Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rome, Italy - Bar della Pace and Da Francesco

If there is one caffe in all of Rome you need to visit, it is Bar della Pace. Officially known as Antico Caffé della Pace, this small bar is located in a beautiful little square tucked away behind Piazza Navona. One of the oldest bars in the eternal city, dating back to the 18th century, if these walls could talk I'd really never leave my perch there. The bar has long been a meeting spot for artists, painters, sculptors, poets, politicians, celebrities, actors, musicians, even the famous film director, Federico Fellini and the Italian couturier, Valentino, have all been known to knock back an espresso, a glass of wine or a caffé coretto here. To say this bar is a Roman institution would be an understatement.

The outside tables and chairs with umbrellas sit against an ivy-clad façade in this beautiful piazzetta, and serve as the best vantage point for watching the well-heeled Romans saunter by in their alta moda finest. The interior features a wine bar surrounded by cafe tables, small love seats and venetian plastered walls, and gives off a truly old-world caffe ambience. Keep your eyes open, you just never know who will be sitting next to you.

Right around the corner from Bar della Pace is one of my favorite tiny little pizza restaurants called Da Francesco in Piazza del Fico, 29, a beautiful little piazzetta in its own right. The typical Roman pizzerias are nondescript and no frills, but designed to please the stomach, not the eye.  Warm and friendly waiters serve up mountains of pasta and bubbling pizzas straight out of the brick oven. I'm still dreaming about the prosciutto e fungi (ham, mushrooms, mozzarella, tomato) pizza I ate here on a brisk Sunday afternoon. Come early or be prepared to wait in line, pizza this good has a strong and faithful following.

A perfect afternoon or evening in Rome would consist of a pizza at Da Francesco and then a walk around the corner for an espresso and some lively people watching at Bar della Pace. You'll simply fall in love with the quaintness of the cobblestone setting.

Da Francesco serves up some of the best pizzas in Rome

Men playing chess outside Da Francesco in Piazza del Fico
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