It’s not a Grand Slam event.
No problem, because what you get at the Foro Italico’s red clay in Rome is the very definition of grandiose. Moved to Rome in 1935, by Benito Mussolini, the Italian Open is more than a tennis tournament. If you play it right, it is a history lesson, combined with shopping, fine food, drink, high fashion and oh yeah, a tennis tournament.
The Italian Open played 12 May through 19 May, is a warm-up to the second Grand Slam event in tennis, the French Open. The Italian Open is an intimate tournament withdraw power. Also known as the Internazionali BNL d’Itali, the courts are a companion to the Tiber River. It’s about the location, shopping, history, and mouthwatering delights that are just a walk away.
Last year’s men’s winner Rafael Nadal beat upcoming superstar Alexander Zverev in three sets, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3. The women’s side of the draw offered just as much star power with Elina Svitolina defeating Simona Halep, 6-0, 6-4.
Where: Foro Italico Sports Complex in Rome, Viale del Foro Italico, 00135 Roma RM, Italy
When: May 12-May 19
Price: Tickets per session range from $95. To $295.
Speaking of star power, Rome itself has consistently brought the star power, and you can soak it up. Rome has something for everyone food, shopping, and of course historical monuments.
Bar Canova is on the Piazza del Popolo
This establishment serves coffee at any time of the day plus sandwiches and pastries. But why you are going to visit, is that it was Federico Fellini’s favorite bar, in fact, he kept an office in the back. And the bonus, after you finish your sandwich, go around the corner to see Fellini’s apartment on Via Margutta.
Where: Piazza del Popolo, 16, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
When: 9 AM-11 PM
Carbonaro @ Da Enzo
Don’t get into a discussion on the historic origins of Carbonaro, you are wasting time you could be spent enjoying this feat of deliciousness. “It must be eaten in a trattoria—Da Enzo, hole in the wall family run trattoria in Trastevere, serves one of the best.”
Where: Via del Vascellari, 29,00153 Roma RM, Italy
When: 12-30Pm-330PM; 730PM-11PM; closed Sunday
While Elizabeth Gilbert waxing eloquently about San Crispino gelato in “Eat, Pray, Love” has boosted the visibility of this delicious treat, we aren’t doing franchises here.
Go to Giolitti a few blocks from the Pantheon for real old school gelatena. It has been around since 1900. You can get artisanal gelato that use pistachios from Sicily or hazelnuts from Piedmonts, just for starters. And fun fact, it is cheaper and quicker to get it to go.
Where: Via degli Uffici del Vicario, 40, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
When: 7 AM-1 AM
Price: gelato $ 3.14-5.6 (US dollars)
Aperitivo is an Italian happy hour. And to experience it, in all its glory try the Aperitivo @ Stravinsky Bar @ Hotel de Russie
The classic Roman Aperitivo is a spritz made of white wine, Prosecco, Campari or Aperol (your bartender will ask your preference) and sparkling water.
The Stravinsky Spritz comes with olives, almonds and potato chips. Saluti!
Where: Via Del Babuino, 9, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
When: 9 AM-1 AM
Price: average drink price $ 24.64 (US dollars)
Caffe’ Sant’ Eustachio located in the square behind the Pantheon
Here are some rules to make you look less touristy:
There are no Starbucks, so don’t even try. Second cappuccinos are only for breakfast. Now when ordering,
Un café’ is one shot of espresso. Un café’ macchiato is a shot of espresso with a dollop of steamed milk, un café’ freddo is a cold espresso sweetened with a ton of sugar and crema di café’ is the equivalent of a Frappuccino.
Also don’t order a latte, unless you want a glass of milk.
Where: Piazza di S. Eustachio, 82, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Price: Moderate but be aware of an extra charge to sit outside
WHEN IN ROME
Speaking of touristy, there is nothing like all the history you will get when you get your tourist on. There are monuments and relics you must see when you are in Rome.
With respect to the Pyramids, the Roman Colosseum is the most internationally recognized structure in the world. The construction for the Colosseum began in 72 AD under Vespasian and was finished in 80 AD under the emperor Titus. Titus inaugurated the Colosseum with 100 days of games with claimed the lives of 9000 animals and 2000 gladiators.
Each year about six million people visit the Colosseum.
