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Visiting tea & coffee rooms in the Eternal City: Georgina Gordon-Ham visits the various tea and coffee rooms in Rome and reports on the historical aspects of these venues.

Several of the major attractions in Rome are to be found in the Centro Storico (Historical Center) and are within walking distance of each other. In fact, the most renowned and established coffee rooms and tea rooms to sit and relax in are also in the same neighborhood vicinities.

A good lead to help choose where to go for a good cup of coffee or tea is to find out where the locals go; as the saying goes, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do."

The most popular areas in the Centro Storico are in and around Piazza di Spagna, Piazza del Popolo near the Pantheon, and in Piazaa Navona. Having said that, the next step is to know which tea or coffee room to visit, since there are so many. "C'e' l'imbaraaeo della scelta," (one is spoilt for choice),, as the Italians say.

One of the oldest coffee rooms, which is now also a tea room, is Caffe Greco at 86 Via Condotti, the city's most elegant and fashionable street. Although the sign outside says 1760, it actually dates back to around 1742, when it was mentioned in Casanova's Memoires. Later, in 1779, Wolfgang von Goethe was known to have dined there with friends.

Caffee Greco was in its hey dayreached its climax in the 19th century when it received famous visitors passing through Rome on the Grand Tour, such as writers, painters, sculptors, and musicians. These noted visitors included Henry Stendhal, Lord Byron, Hans Christian Andersen, Giacomo Leopardi, Gabriele d'Annuzio, Charles Baudelaire, Berthel Thorwaldesen, Richard Wagner, Arruro Toscanini and Buffalo Bill--just to name a few--all of whom visited Caffe Greco in 1903.

Its 19th and early 20th century decor, enhanced by pictures, sculptures, drawings, photos and other artistic objects, make Caffe Greco's ambience feel like a unique journey into the past.

Only a few meters away, stand the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna whereprovide a magnificent backdrop for Babington's Tea-room, which stands opposite andt the Keats and Shelley Memorial House. Both buildings lie opposite each other on either side of the foot of the Steps.

This part of Rome was not only for visitors; it was also populated by famous British and American residents: Elizabeth Duchess of Devonshire lived there from 1810 till her death in 1824; the novelist George Eliot lived in Via del Babuino; William Thackeray stayed for a short time in Via Condotti;, American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne stayed in Via di Porta Pinciana; Percy Bysshe Shelley was at Via del Corso and then 65 Via Sistina; Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning stayed at 41 Via Bocca di Leone, along with American novelist Henry James who was at the Hotel d'Inghilterra down the same street; Samuel Morse (the inventor of the Morse code) stayed in Via de Prefetti; the painter J.M.W. Turner lived in Piazza Mignanelli, and Sir Walter Scott stayed in Via della Mercede.

Hence it is no surprise that that this area was also known as the "English Ghetto."

Caffe Sant'Eustachio, founded in 1938, is at 82 Piazza Sant'Eustachio. It is small, yet its excellent coffee draws crowds. This is followed by Tazza d'Oro in Via degli Orfani, located near the Pantheon, which is well-known for its exceptional coffee.

Rosati, another favorite known to be an excellent coffee and tea room at 5 Piazza del Popolo, watchesis witness to people passing bygo by in this majestic square. Canova, patronized by the late film legend Federico Fellini, is also in Piazza del Popolo. It is more than just a coffee and tea room; light meals are also served there. Likewise, Tre Scalini in Piazza Navona, a favorite coffee and tea room with indoor and outdoor seating, leaves visitors amazed by the number of works of art.

Tea, coffee, art and culture have been and continue to be a philosophy of life and a healthy style of life style.
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Title Annotation:When In Rome ... Do As The Romans
Author:Godon-Ham, Georgina
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Oct 20, 2003
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