The meal at the Mirabelle restaurant of the Hotel Splendie Royale was sensational. It countered my theory of beware the restaurant with panoramic views. Our table was situated by a terrace that overlooked the Borghese Gardesns. Stefano was an exquisite host. Why does he have to be gay!!!? I had the tasting menu of foie gras, pigeon kebab with endive and mushroom, fageolini soup, cappelletti with truffles, roast pork with quinoa, mango sorbet and a Black Forest choccy Desert. I can scarcely recall a finer collection and collation of flavours. A soft breeze blew in from the park. We took coffee on the terrace where the chef and maitre D came out to be introduced. Exquisite petit fours were produced including a orange peel in geltatine too divine to savour. It would have been a serenely, serendipitous moment but for one thing. My mobile had broken down. The obliging concierge recommended a repair shop near the Treve fountain. The taxi driver drove with some abandon in the narrow streets with scarce consideration for pedestrians. Later I discovered that a charming lady in our group was both robbed there and hit by a taxi’s wing mirror.
This work commissioned for 16000 ducats (the Sistene was 3000) and a reasonable estate was worth 500) took Michelangelo ages but the final result especially the sculpture of Moses was worth it.
We then visited the Capitoline museum. We encountered yet more corruption as despite our confirmed tickets, entrance was denied till our guide produced a €50 note. The museum has the sculpture of the wolf suckling Romulus and Remus.
We took lunch in a local restaurant in the Jewish quarter known for the Roman delicacy of artichoke (there was a man slicing them up front of house) and they were delicious. We went onto Palazzo Farnese, where the vile Scarpi in Tosca had his police headquarters but now is the French embassy. This was a great privilege as it’s not open to the public and the security put even an airport to shame. I was fearful that Bob Tickler would have another seizure but he appeared taken by the pert French guide and has palled up with a naval commander whom he calls Captain Hornblower on account of his booming voice.
Although tired I managed one last shopping visit to the Via Condotti before resting my wearies prior to our Last Supper. This was at Clemente al Maddalena. Roman food is meat-based. We had aubergine with meatballs in a fondue and lamb chop with a wine and olive sauce. It was an occasion to thank Martin and our guide Caroline who had testing time but stayed cheerful and to suggest a further trip to Michelangelo’s Florence. A Scottish gynaecologist (always a useful addition even at my age!!!) moved the vote of thanks. Captain Hornblower regaled us all with tales of the sea which mainly comprised his own drinking. Like many an ebullient character whom we all loved for his olde worlde charm the old sea dog had a sad back story as he was here on remission as his wife was in a nursing home with dementia.
Notwithstanding the criminality that one of our group encountered and the graft of the Vatican and Capitoline museum, Rome is a wonderful capital City possibly unique for the range, splendour and depth of classical, Renaissance and baroque architecture literally round every corner. We were all stupefied to look out of the window of Capitoline museum to see the forum preserved like an archaeological site and occupying a huge area by the Colosseum. If you have to fight off teams of Albanian pick pockets it’s still worth it.