There are few things more romantic that I can think of than Rome in spring, or should I say breathlessly charming? Observing Flora’s season exploding with its million colors and perfumes into the timelessness of the city is somewhat unique.
When I think of Rome, and when I go there, my spirit automatically travels back at least to the mid fifties and sixties when Audrey Hepburn had already left her inimitable footprints in the eternal city, first with Vacanze Romane (1955),
and later living there for many years. Celebrating International Women’s Day by getting into her beloved ballerina shoes and tap through her most dear Trastevere neighborhood in the company of the border collie Berta and photographer Danilo Mecozzi.
When in Rome, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the greatness, the ancient monuments that lie on your every step, the imposing buildings and maybe “forget” a bit to enjoy the precious more intimate sides of the city. It is my intention to suggest an innerly voyage through the beauty of the Italian capital, noticing the little things that mean so much, searching for genuine tastes and timeless perfumes, moments for getting really in touch with real roman lifestyle.
Colazione al bar
With all due respect to the fantastic hotel breakfast buffets of Rome and in general, for me it’s essential to line in with a city’s atmosphere to get you breakfast colazione at the bar, café or pasticceria. Rome is a true sweet tooth city, and you may find it hard choosing from all the pasticcini and dolci you come by. One of the good reasons to come back of course. You could make up a list of all the pastry shops you didn’t get to visit and come on purpose next time for a pastry itinerary.
In this intimate Rome day tour of mine I’m putting on Audrey Hepburn ballerina shoes, not literally of course, but ones I think she really would have loved given her big passion for that shoe genre and Italian fashion from Due Lune, as for loafers of all kind, creating with her “flat shoe”, almost boyish look a new fresh and indisputable feminine look. Part from the fashionable side, those kind of shoes are extremely practical for city strolling. I will keep my walk very limited, making the most of the perfumes, scenarios and tastes at every step. The charming Trastevere district (the 13th out of 14 in Rome), is the perfect neighborhood for that with all of its labyrinthine streets, cozy cafés & restaurants, museums, vivid night life, an infinity of small delicatessen shops & artisanal boutiques, characteristic corners, the oldest church in Rome, Santa Maria di Trastevere from 1143 A.D., and you are just a blink away from Campo dei Fiori and Piazza Navona. Audrey loved to make walks all by herself or with her dog, immersing herself in the city’s sole appreciating the little things, making poetry of the simplest pleasures.
The elegant, eccentric straw bag, ballerina shoes and big tortoise sunglasses were essential accessories in the Dutch diva’s style, a harmonious mixture of the mysterious, intellectual, timeless class and humour.
After a cappuccino and sfoglia di mele apple filled pastry, a hairdo and make-up visit accompanied by heartful laughs with hairdresser Massimo at Vertigine, Via San Francesco a Ripa, 97/98 and a second cappuccino at our cozy hotel, Relais Le Clarisse a Trastevere, me and Berta are ready for the day. Going to the salon in Rome, and in Italy in general, is an experience you won’t regret. At a local hairdressers you will experience the most adorable social scene, mingling in with the pleasant chattering of ladies of the neighborhood and getting out of the door definitely feeling refreshened and more elegant, keeping in mind though the precious words of Audrey on the matter: “Makeup can only make you look pretty on the outside, but it doesn’t help if you’re ugly on the inside. Unless you eat the makeup.” Making your slow passeggiata in the neighborhood of your hotel also permits you to change dresses depending on your mood and situation. Nothing is stressing you to pack all you might need for the day as if you were going on some kind of a “survival” journey. You will feel almost like living there, home in Rome, even if just for a day or weekend, and you get to wear different things that otherwise you wouldn’t have packed for such a short period. The rose colored Rinascimento dress has fresh matinée air lingered to it perfect for breakfast, while the green Gerard Darel bon ton charges you with energizing will of discovering and playful joie de vivre.
on the sweet side of life……
and some special food for the soul…..
Panetteria Romana in Via della Lungaretta, 28/31, is a great place for grabbing a freshly made crunchy leaf pastry with pistachio filling. In the same street there are a lot of attracting small shops, like the Open Door Bookshop
on Via della Lungaretta, 23, where to grab a used book to accompany your lukewarm pastry. For colazione there are many excellent choices as you can imagine. Bar Calisto, in Piazza S. Calisto, 3, the oldest bar in the neighborhood is a good one, just in front of the Santa Maria di Trastevere Church.
Ready for lunch
After some strolling and lingering, me and Berta start to get ready to taste some of Rome’s traditional dishes. I reserved a table at Corsetti1921 in Piazza San Cosimato, 27, one of Audrey’s favorite restaurants, not knowing how time had treated this historical place. To my deep joy the place is still run by the family, the interior design has been modernized, but the cuisine has maintained its rigorous Roman status.
Anton Giulio, owner of Corsetti and two of the “battle horses” on the house’s menu: carbonara & carciofi alla giudia
Carbonara pasta is one of Roman cuisine’s key dishes, and just to get it straight there should be no cream or milk in the sauce, only pecorino cheese (eventually mixed a little bit with Parmigiano cheese), egg, guanciale and pepper. That’s it. Then it’s all about cooking the spaghetti “al dente” and putting a lot of passion into the cooking. Artichokes are one of Rome’s symbol ingredients and one of the main preparations of this spiny vegetable with the soft heart, is the antique dish carciofi alla giudia (fried artichokes). Both excellent at Corsetti. Accompanied by a glass of local fruity Frascati wine.
After an exemplary carbonara, the spring sun shines more brightly
If you should need shoe fixing…..
If you would need some fixing for your shoes, which is of course very improbable in case of wearing ballerina shoes, loafers or sneakers, or even if you don’t need to get your shoe fixed, visiting one of the artisanal calzolai of Trastevere is really worthwhile, f.example Calzolaio in Via Natale del Grande, 13, that is like a mini museum of everything you could ever imagine has to do with shoe making and repairing in a beautiful colorful leather smelling surroundings.
Eternal spring in the eternal city
It’s time to slip into something super casual like wide trousers à la Audrey and lightly glowing sweater, keeping the tortoise Gucci glasses on for all means, have an afternoon hug at the hotel and plan the next Rome slow walking later this month discovering more genuine flavors and places. If you don’t get to Rome this spring, you can be sure of it will always be there, waiting for you, eternally yours, like spring.
One of Audrey’s strong passions as well as mine, is the welfare of animals. Me and Berta would like to comunicate the important message concerning before thinking of buying a dog, consider adopting one of the homeless dogs waiting to be loved and cared for. The Rome dog rescue center proudly has reached the number of almost 5000 dog adoptions.