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Travel

Rome Part II

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Another day in the eternal city…

Piazzas

Il dolce di fare niente is far too tempting – the second day commences with a long sleep in and a fruit platter at Mirabella, rooftop restaurant belonging to the Splendide Royal Hotel, whilst writing to share another experience with you. This is followed by a long walk, visiting several both opulent, famous and hidden piazzas of Rome.

Despite my cultural interests, especially in architecture and art, the most known Piazza Barberini and Quattro Fontane located at the intersection of Via delle Quattro Fontane and Via del Quirinale in Rome (an ensemble of four Late Renaissance fountains) are not as impressive and grandiose as expected. Furthermore, I would dare to say that locations such as Piazza Bocca della Verità situated between Via Luigi Petroselli and Via della Greca and Piazza di Monte Citorio close to Via del Corso are far more complex featuring a more personalised and detailed architectural design.

AT A GLANCE

Best time to visit – I would definitely recommend visiting during spring or early summer.

Currency – Euros.

How to get there – If you are travelling from the UK British Airways has an array of options, from anywhere else visit visit www.skyscanner.com

Highlights – Dinner at Marco G and a visit at Palazzo Barberini.

Shopping – Via dei Condotti

Top Fact – Piazza Navona was developed on the Stadium of Domitian’s premises, created in 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The romans used to go there regularly to watch the games.

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Piazza Navona on the other hand never ceases to amaze me. Host of three of the most mesmerising fountains in Italy – Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro and Fountain of Neptune, Piazza Navona is one of the main Baroque Roman architectural and artistic representative developments. And when you think it can’t get better, they decide to add a Gelateria GROM in the very corner, located at Via della Maddalena, 30a, 00186 Roma, Italy. Now that’s a proper end to my roman squares visits.

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Lunch

After a traditional italian feast the evening prior I decide to book lunch at Aroma,  a magical 5 stars rooftop restaurant with breathtaking views of the Colosseum and the Emperor Nero’s Gardens, located at alazzo Manfredi, Via Labicana, 125, 00184 Roma, Italy. Step away from the crowded paths surrounding the Flavian Amphitheatre and have a seat at Aroma to get the best view you could have ever imagined. In contrast with the baroque grandeur spread throughout all the sights visited earlier, this restaurant offers a laid back ambience featuring an effortlessly chic and modern design. Bear in mind that a smart casual dress code is recommended, especially for dinner. Chef Giuseppe Di Iorio is sure to take you through an exploratory journey of your own taste buds capturing all senses by using the freshest organic ingredients. Asparagus and ricotta cheese flan with poached quail’s eggs and black truffle is a MUST!

La Pergola is another luxurious lunch or dinner option, a 3 Michelin starred rooftop restaurant with panoramic view of the eternal city. Make sure to book at least 1 month in advance!

Art

On my way back to the hotel I stop by Galleria Borghese located within Villa Borghese Gardens. Including 20 rooms across 2 floors, the gallery hosts a highly impressive Borghese collection of paintings, antiquities and mostly sculptures. If your cultural affinities incline towards sculptural masterpieces, than a visit to Villa Borghese is imperative.

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Dinner

Dinner on Saturday at Marco G every time I visit Rome has become a ritual and no wonder! Located at Via Garibaldi, 56, this is by far my favourite restaurant in Rome due to its sensational traditional dishes made out of 100% homemade organic ingredients, exceptional service, the Speedy Gonzalez like serving and cosy ambience. The homemade tiramisu is to die for!

Final Day

The final day in Rome brings with it a sensational lunch at the best pizzeria in Rome, Pizzeria Emma located at Via del Monte della Farina, 28, 00186 Roma, Italy. Words cannot describe the overwhelming feeling of pure happiness that my taste buds are currently experiencing. If you love pizza, you are set for an unforgettable ride!

