The Pines of Rome Blog Is Reborn!

For me, the New Year starts in September, not January. Being the start of the school year, September has always lent itself to new beginnings for me. The long lazy days of summer are left behind, and with it my lazy ways are sloughed off, and big plans for exciting projects and personal improvement take their place. The prospect of new office supplies (in my mind they will always be school supplies, no matter how old I get), scarves (by far my favorite accessory), tights (second favorite), soup (butternut squash, if possible), crunchy fallen leaves, crisp mornings, and endless cups of tea (Marco Polo by Mariage Frères, if you're asking) remind me that fall is the very very best time of year.

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Foodies, Rejoice! Taste of Roma Kicks off at the PDM

After months of hype, Rome's favorite restaurant festival is finally here! Taste of Roma kicks off today at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome's premier performing arts venue. This festival is a MUST for serious food lovers, especially of the gourmet variety. Let's face it, precious few of us can afford to dine at La Pergola or Imàgo every other weekend, but this festival gives us 99-percenters a chance to eat some of the very best food in the city. The highest echelons of haute cuisine come out for this event, so if fine dining is your passion, do not miss it.

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The Mystery of Giulia Farnese Revealed

Perhaps some of my most faithful bloglings remember the post I did on The Borgia Pope, Pinturicchio, and Giulia Farnese way back in 2012. I’m a little obsessed with the Borgias, and I’m very obsessed with art history mysteries. So when I heard that the Capitoline Museums were displaying a rare work by Pinturicchio called Baby Jesus of the Hands (which is actually a fragment of a larger work that is now lost), I was thoroughly intrigued. Check out that post for the full story on the fascinating mystery of that controversial (and eventually mutilated) work of art.

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How to Survive August in Rome

I'm not going to lie to you. Being in Rome in August is no picnic. The city is at once empty and crowded: empty of locals yet crowded with tourists. It's unbearably hot and humid. Your favorite restaurants are closed, you can forget about going shopping anywhere but international chain stores. Public transport is even worse than usual. Did I mention it's ridiculously hot? And miserably humid? So yeah, I'm not going to sit here and tell you August is the ideal time to be in Rome, and all those people in Sardegna or on the Amalfi Coast don't know what they're missing. But if you do it right, you can make it a pretty awesome month nevertheless.

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Rome's Unsolved Mysteries

So you think you know everything there is to know about Rome? Ok, maybe that’s asking a lot. Do you believe you can find the answer to any Rome-related question with a simple Google search? Are you convinced your heaving library of books on Rome holds all the answers? Think every facet of this city’s past has been asked and answered? Well, think again. There are, in fact, many question marks that surround Rome’s fascinating history. Let’s go on a little treasure hunt of sorts to look at some of the most intriguing unanswered questions.

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HistoryTiffany ParksComment
Rome's Top 10 Piazzas for Hanging Out

The Italian piazza is the ultimate urban living room, a visually stimulating public space (preferably void of traffic) where the city’s residents can relax, and its visitors can take a well-deserved break from the demands of the day. Bright, airy, full of glorious works of architecture, and nine times out of ten with a fountain splashing in the center, Rome’s piazzas can sometimes feel like open-air museums. Most of the city’s major piazzas can also boast a café, a bench, or at the very least some convenient church steps, upon which to enjoy a few minutes or hours of sweet idleness.

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Long Time No Blog, or What I've Been up to for the Past Four Months

This winter has been one of the busiest, most exhausting, and most exciting in recent memory. It started out with a bang as I threw a bridal shower for a dear friend in early November. She's mad about the Etruscans (and in particular bronze Etruscan hand mirrors) and so it made perfect sense to throw her an Etruscan-themed bridal shower! I may have had more fun planning this shower than the bride-to-be did attending it. To put it briefly, I went a bit overboard, making Etruscan-themed decorations, treats, and even an Etruscan Bridal magazine.

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PersonalTiffany ParksComment
10 Spookiest Places in Rome

For lovers of the macabre, there’s no more deliciously creepy place in Rome than the Museum and Crypt of the Capuchins, where the skeletons of more than 4000 monks have been used as eerie decoration. Hipbones become moldings, chandeliers dangle with leg and arm bones, and vertebrae make intricate cornices. In the last room, over a pile of bones and three reassembled skeletons sporting the famous Capuchin hood, an ominous sign reads, “What you are we once were; what we are you will become.”

