AM to midnight. Going by car or bus from Trapani takes around 40 minutes.Visitor Information
  • 165. Visitor InformationErice tourism office (Via Tommaso Guarrasi | 91016 | 0923/869388).E X P L O R I N G E R I C EPerched 2,450 feet above sea level, Erice is an enchanting medieval mountaintop aerie of palaces, fountains, and cobblestone streets. Shaped like an equilateraltriangle, the town was the ancient landmark Eryx, dedicated to Aphrodite (Venus). When the Normans arrived they built a castle on Monte San Giuliano, wheretoday there’s a lovely public park with benches and belvederes from which there are striking views of Trapani, the Egadi Islands offshore, and, on a very clear day,Cape Bon and the Tunisian coast. Because of Erice’s elevation, clouds conceal much of the view for most of winter. Sturdy shoes (for the cobbles) and somethingwarm to wear are recommended.Fans of Sicilian sweets make a beeline for Pasticceria Grammatico (Via Vittorio Emanuele 14 | 91016 | 0923/869390). The place is run by Maria Grammatico, aformer nun who gained international fame with Bitter Almonds, her life story cowritten with Mary Taylor Simeti. Her almond-paste creations are works of art,molded into striking shapes, including dolls and animals. There are a few tables and a tiny balcony with wonderful views.At Pasticceria del Convento (Via Guarnotti 1 | 91016 | 0923/860923), Maria Grammatico’s sister sells similar delectable treats.Capo San Vito,40 km (25 mi) north of Erice, is a cape with a long sandy beach on a promontory overlooking a bay in the Gulf of Castellammare. The town here, San Vito LoCapo, is famous for its North African couscous, made with fish instead of meat. In late September it hosts the five-day Cous Cous Fest, a serious internationalcouscous competition and festival with live music and plenty of free tastings.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N E R I C EMonte San Giuliano.$ | SICILIAN | At this traditional restaurant, you can sit out on the tree-lined patio or in the white-wall room and munch on the free panelle (chickpea fritters),which are delicate, judiciously seasoned, and addictive. Next come the citrusy sarde a beccafico and exemplary ravioli in cuttlefish ink. Or try the seafood couscous,served with a bowl of fish broth on the side so you can add as much as you wish. The restaurant, near the main piazza, is hidden within the labyrinth of lanes thatmakes up Erice. | Vicolo San Rocco 7 | 91016 | 0923/869595 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Mon., 2 wks in mid-Jan., and 1st 2 wks in Nov.Moderno.$$ | This delightful hotel has a creaky old feel to it, but that’s part of the charm. The lobby area, scattered with books, magazines, and knickknacks, feels like youraunt’s living room. There’s a lovely terrace where you can enjoy breakfast, and a well-known restaurant serving seafood pasta and homemade desserts. Pros: centrallocation; great rooftop terrace. Cons: rooms are overpriced; can feel deserted in winter. | Via Vittorio Emanuele 67 | 91016 | 0923/869300 | | 40 rooms | In-room: refrigerator (some). In-hotel: restaurant, bar | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.S E G E S T A35 km (22 mi) east of Erice, 85 km (53 mi) southwest of Palermo.Getting HereThree or four daily buses travel from Trapani to Segesta. About as many trains from Palermo and Trapani stop at Segesta-Tempio station, a 20-minute uphill walkfrom Segesta. The site is easily reached via the A29dir autostrada.E X P L O R I N G S E G E S T ASegesta is the site of the Tempio Dorico (Doric Temple), one of Sicily’s most impressive, constructed on the side of a windswept barren hill overlooking a valley ofwild fennel. Virtually intact today, the temple is considered by some to be finer in its proportions and setting than any other Doric temple left standing. The templewas actually started in the 5th century BC by the Elymian people, who some believe were refugees from Troy. At the very least, evidence—they often sided withthe Carthaginians, for example—indicates that they were non-Greeks. However, the style is in many ways Greek. The temple was never finished; the walls and roofnever materialized, and the columns were never fluted. A little more than 1 km (½ mi) away, near the top of the hill, are the remains of a fine amphitheater withimpressive views, especially at sunset, of the sea and the nearby town of Monte Erice. Concerts and plays are staged here in summer. | Calatafimi-Segesta | 91013 |0924/952356 | €6 | May–Sept., daily 9–7; Oct.–Apr., daily 9–5. Last entry 1 hr before closing.M O N R E A L E59 km (37 mi) northeast of Segesta, 10 km (6 mi) southwest of Palermo.Getting HereYou can reach Monreale on the frequent buses that depart from Palermo’s Piazza dell’Indipendenza. From Palermo, drivers can follow Corso Calatafimi west,though the going can be slow.E X P L O R I N G M O N R E A L EFodor’s Choice | Duomo.Monreale’s splendid Duomo is lavishly executed with mosaics depicting events from the Old and New Testaments. After the Norman conquest of Sicily the newprinces showcased their ambitions through monumental building projects. William II (1154–89) built the church complex with a cloister and palace between 1174
  • 166. princes showcased their ambitions through monumental building projects. William II (1154–89) built the church complex with a cloister and palace between 1174and 1185, employing Byzantine craftsmen. The result was a glorious fusion of Eastern and Western influences, widely regarded as the finest example of Normanarchitecture in Sicily.The major attraction is the 68,220 square feet of glittering gold mosaics decorating the cathedral interior. Christ Pantocrator dominates the apse area; the navecontains narratives of the Creation; and scenes from the life of Christ adorn the walls of the aisles and the transept. The painted wooden ceiling dates from 1816–37.The roof commands a great view (a reward for climbing 172 stairs).Bonnano Pisano’s bronze doors, completed in 1186, depict 42 biblical scenes and are considered among the most important of medieval artifacts. Barisano daTrani’s 42 panels on the north door, dating from 1179, present saints and evangelists. | Piazza del Duomo | 90044 | 091/6404413 | Mid-Apr.–mid-Oct., daily 8:30–1and 2:30–6:30; mid-Oct.–mid-Apr., daily 8–12:30 and 2:30–6:30.The lovely cloister of the abbey adjacent to the Duomo was built at the same time as the church but enlarged in the 14th century. The beautiful enclosure issurrounded by 216 intricately carved double columns, every other one decorated in a unique glass mosaic pattern. Afterward, don’t forget to walk behind thecloister to the belvedere, with stunning panoramic views over the Conca d’Oro (Golden Conch) valley toward Palermo. | Piazza del Duomo | 90044 | 091/6404403| €6 | Daily 9–6:30; last entry ½ hr before closing.W H E R E T O E A T I N M O N R E A L ELa Botte 1962.$$ | SICILIAN | It’s worth the short drive or inexpensive taxi fare from Monreale to reach this restaurant, which is famous for well-prepared local specialties. Dinealfresco on seafood dishes such as bavette don Carmelo, a narrow version of tagliatelle with a sauce of swordfish, squid, shrimp, and pine nuts. Other regularfavorites include involtini alla siciliana, meat roulades stuffed with salami and cheese. Local wines are a good accompaniment. The restaurant is open only onSaturday for lunch and dinner and on Sunday for lunch, or by reservation. | Contrada Lenzitti 20, SS186 Km 10 | 90046 | 091/414051 | |Reservations essential | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed weekdays except by reservation, and July–mid-Sept. No dinner Sun.