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More Art

Just before my cab ride to the airport I feel the urge for another artistic intake and so I stop by at the Palazzo Barberini, situated at Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13, 00186 Roma, Italy. This splendid grandeur houses the largest and one of the most important collection of antique paintings including Raphael’s portrait La fornarina and Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes. What’s more, the architecture constitutes a masterpiece in itself, encompassing details borrowed from the northern neighbours, Venice. The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power filling the large ceiling of the grand salon oughts to be mentioned as a striking piece of art, a fresco painted by Pietro da Cortona. The painting process commenced in 1633 and was brought to competition in 1639.

If you have never been to Rome, clear up one of your weekends and make sure you visit the eternal city this summer. And remember, any questions, pop them via the contact form available on the contact page or comment below. Ciao!

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Travel Venice

Venice

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A Venetian Affair

Always in movement. Always on the go. Always exploring. Similar to a book, life has its chapters. It is in our hands whether we choose to write a black and white chapter or create a book full of multicoloured, multicultural and multi-experiential pages.

After a busy week, the weekend brings a last minute decision to pack and fly to Venice. Have been there twice before, never had a chance to explore the city properly though. Seems to be fully booked everywhere and due to not having spent the night in Venice before, I don’t have any knowledge as to what hotel to book, nor what plans I should make during the weekend. Exciting, I love this kind of challenges!

HOTEL

I finally find a room available in the Gritti Palace (http://www.thegrittipalace.com), a magical hotel on the Grand Canal that perfectly combines culture, history, endless elegant Venetian design with exceptional art. Worth mentioning the hotel’s terrace with alluring views of the Grand Canal, facing the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.

AT A GLANCE

Best time to visit – spring to June, summer time brings a very hot air which makes it unbearable to walk around.

Currency – Euros

How to get there – if you are travelling from the UK British Airways is the best option, for any other flight options visit www.skyscanner.com. The Marco Polo airport is much closer to the centre.

Highlights – Giudecca, the other side of Venice and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Top Fact – Venice is built on 117 small islands connected by 409 bridges (read more here).

Special treat – dinner at Oro Restaurant in Belmond Hotel Cipriani.

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ARRIVAL

As I arrive at the Marco Polo airport I am looking for the signage that leads me to the water taxis, however I must say that it can get quite confusing. Let’s make this easy: walk out of the airport through the exit on the right towards the parking. Follow the path on the left side, cross the zebra, keep walking for another 5 minutes and at the end you will find both shared transport and water taxis. Worth getting a cab, the journey itself is a welcoming adventure not to be missed.

DAY 1

I wake up early to enjoy the breakfast on the terrace which is a sublime experience. Staff is very friendly, the ingredients are fresh and the food range is wide enough to cover all tastes. Although difficult to leave, I get a map from the concierge to establish the must sees and commence getting lost around the city.

It can be difficult to imagine Venice as a lush area, but for explorers visiting in spring you will be pleasantly surprised to discover numerous corners of nature, terraces packed with colourful roses and blossoming branches overhanging all around the city. The bold coloured buildings, the preserved sophisticated facades, the relaxed rhythms – il dolce di fare niente, the narrow hidden paths in between buildings and the water movement transport me into a different dimension, away from any worries or thoughts I might have in the real world.

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PALAZZO DUCALE

I stop by Palazzo Ducale which is 5-10 minutes walk distance from the hotel in Piazza San Marco (San Marco, 1, 30124 Venezia, Italy) where I am once again blown away by the detailed interior and opulent painting parade showcasing on all walls and ceilings. The palace was built in the Venetian Gothic style with Byzantine-Venetian influences. Initial works started in 810 and was restructured countless times due to three huge fires, structural failures, new organisational requirements or complete overhaulings of the ornamental trappings.

The Paradiso in the Great Council Chamber is the largest canvas painting in the world! Doesn’t sound as surprising considering that the Great Council Chamber is 53 meters long and 25 meters wide, dimensions that define it as one of the largest rooms in Europe.

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GROM – Il gelato come una volta

After visiting the Palazzo Ducale, I feel the urge to enjoy my first GROM gelato in Venice. The sophistication in texture, the refinement in taste and the natural ingredients make it the best ice cream in the world. GROM is 100% natural, they only use fresh fruit from the best consortium in Italy with no addition of artificial colorings, aromas, preservatives or emulsifiers.

