Rome Travel Guide

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Il Buchetto: "Authentic" pizzeria--and a brief tour of via Flaminia

Il Buchetto
Like most tourists, we're always on the lookout for "authentic" Rome eateries--whatever "authentic" means.  Here's our latest recommendation: Il Buchetto ("The Little Hole"), a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria at via Flaminia 119, a 5-10 minute walk from Piazza del Popolo.  We found the place in Mario Matteucci's La via Flaminia (2016), a frustrating yet valuable guide to the street and environs between Piazza del Popolo and the tangenziale highway a few miles north.  Matteucci describes Il Buchetto as famous in the area and beyond, crowded at all hours of the evening, serving the best pizza "del forno."  We can't say the pizza was the best we've ever eaten, but it was good, inexpensive, served promptly--and there's no doubt that the place is "authentic."

Nothing fancy

No such thing as an underage drinker in Rome and teenage boys love plentiful, cheap food, as we know.
While you're in the area, you might take note of some of the nearby "sights."  The building in which the pizzeria is housed (via Flaminia 125) is a worthy one, designed by one of Rome's premier architects, Marcello Piacentini, and completed in 1924.  It's decorated with grotesque masks (mascheroni) and a phrase by Cicerone: homo lucum ornat/non hominem locus, which we surmise has something to do with humanity and its need for the decorative.  The building was originally public housing, and in the early 1930s it housed 45 families made homeless by new construction in the EUR and Appio neighborhoods.
Piacentini building, 1924.  

Just south of the Piacentini building is the home of the Italian navy.  One can't tour the building except on special occasions, but the facade, on the Tiber, is worth a glance, and the giant anchors out front are good for a photo op.  It may be possible to enter and enjoy the great hallway that runs across the front of the building.  We toured the building in 2015.

Still home to small auto shops.  
The area across the street from Il Buchetto (and, if we recall, a bit south) has a long history of automobile repair and construction, dating to the early 20th century.  In 1918, the area housed the Carrozzeria Maraga, the factory where the Maraga roadster was produced.  Mussolini owned a Maraga.   During World War II, the Maraga factory was converted to the production of ambulances and military vehicles.  After the war, the Maraga facilities were abandoned, and some of its buildings became gardens and bed and breakfasts.  Even so, as you walk the lanes off this area of via Flaminia, you'll see that there are still some small automobile repair shops.

Also across the street but further north are the remnants of a much older past.  The large building directly across the street from the pizzeria is la Casina ("the little house") Vagnuzzi, seat of the Accademia Filarmonica Romana (Roman Philharmonic Academy)  (founded 1821).  The building was at one time a part of Villa Giulia, the residence of Pope Julius III (1551-1555).  Composer Franz Liszt stayed here when he was in Rome.
Dianne at the Fontana dell'Arcosolio, struggling with
Matteucci's disorganized (and in Italian) book.  

Beyond la Casina (and moving north), and usually tucked behind a row of garbage dumpsters, is the Fontana dell'Arcosolio.  The tub is of ancient Roman origins.  It wasn't always here, which is probably why Romans refer to it as "la fontana che cammina" ("the fountain that walks").

Nice wood door from 1930 could use some TLC.

Next door (still moving north), is the headquarters of Rome's notaries, a Fascist-era building dating to 1930. The wood door and its handle are of modest interest.

Palazzo Borromeo
Finally, at the intersection of via Flaminia and via delle Belle Arti, you'll find the Palazzo Borromeo . Although it's seen better days and is much changed from the original, it's an historically significant structure.  Dating to 1561, it was designed by architect Pirro Ligorio as a residence for Pope Pius IV.


Detail.  Hey, it still works! Nice fish.

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