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 167. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsExploring Palermo | Where to Eat in Palermo | Where to Stay in Palermo | Nightlife and the Arts in PalermoOnce the intellectual capital of southern Europe, Palermo has always been at the crossroads of civilization. Favorably situated on a crescent bay at the foot of MontePellegrino, it has attracted almost every culture touching the Mediterranean world. To Palermo’s credit, it has absorbed these diverse cultures into a uniquepersonality that is at once Arab and Christian, Byzantine and Roman, Norman and Italian. The city’s heritage encompasses all of Sicily’s varied ages, but itsdistinctive aspect is its Arab-Norman identity, an improbable marriage that, mixed in with Byzantine and Jewish elements, created some resplendent works of art.These are most notable in the churches, from small jewels such as San Giovanni degli Eremiti to larger-scale works such as the cathedral. No less noteworthy thanthe architecture is Palermo’s chaotic vitality, on display at some of Italy’s most vibrant outdoor markets, public squares, street bazaars, and food vendors, and aboveall in its grand, discordant symphony of motorists, motor bikers, and pedestrians that triumphantly climaxes in the new town center each evening with Italy’s mostspectacular passeggiata (the leisurely social stroll along the principal thoroughfare).Getting HerePalermo is well connected by road and rail; its airport links it to other cities in Italy, as well as around Europe.Visitor InformationPalermo tourism office (Piazza Castelnuovo 34 | 90141 | 091/6058351 | Aeroporto Falcone-Borsellino | 90045 | 091/591698 | X P L O R I N G P A L E R M OSicily’s capital is a multilayered, vigorous metropolis; approach with an open mind when exploring the enriching city with a strong historical profile. You’re likelyto encounter some frustrating instances of inefficiency and, depending on the season, stifling heat. If you have a car, park it in a garage as soon as you can, anddon’t take it out until you are ready to depart.Palermo is easily explored on foot, though you may choose to spend a morning taking a bus tour to help you get oriented. The Quattro Canti, or Four Corners, is thehub that separates the four sections of the old city: La Kalsa (the old Arab section) to the southeast, Albergheria to the southwest, Capo to the northwest, andVucciria to the northeast. Each of these is a tumult of activity during the day, though at night the narrow alleys empty out and are best avoided in favor of the more-animated avenues of the new city north of Teatro Massimo. Sights to see by day are scattered along three major streets: Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Via Maqueda,and Via Roma. The tourist information office in Piazza Castelnuovo will give you a map and a valuable handout that lists opening and closing times, whichsometimes change with the seasons.P A L E R M O ’ S M U L T I C U L T U R A L P E D I G R E EPalermo was first colonized by Phoenician traders in the 6th century BC, but it was their descendants, the Carthaginians, who built the important fortress here thatcaught the covetous eye of the Romans. After the First Punic War the Romans took control of the city in the 3rd century BC. Following several invasions by theVandals, Sicily was settled by Arabs, who made the country an emirate and established Palermo as a showpiece capital that rivaled both Córdoba and Cairo in thesplendor of its architecture. Nestled in the fertile Conca d’Oro (Golden Conch) plain, full of orange, lemon, and carob groves and enclosed by limestone hills,Palermo became a magical world of palaces and mosques, minarets and palm trees.It was so attractive and sophisticated a city that the Norman ruler Roger de Hauteville (1031–1101) decided to conquer it and make it his capital (1072). TheNorman occupation of Sicily resulted in Palermo’s golden age (1072–1194), a remarkable period of enlightenment and learning in which the arts flourished. The
  • 168. Norman occupation of Sicily resulted in Palermo’s golden age (1072–1194), a remarkable period of enlightenment and learning in which the arts flourished. Thecity of Palermo, which in the 11th century counted more than 300,000 inhabitants, became the European center for the Norman court and one of the most importantports for trade between East and West. Eventually the Normans were replaced by the Swabian ruler Frederick II (1194–1250), the Holy Roman Emperor, andincorporated into the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. You will also see plenty of evidence in Palermo of the baroque art and architecture of the long Spanish rule. TheAragonese viceroys also brought the Spanish Inquisition to Palermo, which some historians believe helped foster the protective secret societies that evolved intotoday’s Mafia.T O P A T T R A C T I O N S I N P A L E R M OCattedrale.This church is a lesson in Palermitan eclecticism—originally Norman (1182), then Catalan Gothic (14th to 15th century), then fitted out with a baroque andneoclassical interior (18th century). Its turrets, towers, dome, and arches come together in the kind of meeting of diverse elements that King Roger II (1095–1154),whose tomb is inside along with that of Frederick II, fostered during his reign. The back of the apse is gracefully decorated with interlacing Arab arches inlaid withlimestone and black volcanic tufa. | Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Capo | 90100 | 3293977513 | | Church free, crypt €2.50 | Mar.–Oct.,Mon.–Sat. 9:30–5:30; Nov.–Feb., Mon.–Sat. 9:30–1:30.La Martorana.Distinguished by an elegant Norman campanile, this church was erected in 1143 but had its interior altered considerably during the baroque period. High along thewestern wall, however, is some of the oldest and best-preserved mosaic artwork of the Norman period. Near the entrance is an interesting mosaic of King Roger IIbeing crowned by Christ. In it Roger is dressed in a bejeweled Byzantine stole, reflecting the Norman court’s penchant for all things Byzantine. Archangels alongthe ceiling wear the same stole wrapped around their shoulders and arms. The much plainer San Cataldo is next door. | Piazza Bellini 3, Quattro Canti | 90133 |091/6161692 | Mon.–Sat. 9:15–1 and 3:30–6:30, Sun. 8:30–1.Museo Archeologico Regionale Salinas(Salinas Regional Museum of Archaeology). Especially interesting pieces in this small but excellent collection are the examples of prehistoric cave drawings and amarvelously reconstructed Doric frieze from the Greek temple at Selinunte. The frieze reveals the high level of artistic culture attained by the Greek colonists inSicily some 2,500 years ago. (To enter, use the door around the corner on Via Roma.) At this writing, the museum is closed for renovations and expected to reopensometime in 2011; call before visiting. | Piazza Olivella 24, Via Roma, Olivella | 90133 | 091/6116806 | €6 | Tues.–Fri. 8:30–1:45 and 3–6:45, Sat.