Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Getting away from the crowds and noise of the Campo de' Fiori means a very short walk to the spacious and elegant Piazza Farnese. We favor sitting here at an outdoor table at the Bar Farnese enjoying our first cup of cappucino or campari before dinner . Positioned on the piazza is Osteria AR Galletto, a restaurant that has continued here since the 1500's. A few nights ago we dined here on a very Roman meal of pepe e cacio ( spaghetti w/roman pecorino and pepper), followed by grilled lamb and galletto ( game hen) flattened and grilled with a side dish 0f carciofi alla Romana(artichokes ),we imagined that Michelangelo might have sat in this exact spot for dinner. A very enjoyable evening.

Palazzo Farnese
Rome is about beauty and power. In the past Rome's power was in the hands of a few wealthy families and the papacy. Follow the names Della Rovere, Borghese, Barberini, and Farnese and that will lead to a Pope. The Farnese family, with the then cardinal, soon to be Pope Paul III, commissioned Sangallo the Younger (1514- 89) to design this dominant palazzo. Later Michelangelo was brought in to complete the project by changing the design to heighten the top floor to give the building visual lift. This change gives the facade a dynamic proportion, defying its own weight.

In the evening, sitting in the Piazza Farnese looking up to the Palazzo Farnese the interior is illuminated revealing the beautiful frescoed ceilings by Annibale Carracci. The Palazzo is now the French Embassy and is not open to the public. We found that it was possible to arrange a visit by contacting the embassy several months in advance so we were fortunate to be able to schedule a tour and see these marvelous frescos.

As one might imagine, photos are not allowed so the Carracci fresco images are from the catalog.

We had seen this fresco reproduced in books but were awestruck when standing in the great hall surrounded by the massive work of art. Truly amazing.

Much of the palazzo's beauty is hidden to the public such the inner courtyard and the garden. The building was designed to face the Tiber River (not the piazza), where there is a loggia and the garden.

Michelangelo's Bridge

Pope Paul III (Farnese) hired Michelangelo to design a private bridge connecting the Palazzo Farnese to the Villa Farnesina. The bridge was to go over the Via Guilia and span the Tiber River, the project was never totally completed. (see previous blog on Via Guilia).

Enough looking...............let's eat!

From the Piazza Farnese we walk to the Piazza Navona to make a brief visit to Santa Maria Della Pace to find it closed. However, we visit the cloister designed by Bramante. It is worth the visit.
A couple of blocks north we return to one of our favorite restaurants, Hosteria l'Orso 80. We order a glass of Montefalco Rosso and a glass of Nebbiolo and settle in. Orso 80 is renown for its antipasti plates. We choose the antipasti di mare.

Our primi piatti was perfectly prepared bucatini all' amatriciana (see above!). Secondi piatti was Saltimocca and the other Rombo all Forno (Turbo) a whole fish boned tableside. Both plates were served with roasted potatoes.
Era squisto!

The waiters and staff are welcoming, friendly and a bit sarcastic! Dining here it is important to remember that you are here for the food not the 'art' on the walls!

Outside the Villa Farnesina

After lunch we walk back across the Tiber to Trastevere to complete our outing with a visit to the Villa Farnesina. Our feet still aching from walking on the ancient Roman cobblestone streets, we venture forth to this Renaissance villa built in 1511 by the Chigi family. Agostino Chigi was a wealthy banker from Siena and friend to
Pope Leo X (Medici). It was said that banquets given by Chigi were so lavish that to impress his guests he would have his servants throw the silver platters into the Tiber after dinner. Rumor also has it that there were nets in the river so that the servants would secretly fish the platters out of the river the following day.
We visit the villa Farnesina to see the Raphael fresco 'Galatea' as well as Peruzzi's trompe l'oeil fresco in the Sala delle Prospettive. We are most taken by the fresco painted by Sodoma in Chigi's bedroom. We agree it is the finest fresco that we have seen by Sodoma. Pretty hot stuff Renaissance style!
The villa is quite beautiful and the frescos through out fresh and wonderful.

Time to head back up the hill once again to the Gianicolo and dinner at the Academy.

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