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Rome
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We had two favorite restaurants in Rome during a visit in 1998. Cafe Pollodoro is located in a tiny piazza, near the better known Piazza Campo de'Fiori. We found the service charming and the selections fresh and well prepared. The veal marsala was wonderful, as were the mixed seafood hor d'oeuvres. Sitting outside on a Saturday evening and watching developments unfold in this sleepy piazza had a very small town feel to it.

Pancotto is located on Via Santa Maria dell'Anima, 58, a quiet street just west of the Piazza Navona. (It was near our Hotel Raphael.) Order the try the brusceta and the macaroni (it's the long -- not the American -- variety).

Vecchia Romana is a highly rated and more expensive restaurant, where reservations are essential. Our food was excellent, but we cannot truthfully say that it was markedly better than in the two more modest establishments recommended above.

The one museum where it is possible -- and essential -- to get an advance ticket is the Borghese Gallery. Call your hotel concierge to arrange this, or call the museum directly. They limit access rigidly, and those without advance tickets may out of luck. Go there! The art is splendid, and the setting in a baroque palace, with very few people around, is incomparable.

Gary's favorite out-of-the-way location is the church of San Clemente. It includes every phase of the history of Rome, from earliest times. The Byzantine style mosaics in the main basilica are outstanding. Below the basilica, you can visit excavations in an older basilica and even see a Mithraic temple from ancient times. You will walk on ancient pavements and see real archaeology in progress.

San Luigi dei Francesi is the French national church in Rome, located near the Piazza Navona. It is worth a visit because it has some spectacular Caravaggio paintings on the wall. Be sure to bring some coins to turn on the lights that illuminate the paintings!

When you visit the Vatican Museums, be aware that there are different itineraries marked in the museums. For most visitors, following the Itinerary A (maybe with some small detours) works best as the shortest route and the quickest way to the Sistine Chapel.

In St. Peter's, don't miss the grotto, which is accessible from near the front of the nave. This will take you under the church. This is the one church where the dress code should be taken seriously. Everyone is inspected. They turn people away who are not wearing long pants, skirts or dresses. Tank tops are out. Many people bring their long pants and change on the spot! Males must remove their hats, but women no longer need to cover their heads.

One of the great touristy locations is really worth visiting: the Trevi Fountain. It is a wonderful place to go after dinner. The fountain is very large, and very impressive. The crowds are festive. Save three coins to throw in, backwards, over your shoulder.

I visited the town of Ostia Antica when I was a student and was deeply impressed. This is the ancient port of Rome, but now a complete city in ruins. You can walk into the homes of ordinary people, and stroll down the actual ancient streets. I have never visited Pompeii, but this is much nearer to Rome (very near the airport.) This was a daytrip for me when I was a student, taking public transportation (subway and train). If you arriving or departing Rome via auto, I strongly recommend considering a stop here.

Gary and Susan Johnson,

July 13, 1998