–Mon. 8:30–1:45; last entry 30 mins before closing.Palazzo Reale(Royal Palace). This historic palace, also called Palazzo dei Normanni (Norman Palace), was for centuries the seat of Sicily’s semiautonomous rulers. The buildingis a fascinating mesh of abutting 10th-century Norman and 17th-century Spanish structures. Because it now houses the Sicilian Parliament, little is accessible to thepublic. The Cappella Palatina (Palatine Chapel) remains open. Built by Roger II in 1132, it’s a dazzling example of the harmony of artistic elements produced underthe Normans. Here the skill of French and Sicilian masons was brought to bear on the decorative purity of Arab ornamentation and the splendor of 11th-centuryGreek Byzantine mosaics. The interior is covered with glittering mosaics and capped by a splendid 10th-century Arab honeycomb stalactite wooden ceiling.Biblical stories blend happily with scenes of Arab life—look for one showing a picnic in a harem—and Norman court pageantry.Upstairs are the royal apartments, including the Sala di Re Ruggero (King Roger’s Hall), decorated with medieval murals of hunting scenes—an earlier (1120)secular counterpoint to the religious themes seen elsewhere. To see this area of the palace, ask one of the tour guides (free) to escort you around the halls once usedby one of the most splendid courts in Europe (call in advance if you want to be sure a guide is available). French, Latin, and Arabic were spoken here, and Arabastronomers and poets exchanged ideas with Latin and Greek scholars in one of the most interesting marriages of culture in the Western world. The Sala is alwaysincluded with entry to the palace or chapel. | Piazza Indipendenza, Albergheria | 90129 | 091/7051111 or 091/7054006 | Palazzo Reale or Cappella Palatina €7,entry to both €8.50 | Palazzo Reale: Mon., Fri., and Sat. 8:30–noon and 2–5, Sun. 8:30–12:30. Cappella Palatina: Mon.–Sat. 8:30–noon and 2–5, Sun. 8:30–
  • 169. 12:30. Last entry ½ hr before closing.San Cataldo.Three striking Saracenic scarlet domes mark this church, built in 1154 during the Norman occupation of Palermo. The church now belongs to the Knights of theHoly Sepulchre, and has a spare but intense stone interior. If closed, inquire next door at La Martorana. | Piazza Bellini 3, Kalsa | 90133 | 3483394617 | €1 | Mar.–Oct., Mon.–Sat. 9–2 and 3:30–7, Sun. 9–2; Nov.–Feb., Mon.–Sun. 9–2.San Giovanni degli Eremiti.Distinguished by its five reddish-orange domes and stripped-clean interior, this 12th-century church was built by the Normans on the site of an earlier mosque—oneof 200 that once stood in Palermo. The emirs ruled Palermo for nearly two centuries and brought to it their passion for lush gardens and fountains. One is remindedof this while sitting in San Giovanni’s delightful cloister of twin half columns, surrounded by palm trees, jasmine, oleander, and citrus trees. | Via dei Benedettini,Albergheria | 90129 | 091/6515019 | €6 | Tues.–Sat. 9–5; last entry ½ hr before closing.Teatro Massimo.Construction of this formidable neoclassical theater, the largest in Italy, was started in 1875 by Giovanni Battista Basile and completed by his son Ernesto in 1897.A reconstruction project started in 1974 ran into gross delays, and the facility remained closed until just before its centenary in 1997. Its interior is as glorious asever. The Godfather: Part III ended with a famous shooting scene on the theater’s steps. Visits, by 25-minute guided tour only, are available in six languages,including English. | Piazza Verdi 9, at top of Via Maqueda, Olivella | 90134 | 091/6090831, 800/907080 toll-free in Italy | | €5 | Tues.–Sun.10–3.W O R T H N O T I N G I N P A L E R M OCatacombe dei Cappuccini.The spookiest sight in all of Sicily, this 16th-century catacomb houses nearly 9,000 corpses of men, women, and young children, some in tombs but manymummified and preserved, hanging in rows on the walls, divided by social caste, age, or gender; most wear signs indicating their names and the years they lived.The Capuchins were founders and proprietors of the bizarre establishment (many of the corpses are Capuchin friars) from 1599 to 1882, and it is still under theauspices of the nearby Capuchin church. It was closed when an adjacent cemetery was opened, making the catacombs redundant. It’s memorable, but is not for thefaint of heart; children might be frightened or disturbed. | Piazza Cappuccini off Via Cappuccini, near Palazzo Reale | 90129 | 091/212117 | €3 | Late Oct.–Mar.,daily 9–12:30 and 3–5:30; Apr.–late Oct., daily 8:30–1 and 2:30–6.Museo delle Marionette.The traditional Sicilian pupi (puppets), with their glittering armor and fierce expressions, have become a symbol of Norman Sicily. Plots of the weekly performancescenter on the chivalric legends of the troubadours, who, before the puppet theater, kept alive tales of Norman heroes in Sicily such as William the Bad (1120–66).The museum can be hard to find: look for the small alley just off Piazetta Antonio Pasqualino 5. | Piazzetta Niscemi 51, at Via Butera, Kalsa | 90133 | 091/328060 | | €5 | Weekdays 9–1 and 3:30–6:30, Sat. 9–1.Palazzo Abatellis.Housed in this late-15th-century Catalan Gothic palace with Renaissance elements is the Galleria Regionale. Among its treasures are the Annunciation (1474), apainting by Sicily’s prominent Renaissance master Antonello da Messina (1430–79), and an arresting fresco by an unknown painter, titled The Triumph of Death, amacabre depiction of the plague years. Two new rooms were opened in early 2010 after years of work. | Via Alloro 4, Kalsa | 90133 | 091/6230011 | €8 | Tues. andThurs. 9–1 and 2:30–6, Wed. and Fri.–Sun. 9–1.Piazza Pretoria.The square’s centerpiece, a lavishly decorated fountain with 500 separate pieces of sculpture and an abundance of nude figures, so shocked some Palermitans whenit was unveiled in 1575 that it got the nickname “Fountain of Shame.” It’s even more of a sight when illuminated at night.Quattro Canti.The Four Corners is the intersection of Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda. Four rather exhaust-blackened baroque palaces from Spanish rule meet atconcave corners, each with its own fountain and representations of a Spanish ruler, patron saint, and one of the four seasons.Santa Caterina.The walls of this splendid baroque church (1596) in Piazza Bellini are covered with decorative 17th-century inlays of precious marble. | Piazza Bellini, QuattroCanti | 90133 | 3384512011 | Apr.–Sept., daily 9:30–1:30 and 3–7; Oct.–Mar., daily 9:30–1:30.W H E R E T O E A T I N P A L E R M OAntica Focacceria San Francesco.¢ | SICILIAN | Turn-of-the-20th-century wooden cabinets, marble-top tables, and cast-iron ovens characterize this neighborhood bakery. Come here for the locallybeloved snacks that can be combined to make an inexpensive meal. The big pot on the counter holds the delicious regional specialty pani ca meusa (boiled calf’sspleen with caciocavallo cheese and salt). The squeamish can opt for some chickpea fritters, an enormous arancino (deep-fried ball of rice filled with meat), or theoutstanding cannoli. | Via Paternostro 58, Kalsa | 90011 | 091/320264 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Tues. Oct.–May and 2 wks mid-Jan.Casa del Brodo.$$ | SICILIAN | On the edge of the Vucciria is a restaurant that dates to 1890, one of Palermo’s oldest. In winter, tortellini in brodo (in beef broth), the restaurant’snamesake, is the specialty of the house. There’s an extensive antipasto buffet, and you can’t go wrong with the fritella di fave, piselli, carciofi, e ricotta (fried favabeans, peas, artichokes, and ricotta). Most days they offer a fixed-price meat menu (€16) and a fish menu (€18). A mix of tourists and locals crowds the two smallrooms. | Corso Vittorio Emanuele 175, Vucciria | 90136 | 091/321655 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Tues. Nov.–Apr. and Sun. May–Oct.Il Ristorantino.
