Jacqueline Edgar. following the Italian example. overindulgcs in Rome and here rhapsodizes about La Bella Vita that‘s all sugar and starch.
Whoever said that you can't have ey erything obviously hadn't been to Rome. What more do you want'.’ Not only is the climate ofthe gl'ilpL‘-pt)pplllg. wine-lozzing variety. but the whole city is soaked. positively marinated. in history. And it combines the beauty of antiquity with the matchless chic of modern ltalia. and with the uncompromising passion of the natives for the basic pleasures in life.
I walked through Rome in a daze: why hadn't anyone told me just how stunning it is. or. if they had. why hadn't they said it louder'.’ It is steeped in a charm which can only be enhanced by triple shots of zambucca at £1 a go. The backest of back streets is drowned in atmosphere — you could shoot a gooey film in any one ofthem. Raise your eyes from the manic level of exhaust pipes (()K I concede. there is one drawback) anywhere in Rome for a least of architectural delicacies. alw ays artistically framed. of course.
USEFUL INFORMATION Getting There
Board is located at1
Princes Street. London W1R BAY (01 408 1254). They will be happy to help with
in sky blue.
And there‘s more. Rome is delightfully compact and manageable and the ease with which so much can be covered is a massive reliefwben donning the new Italian footwear. however scrumptiously squidgey the leather. With gorgeous leather boots going for a mere 69.000 lire (£30 or so) only fools forego the temptation. So. suitably shod. one can stroll in half an hour from the Colosseum. past l-‘ontana di 'I'rcvi and Piazza Navona ( Rome's vastly more authentic version of (‘ovent (iarden where artists. fountains. cappucinos and vagrants happily mix). right up the tantalizing main shopping streets (Via del (‘orso and environs) to the hot-blooded high spot Piazza I)i Spagna.
Aim to bit here at around (1pm and you will witness the infamous Italian Hunt at full force as sleek young men with the familiar glint in their eyes survey the evening‘s prey — the irnmaculately—groomed. ridiculously
Regions and Provinces have Tourist Boards and offices. Rome's main tourist offices are to be found at the airport (Fiumicino Airport). atthe
young. constantly-chattering chicks. Well-warned about Italian men. I was eagerly expecting to fight off the herds but am mortified to admit that I had absolutely no problems whatsoever and am consequently undergoing a crisis. Is this the final sign that I am no longer a chick and am well on my way to henhood'.’ Meanwhile. in another corner of Rome. the booming transvestite scene booms on. It‘s definitely worth setting some time aside to cruise round and look at these sights. For sights they are — leg after leg of short-skirted. very available sex. These enterprising and stunning looking people descended on the Romans some I) or 10 months ago. mainly from South America. and their success can be measured by the vehicular chaos which has ensued. The police have been called in to control the jams just as potential clients and transfixed tourists clamber to get a look in (about £30 a
with private facilities will cost on average in Italy between £13 and £18 per night. A double room will cost from £22 to £32. Prices
What To Do
The Italian appetite in other areas is ofsimilar proportions. Sale in their sunshine and their wine. they show an inspiring ability to indulge unreservedly in the Joy of Food. The length ol’one‘s stay in Italy is directly related to the size ofone's hips: real carbohydrate country this ~- at one meal alone. I was presented. at various stages. with pasta. pastry. potatoes. rice .v\.\'l) bread. Bearing this in mind. plus the unquenchable drive towards ( ielalerias ( icecream parlours). led me to conclude that the rumour about the Italian diet being one of the healthiest in the world is of highly stispieious origin probably from mafia restaurant tycoons.
.\'oself-respecting Italian is going to pass down an icecream - so every evening comfortably stuffed bodies waddle into the parlours to gaze on dozens of coloured blobs and then create their ow n concoctions: from Yoghurt and Rice llavours (both delicious) to Iinglish Soup flavour (beats me) and ‘l‘iramisu (or ‘pull-me-up‘ ) which originates from a cake ol'staggering complexity that has somehow been reduced to a me re flavour.
ll icecream leaves you cold. take heart and hit the l’atisser‘ies, Perhaps the best in Rome is the 'l’asticceria Strabbioni' off Via Iflavia which was good enough for a King in 1888 and is good enough for Agnclli ( l-‘iat King) in 1988. It'sa veritable showcase for the best in [European patisserie and is worth a visit (list to drool over glazed apricots and iced almonds nestling beneath the original ceiling which looks more like a cake than the cakes do.
Leave the ornate stuff to Rome. then fight your way out for a really basic binge once in a while. 'I'hankfully. bargains live on and a fttll four course meal can still be had fora mere 1.4—1.5. What are you waiting for‘.’ Book up and pig out — La Bella Vita is never Bella than when you‘ve been stuck in its very antithesis for monthson end.
underground. Taxis provide an inexpensive late-night
source of information and covers accommodation. sights. opening hours and contact numbers. restaurants. tourist office
Student return flights to Rome are availablefor £137. departing Heathrow. Contactyourstudent travel specialist (Edinburgh Travel Centre. Bristo Square and Campus Travel. Hillhead Street and John Street. Glasgow) forfurthur details.
The ordinary APEXIIight. again departing Heathrow. costs £162 return.
Eurotrain and Transalpino return fares from London to Rome lorunder26s cost £133.80.
What You Should Know Before You Go
The Italian State Tourist
A valid British passport is the only entry requirement. Italian currency is Lire. For £1 sterling. you can normally buy about 2300 lire.
Banks are open 8.30am-1.20pm. plus an extra hour in the afternoon which varies from region to region.
Climate is nippy in winter (average 7C) and hot in summer (26C).
Italy is divided into twenty regions. each with a capital city. In turn. those regions are divided into provinces. each of which also has a capital.
Rome. with its population of nearly3 million. is inthe Latium region. Both
Termini Railway Station and in Via Parigi. 11 (tel 06 461 851).
Shops and offices do. by and large. go in forthe long lunch hour. often closing between 1pm and 4pm (3.30pm in winter) on weekdays. The city is almost deserted from 15 Aug—1stSep whenthe Romans are en vacances.
Where To Stay
The Italian Tourist Board in London can advise you on types of accommodation. they have lists ofmore unusual hotels in converted historical buildings etc. Hotels are graded on a 5 tot star rating system. A single room in a1starhotel
will inevitably be at thetop end of the range in Rome and will vary depending on season and centrality.
Forthe budgettraveller. Rome has plenty of pensioni (check carefully on rates— some are increased atthe sound of atoreign accent). a youth hostel and students' hostels. Contact the Italian Tourist Board for details. Otherwise the Let's Go Guide to ltaly(see below) has lists of budget rooms. Once there. the tourist offices can help with accommodation. depending on how busythey are.
ATAC is the city bus line. There is also an
Monday isthe day when Rome's museums (except the Vatican) shut. Sights to see: the Pantheon. the Forum. the Colosseum. piazzas. Vatican City with its St Peter's Cathedral and the Sistine Chapel — all the places we‘ve read and learned so much about. and many more which are less well-known but equally awe-inspiring. Use a good guide-bookto work outyour own tours. or make use of the several tourist itineraries that free city guides lay out.
The Let's Go Budget Guide to Italy is an invaluable
addresses. maps etc. Published by Harrap Columbus. it costs £9.95. The Insight Guide to Italy gives more historically and culturally orientated information about Rome. Published by APA Productions (distributed by Harrap Columbus) at £9.95. The Italian Travelmale. published by Richard Drew at £1 .50. is a pocket-sized book of useful vocabulary and phrases. givingthe Italian for We gota bad back‘ etc.
72 The List 25 Nov — 8 Dec 1988