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Beauty has accumulated over the centuries and time seems to stand still in Rome... its charm remains and hopefully no one will ever try to renovate it.
If there is a place where you can abandon yourself to nostalgia, it’s Rome. No other city in the world rests on centuries of layered beauty and conserves so many historic and ancient traditions. But beyond the archaeological sites and museums, the capital can be savoured even through its old cafés, craft shops, hotels and restaurants frequented by many great people over the years. Here’s an itinerary of historical addresses, with a vintage charm, where time seems to stand still.
A legendary hotel, known for having hosted the King of Sweden, Robert Kennedy, exiled King Farouk and General Eisenhower (and today celebs like Tom Cruise), among others. From the sumptuous rooms and suites – or even just the top floor Imàgo restaurant of chef Francesco Apreda, one of the best in the city – you can enjoy a unique view over Rome’s rooftops, the bell towers of the Church of Trinità dei Monti and the gardens of Villa Medici. The cocktail bar is impeccable; You can order a martini and enjoy the atmosphere of yesteryear at Salone Eva, the ideal place for an afternoon tea.
With the excuse of taking a walk in the Jewish ghetto of the city, stop at this historic place to taste “ossi” – the fragrant, elongated buns prepared with the same dough as pizza. And then don’t miss the challah and the legendary ricotta pie. The recipes are the same as when it opened in 1927.
Do you remember the scene of Elide and Peppino bickering near the market stalls in Mario Bonnard’s comedy film The Peddler and the Lady? Forget the nocturnal version of this famous square – in the morning here, you can still breathe that old Rome air, of which local markets are a precious heritage and example of living history. There are several stalls around the statue of Giordano Bruno, some insignificant, while others are reliable places to buy artichokes, chicory, spices and flowers.
Mentioned in the Memoirs of Giacomo Casanova, it is the oldest café in the city, opened sometime between 1742 and 1760. Goethe, Wagner, Leopardi, Nietzsche, Byron, and Mann had all sat at the tables of these elegant rooms with velvet, gilding and mirrors. Good espresso and delicious pastry and savoury snacks, but in winter, order the hot chocolate as you read the daily international newspapers. The waiters still wear bowties, which makes the experience even more delightfully anachronistic.
Here, the expression “time stands still” is not a cliché. Moreover, the sign certifies the long history of this restaurant, managed with passion by the Mariani family. The exceptional location is found underneath Monte dei Cocci, right in front of the former Testaccio slaughterhouse. A repertoire consistent with the place, everything (or almost everything) is based on the entrails of animals: for example, veal’s feet salad, rigatoni with pajata (unweaned calf intestines) and a delicious Vaccinara oxtail stew. To accompany your meal, there are so many great wines from a rich cellar, but also the cocktails of the new CH 1887, including the Gorilla Tonic.
Opened in 1933, one its regulars was film director Pier Paolo Pasolini. Immune to fads and new trends, among vintage majolica and old cabinets, it is a place frequented by Rome’s radical-chic types. Pros: you can still live the old charm of Rione Regola. Cons: the food is not always wonderful, but you can have an espresso or a decent gin and tonic.
The most loyal customers are politicians – of any party – attending the nearby Palazzo Montecitorio. But this Roman fashion house which opened in 1926, is much loved by a diverse audience who are passionate about classics. With a made-to-measure suit (shaped with the best British wools) and a monogrammed shirt, you will feel like Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday… provided you also have a Vespa parked outside.