Jewels of Rome
A Curated Tour with “The Unofficial Mayor of Rome,” Giorgio Cazzaniga
Whether you’ve enjoyed visiting Rome dozens of times, or it is your first trip, you haven’t really seen Rome until you’ve seen it through the eyes of Giorgio Cazzaniga, a native Roman connoisseur.
In fact, Giorgio, whom I’ve nicknamed “The Unofficial Mayor of Rome,” is a dear family friend who gives new meaning to the word hospitality. Giorgio represents the modern day dolce vita, sipping drinks at tables once reserved for Federico Fellini, Marcello Mastroianni, and Audrey Hepburn, rubbing elbows with princes and princesses in elite palaces, and knowing everywhere important to eat, shop, or simply delight in the gioia di vivere. Giorgio effortlessly opens doors and reveals a very special, private Rome. Through his friendships, we have enjoyed access to family palaces, not by appointment but often while we are walking by, with simply the ring of a doorbell or a quick call on his mobile phone, just to say ciao!
Giorgio, an international lawyer, Graduate of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) as well as Marketing Director for his family’s namesake brand, Cazzaniga Roma, speaks fluent English, having lived and studied in London. Even though I have spent over a year of my life in Rome, there is nothing like experiencing The Eternal City with Giorgio.
Time to start walking! The only way to eat our way through Rome and not gain weight is to walk! Italians consider walking, and the “passeggiata” or stroll, a time-honored tradition! Enter Giorgio, our personal trainer! He walks faster than I would normally jog, and keeps telling us “come on, you can do it,” suggesting the next great taste sensation was just around the corner or up the hill, which it usually was!
Our host, also an excellent cook, prepared us a fabulous lunch with perfectly al dente pasta with tomato sauce, made by simmering a little garlic and basil in olive oil for added flavor, then adding the canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, and pepperoncino. Giorgio suggests that we cook the pasta roughly half as long as the directions indicate. It should still be firm when removed from the pot and tossed with the sauce, often with a splash of the cooking water to help the sauce adhere to the pasta. Garnish with a bit of pecorino Romano or Reggiano parmigiano and mangia! Add a Caprese Salad with Mozzarella di Bufala from Battipaglia, Sardines from Sicily, and a crisp bottle of Angoris Bianco Riserva Giulio Locatelli Colli Orientali del Friuli, we were in total delight!
After lunch, we headed to Bar Rosati, overlooking Piazza del Popolo, for some espresso, as we would need the caffeine to keep up, then to the chic Hotel de Russie for drinks al fresco with some of his closest friends. The barman at the hotel’s famed Stravinskj Bar, Agostino Musichini is an expert mixologist, and makes a perfect Martini and Negroni. Cin Cin!
Our next stop was the stylish international party known as Dal Bolognese. Veteran restaurateurs Alfredo and son Ettore Tomaselli and manager Antonello Delrio make guests feel like a million bucks on the gorgeous patio and glowing rooms in this most precious piece of Roman real estate in Piazza del Popolo.
We enjoyed excellent Bolognese cuisine paired with a chilled bottle of St. Michael Eppan Chardonnay Sanct Valentin from Sudtirol/Alto Adige. The scene is depicted in a painting by Leroy Neiman. (Also in Milan, and opening in Miami/Brickell soon).
We enjoyed gelato at Gelateria dei Gracchi, one of the best ice cream shops in town and bid “Buona Notte.” Wear comfortable shoes tomorrow, Giorgio advised us!
The next morning, we met early at the famed Bar Canova, also in Piazza del Popolo. Canova was a favorite of Fellini, who held court at table 18. The early morning, just at dawn is my favorite time of day in the Eternal City, where Rome seems to belong to just us and the gigantic seagulls (Gabbiani) that glide in the famous summer seabreeze, called the Ponentino and screeching with glee as the city begins to awaken. The Ponentino is so famous, a romantic song “Roma, nun fa’ la stupida stasera” (don’t be silly tonight) was written about it in the context of a young boy who asks “Roma” to help get his girlfriend to say yes, employing a very strong Ponentino to help!
We walked through the Villa Borghese, Rome’s “Central Park, seeing locals out walking their dogs, jogging, and kids headed to school, while being tempted by the heavenly aromas of freshly baked pastries. The towering stone and umbrella pine trees, illuminated by the first rays of morning sunlight seemed to dance before our eyes. Our next stop was for more coffee and freshly baked pastries at Pasticceria Lotti near Via Veneto.
We continued down the Spanish Steps and onto the elegant Via Margutta, shaking hands and exchanging embraces and kisses (abbracci and baci) with his friends we encountered. Next, we enjoyed lunch at Santucci, which specializes in seafood in elegant Parioli. We were seated al fresco on a lovely rooftop on a delightfully warm, sunny day and enjoyed outstanding fresh “crudo” (raw) seafood, followed by exceptional pasta with mixed seafood and fresh local porcini mushrooms, and another with Orata (Sea Bream), Zucchini Flowers (Fiori di Zucca) and Bottarga (dried mullet roe). Giorgio advised that the two best days to enjoy seafood are Tuesday and Friday, as that is when the fresh deliveries from local fishermen arrive.
We began the evening’s adventures at lively Enoteca Cesaretto, with aperitivi, music, and dancing near the Spanish Steps. Then we dined at Nino, a Tuscan restaurant, where we enjoyed Zucchini Flowers stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella, Cannelloni, and a delicious T-Bone Chianina Steak from Chianti.
Since Saturday was beautiful, we headed to Gambrinus Beach Club in Ostia, (45 minute drive). Gambrinus is a gourmet seafood restaurant and beach club, offering great service, a large pool, and beach with famous black sand—it was Mussolini’s favorite! Back in Rome, we enjoyed pizza at Pizza Ré, the best Neapolitan pizza in town after visiting more friends for cocktails in their top floor apartment overlooking Piazza di Spagna.