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Rome's Artistic Treasures .... Hidden in Banks

As if Rome didn't possess enough spectacular sights to satisfy the greedy eyes of her art-loving visitors and residents, today we'll get a chance to see even more, like the eye-popping gold-leaf and stuccoed chapel at Palazzo del Monte di Pietà, near Campo de' Fiori. Since even the wealthiest of Rome's old noble families can no longer afford the upkeep on their ancestral palaces, the ones that haven't been turned into museums, embassies, or cultural associations, are mostly in the hands of the banks.

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ArtTiffany ParksComment
Augustus's Rome, 2000 Years Later

Exactly 2000 years ago today, on 19 August A.D. 14, Emperor Augustus, born Gaius Octavius and the first emperor of Rome, breathed his last. Throughout his long life, Octavius wore many hats, and carried many titles. He was known as Princeps (the “first” citizen of Rome), Divi Filius (the son of the divine), Augustus (illustrious one), Pater Patriae (father of his country), and, of course, Caesar, a family name that would eventually become synonymous with the term “emperor.” His official roles ranged from Consul (Rome’s highest elected office) to Pontifex Maximus (high priest) to Imperator (military commander).

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My Rome Bucket List -- 21 Things to Do in Rome in a Lifetime

I've been noticing a trend. In case you're interested, I'm not a very trendy person. I usually pick up on things around 2-10 years after they become popular. Case in point, I just discovered Downton Abbey and Madonna's album Ray of Light. (Have you heard it? It's amazing.) However, every so often--and I'm talking very rarely--I actually get into something before it starts trending. I still claim to have started the Capri pants craze back in the late '90s. You're welcome.

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A Podcast is Born! The BitterSweet Life: Two Expats in Rome

I was 11 years old, sitting alone on an uncomfortable school bus seat on a cold Northwestern fall morning. After spending my entire elementary school life sheltered in a tiny private school, I was suddenly out in the big, scary world of public middle school. I was pretty sure I'd never make any friends. About halfway into the commute to school, a cute, dark-haired girl named Katy got on the bus and shyly asked if she could sit with me. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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Twelve Months a Pope

Everyone knew the pope wouldn't be elected on the first day of conclave. With only two scrutinies, that would have been unprecedented. But most people didn't think he'd be elected the second day either. Unlike when Benny was up for election and a complete shoe-in, no one had any idea who'd be elected this time around, and we all assumed it would take at least three days. All I knew was, I wanted to be there when it happened.

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Rome's Truly Hidden Gems: The Convent of Santa Francesca Romana

Only in Rome, a city so bursting with artistic and archeological treasures that a lifetime is literally not enough to see them all, could there exist so many untold masterpieces hiding behind closed doors. Take a stroll through the historic center, and chances are a dozen or more world-class works of art will be just beyond your grasp, hidden away in private collections, deconsecrated churches, or impregnable palaces.

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Michelangelo's Rome, 450 Years Later

What better way to celebrate Michelangelo's long life and immense body of work, than spending the 450th anniversary of his death taking a tour of his works. If you're lucky enough to be in his hometown of Florence today, you'll have even more opportunity to do so. But here in Rome, where Michelangelo lived and worked for much of his life, there's still a lot to see.

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ArtTiffany ParksComment
Art's Greatest Kisses

Is there anything more romantic than a kiss? In honor of the supposed most romantic day of the year, here are a few of my favorite art works featuring that most amorous of all gestures. I've been a life-long Toulouse-Lautrec fan; he was one of my absolute favorite painters when I was a young girl. But I have never had the pleasure of seeing this work live, as it is in a private collection. I suppose I'll just have to wait and hope it comes to an exhibition near me.

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ArtTiffany ParksComment
Hand-made Panettone and other Italian Christmas Treats

It's almost Christmas and here in Italy that means one thing: time to stock up on panettone, pan d'oro, torrone, and all the other ubiquitous holiday sweets. And it isn't hard: everywhere you turn, from supermarkets to bakeries to pastry shops, stacks and stacks of these traditional Christmas desserts are just waiting to be snapped up by hungry, sweet-toothed shoppers. Some are becoming so famous that you can find them not just in Italy but around the world.

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Tiffany ParksComment