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Sunday, January 21, 2024

36 Hours around Campo de' Fiori

This is the second of two posts that evolved from a friend's request for suggestions of what to do around Piazza Navona and Campo de' Fiori. As we noted in the first post on Piazza Navona, she was clear that she and her companion would be in Rome only 3 days, had seen the big sights and did not want to go back to those this time, and they did not want to do much walking. 

We put our heads together, created a list and a map for her, and enjoyed the exercise enough that we made it into 2 blog posts. Here's the second, on the Campo - expanding into the ghetto proper (the numbering starts with 19 - since the other numbers were used on Piazza Navona).

Note, Campo de’ Fiori and environs (the market – much more than flowers) is open only in the morning, Monday through Saturday).  

Campo de' Fiori, in clean-up phase (2015) 

19.      A statue of Giordano Bruno, the revolutionary monk burned at the stake in 1600, looms over the market in the middle of Campo de’ Fiori. We wrote about him here:'s story is the door to many facets of Italian history, politics, and religion, which may be one reason our post has a lengthy and interesting comment by a reader (with the handle "Believer"). Just after we published the post in 2009, Ingrid Rowland's fascinating book on Bruno came out.

20.      Wine bar L’Angolo Divino enoteca vineria, just a few steps off the Campo, has some food, and is considered one of the better wine bars (all our Roman friends like it). Web site in Italian:

21.      Caffè Peru is a nice (not so fancy) wine bar, known for its great 10 euro aperitivo  (lots to eat):  - via di Monserrato. The photo is from 2016.

22.      Palazzo Farnese was designed – or re-designed - by Michelangelo. You can’t go in; it's the well-guarded French Embassy, unless you can find a tour - which we did once. Still, it's definitely worth looking at. This is a lovely piazza (if there aren't too many security vehicles parked all around), with classic use of ancient Roman bathtubs as fountains, and the dramatic, enormous Michelangelo overhanging eaves on the palazzo. Have a drink in the bar that takes in the whole piazza, and enjoy the Renaissance cityscape. (And ask someone about the connection to the Farnesina across the Tevere.)

23.      Hungarian Academy on via Giulia –  -  is usually open 9-5 every weekday. It's one of the best of the foreign cultural academies, often with free, excellent art exhibits. Plus the academy occupies a Francesco Borromini structure built for the Falconieri family.

24.      Galleria Spada is a wonderful gallery that has another piece of Borrominiana - his “perspective” corridor. Open for tours (in English and French) daily except Tuesdays.

25.      Il Goccetto (trans. "the little drop") is our favorite wine bar – via dei Banchi Vecchi.

Il Goccetto. The clientele, as usual, spilling onto the sidewalk and street. Inside, a chalkboard lists all the wines available by the glass. 

26.      Turtle fountain - - Piazza Mattei. The turtles are by Gian Lorenzo Bernini - so you can get your fix of the Borromini/Bernini feud by hanging around this area. And, here's a romantic fable to add to the atmosphere (as if it needed anything). 

27.     Ghetto: The heart of it is this street, via di Portico d’Ottavia – look to Katie Parla for eating ideas – we’ve often gone to Giggetto at the end – because of ties to a friend of ours who lived upstairs. It bills itself as the server of the true Jewish artichoke (perhaps Dianne's favorite food of all time) since 1923. Incredible (and disturbing) free show in a tower right across from Giggetto - on concentration camps with Italian connections. This is the Museum of the Shoah, open Sunday through Friday, with shorter hours on Friday. The Synagogue is across the street and has tours – we’ve never been on one, but have been in the basement museum (hours change quite frequently with the seasons; basically open Sunday through Friday, with shorter hours on Friday) which is quite informative (we went for the first time last year). 

Below, one of the documents on display in the Synagogue museum, commemorating the establishment by the United Nations of the state of Israel. 

Good ruins at the end of the street – you’re almost at Campidoglio and you are at Teatro Marcello.

27A.     Pasticceria Boccione is open only in mornings – get there to get a piece of “Jewish pizza” – kind of like fruitcake -

Pasticceria Boccione 

28.      Al Pompiere restaurant. We haven’t been there in years, but we always liked it – totally interior -

Great Jewish artichokes- there and elsewhere in the ghetto – they won’t be in season, but the restaurants get them now from Africa and sell them in all seasons. If you're not a purist, try them! Carciofi alla giudia (not alla romana, though those are good too) [photo right].

29.     Largo di Torre Argentina – supposedly where Julius Caesar was killed. It has informative panels, and now you can walk in it. It has a cat sanctuary that is fun to visit, and you can "foster" a cat if you are going to be in Rome for more than a few days.

30.     Feltrinelli book store – an international one with paper products and gifts

And in the ghetto there’s lots of “spolia” – re-use of Roman ruins  - if you look up at buildings  -

Particularly in the area of Campo de’ Fiori and the ghetto, you will see some of these "stumbling blocks" if you look down - They commemorate the Jews who were deported and died in the Holocaust, with the small brass block outside the doorway of the residence where that person once lived. We stopped to look at one near Largo di Torre Argentina and a young man came out to tell us that  6 of his cousins died at the hands of the Nazis.
Campo de' Fiori at dawn, the statue of Giordano Bruno at center/right. Sometimes it's worth getting up early. Daybreak, June, 2015. 


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