  • 170. $$$ | MODERN ITALIAN | Pippo Anastasio, one of the true personalities of Sicilian cooking, has created one of the most modern restaurants on the island. Herepesce spada (swordfish) reaches its loftiest heights, served simply marinated with olive oil, lemon, herb butter, and toast; meanwhile, Pippo’s flights of fancyinclude astice (lobster) tortellini with cherry tomatoes, bottarga (cured tuna roe), and hot pepper and mille foglie di melanzane (puff pastry with eggplant). Darkwood contrasts with recessed lighting and stylized wall panels to create a design fusion that echoes the creativity of the menu. The suburban restaurant is an easytaxi ride from the center. | Piazzale Papa Giovanni Paolo II, Resuttana | 90146 | 091/512861 | AE, MC, V | Closed Mon. and 2 wks in Aug.Osteria dei Vespri.$$$ | SICILIAN | A foodie paradise occupies a cozy-but-elegant space on an unheralded piazza in the historic city center. Try the superb antipasto sei variazioni dicrudo dal mare (six variations of raw delicacies from the sea) and the ravioli pieni di ricotta al formo con aroma di cedro (ricotta ravioli smoked in cedar). Sheep’s-milk cheese ravioli with basil, fresh tomato, eggplant, and crispy onions adds creative depth to traditional preparation. Local fish is the specialty. The wine list is oneof the best in Palermo; each day the sommelier and chef collaborate to make a special tasting menu built around Sicilian wines at €75. | Piazza Croce dei Vespri 6,Kalsa | 90133 | 091/6171631 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun.Pani Ca Meusa.¢ | SICILIAN | This supremely local institution facing Palermo’s old fishing port has had only one item on the menu—and one legendary manager–cum–sandwichmaker—for more than 50 years. Calf’s spleen sandwich, the joint’s namesake, is sprinkled with a bit of salt and some lemon and served with or without cheese to abuzzing crowd of Palermo’s battle-wearied elders. In our book, their sandwich beats the Antica Focacceria San Francesco’s for the title of best in town. There’s noseating, though—only counters—and the overall menu is better at San Francesco. | Porta Carbone, Via Cala 62, Kalsa | 90133 | No phone | Reservations notaccepted | No credit cards | Closed Sun. and Mon., and unpredictable hrs on other days.Fodor’s Choice | Piccolo Napoli.$$$ | SICILIAN | Founded in 1951, Piccolo Napoli is one of Old Palermo’s most esteemed seafood restaurants. Locals come at midday to feast on the freshest offish. You can begin with a memorable buffet featuring baby octopus, raw neonata (tiny fish resembling sardines but with a milder flavor), and chickpea fritters.Continue with spaghetti with ricci (sea urchin) or casarecce (partially rolled pasta) with swordfish and mint, and finally, the glorious fresh fish or shellfish, roastedor grilled. Depending on the fish you select, the bill can creep up on you, but it’s worth every cent. Dinner is served only Friday and Saturday nights betweenOctober and June. | Piazzetta Mulino a Vento 4, Borgo Vecchio | 90139 | 091/320431 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Sun. and last 2 wks in Aug. No dinner July–Sept.and Mon.–Thurs. Oct.–June.Pizzeria Ai Comparucci.¢ | PIZZA | One of Palermo’s best pizzerias doubles as a modern art gallery. The colorful paintings give the place a fun, casual vibe. Better yet are the deliciousNeapolitan pizzas coming out of the big oven in the open kitchen. The genius is in the crust, which is seared in the oven in a matter of seconds, and the ownersmake their money on a quick turnover (so don’t expect a long, leisurely meal). But the pizza is delicious, and the place often serves until midnight—later thanalmost any other restaurant in the neighborhood. | Messina 36, between Via Yarzili and Via Libertà, Libertà | 90141 | 091/6090467 | AE, MC, V | Closed Mon.Trattoria Altri Tempi.$ | SICILIAN | This “olden-days” restaurant is a favorite among locals searching for the rustic dishes served by their ancestors. Knickknacks fill the walls of thesmall, friendly dining room. A meal begins when the server plunks down a carafe of the house red and a superb spread of traditional antipasti on your table. Disheshave old-fashioned names: fave a cunigghiu is fava beans prepared with olive oil, garlic, and remarkably flavorful oregano, and vampaciucia c’anciova is a lasagna-like dish with a concentrated sauce of tomatoes, anchovies, and grapes. The meal ends well, too, with free house-made herb or fruit liquors and excellent cannoli. |Via Sammartino 65/67, Libertà | 90141 | 091/323480 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed mid-Aug.–mid-Sept. and Sun. June–Aug. No dinner Sun.Trattoria Biondo.$$ | SICILIAN | It would be hard to argue that the lasagne al forno at this traditional local restaurant, on a convenient block near Politeama, is anything less than thebest in Sicily. The baked lasagna is made with perfectly al dente noodles, a wonderfully seasoned ragù, and a silky béchamel, then throws in ham for good measure.The other traditional pasta specialties are also excellent, as are fish dishes. None of the dining rooms is bigger than an oversize pantry, making for a cozyatmosphere. | Via Giosué Carducci 15, Libertà | 90141 | 091/583662 | AE, MC, V | Closed Wed. and Aug.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N P A L E R M OCentrale Palace Hotel.$$-$$$ | A stone’s throw from Palermo’s main historic sites, the Centrale Palace is the only hotel in the heart of the centro storico that was once a stately privatepalace. Built in 1717, the hotel weaves old-world charm with modern comfort like few establishments on the island. The “classic” rooms have antiques and well-chosen reproductions, while the slightly pricier “neoclassic” rooms are done in a more-modern style. The young, welcoming staff provides professional service. Therooftop restaurant serves creative Sicilian cuisine. Pros: sparkling clean; good bathrooms; convenient garage parking. Cons: traffic noise; some rooms have no view.| Corso Vittorio Emanuele 327, Vucciria, | 90134 | 091/336666 | | 88 rooms, 16 suites | In-room: safe (some), refrigerator, Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Grande Albergo Sole.$$ | Here’s an unusual and exciting concept: reopen a faded century-old lodging in the gritty old center as a gleaming, ultramodern hotel. The result is an ideal basefor exploring Palermo. The expansive rooftop balcony boasts a hot tub and encircles the restaurant and bar in a sleek wood frame that feels almost Scandinavian.Minimalist (for Italy, anyway) rooms have all the modern amenities, with the exception of Wi-Fi. The service is friendly. Call ahead to reserve a room facing thefront of the hotel for a bird’s-eye view of three church cupolas and the Piazza della Vergogna (Plaza of Shame), labeled as such because it is one of the few plazasin Italy with no statues of saints. Pros: great rooftop bar and restaurant; very central location; multilingual staff. Cons: no views from many rooms; stark decor. |Corso Vittorio Emanuele 291, Kalsa | 90133 | 091/6041111 | | 113 rooms | In-room: safe, refrigerator. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, bar, parking(paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Hilton Villa Igiea.$$$–$$$$ | This grand dame, a local landmark for a century, hasn’t changed much since becoming a Hilton. You’ll have to take a €15 taxi ride over some rough-looking roads to reach this oasis of luxury and comfort, set in a private tropical garden at the edge of the bay. A stroll around the grounds reveals such relics as an