The next morning, we enjoyed two of Rome’s best Coffee shops—Caffé Sant’ Eustachio near Piazza Navona (order the Gran Caffé), and Tazza d’Oro by the Pantheon (get the Granita with Panna Montata—Coffee Slushy with whipped cream), then visited the art studio and home of renowned contemporary Roman artist Marcello Reboiani, who has created portraits of numerous celebrities, and works on word of mouth and commission only. We spent over an hour admiring his work and enjoying coffee and conversation.
That night, we enjoyed an epicurean feast in one of the most breathtaking rooftop restaurants in Rome at sunset atop the gorgeous Hotel Splendide Royal. Mirabelle offers a combination of the best view, service, food, and live entertainment in the city! The cuisine by Michelin-star chef, Stefano Marzetti was exceptional. As the sun set behind St. Peter’s Basilica and the sky continued to glow in varying shades of orange and magenta, we raised our glasses to this amazing place called Roma!
On our last day, we visited the Fontana di Trevi and tossed our coins, which ensures our return to Rome!¨
For more information about Cazzaniga Jewellery, please visit www.cazzanigaroma.com
When in Rome
Eating your way through Rome never got easier… take my word for it.
No visit to Rome is complete without trying the trifecta of pasta: Carbonara (Guanciale/Pork Jowl, egg, pepper, and cheese), Amatriciana (Guanciale and tomato), and Cacio e Pepe (Pecorino and Pepper). My favorites are: Carbonara and Amatriciana: Checco e Carettiere, and Cacio e Pepe: Flavio al Velavevodetto (the original in Testaccio is built into an ancient Roman landfill, with windows looking onto illuminated artifacts), with a second location near the Vatican, and Hostaria Da Pietro, near the Spanish Steps.
For the best Fettuccine Alfredo in its birthplace: Visit Alfredo L’Originale. It is perfection, with fresh egg pasta, tossed on a heated plate (dipped in the cooking water) with butter and parmesan, with a touch of cooking water, prepared while you watch! No cream.
The Jewish Quater: One of my favorite areas is the Jewish section, called the “Ghetto.” Piperno is the most formal—everything is great, especially the Palle del Nonno (Grandpa’s Balls), which are filled with fresh ricotta and chocolate! Another favorite is BellaCarne, a Kosher restaurant, which
serves excellent steak, and specialties like Baccala (Fried Cod), and the best Pastrami Sandwich in town!
For an elegant Roman experience: Visit Camponeschi in Piazza Farnese, overlooking the French Embassy, get an outside covered table and enjoy Roman specialties served with panache by convivial owner Alessandro and staff. A must is the Trippa alla Romana, Tripe with Roman Mint (Mentuccia) and tomato sauce.
Other favorites are: Molo 10, La Rosetta, Quinzi e Gabrieli, and Ristorante Il Tempio d’Iside for seafood. Le Colline Emiliane has wonderful Bolognese cuisine, Ad Hoc, (elegant wine bar and gourmand’s dream), Bonci Pizzeria and Panificio (bread shop), considered the best pizza by the slice), and Giolitti, famous for great gelato near the Pantheon.
Some foods to look for: During summer months, Ovoli mushrooms, as well as Porcini, (autumn), Puntarelle, a slightly bitter long green, served with an anchovy dressing (November to March), Roman Chicory (Cicoria) Dente di Leone, (winter, considered the best), or Cicoria di Campagna (Summer months, more bitter), tossed with olive oil, garlic, and pepperoncino. Veal Saltimbocca (jump in mouth) with prosciutto, sage, and a demi glace), artichokes are a staple, and Semolina Gnocchi “alla Romana,” (typically only available on Thursday nights).
Discover Culinary Treasures in Rome’s Markets: Roscioli is an incredible gourmet market, salumeria, and restaurant, featuring a dazzling array of meats, cheeses, and wine. If you have an “Air BNB,” I suggest shopping here, as well as at the Campo de’Fiori and Trionfale markets, and at Castroni, another gourmet market and cooking “at home!” Everything tastes better in Rome!
Where to stay
Rest assured your sleeping arrangements are covered.
- Hotel Aldrovandi Villa Borghese: Elegant and intimate with beautiful pool and gardens.
- Hotel de La Ville: Part of the Rocca Forte Group, recently renovated, stylish, located at the top of the Spanish Steps next to the Hassler.
- Hotel de Russie: Fashionable and great location next to Piazza del Popolo by Rocca Forte.
- Hotel Eden: Recently redone, beautiful rooftop restaurant and bar.
- The First Roma Arte: Chic, artsy, with lovely rooftop in the Campo Marzio.
- Hotel Parco dei Principi: One of the best spas and largest pools in town.
- Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort: Formerly the Cavalieri Hilton, luxurious hotel a bit removed from the center, with Three Michelin-Star restaurant, La Pergola by Heinz Beck, and a large pool perched atop Monte Mario with exceptional views of Rome.
- Hotel Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese: Luxury boutique hotel near the Via Veneto.
Hotel Splendide Royal: Roberto Naldi Collection, elegant property with Michelin-Star rooftop restaurant, Mirabelle.
Hotel Vilòn: New and impeccably stylish, yet warm and inviting in the Campo Marzio, sib of the J.K. Place.
For more information about Cazzaniga Jewellery, please visit www.cazzanigaroma.com
For more information about Fred Bollaci Enterprises, and to purchase Fred’s highly anticipated second book, “The Restaurant Diet, A Spiritual Journey of Self-Discovery,” please visit Amazon, and www.fredbollacienterprises.com