At the same time every day like clockwork a gentile breeze rolls through the valleys of Rome's seven hills. The sun begins its decent and the Romans mount their scooters, homeward-bound after a long day at the office.
But first - an aperitivo.
The light is golden at this hour and the humming of rush-hour traffic mingles with the Romani's soft chatter as I stroll down Via Vittorio Veneto passing bar after bar. The patrons' cigarette smoke elegantly climbs through the air, drawing my eyes upward to one of Rome's many cupolas.
The sky is blue. Life is good. I join ranks and make my way to BAGLIONI HOTEL REGINA for an aperitivo.
On nights like this, I typically opt for an Aperol Spritz: simple, delicate, refreshing and bubbly. It never fails to provide the extra touch of energy that I need to carry me into the rest of the evening.
I relax, take in the surroundings and appreciate the history of the walls around me. The Hotel Regina is across the street from the American Embassy in Rome, aka Palazzo Margherita. As a matter of fact, while her homonymous Roman residence was under construction at the end of the 1800s, Queen Margherita of Savoy resided at Hotel Regina and later issued a warrant permitting the hotel to use her royal seal, and go by the name "Regina," or "queen" in Italian. . . Oh, by the way, this is the same Queen Margherita that the Margherita Pizza was named after. . . Now you know. ;)
As you might expect, aperitivo in such a sophisticated setting is no less magnificent than its history. Drinks are served with a selection of gourmet treats from the chef: salmon tartare, shrimp and vegetable tempura, miniature hamburgers, and savory cannoli (my personal favorites).
They call Rome the eternal city, and sometimes you feel like its traditions are just as eternal as its architecture. They are part of a routine that has been common to an entire city for longer than you or I have been alive. Whether or not you choose to partake, the tradition lives on; the chatter goes on, the afternoon breeze persists, and the cigarette smoke continues to climb.
When you're ready, there will be a spot waiting for you on Via Vittorio Veneto at the Baglioni Hotel Regina, just across the street from the American Embassy. In the meantime, Rome will wait... as she has for an eternity.
Grazie mille, Hotel Regina, per la vostra generosissima ospitalità... A presto!