  • 171. looking roads to reach this oasis of luxury and comfort, set in a private tropical garden at the edge of the bay. A stroll around the grounds reveals such relics as anancient Greek temple at the water’s edge. Large rooms are individually furnished, the nicest with an art-nouveau flavor. Spacious public rooms unfold onto a terraceand restaurant. Pros: secluded setting; historic building; lots of style. Cons: noise and fumes from nearby marina; service is hit or miss. | Salita Belmonte 42 | 90142 |Acquasanta, 3 km (2 mi) north of Palermo | 091/6312111 | | 110 rooms, 6 suites | In-room: safe, Internet. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bar,tennis court, pool, gym, parking (free) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Hotel Principe di Villafranca.$$$ | Fine Sicilian antiques, imperial striped silks, creamy marble floors, and vaulted ceilings evoke a luxurious private home in the heart of Palermo’s glitzyshopping district. It’s easy to get comfortable in the understated surroundings: relax in the library with an aperitif, or savor an authentic meal in the rustic restaurant,which drizzles some of its dishes with a sublime, homemade balsamic vinegar. Rooms are elegant, with fine linens and more antiques. Ask for a room facing thequieter street side. Pros: helpful staff; well-maintained building; safe neighborhood. Cons: breakable knickknacks make it unsuitable for small children; bathroomsare on the small side. | Via G. Turrisi Colonna 4, Libertà | 90141 | 091/6118523 | | 32 rooms, 2 suites | In-room: safe. In-hotel:restaurant, bar, gym, Wi-Fi hotspot, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.Le Terrazze.$ | Though just steps from the bustling streets around the Cattedrale, complete calm envelops this small, beautifully restored B&B. The name refers to its five roofterraces, all of which have sublime views of Palermo’s skyline, and where breakfast is served in summer. When you’re not on the roof, you can pore over thecollection of books about Sicily in the sitting area. The rooms are a major draw, furnished in period style. Pros: convenient location; glorious views from terraces.Cons: parking can be difficult; books up quickly. | Via Pietro Novelli 14, Capo | 90134 | 091/6520866 or 320/4328567 | | 2 rooms | In-room:no phone, refrigerator | No credit cards | Closed Nov. and Feb. | BP.Massimo Plaza Hotel.$$–$$$ | This hotel has one of Palermo’s best locations—opposite the renovated Teatro Massimo, on the border of the old and new towns. It is small and select; therooms are spacious, comfortably furnished, and well insulated from the noise on Via Maqueda. The service is personal and polite, with continental breakfast servedin your room with the newspaper of your choice. Book in advance for one of the seven rooms that have theater views. Pros: central location; modern bathrooms.Cons: plain decor; some noisy rooms; breakfast choices are limited. | Via Maqueda 437, Vucciria | 90133 | 091/325657 | | 15 rooms |In-room: safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: bar, parking (paid) | AE, DC, MC, V | BP.N I G H T L I F E A N D T H E A R T S I N P A L E R M OT H E A R T S I N P A L E R M OConcerts and OperaTeatro Massimo(Piazza Verdi at top of Via Maqueda, Capo | 90134 | 091/6053111 |, modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, is truly larger than life—it’s thebiggest theater in Italy. Concerts and operas are presented throughout the year, though in summer concerts are usually held outdoors. An opera at the Massimo is anunforgettable Sicilian experience. The box office is open Tuesday to Sunday 10 to 3. Ticket prices vary but generally start around €10. The shamelessly grandioseneoclassical Teatro Politeama Garibaldi (Piazza Ruggero Settimo, Libertà | 90139 | 091/588001) stages a season of opera and orchestral works from Novemberthrough May.Puppet ShowsPalermo’s tradition of puppet theater holds an appeal for children and adults alike. Street artists often perform outside the Teatro Massimo in summer. The Figlid’Arte Cuticchio Association (Via Bara all’Olivella 95, Kalsa | 90133 | 091/323400 | | €8) hosts performances September to July onmost weekends at 6:30 PM.N I G H T L I F E I N P A L E R M OEach night between 6 and 9, Palermo’s youth gather to shop, socialize, flirt, and plan the evening’s affairs in an epic passeggiata along Via Ruggero Settimo (anorthern extension of Via Maqueda) and filling Piazza Ruggero Settimo in front of Teatro Politeama. Some trendy bars also line Via Principe del Belmonte,intersecting with Via Roma and Via Ruggero Settimo.Bars and CafésKursaal Kalhesa(Foro Umberto I 21, Kalsa | 90133 | 091/6162111 | is one of the most fascinating places to drink or socialize down by the port and thePorta Felice. An energetic, eclectic crowd of Palermitan youth takes in lively jazz, coffee, and drinks inside an ancient city wall with spectacular 100-foot ceilingsand an idyllic courtyard—it’s truly representative of the New Palermo. Interesting, if pricey, Sicilian food with an Arab touch is served in the adjacent restaurant.Kursaal Kalhesa is closed Monday. Mikalsa (Via Torremuzza 27, Kalsa | 90133 | 348/9732254) is a hip nightspot boasting Sicily’s best selection of Belgian beers.Try the interesting Wild Spirit beer, a painstaking product of one of Sicily’s first microbreweries (also available elsewhere around town). Parco LetterarioGiuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (Vicolo della Neve all’Alloro 2/5, near Piazza Marina, Kalsa | 90133 | 389/9941599 | is a bar, café,language school, and tour operator. The center sponsors concerts, readings, and art shows. The little library (and just about everything else) focuses not just onPalermitan history but on the life and times of the center’s namesake, Lampedusa, author of the canonical Il Gattopardo (The Leopard). Santa Monica (Via E.Parisi 7, Libertà | 90140 | 091/324735) is a pub that’s immensely popular with the twenty- and thirtysomething crowd, who belly up to the bar for pizza, bruschetta,and, of course, excellent German-style draft beer. It’s also a good place to watch soccer. Tinto (Via XX Settembre 56/A, at Via Messina, Libertà | 90141 |091/582137 | is a sleek establishment serving double duty as a Sicily-centric wine bar and restaurant. The room achieves a sense of effortless grace,with dark furniture and greenery. Come around aperitivo time and you’ll be treated to free snacks. It’s closed at lunchtime on Sunday.
  • 172. S H O P P I N G I N P A L E R M ONorth of Piazza Castelnuovo, Via della Libertà and the surrounding streets represent the luxury end of the shopping scale. A second nerve center for shoppers is thepair of parallel streets connecting modern Palermo with the train station, Via Roma, and Via Maqueda, where boutiques and shoe shops become increasinglyupmarket as you move from the Quattro Canti past Teatro Massimo to Via Ruggero Settimo.Most shops are open 9–1 and 4 or 4:30–7:30 or 8 and closed Sunday and on Monday morning; in addition, most food shops close Wednesday afternoon.Food and WineEnoteca Picone(Via Marconi 36, Libertà | 90141 | 091/331300 | Viale Strasburgo 235, Resuttana | 90146 | 091/6880357 | is the best wine shop in town,with a fantastic selection of Sicilian and national wines. Though the service can be curt, you can taste a selection of wines by the glass in the front of the store.There are tables in the back, where meats and cheeses are also served. The branch on Viale Strasburgo offers full meals. Both branches are closed Sunday. With aname that means “Mamma Andrea’s Small Sins,” the charming I Peccatucci di Mamma Andrea (Via Principe di Scordia 67, near Piazza Florio, Vucciria |90139 | 091/334835 | sells a plethora of mouthwatering original creations, including jams, preserves, and Sicilian treats like the superbmarzipan frutta di Martorana.Pasticceria Alba(Piazza Don Bosco 7/C, off Via della Libertà near La Favorita Park, Libertà | 90141 | 091/309016 |, one of the most famous sweets shops in Italy,is the place to find favorite pastries such as cannoli and cassata siciliana (a rich chilled sponge cake with sheep’s-milk ricotta and candied fruit).MarketsIf you’re interested in truly connecting with local life while searching for souvenirs, a visit to one of Palermo’s many bustling markets is essential. Between ViaRoma and Via Maqueda, the many bancherelle (market stalls) on Via Bandiera sell everything from socks to imitation designer handbags.It’s easy to see how the Vucciria Market got its name (vucciria translates in dialect as “voices” or “hubbub”): Palermo’s most established outdoor market in theheart of the centro storico is a maze of side streets around Piazza San Domenico, where hawkers deliver incessant chants from behind stands brimming with moundsof olives, blood oranges, wild fennel, and long-stem artichokes. One hawker will be going at the trunk of a swordfish with a cleaver while across the way anotherholds up a giant squid or dangles an octopus. Morning is the best time to see the market in full swing. Wind your way through the Albergheria district and thehistoric Ballarò Market, where the Saracens did their shopping in the 11th century—joined by the Normans in the 12th. The market remains faithful to seasonalchange as well as the original Arab commerce of fruit, vegetables, and grain. Go early; the action dies out by 4 PM most days.