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August 18, 2010

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                    Hotel Palazzo Manfredi

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From the central train station (Termini) we paid 9 euros for a taxi to our hotel, which we later learned was very accessible by Metro. There's a Metro station right in Termini and our hotel was just two blocks away from the Colosseum (station stop Colosseo), so in two stops and for 1 euro each we would've been at the hotel. NOTE: I returned via the subway, and it was hot and packed but easy to use. It's not ideal if you have a lot of bags, since you need to go up and down some stairs. For those who just want to take a taxi, here are some dependable Rome taxi names and phone numbers that I found in the Frommer's guidebook: Radio Taxi 3570, Radio Taxi 4157, Pronto Taxi 6645. Be sure to dial 06 in front of each number.

We checked into the Palazzo Manfredi Hotel. It's the sister hotel to Capri's Punta Tragara, which I wrote about last week. This hotel is even smaller, with just 20 rooms in the four-story building. Our room wasn't quite ready (check-in is at 3 p.m.) so we were invited to go up to the roof terrace, where their restaurant is located, for some welcome drinks (champagne) and canapés. The views are sick overlooking the Colosseum, the Imperial Forum, and the Domus Aurea. This is where I later had breakfast and dinner. NOTE: The Palazzo Manfredi also offers apartments nearby-I didn't see them but here's the link.

Speaking of dinner, we were invited to try out their new AROMA restaurant. They have less than 20 tables inside and out, so reservations are recommended. Outside is where you want to sit-day and night, the views of the Colosseum are completely ridiculous. I felt like I was dreaming and I just kept trying to shake my head to snap out of it.

The restaurant manager, who looks like Richard Gere, was super hospitable. He's a lifelong resident of Rome and told us all about the hotel and restaurant (it opened April 2). The hotel dates back to 1661 and used to be a hunting lodge. The same family has owned it since 1948 and turned the hotel from a four-star into a five-star by redoing it and adding a restaurant. They had three challenges finding a great chef because (1) the kitchen is small, with just 16 square meters of space; (2) they aren't allowed to cook using a flame and not too many chefs want to use electricity; and (3) there had to be at least one Roman dish (oxtail, tripe, heart, liver) in each menu category. Still, they scored star chef Giuseppe Di Iorio.

If you are like me and don't eat any of the above Roman dishes, don't worry-they have all kinds of excellent options. To start, the waiter brought a classy-looking portable light so we could read the menu-it's dark and intimate up there-and addicting bread. For my appetizer I had Zibello ham served with sour cream and green apple–stuffed breadroll (€26) and Mike ordered the goat cheese flan with asparagus and toasted almonds (€25). For our mains I went with the fresh garden vegetable risotto with ewe's milk cheese and quail egg (€28) and Mike had the roasted Moulard duck honey-glazed with caramelized peaches (€38). For dessert they brought Percorso di cioccolato dei tre continenti, which means “variations of chocolate from three continents” (€20). Oh my! The food, service, and, of course, the view were all magnifico.

The following morning I was back up there at a different table enjoying the view over breakfast. Breakfast is served at 7 a.m. and the waitress brings a big basket of bread and pastries to start. Then comes toast with the edges cut off accompanied by assorted jellies. Then fresh orange juice and coffee/tea. I thought that was it, but then she handed me the menu and asked what I would like to order. I had to pass, even though most rates (if not all) include breakfast.

It's so interesting to stare out and see the uncovered ground below, only discovered in 1937 and exposed in 1962, where the gladiators kept all the big game animals for the events in the Colosseum. The window from our room on the first floor also overlooked it, and it's something to be able to sleep where the gladiators trained.

Our room had one whole king-size bed (not two twin beds pushed together), so we had to bring in a cot for Mike to sleep on. He said it was too small but comfortable. My bed, on the other hand, was delightful, with its fine high-thread-count cotton sheets and just-the-right size pillows (not too big or squishy). The room had a high ceiling, marble floors, flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a Tivoli audio system, free Wi-Fi (kind of slow), and easy-to-use (and fast) espresso machine. Of course they had to have the latter, otherwise the Italian businessmen would wig out on reception.

The bathroom was marble, came stocked with Bulgari toiletries, and had the same killer views. It was the first time I've ever seen small workout equipment right in the room-I have no idea how it was to be used, since it was really state-of-the-art and I had no time to figure it out, as I was anxious to explore the city. But they did leave complimentary bottles of water by the bed at night. Other hotel observations: The staff was all Italian, except for the Filipino bellman. There was sensor lighting in the hall/stairways. Only negative-I could feel a slight vibration when the subway went by, but I was on the ground floor and it was hardly bothersome at all. Hotel Palazzo Manfredi.

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Pictures From

The Trip


Hotel on the Left




Palazzo Manfredi Hotel






Welcome Drinks


My Bed




Mike's Bed


View From Room


View From Table


Restaurant Manager




More Views


Breakfast View



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Amy L. Scott
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