Vacanze Romane

The lively locals at the Campo di fiori market

It had been over six years since I was last in Rome. I left on a warm autumn night, throwing my coins in the Trevi vowing to come back and spend more days and nights in this vibrant, heart pumping city.

I returned to Caput Mundi (the capital of the world) with high expectations. The unparalleled art, architecture, the spirited locals and the unsurpassable cuisine...especially the gelato. Roma did not disappoint. Indeed it left us both with the urge to return - and this time it is even stronger than before.

Mi casa, Su casa at Casa Howard

Before arriving in Rome, I had emailed our guest house to see if we could check in early. Check in was normally at 2pm and we were arriving at 8am after a grueling direct 24 hour flight. Our host said there were no guarantees - to check in when we arrived. You can imagine our delight when we called into the guest house to be greeted at the door by our warm and generous house keeper with the keys to our room.

While not a hotel, Casa Howard was an absolute delight. The location was fantastic, right on the Spanish steps and the concept absolutley charming. There are five themed bedrooms, each stylishly and delightfully decorated. We stayed in the White Room, which held a four posted bed decked in sleek black and white checks and toile fabrics, with hints of deep red. Our window opened out onto the quite street below and the air conditioning was a blessing for sleeping during the heat wave that hit Rome during our stay.

Our own immaculate private bathroom was just down the corridor and we were given elegant Japanese style robes and slippers to make our way down the small corridor. I actually really enjoyed the concept of the bathroom down the hall - it really added to the feeling that you were staying in a local Roman home and it also had that vintage vibe of staying in a pensione 1950s style, al la Vacanze Romane. The thoughtful little details were also glamorous and very pleasant - Santa Maria Novella soaps, fresh flowers throught and in our room, in our case pink and red shades of beautiful home grown roses and on check out were we're given a bottle of fresh green peppery olive oil. Next time we come to Rome, we will definitely be staying here again.

Old Rome, New Rome

We breathed in Rome's glorious past - the celestial light as we stood beneath the magnificent dome of the Pantheon, relived la dolce vita at the grandiose Trevi fountain and took a romantic late afternoon stroll around the Piazza, as bubbles floated over head.

However, in stark contrast to old Rome, experiencing the revolution of Rome's dormant architectural scene was particularly exciting. British-Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid's radical MAXXI, Rome's Museum of 21st-Century Arts, is a three level curved concrete box. It's metal and cement waves exist as if unsupported, pushing through each of the galleries. The minimalist interior is home to an acclaimed collection of both Italian and international works from the 1960s onwards. A short hop from MAXXI is Renzo Piano's unconventional auditorium with beetle like pods. While Rome's classic monuments cannot be missed, Rome's new architectural monuments are definitely worth the tram ride to Flamina.

Caravaggio in Rome

If you take in the Vatican Museum, Galleria Borghese, Nazionale d'Arte Antica and countless churches you may leave Rome with some form of art amnesia or you may leave regretting all the art you did not get time to see. My tip is to pick one, or a handful of your favorite artists, research them thoroughly and seek out their works in Rome.

Like many people, one of my all time favorite artists and huge influences when I was studying art was Caravaggio. Rome is home to 23 of Caravaggio's works and several of the artists most noteable works can be found in the Galleria Borghese and the Nazional d'Arte Antica. At Santa Maria del Poplo you can find Paul and Peter's Crucifixion and at the superb, lusciously decorated rococo church of San Luigi dei Francesi you can find three masterpieces. My tip is to get there early, the doors open at 10am. As the first one in the Church, before the hordes of tourists arrive, you can take in the light and shade of The Calling of Saint Mathew in the cool, quiet and stillness of this truly amazing church.

To market, to market

In my last post I shared with you the joys of the Testaccio market. In a city as lively as Rome there are still more fantastic markets to experience. Locals know it as 'il campo' and the Campo de' fiori market is the perfect place to stack up your basket for a DIY picnic as you sprawl out on the grass of Rome's many parks or in the summertime, a cooling slab of marble. Select beautiful ripe lucious figs, tiny wild strawberries, grapes, melon, prosciutto, pungent pecorino, olives and artichokes immersed in golden olive oil. A word to the wise or those on a budget, you'll pay a few extra euros per kilo at this market compared to Testaccio.

Another great local market can be found in the Prati neighborhood, the Mercato Rionale on via Cola di Renzo. It is another covered market stocked high with produce from the Lazio region. You can choose from the pick of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, cheese, fish and meats. In addition, you can stock up on any kitchen supplies or knick knacks you might need - including the largest long handled wooden spoons I have ever seen.

Stay tuned....In my next post I'll share with you a dining discovery from the Jewish Ghetto, the dead poet's society, a romantic location for a glass of local wine and the best place to find one of Rome's oldest and most refreshing summer treats......


  1. Ah Roma....I miss you! Great post Katrina

  2. Looks like you're having a wonderful trip - life just seems so much more simple & relaxed in Italy...the two ladies holding hands in the market seems to exemplify this for me.

  3. love the fig! wow just so wonderful.....

  4. Gorgeous post! My mouth was actually watering while reading and looking at your beautiful shots!

  5. Great photos.


Thank you for your comments, I really appreciate every single one!

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Maira Gall