Rome Travel Guide

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A villa you can't see, and a great view you can

A couple of weeks ago, while living in the district "della Vittoria" (just to the north of its more famous neighbor, Prati), we decided to have a look at Villa Miani, which sits on the south shoulder of Monte Mario.  We had read about it in the newspaper: the first building on the site appeared sometime before 1835, and over time the buildings, adapted and restructured, functioned as a sanitorium and as a university for the Episcopal Church.  It belonged to a Venetian nobleman for the 50 years before 1981. Claudia Cardinale once lived there.  Today it hosts weddings and large social events--dinner for 600.  We were eager to see it.

No, you can't go up there.  
The road up to Villa Miani, via Trionfale, ascends the hill from near the southern end of Piazzale Clodio.  We took both the road and a stairway that shortens the route but is ill-maintained, bushes and tall grass erupting from both sides.  It was probably last cleared and swept 5 years ago.  Having reached the side road to Villa Miani, a guard made it clear that not only was the road closed to the public except for special events, but that views of the Villa from higher ground in back also were not possible.

We moved on, seeking a view of the Villa from higher ground in back (no matter what the guard said), via the road above, via Alberto Cadlolo.  The guard was right.  The Villa was visually inaccessible.  We wondered why the newspaper had made so much out of a complex that can't be seen, let alone visited, unless you're attending a big wedding (as apparently most of our Italian friends have).

Along that same road, however, we were able to catch a view of the back of the massive Cavalieri Hilton Hotel, which, unlike Villa Miani, can also be viewed from the front, albeit from a long way away.

The Rome Hilton.  Maybe the same architect as Corviale.  

Balconies of the wealthy.  

As the street ambles southward, via Cadlolo becomes via Fedro, lined by properties and apartments of the wealthy.  We noticed that the residents do little to tidy up outside their complexes and gates.

The road then turns east and into Piazzale Socrate.  We had never been there, and it's certainly not much to look at, we thought, having been victimized by Rome's fabled tree-trimmers.  Indeed, it could be Rome's ugliest piazzale.

Rome's ugliest piazza.  
But we were in for a treat.

Just beyond the piazza to the east, the hill turns steeply downward.  A fence--designed to keep

The site seems to attract guys.
onlookers from falling off the hill--had thankfully been breached in several spots, allowing us to proceed onto a small promontory.

With an extraordinary view, of St. Peter's and more.
Dianne, at Piazzale Socrate
Incredibly, this view was featured just a few days later (May 1) in Il Messaggero, our newspaper of choice this year (cheaper than La Repubblica, but still a hefty E1.40). According to the paper, which had surveyed social media posts by Romans and tourists, Piazzale Socrate was the most-favored place for "scatti" (snapshots), selfies, and "likes," ahead of such notable sites as the Pincio and the Gianicolo.  We don't quite believe that Piazzale Socrate is more popular than the Spanish Steps or the Trevi fountain for selfies and other pics--it's too out of the way for that--but the view is undeniably spectacular, and, some might think, the best in Rome.  Just don't fall off.


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