The Sights and Spots of Rome

October may well be the best month in Rome (May is also divine). Cool days with clear blue skies, and the kind of light that brings out the architectural details of the old buildings. The colors— terracotta, yellow, cream, red, green— look freshly painted in the sun. Romans will tell you that it is color that sets their city apart from what they think of as “dreary, gray Paris.”

Right now, the whole city is a vast passeggiata, the streets full of strolling Italians and tourists alike, savoring the weather, licking a cone of stracciatella (vanilla with chocolate pieces) or, as we did yesterday, sitting in the sun with a cappuccino at the Zodiaco, marveling at the vast city spread out below.

On these perfect October days, I recommend that visitors find a spectacular view to enjoy.  I return over and over again to these favorite view spots:

*    The top of the “wedding cake,” the Vittorio Emanuele II monument in Piazza Venezia, which has an elevator for the elderly or infirm (reached from the side entrance).
*    Il Zodiaco on Monte Mario , a traditional Roman hangout not far from the Cavalieri Hilton Hotel; it has great views day or night from the terrace café, but it’s less crowded in daytime; there is parking.
* The Gianicolo (Janiculum) hill, near the Garibaldi monument in the park; there are informal places to sit with a coffee and gaze down at Trastevere and the city beyond; for the fit, there are steps up to the park from Trastevere.
*    The roof of St. Peter’s, take the elevator (small fee) as if you were going up to the dome; the views are wonderful from the flat roof if you don’t want to climb to the top.
   For a dinner as good as the view, three five-star hotels have jaw dropping panoramas:
the Eden Hotel roof, the Hassler’s Imago, and the Cavalieri Hilton’s La Pergola.

Other Views of Rome

The Rome Film Festival is October 22-31. The Parco della Musica will become Cinema Village, with multiple screenings, and shops, restaurants and bars set up to accommodate the crowds and star watchers. Fourteen international films will premiere and dozens more will be screened.

It has been almost 40 years since the first major exhibition of the work of 15th century Venetian master Giovanni Bellini. Bellini’s impact on Venice turned it into a major center of Renaissance art. The exhibit is at Scuderie del Quirinale, Via XXIV Maggio 16, Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.;  Friday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10:30 pm. The exhibit runs through January 11, 2009.

Biennale dell'Antiquariato is the annual exhibition of antiques by a group of 50 antiques dealers from around the world. If you can’t make the Biennale, drop in the antique shops along the Via Coronari (known to some as the Via Coronary, for the shock that comes from the prices). Biennale dell’Antiquariato is at Palazzo Venezia, Via del Plebiscito 118 (Piazza Venezia), from October 17 through October 26, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call 39 06 6999 4319.

Read more about Shari's experience in Italy, in her blog about the green heart of Italy at