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 173. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsCefalùSicily’s northern shore, the Tyrrhenian Coast, is mostly a succession of small holiday towns interspersed with stretches of sand. It’s often difficult to find a calm spotamong the thousands of tourists and locals in high summer, though the scene quiets down considerably after August. The biggest attraction is the old town ofCefalù, with one of Sicily’s most remarkable medieval cathedrals, encrusted with mosaics. The coast on either side is dotted with ancient archaeological remains andArab-Norman buildings. A couple of miles south of Cefalù, Pizzo Carbonara (6,500 feet) is the highest peak in Sicily after Mount Etna. Piano della Battaglia has afully equipped ski resort with lifts. The area has a very un-Sicilian aspect, with Swiss-type chalets, hiking paths, and even Alpine churches.C E F A L Ù70 km (43 mi) east of Palermo, 161 km (100 mi) west of Messina.Getting HereTrains and buses run between Palermo and Messina. Drivers can take the A20 autostrada.Visitor InformationNote that the Cefalù tourist office will change locations in 2010 or 2011; at this writing the new location is not set.Cefalù tourism office (Corso Ruggero 77 | 90015 | 0921/421050).E X P L O R I N G C E F A L ÙThe coast between Palermo and Messina is spotted with charming villages. Tindari (which dates back to the early Christian era) and Laghetti di Maranello are twothat are worth a stop, but it is Cefalù, a classically appealing Sicilian old town built on a spur jutting out into the sea, that is the jewel of the coast. It’s dominated bya massive rock—la rocca—and a 12th-century Romanesque Duomo, one of the finest Norman cathedrals in Italy. Ruggero II began the church in 1131 as anoffering of thanks for having been saved here from a shipwreck. Its mosaics rival those of Monreale; whereas Monreale’s Byzantine Christ figure is an austere andpowerful image, emphasizing Christ’s divinity, the Cefalù Christ is softer, more compassionate, and more human. The traffic going in and out of Cefalù town canbe heavy in summer; you may want to take the 50-minute train ride from Palermo instead of driving. At the Duomo you must be suitably attired—no shorts orbeachwear are permitted. | Piazza Duomo | 90015 | 0921/922021 | Oct.–Apr., daily 8–noon and 3:30–5; May–Sept., daily 8–7:30.W H E R E T O E A T I N C E F A L ÙAl Porticciolo.$$–$$$ | SICILIAN | Nicola Mendolia’s restaurant is comfortable, casual, and faithfully focused on food. You might start with the calamaretti piccoli fritti (friedbaby squid and octopus) and then follow with one of the chef’s specials, which change weekly. Regardless, a refreshing sgroppino (whipped lemon sorbet withspumante) should end the meal. Dark, heavy, wooden tables create a comfortable environment filled with a mix of jovial locals and businesspeople. | Via C.Ortolani di Bordonaro 66 | 90015 | 0921/921981 | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed Feb. and Wed. Nov.–Apr.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 174. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsLipari | Vulcano | Panarea | Stromboli | FilicudiOff Sicily’s northeast coast lies an archipelago of seven spectacular islands of volcanic origin. The Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands), also known as the Isole Lipari(Lipari Islands), were named after Aeolus, the Greek god of the winds, who is said to keep all the Earth’s winds stuffed in a bag in his cave here. The Aeolians area world of grottoes and clear-water caves carved by waves through the centuries. Superb snorkeling and scuba diving abound in the clearest and cleanest of Italy’swaters. The beautiful people of high society discovered the archipelago years ago—here Roberto Rossellini courted his future wife, the star Ingrid Bergman, in1950. So you should not expect complete isolation, at least on the main islands. August, in particular, can get unpleasantly overcrowded, and lodging and travelshould always be booked as early as possible.Lipari provides the widest range of accommodations and is a good jumping-off point for day trips to the other islands. Most exclusive are Vulcano and Panarea, theformer noted for its black sands and stupendous sunsets, as well as the acrid smell of its sulfur emissions, whereas the latter is, according to some, the prettiest. Mostremarkable is Stromboli (pronounced with the accent on the first syllable) with its constant eruptions, and remotest are Filicudi and Alicudi, where electricity wasintroduced only in the 1980s. Access to the islands is via ferry and hydrofoil from Milazzo (on Sicily) or from Naples. The bars in the Aeolian Islands, andespecially those on Lipari, are known for their granitas of fresh strawberries, melon, peaches, and other fruits. Many Sicilians on the Aeolians (and in Messina,Taormina, and Catania) begin the hot summer days with a granita di caffè (a coffee ice topped with whipped cream), into which they dunk their breakfast rolls. Youcan get one any time of day. The other islands are Salina, known as the greenest island, and Alicudi, the most distant and least developed.L I P A R I2 hrs and 10 mins from Milazzo by ferry, 1 hr by hydrofoil; 60–75 mins from Reggio di Calabria and Messina by ferry.Getting HereFerries and hydrofoils from Milazzo, which is 41 km (25 mi) west of Messina, stop here. There’s also ferry service from Reggio di Calabria and Messina.Visitor InformationLipari tourism office (Corso Vittorio Emanuele 202 | 98055 | 090/9880095 | X P L O R I N G L I P A R IThe largest and most developed of the Aeolians, Lipari welcomes you with distinctive pastel-color houses. Fields of spiky agaves dot the northernmost tip of theisland, Acquacalda, indented with pumice and obsidian quarries. In the west is San Calogero, where you can explore hot springs and mud baths. From the red-lavabase of the island rises a plateau crowned with a 16th-century castle and a 17th-century cathedral.The vast, multibuilding Museo Archeologico Eoliano is a terrific museum, with an intelligently arranged collection of prehistoric finds—some dating as far back as4000 BC—from various sites in the archipelago. | Via Castello | 98055 | 090/9880174 | €6 | Tues.–Sun. 9–1:30 and 3–7; last entry 1 hr before closing.W H E R E T O E A T A N D S T A Y I N L I P A R IFilippino.$$–$$$ | SICILIAN | The views from the flower-strewn outdoor terrace of this restaurant in the upper town are a fitting complement to the superb fare. Founded in
