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Insider: Jennifer Howard and Massimiliano Leonardi di Casalino« BACK « TO BEGINNING

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Insider's view · Europe · italy · Rome

Insider: Jennifer Howard and Massimiliano Leonardi di Casalino

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Insider: Jennifer Howard  and Massimiliano Leonardi di Casalino

Keys to Rome

The Casa Howard is a small, charming collection of lodgings in Rome and Florence. As its motto states, "this isn't a hotel, but rather an elegant residence for special guests". The owners are Italian businessman Massimiliano Leonardi di Casalino and his wife, fashion designer Jennifer Howard. Their goal was to create lodgings with personality, a home away from home, and at a reasonable price; a place that becomes a journey within a journey and at the same time a key to the city. In the interior, antique furniture is mixed with contemporary design objects and native art that the couple has found during various travels. Each room is different, creating the impression that you are a guest at a good friend's house.

The Casa Howard's home page also contains a travel guide created by Massimiliano and Jennifer: real insider recommendations for those who want to experience Roman - not tourist - Rome. Massimiliano regularly writes a blog there, sharing discoveries from his travels. So, here are some of his "Keys to Rome".

What do you love most about Rome?
The feeling of contrast between the old monarchical, imperial, wartime and expansionist periods, compared to the mess that we have today. The heart-rending beauty of the various different landscapes and views.

What do you hate about Rome?
The mayor of Rome - the worst we have ever had. The rudeness and the bad manners of the Romans who drive (taxi drivers are the worst). The potholes in the roads.

Which is your favourite Roman neighbourhood and why?
Santa Maria di Galeria, a medieval village that was abandoned in haste by its inhabitants hundreds of years ago. It lies on the road to Lake Bracciano, one of the most important natural reservoirs of antiquity.

Please describe a perfect day in the city.
On the 15th of August the light is not always ideal (in May or September and above all, in October, the light is absolutely exceptional), but to feel that you are the master of the city is a great experience.

What have you not yet done in Rome that you would like to do?
To go by horse-drawn carriage for a couple of hours on a winter Sunday as far as the the Appia Antica (the ancient Appian Way), then walk for at least three kilometres and return by car.

Which are your favourite shops and why?
I prefer shopping in Florence. It has many more different, unconventional and elegant shops.

What should a visitor to Rome be sure to do?
Go for a walk on the Aventine. Cross the Villa Borghese.

Which are your favourite restaurants and cafés? Why?
Look at our online Casa Howard guide. Two tips only here: Roman food at fair prices behind the Colosseum/Via dè Serpenti area at the trattoria La Vecchia Roma (Via Leonina, 10 - not to be confused with the restaurant La Vecchia Roma in the piazza Campitelli); Roman food plus some more sophisticated recipes at fair prices behind the Spanish Steps at the restaurant AL 34 (via Mario dè Fiori, 34).

Which are your favourite architecture landmarks in Rome?
Above ground, the thermal baths of Diocletian; and underground, the Domus Aurea (Nero's Golden House). In the water, the Tivoli hot baths ('Acque Albule').

Do you have a favourite view of the city?
From Trajan's Market.

Can you tell us a secret about Rome?
Visit the bachelor flat of the Fascist party leaders inside the ancient Roman walls.

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