Sunday, October 6, 2013

Monti, Rome

Rome’s Full Monti

Monti’s Basilica di Santa Maria maggiore offers quiet sanctuary, while life hums around the Renaisance fountain of Piazza della Madonna dei Monti

Executive summary by darmansjah

Two millennia ago, gladiators, prostitutes, and politicians-Julius Caesar, for one-rubbed shouders in Monti, Rome, a red-light district adjacent to the Forum and Colosseum. Today Monti is again red hot. In this zone where something new is always opening, Italians gather for animated conversations outside overflowing wine bars, and young women in stilettos pick their way through cobblestoned streets. Even so, white-haired nonnas still shop for brutti ma buoni cookies at the local bakeries, passersby still greet one another by name, and only one big-name American retailer has sneaked in. “monti has changed into a VIP zone,” says Giovanna Dugher, owner of  a Monti art boutique. “But it still has a spirit of past times.”

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Sparkling from its gold-coffered ceiling to its fifth-century mosaics, this lavish papal church claims the world’s oldest crèche, sculpted by Arnolfo di Cambio in the 1200s to display wood slbas said to be from Christ’s crib.

Studio Silice

Young glassmaker Anna Prexiosi’s play with texture and color makes for a style as eye-catching as it is contemporary-platters overlaid with rose-gold petals, bowls piled with gold-leafed glass straw a la an opulent bird’s nest.

Gelateria Fatamorgana

This newcomer to Monti scoops all-natural gelasto in a small white-walled store-front with the ascetic look of a lab. Sample creative sombinations (pear with Gogonzola, black rice with rose buds) at the counter, then take your treat to the piazza just outside.

Le Talpe

Adding pizzas to Monti’s blossoming boutique scene, owner Giovanna Dughera excels in chic eclecticism, proving medical tubing can make surpisingly elegant necklaces and fuzzy faux ermine can be worn as a stole
Piazza della Madonna dei Monti

All kinds-squeeze onto the 16th-century fountain steps of this ‘piazzetta’ 9as residents endearingly call it). For a more comfortable seat, grab an alfresco table at the bustling La Bottega del Café.

San Pietro in Vincoli

This fifth-century church houses the tomb Michelangelo designed for Pope Julius II as well as his famed Moses statue. Michelangelo designed the beard-twirling icon to be one of more than 40 towering statues, but money woes and a change of pope forced him to scarp his plans. The abandonment always haunted him.

Trajan’s Markets

Scholars say this soaring complex dates to the second century and once held ancient offices. Today it contains the Museum of the Imperial Forums, which lays out how this space built up by Rome’s power players looked in its heyday.

Enoteca Provincia Romana

This wine bar serves only local food and drink, including top-notch vino (try the crisp, golden Frascati), artisanal beer, and updated classics such as

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