Where: Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
When: 830 AM- 7 PM. If you want to avoid the lines, arrive early in the morning or buy an entrance ticket in the Palatine Hill.
Price: 12 Euros or approximately $13.44 (US dollars)
Called the world’s only architecturally perfect building, it was originally a temple built between 118 and 125 AD. Today it is used as a church and burial. The Italian kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I are buried in the Pantheon, as is the Renaissance painter Raphael.
Where: Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
When: Sunday 9 AM-6 PM; M-Saturday 830AM-730PM
When to visit: Remember there are no tickets to enter the Pantheon. It is a free public site, expect lots of people. Try to go during mid-week for less traffic.
The Fontana di Trevi
The Trevi Fountain gained iconic status in 1954 when it starred in 20th Century Fox’s “Three Coins in the Fountain”. It was again resurrected in our memories in 2010 with the romantic comedy “When in Rome”. Although it should be noted in “When in Rome” the fountain was “inspired” by the Trevi fountain, not the real one!
Nicola Salvi’s fountain masterpiece features a marble statue of Neptune at the center surrounded by tritons. Legend has it throw one coin in the fountain and you will return to Rome; throw two coins and you will return to Rome and fall in love; throw three coins and you will return to Rome, fall in love and get married.
The fountain yearly yield averages around $350. American dollars. All the money collected from the fountain goes to the Italian Red Cross.
Where: Piazzi di Trevi, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
When to visit: This site is usually the busiest between 12 pm -7 pm. To see it in all its glory, try going between 8 pm-11 pm, the fountain lights up at night.
What to wear: Low cut or sleeveless clothing, shorts, miniskirts, and hats are not allowed.
When to visit: Closed Sunday: M-Saturday 9 AM-4 PM. On the last Sunday of every month, entry is free. The Museums are usually open to the public every weekday morning and in the early afternoon in the summer.
Where: Viale Vaticano, 00165 Roma RM, Italy
Price: $4.48-19.04 (US dollars); there are several tours and tickets range from $23.-150.
What is the Vatican Museum?
Popes throughout history have collected works of art, paintings and sculptures. These are all contained in the Museum.
What is in the Vatican Museum? These are 26 museums, these three examples:
The Sistine Chapel: Named after Sixtus IV della Rovere who commissioned it. According to some scholars, the dimensions of the Chapel are copied from Solomon’s great temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Pinacoteca: The building of the Pinacoteca, was commissioned by Pius EX to house a collection of paintings, belonging to various popes. The works cover a period from the Middle Ages to 1800 and are set in chronological order in 18 rooms.
Raphael’s Rooms: Were the apartments of Pope Julius II, who did not want to live in the rooms previously occupied by his predecessor Alexander VI and painted by Pinturicchio. Pope Julius gave Raphael complete autonomy to erase any previous work and paint what he wished.
Raphael painted four rooms: The Room of the Segnatura, Room of Heliodorus, the Room the Fire in the Borgo and Room of Constantine.
Egyptian Museum: The museum was founded by Gregory XVI in the Lateran Palace in 1884 and relocated to the Vatican in 1970 by John XXIII. This museum contains original Greek works, Roman copies, and sculptures dating from the 1st to the 3rd centuries AD.
Located in the Vatican City but not part of the Museum is:
St. Peter’s Basilica: The interior of the Basilica is filled with Renaissance and Baroque art, the most famous being Michelangelo’s Pieta, the canopy by Bernini over the main altar, the statue of St. Longinus in the crossing, the tomb of Urban VIII, and the bronze cathedral of St. Peter in the apse.
Where: Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Citta del Vaticano, Vatican City
You want something a little different after watching the Italian Open all day? Try the Night Tour in Rome: the Crypts and the Catacombs of Priscilla. First you will visit the Capuchin Bone Crypt six rooms that are decorated with the bones of 4000 capuchin Monks. The second part of the tour will take you to the Catacombs of Priscilla.
These tours begin at night, around 6 pm and take you to the burial places and underground tombs some that existed before Christianity was legalized.
Where: There are several groups that offer crypt tours: citywonders.com. viator.com, theromanguy.com
Price: Ranges from $48.-350.
Your experience at the Italian Open is going to be so much more than a tennis match! Enjoy!