Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When Is a Bridge Not a Bridge?

When a Roman talks feverishly about a bridge, “Ponte”  there’s little chance he’s referring to anything spanning the Tiber.  He could be enthusing about status-symbol leather goods, trademark The Bridge but the likelihood is, the bridge in question relates to a one-day National holiday, which, if it were to fall on a Tuesday for example, could merge with the nearest weekend to form a four-day holiday: Ponte, a figurative construction with the power to magically spirit away working days in between. Lately, some work-shy Romans have been bemoaning the loss of two precious bridges, neither of which has collapsed, or been sold brick by brick to the Americans. Both have failed to materialize due to a calendric catastrophe, namely the last two National Holidays have fallen on a weekend. Che pizza! What a pain! But just as it seemed all was lost, Bingo! Today sees a National Holiday fall on a Wednesday which can only mean one thing: Superponte! June 2nd marks the anniversary of Italy becoming a Republic and what better way to celebrate than to bridge today with two equidistant weekends and take the whole week off.  If your boss happens to be a royalist or still refer to Piazza della Repubblica as Piazza Esedra, its pre-Republic name, you may have had to consider a one-way bridge, the secret being to check with Guido Guidi’s weather forecast first before deciding in which direction.

Taking an extended holiday to mark the day Italy sent its Royal Family packing is a curious concept to a Briton whose Royal Family continues to be one of her country’s star attractions.  Maybe the Queen would have to consider upping her game in the face of stiff competition like a Pope or the works of Michelangelo if she faced getting the heave-ho too.  This said, it seems that the Italian Royal Family may have secured a few more votes way back when if only reality TV or even TV had been invented.  Since being allowed back home after decades in exile, the man who would now be king, Emanuele Filiberto is a big hit with today’s public. This year, the viewing public voted him into second place at Sanremo, Italy’s equivalent of the Eurovision Song Contest.  They also sent him rocketing to victory in Italy’s version of Strictly Come Dancing.  Let’s just hope if it ever came to it, Prince Harry could pull something out of the bag on the X Factor, few would ever expect her Royal Highness to break into song.

As a new Roman I got into the spirit of the Ponte this week and took a few hours off on Monday.  After estimating a four-day wait to get into the Caravaggio exhibition at the Scuderie Museum, I gave up and went to try out brunch at Rome’s reportedly best vegetarian restaurant “Margutta Ristorarte” just across the road from Episcopo Lipinsky (fantastic bed and breakfast reviewed on this site). TripAdvisor says it’s expensive but worth it for evening meals but I’m recommending this restaurant for its great value, delicious brunch. Brunch in Rome basically means serve yourself from a large buffet for a set price. It seems to have precious little to do with breakfast and the Roman jaw usually drops when I explain the construction of the word.  The food is excellent and not having to police it for tail or tongue is a bonus if like myself, you are a veggie.  Hot dishes include melanzane alla parmigiana and vegetarian lasagne. The restaurant is bright and sunny and located below Federico Fellini’s old flat near Piazza del Popolo in a hidden, leafy street in the centre of Rome. Get there around 12.30 if you want to be one of the first to dive in and if you are visiting during this Superponte, relax, the next Ponte in Rome falls on a Tuesday. Hurray!
Margutta Ristorarte. Vegetarian. Metro: Flaminio or Spagna. Good disabled access. Open every day

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TO POSTS VIA FEED. Ice cream's on me in Rome!


  1. My first experience of Rome was stressful and far too short - only two days. It was just full-on sightseeing, telling persist sellers of tickets, tours and Chinese trinkets where to stuff their wares, and involved a run in with a Roman waiter who wouldn't let us leave the restaurant until we had tipped him! But reading your blog is slowly reeling me in to the point where I might well try it again!

  2. So many people say this about Rome. That's really why I have this site, hopefully to direct new visitors to something beautiful so they fall in love and don't have a bad experience as so many do, particular with arrogant waiters. Please come back, it's worth it. xx

  3. This explanation of "Ponte" is soo funny! I tried to explain the concept to my English friends many times just using the expression "a kind of bank holiday usually related to religious of national celebration"...they were looking at me I always ended up saying Italians like holidays!

  4. Where've you gone?! I miss you! ;-)

  5. Hi Status! I'll be back next week, lots to write about, lots of photos. Thanks so much for asking. xxx