Rome Travel Guide

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

RST Top 40. #9: Piazza Augusto Imperatore - Rome's most abused piazza

Piazza Augusto Imperatore – the piazza named after the dominating Roman emperor, Augustus – comes in at #9 on our Rome the Second Time Top 40 list, even though it sits smack in the middle of the old Roman city.

Augustus' tomb
We know it’s a bit hard to love. The piazza is dominated by Augustus’ tomb, a tomb so mistreated over the years (bull fighting arena, concert hall, planned tomb for Mussolini) and so degraded – graffiti, garbage, fences - that almost no one looks at it. The last time we met friends at the piazza for a drink our view was of construction fences. Perhaps that’s the good news – that the government is trying to rehab the tomb.

Piazza A Imperatore with Augustus' tomb
Okay, so why #9 – as if being an epicenter of Roman history is insufficient? Piazza A. Imperatore has also a) amazing Fascist buildings, mosaics, and design, b) many restaurants and bars inside and out (mostly run by ‘Gusto), c) an outdoor arts and antiques market on some Sundays for much of the year (we found some wonderful Gio Ponte plates there – and even bought them), d) the Ars Pacis, one of ancient Rome’s most famous artifacts – a monument to peace, or should we say, war, housed in Richard Meier's controversial building that surrounds it (see Bill's Nov. 24, 2010 post on Italy's "Starchitects").  Add in a couple churches, shops, walks along the Tiber, and that’s our #9.

The Ars Pacis inside Meier building
One more tip – if you don’t want to imbibe at ‘Gusto’s rather overpriced, tho’ well-located places, try “cheap bar” around the corner. The nickname is ours. We found “cheap bar” during a driving (as in drove us, soaked and running for cover, off our scooter) rain storm one day, had a great hot lunch and Euro 2 glasses of wine. It’s a stone’s throw from the Ars Pacis at the corner of via di Ripetta and via della Frezza – apologies, but we don’t even know the name.

Inside "cheap bar"

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