Rome Travel Guide

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Art with your food in Rome - Caffe' Palombini in EUR

Fegarotti's mosaics in Caffe' Palombini, EUR; hard
to believe this is marble
Art and food have always seemed a great combination to us (not that we’re original on that score), but usually we at RST go after the art first and the food is secondary (we might be unusual on that one).  And so it was when we first saw the mosaics at Caffè Palombini in EUR – the enormously sprawling “suburb” of Rome originally designed to showcase the Fascists’ European Exposition of 1942 (well, that didn’t happen).  EUR (including Caffè Palombini) is one of the 4 itineraries in our new book, Modern Rome: 4 Great Walks for the Curious Traveler.  More information on the book is at the end of this post.

Caffe' Palombini, in the building of the "official
restaurant" next to the "square coliseum" in EUR
The mosaics are hidden in plain sight in the building that was supposed to be the “official restaurant” of E42.  Built in 1939-42, it was originally designed to have restaurants for “functionaries, workers, executives and visitors.”  And it now at least has one appealing, and multi-functional, restaurant on the ground floor.  More about food and drink later.

the often occupied side room... with the oft-ignored
The mosaics are what brought us to Caffè Palombini.  We have gone to see them many times, usually when taking a respite from EUR’s monumental and sometimes forbiddingly cold or hot (depending on the season) buildings and street layout.  Sometimes we have to crane our heads around diners; sometimes we have them to ourselves – in the side room, to the right of the entrance, where they’re located.

The mosaics are on the theme of the restaurant and EUR – they feature a table with cutlery and flowers and EUR’s buildings in the background – all in polychromatic marble.  This gorgeous work is by Eugenio Fegarotti, who received a fair amount of patronage from the Fascists but, not being a member of the Party, eventually lost his teaching position at Rome’s Accademia di belle arti (Fine Arts Academy). There are also some lovely frescoes in the entrance room by Franco Gentilini – same period.

One of our next treks (I haven’t told Bill yet) is to search out Fegarotti’s other works, including wall mosaics at the Hotel Bristol in Piazza Barberini (which almost made our list of best rooftop bars), and in the House of the Fascists in Pomezia  (we have scouted around but never knew to look for his work), and possibly other places in the Pontine Marshes southwest of Rome, where he did much of his art and eventually moved.  Plus, Bill, we need to look at his via Margutta studio location at # 48 (close to where those Roman Holiday capers occurred). 
For a thorough biography of Fegarotti, who was active in a variety of media until his death in 1973, see this link.  If you don’t read Italian, you can use the Google translator.  It will read like pigeon English, but you will get it.

Now to food and drink.  We like Caffè Palombini.  It has an expansive cafeteria where a slew of EUR locals have lunch.  Reasonably priced.  Nice indoor and outdoor seating.  Palombini, besides being known for their coffee – which you can buy in any Rome supermarket-- makes their own pastries, candies, sells cigars and trinkets.  They have a more upscale restaurant and a lively evening bar, we’re told.  Those latter two get pricier.

When in EUR, do as the Romans do, stop in at Caffè Palombini.  But don’t forget to check out the art work.
I can't prove it, but these mosaics in the Art Deco era Hotel
Mediterraneo near Stazione Termini look a lot like Fegarotti's work
PS  EUR has a lot of art, including Severini’s 1950s murals that we promoted in an earlier post and put on our top 40 list.

Severini's murals, along with Caffè  Palombini are in our new print AND eBook,  Modern Rome: 4 Great Walks for the Curious Traveler.  Modern Rome features tours of the "garden" suburb of Garbatella; the 20th-century suburb of EUR, designed by the Fascists; the 21st-century music and art center of Flaminio, along with Mussolini's Foro Italico, also the site of the 1960 summer Olympics; and a stairways walk in Trastevere.

This 4-walk book is available in all print and eBook formats The eBook is $1.99 through and all other eBook sellers.  See the various formats at

1 comment:

Judith Works said...

Good grief - I lived not far from there an never went in!. Will do soon.