  • 175. $$–$$$ | SICILIAN | The views from the flower-strewn outdoor terrace of this restaurant in the upper town are a fitting complement to the superb fare. Founded in1910, the restaurant is rightly rated one of the archipelago’s best. Top choice is seafood: the zuppa di pesce (fish soup) and the antipasto platter of smoked andmarinated fish are absolute musts. Leave some room for the local version of cassata siciliana, accompanied by sweet Malvasia wine from Salina. | Piazza MazziniLipari | 98055 | 090/9811002 | | AE, DC, MC, V | Closed mid-Nov.–late Dec. and Mon. Oct.–Mar.Gattopardo Park Hotel.$$$ | Bright bougainvillea and fiery hibiscus set the tone at this grand villa, and its restaurant has sweeping views of the sea. Guest quarters are in the 19th-centurymain villa or in whitewashed bungalows in the surrounding tranquil parkland. Public rooms have wood-beam ceilings and rustic-style furnishings. A minibusshuttles between the hotel and Spiagge Bianche, one of Lipari’s better beaches. There are also trips around the island, boat excursions to Vulcano and Stromboli,and folklore evenings. Weekly discounts are available. Pros: friendly staff; good recreational facilities; large pool. Cons: a bit removed from the port; staff doesn’tspeak English. | Viale Diana 1 | 98055 | 090/9811035 | | 47 rooms | In-room: refrigerator (some). In-hotel: restaurant, bar, pool | MC,V | Closed Nov.–Mar. | MAP.V U L C A N O25 mins from Lipari by ferry, 10 mins by hydrofoil; 90 mins from Milazzo by ferry.Getting HereFrequent ferries and hydrofoils arrive here from Milazzo (41 km [25 mi] west of Messina), and Lipari..E X P L O R I N G V U L C A N OVulcano.True to its name—and the origin of the term—Vulcano has a profusion of fumaroles sending up jets of hot vapor, but the volcano here has long been dormant.Many come to soak in the strong-smelling sulfur springs: when the wind is right, the odors greet you long before you disembark. The island has some of thearchipelago’s best beaches, though the volcanic black sand can be off-putting at first. You can ascend to the crater (1,266 feet above sea level) on muleback for awonderful view or take boat rides into the grottoes around the base. From Capo Grillo there is a view of all the Aeolians.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N V U L C A N OLes Sables Noirs.$$–$$$ | Named for the black sands of the beach in front, this luxury hotel is superbly sited on the beautiful Porto di Ponente. The cool modern furnishings andinviting pool induce a sybaritic mood, and the white-wall guest rooms are tasteful and spacious. The restaurant, naturally, looks out over the bay: sunsets are framedby the towering faraglioni. Pros: stunning beachfront location; nice restaurant. Cons: not as clean as it should be; pesky mosquitoes. | Porto di Ponente | 98050 |090/9850 | | 45 rooms, 3 suites | In-room: safe. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, pool, beachfront | AE, MC, V | Closed mid-Oct.–Apr. | BP.P A N A R E A2 hrs from Lipari by ferry, 25–50 mins by hydrofoil; 7–9 hrs from Naples by ferry.Getting HereFerries and hydrofoils arrive here from Lipari and Naples.E X P L O R I N G P A N A R E APanarea has some of the most dramatic scenery of the islands: wild caves carved out of the rock and dazzling flora. The exceptionally clear water and the richness oflife on the sea floor make Panarea especially suitable for underwater exploration, though there is little in the way of beaches. The outlying rocks and islets make agorgeous sight, and you can enjoy the panorama on an easy excursion to the small Bronze Age village at Capo Milazzese.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N P A N A R E AIl Raya.$$$$ | This discreet, expensive hotel is perfectly in keeping with the elite style of Panarea, most exclusive of the Aeolian Islands. Public areas, including a broadterrace and an open-air restaurant, are built into a hillside right on the port; the residential area is a 10-minute walk inland, though the rooms still enjoy the sereneprospect of the sea and Stromboli from their balconies. The decor is elegant and understated, with Moorish-type hangings and low divans helping to create a tone ofserene luxury. Families with young children are asked to book elsewhere. Six rooms are in a newer building; they are equally nice but lack the historic feel of olderrooms. Pros: great views of Stromboli; fashionable ambience; well-known dance club on the premises. Cons: snooty staff; uphill trudge to rooms; mediocre food;dance club means noise after dark. | San Pietro | 98050 | 090/983013 | | 36 rooms | In-room: safe. In-hotel: bar, pool, spa | AE, DC, MC, V |Closed mid-Oct.–mid-Apr. | BP.S T R O M B O L I3 hrs and 45 mins from Lipari by ferry, 65–90 mins by hydrofoil; 9 hrs from Naples by ferry.Getting HereFerries and hydrofoils arrive here from Lipari and Naples.
  • 176. E X P L O R I N G S T R O M B O L IThis northernmost of the Aeolians consists entirely of the cone of an active volcano. The view from the sea—especially at night, as an endless stream of glowingred-hot lava flows into the water—is unforgettable. Stromboli is in a constant state of mild dissatisfaction, and every now and then its anger flares up, so authoritiesinsist that you climb to the top (about 3,031 feet above sea level) only with a guide. The round-trip—climb, pause, and descent—usually starting around 6 PM,takes about six hours; the lava is much more impressive after dark. Some choose to camp overnight atop the volcano—again, a guide is essential. The main townhas a small selection of reasonably priced hotels and restaurants and a choice of lively clubs and cafés for the younger set. In addition to the island tour, excursionsmight include boat trips around the naturally battlemented isle of Strombolicchio.Numerous tour operators have guides that can lead you up Stromboli, among them Pippo Navigazione (090/986135 or 338/9857883). Rates are around €20 perperson for three hours. A €15 night tour explores where the lava reaches the sea.F I L I C U D I30–60 mins from Salina and Lipari by hydrofoil; 2 hrs from Cefalù and Palermo, 2 hrs from Milazzo, and 4½–6½ hrs from Naples by ferry.Getting HereFerries and hydrofoils arrive throughout the year from Salina and Lipari, and also in summer from Palermo, Cefalù, Milazzo, and Naples.E X P L O R I N G F I L I C U D IJust a dot in the sea, Filicudi is famous for its unusual volcanic rock formations and the enchanting Grotta del Bue Marino (Grotto of the Sea Ox). The crumbledremains of a prehistoric village are at Capo Graziano. The island, which is spectacular for walking and hiking and is still a truly undiscovered, restful haven, has ahandful of hotels and pensions, and some families put up guests. Car ferries are available only in summer.W H E R E T O S T A Y I N F I L I C U D ILa Canna.$$ | Set above the tiny port, this hotel commands fabulous views of sky and sea from its flower-filled terrace. It’s wonderful to wake up to the utter tranquility thatcharacterizes any stay on this island. Rooms are small but adequate, kept clean and tidy by the friendly family staff. The cooking is quite good, usually centered onthe day’s catch (half or full board required in peak season). Arrange ahead of time to be collected at the port. Pros: relaxed setting; family-friendly atmosphere; greatviews. Cons: an uphill climb from the port. | Via Rosa 43 | 98050 | 090/9889956 | | 14 rooms | In-room: safe. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, pool |MC, V | MAP.Previous Chapter | Beginning of Chapter | Next Chapter | Contents
  • 177. Main Table of ContentsGetting HereEssentials
  • 178. Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | ContentsBus Travel | Car Travel | Train TravelAir travel to Italy is frequent and virtually problem-free, except for airport- or airline-related union strikes that may cause delays. Although most nonstop flights areto Rome and Milan, many travelers find it more convenient to connect through a European hub to Florence, Pisa, Venice, Bologna, or another smaller airport. Theairport in Venice also caters to international carriers.Flying time to Milan or Rome is approximately 8–8½ hours from New York, 10–11 hours from Chicago, and 11½ hours from Los Angeles.Labor strikes are frequent and can affect not only air travel, but also local transit that serves airports (private transit is not affected by strikes, however). Confirmflights within Italy the day before travel. Your airline will have information about strikes directly affecting its flight schedule. If you are taking a train to the airport,check with the local tourist agency or rail station about upcoming strikes. Be aware it’s not unusual for strikes to be canceled at the last minute.Airline Security Issues: Transportation Security Administration ( has answers for almost every question that might come up.Contact: A helpful Web site for information (location, phone numbers, local transportation, etc.) about all of the airports in Italy is | I R P O R T SThe major gateways to Italy include Rome’s Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci (FCO), better known as Fiumicino, and Milan’s