Saturday, March 8, 2014

What to See While in Rome: Piazza Navona

"I came, I saw, I conquered" Julius Caesar

In my own humble way I also came, saw and conquered #PiazzaNavona and in the lines to follow I will do my best to let you know why you should come too.  While other city attractions may be more renown, Piazza Navona has a unique charm that has captivated Romans and visitors alike for centuries.  

The first thing Piazza Navona has to offer is its vast size.  For a bustling city of narrow streets and crazy traffic, this pedestrian-only square is a relaxing but still vibrant part of town.  It is great to spend some time admiring the three fountains that adorn it; and if traveling with kids, it's a great place to let them run around a little bit and enjoy, as Romans do, this beautiful public square.

In the center of Piazza Navona you'll find the Fountain of the Four Rivers, sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (you can read all about its history by clicking here).  It represents the Gods of the four great rivers as recognized in the #Renaissance world.  On the southern end of the piazza you'll find the Fountain of the Moor and the northern end of the square is adorned by the Fountain of Neptune, my personal favorite one. 

There are several restaurants surrounding the piazza offering al fresco dinning and the colors and magnificence of the buildings make it a postcard perfect setting.  During Christmas season an open market operates in the piazza and offers all imaginable pieces for a Nativity set and many other decorations. During the rest of the year there are always artists selling paintings, photographs and souvenirs.  On weekends it's a popular and family-friendly destination.  At night time it is a happening part of town.

The drinking fountains around Rome, called "Nasone (big nose)" by the locals, provide potable water to all.  Just cover the flowing water with you hand and a spout will shoot water up towards you, the best way to quench your thirst in Rome.  There is one drinking fountain in the north end of piazza Navona, and 2000 others around town.

When hunger strikes I normally walk a couple of blocks away from the piazzas where most restaurants gear towards tourist and find more local venues.  A couple of blocks from Piazza Navona I found Pizzeria Ristorante La Focaccia (Via della Pace 11).  I sat on the outdoor tables and enjoyed their brick oven pizza and local cuisine for an affordable price.  Another fun venue around the area is Bar del Fico at Piazza del Fico 26-28 (their website shows a fully naked lady so I won't link it, just is case:   Their grilled steak is very nice.  And since we are talking about food, here is the recipe for a typical Roman dish:

400 grams of Spaghetti
200 grams of bacon cut in small bite size pieces (or guanciale: a bacon of pigs cheeks)
250 grams of Pecorino cheese 
2 egg yolks and 1 1/2 egg whites
Salt and Pepper to taste
*This dish is almost a religion in Rome!

Scramble the eggs in a bowl and add a third of the cheese and a bit of pepper, let the mix rest for 5 minutes.  On a frying pan fry the bacon until crisp without any extra oil.  Get rid of half the bacon oil after the bacon is crisp.  In the mean time, boil your pasta "al dente" which means until you can still bite into it (always save some pasta water, it is almost always used in the sauces).  Transfer it to the bowl with the egg mixture and mix well.  Add the hot bacon to the seasoned pasta.    Mix well until creamy, away from the stove.  In order to get a creamy consistency you can add pasta water if necessary.  Sprinkle the rest of the Pecorino cheese before serving.



1 comment:

  1. Excellent article!! This is going to be one of my stops in Rome next May.