What’s more, the idea came from a newspaper when Guido Martinetti was reading an article on ‘gelato like it used to be made’. He then contacted his friend Federico Grom and decided to buy the best raw ingredients and open up a gelateria. From one ice cream shop opened in 2003 and with no prior industry experience, the business has generated €23 million revenue and has been sold to consumer goods giant Unilever for an undisclosed fee. Talking about entrepreneurship skills!

DELICIOUS LUNCH

I then hop onto a gondola and ask to be taken around the narrow canals rather than the Grand Canal which is always busy. After a very informative gondola ride on the history of Venice my stomach starts screaming at me ‘PASTA!’. I give in and post visiting and having a look at several restaurants I go for Antico Martini located in Campo Teatro Fenice, 2007, Venezia, Italy. Very friendly staff, a pleasant and cosy terrace separated from the crowded public squares and delicious food! I order a Foie Gras selection and Tagliolini with Black Truffle. BLISS!

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TRADITIONAL DINNER

After numerous kilometres of wondering around and an Aperol Spritz later I go back to the hotel to change for dinner. I narrow it down to two choices, both spectacular for dinner: Michelin starred Oro Restaurant with a breathless waterside terrace located in Belmond Hotel Cipriani, Giudecca, 10, Sestiere Castello, Venezia VE, Italy or something more traditional and laid back yet still elegant but less presumptuous.

Despite a late afternoon dish of pasta, I choose the second option, Trattoria do Forni, a lively restaurant with several rustic & Orient Express-style dining rooms. The atmosphere is as expected, chill-out for both the young and not so young. They use impeccable and fresh ingredients treated with simplicity yet resulting in complex tasteful starters and mains. The Scampi on raw artichokes is not to be missed!

DAY 2 – GIUDECCA

A glorious sunny Sunday is perfect to adventure the little known Giudecca, the Other Side of Venice as I like to call it. It is understandable that the mass tourism is always trotting around central Venice, however I think it is safe to say that this thin island will soon become a centre of attraction in Venice for new generations of travellers.

The breathtaking view across the Giudecca Canal to Dorsoduro, Piazza San Marco, and Palazzo Ducale, a landscape that has inspired numerous great italian artists, is the first WOW aspect that already converts Giudecca in my favourite part of Venice. Although I absolutely love the Gritti Palace hotel, the peaceful, relaxed and village vibe here makes it the perfect place to stay whilst in Venice, especially if you prefer a quite accommodation avoiding the loud crowds.

After crossing the canal in less than a minute, I first visit the alluring Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute followed by a walk around the island. It takes up to one hour at most to wonder around the whole island, although the bold colours, surreal bridges, traditional architecture might make you stop and sigh at each corner. The Fondamenta Cà Balà area (30123 Venezia, Italy) leaves me speechless, central Venice has nothing on it. I stop there for 15 minutes and stare without being able to take my finger off the shutter button of my camera.

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ART

I continue with an unforgettable visit of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Dorsoduro, 701-704, 30123 Venezia, Italy) founded by the former wife of long time favourite artist Max Ernst and niece of the mining magnate, Solomon R. Guggenheim. A must-see selection of modern art collected by herself mostly between 1938 and 1946. Amongst the great artist featuring on Palazzo Venier dei Leoni’s walls, which Peggy Guggenheim purchased in 1949 being her home for 30 years, are Braque, Léger Dalí, Miró, Picasso and Kandinsky.

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LUNCH

With a pocket full of art inspiration I cross back to the central Venice for lunch at the traditional venetian pizzeria Rosa Rossa (Calle Mandola, 3709, 30124 Venezia, Italy). The smell of fresh bread and baked pizza, the wooden design details, informal and enjoyable atmosphere, delicious food and sublime Aperol Spritz highly exceed my expectations. BEST HOMEMADE PIZZA IN TOWN!

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Despite the fact that I arrive at the airport completely soaked after someone decides to show off on the Venice’s canals I leave with the sweetest taste in my mouth, this trip has been much more than expected.