Aeroporto Malpensa (MPX). Mostflights to Venice, Florence, and Pisa make connections at Fiumicino and Malpensa or another European airport hub. You can take the FS airport train to Rome’sTermini station, or an express motorcoach to Milan’s central train station (Centrale) and catch a train to any other location in Italy. It will take about 30 minutes toget from Fiumicino to Roma Termini, about an hour to Milano Centrale.Many carriers fly into the smaller airports. Venice is served by Aeroporto Marco Polo (VCE), Naples by Aeroporto Capodichino (NAP), and Palermo byAeroporto Punta Raisi (PMO). Florence is serviced by Aeroporto A. Vespucci (FLR), which is also called Peretola, and by Aeroporto Galileo Galilei (PSA), whichis about 2 km (1 mi) outside the center of Pisa and about one hour from Florence. The train to Florence stops within 100 feet of the entrance to the Pisa airportterminal. Bologna’s airport (BLQ) is a 20-minute direct Aerobus-ride away from Bologna Centrale, which is about 40 minutes from Florence by train.Italy’s major airports are not known for being new, fun, or efficient. They have been ramping up security measures, which include random baggage inspection andbomb-detection dogs. All of the airports have restaurants and snack bars, and there is Wi-Fi Internet access. Each airport has at least one nearby hotel. In the case ofFlorence, Pisa, and Bologna, the city centers are only a 15-minute taxi or bus ride away—so if you encounter a long delay, spend it in town.When you take a connecting flight from a European airline hub (Frankfurt or Paris, for example) to a local Italian airport (Florence or Venice), be aware that yourluggage might not make it onto the second plane with you. The airlines’ lost-luggage service is efficient, however, and your delayed luggage is usually delivered toyour hotel or holiday rental within 12 to 24 hours.Airport Information: Aeroporto A. Vespucci (FLR, also called Peretola | 6 km [4 mi] northwest of Florence | 055/3061300 | di Venezia (VCE, also called Marco Polo | 6 km [4 mi] north of Venice | 041/2609260 | Aeroporto Galileo Galilei (PSA | 2 km[1 mi] south of Pisa, 80 km [50 mi] west of Florence | 050/849300 | Aeroporto di Bologna (BLQ also called Guglielmo Marconi | 6 km[4 mi] northwest of Bologna | 051/6479615 | Aeroporto Malpensa (MPX | 45 km [28 mi] north of Milan | 02/74852200 | Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci (FCO, also called Fiumicino | 35 km [20 mi] southwest of Rome | 06/65951 | NaplesInternational Airport (NAP, also called Capodichino | 7 km [4 mi] northeast of Naples | 081/7896111 | Palermo International
  • 179. International Airport (NAP, also called Capodichino | 7 km [4 mi] northeast of Naples | 081/7896111 | Palermo InternationalAirport (PMO, also called Punta Raisi | 32 km [19 mi] northwest of Palermo | 091/7020272 | L I G H T SOn flights from the United States, Alitalia and Delta Air Lines serve Rome, Milan, Pisa, and Venice. The major international hubs in Italy, Milan, and Rome arealso served by Continental Airlines and American Airlines, and US Airways serves Rome. From April through October, the Italy-based Meridiana EuroFly hasnonstop flights from New York to Naples and Palermo.Alitalia and British Airways have direct flights from London to Milan, Venice, Rome, and 10 other locations in Italy. Smaller, no-frills airlines also provide servicebetween Great Britain and Italy. EasyJet connects Gatwick with Milan, Venice, Rome, and Bologna. British Midland connects Heathrow and Milan (Linate),Naples, and Venice. Ryanair, departing from London’s Stansted airport, flies to Milan, Rome, Pisa, and Venice. Meridiana has flights between Gatwick and Olbiaon Sardinia in summer, and flights to Rome and Florence throughout the year.Tickets for flights within Italy, on Alitalia and small carriers, such as EuroFly, Meridiana, and Air One, cost less when purchased from agents within Italy. Ticketsare frequently sold at discounted prices, so check the cost of flights, even one-way, as an alternative to train travel.Airline Contacts: Alitalia (800/223–5730 in U.S., 06/2222 in Rome, 800/650055 elsewhere in Italy | American Airlines (800/433–7300,02/69682464 in Milan | British Airways (800/247–9297 in U.S., 119/712266 in Italy | British Midland (0807/6070–555 for U.K. reservations, 1332/64–8181 callers outside U.K. | Continental Airlines (800/523–3273 for U.S. reservations, 800/231–0856 forinternational reservations, 02/69633256 in Milan, 800/555580000 elsewhere in Italy | Delta Air Lines (800/221–1212 for U.S.reservations, 800/241–4141 for international reservations, 848/780376 in Italy | EasyJet (0905/821–0905 in U.K., 899/234589 in Italy | Northwest Airlines (800/225–2525 | Ryanair (08701/24–60000 in U.K., 899/678910 in Italy | UnitedAirlines (800/864–8331 for U.S. reservations, 800/538–2929 for international reservations | US Airways (800/428–4322 for U.S. reservations,800/622–1015 for international reservations, 848/8813177 in Italy | Carriers: Air One (06/48880069 in Rome, 800/650055 elsewhere in Italy | Meridiana EuroFly (866/387–6359 in U.S., 892928 inItaly. | U S T R A V E LItaly’s regional bus network, often operated by private companies with motorcoach fleets, is extensive, although not as attractive an option as in other Europeancountries, partly due to convenient train travel. Schedules are often drawn up with commuters and students in mind and may be sketchy on weekends. Regional buscompanies often provide the only means (not including car travel) of getting to out-of-the-way places. Even when this isn’t the case, buses can be faster and moredirect than local trains, so it’s a good idea to compare bus and train schedules. SITA operates throughout Italy; Lazzi Eurolines operates in Tuscany and centralItaly. Dolomiti Bus serves the Dolomites.All major cities in Italy have urban bus service. It’s inexpensive, and tickets may be purchased in blocks or as passes. Buses can become jammed during busy travelperiods and rush hours.Smoking is not permitted, and both public and private buses offer only one class of service. Cleanliness and comfort levels are high on private motorcoaches, whichhave plenty of legroom and comfortable seats, but no toilets. Private bus lines usually have a ticket office in town or allow you to pay when you board. Whentraveling on city buses, you must buy your ticket from a machine, newsstand, or tobacco shop and stamp it on board (although some city buses have ticket machineson board).Bus Information: ATAC (Rome | 800/431784 or 06/46952027 | [no English version]). ATAF (Stazione Centrale di Santa Maria Novella, |Florence | 800/424500 | DolomitiBus (Via Col da Ren 14, | Belluno | 0437/217111 | Lazzi Eurolines (Via Mercadante 2, |Florence | 055/363041 | SITA (Via Santa Caterina da Siena 17/r, | Florence | 055/47821 | A R T R A V E LItaly has an extensive network of autostrade (toll highways), complemented by equally well-maintained but free superstrade (expressways). Save the ticket you areissued at an autostrada entrance, as you need it to exit; on some shorter autostrade, you pay the toll when you enter. Viacards, on sale for €25 and up at manyautostrada locations, allow you to pay for tolls in advance, exiting at special lanes where you simply slip the card into a designated slot.An uscita is an “exit.” A raccordo annulare is a ring road surrounding a city, while a tangenziale bypasses a city entirely. Strade regionale and strade provinciale(regional and provincial highways, denoted by S, SS, SR, or SP numbers) may be two-lane roads, as are all secondary roads; directions and turnoffs aren’t alwaysclearly marked.GasolineGas stations are along the main highways. Those on autostrade are open 24 hours. Otherwise, gas stations generally are open Monday–Saturday 7–7, with a breakat lunchtime. At self-service gas stations the pumps are operated by a central machine for payment, which doesn’t take credit cards; it accepts only bills indenominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 euros, and does not give change. Those with attendants accept cash and credit cards. It’s not customary to tip the attendant.At this writing, gasoline