We arrived in bella Roma on Saturday night, emerging from the Metro at Piazza del Popolo. My heart leapt into my mouth: Rome! oh, Rome! I turned to Llew and the Touring Toddler – beaming, a little breathless, my heart rioting – and said, “Welcome to Rome.”
We made it, and what a perfect and natural place to conclude our Grand Tour. I can’t think of our being here in this most magical of all cities without getting emotional – I’ve always been this way with Rome. It is so splendid it is hard to refrain from gushing superlatives – it is a singular city, and to never see it with one’s own eyes… well, that’s a thought fit to break my heart. I wish all roads really did lead to Rome because I so wish everyone could see it. Rome gives meaning to a word like ‘magnificent.’ I have a huge crush. Clearly.
AirBNB has come up trumps yet again. How much do I love this site?! It has been a huge feature of the Grand Tour and absolutely worth its weight in gold. Right now I am sitting on our big terrace on the fifth and final floor of our building on Via dei Greci, overlooking spires, bell towers and turrets, the beautiful parklands of Villa Borghese visible on the rise to my right, a music academy down below to my left. Yesterday while I was sitting out here, an accomplished pianist’s practise session was my personal soundtrack as I took in all the romance and architectural interest of our vista. Now I have an opera rehearsal, the male lead’s baritone soaring across the rooftops. It is all so achingly beautiful.
Inside, the apartment has been very cleverly renovated, and there’s a lot to be said for having such a crisp interior – so many apartments I looked at during the hunt for the perfect pad were dark and dated, whereas this is immaculate: faultlessly appointed and so floodlit, and all the charm of the view is invited inside by the huge bifold doors leading from the terrace to the lounge. This outdoor area trebles the living space, and when the doors are pushed back, the demarcation between what is outside and what is in blurs delightfully. Stunning, really. And when you compare it to hotel prices in the Roman centre, it’s an absolute bargain. We absolutely love it. It’s my third visit to Rome, but my first in an apartment, and my first with a private outdoor area, and I tell you, life doesn’t get much better than where I am sitting right now.
As a return visitor to any major destination, I think it’s always lovely staying in a different part of town. Last time we were here we stayed in a hotel in Campo de Fiori; the time before that, I was backpacking with a friend and we stayed in a pretty awful hostel somewhere near the Colosseum. Now we’re very close to the Spanish Steps, and while Via dei Greci is off Via del Corso, this place is whisper quiet. We hear more from the music academy than we do from the street. I love that we’re getting to know an entirely new set of back streets, and that our reacquaintance with Rome is full of so much that is entirely fresh. Villa Borghese, for instance. The ideal wonderland for the Touring Toddler, and a great running park besides, I’d never troubled myself to visit it before. We also discovered the ‘Gusto’ dining precinct our first night, going for an evening stroll (when in Rome, after all… and they are nothing if not midnight marchers…) once we’d unpacked, stopping at the more casual Gusto Osteria for an al fresco dinner. Nearby is the Museo dell’ Ara Pacis – a fine looking contemporary space housing the ancient sacrificial altar. Its current secondary exhibition downstairs is The Foreign Press is 100 Years Old, and I’m off to see it all now.
Oh, I turn 40 tomorrow. And I must say, turning 40 in bella Roma makes turning 40 seem AWESOME. Ciao