Every year, I demand “a taste of the Med” – or two. Even though my husband never removes his shoes (or socks) on a beach, for me, at least one week a year must be spent eating grilled sardines sitting on a sky-blue Van Gogh chair in a seaside taverna, seat still wet from a long swim round the bay.
I’d soon have the opportunity to do just that on the Amalfi Coast, but first we started in Rome. Thanks to (wrong formulation, I know) global warming, the summer season has of late extended to mid-October, which is why I found myself wilting in 32 degree heat by the Trevi Fountain in the Italian capital at this time, facing two options.
I could either plunge through the selfie-taking crowds (few of whom I imagine have ever seen the epic scene between Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in her magnificent black strapless dress in La Dolce Vita) and wade, like the cantilevered well-upholstered Swede, into the shallow, splashy pools in order to cool off – or I could trudge back to the cool of my hotel.
I did the latter, especially as the hotel was the splendid, grand-yet-groovy Palazzo Naiadi on the Piazza Della Repubblica a short hop away, a building that curves like a colonnaded reverse colossus around the swirling Piazza della Repubblica. And, furthermore, waiting in our junior suite, in a master patissier’s box, a disc of white chocolate atop foamy layers of spiced cream and sour cherry on a base of crunchy pastry was waiting (a real taste of la dolce vita).
This veritable palace in the Eternal City is a neoclassical former college of hospitality layered upon a foundation of Diocletian baths (you can even see the caldarium and frigidarium through glass floors in the lower ground floor).
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It’s in the heart of Rome – the Termini station and the Palazzo Espozione are both a few minutes’ stroll away. I had a sensational spa treatment called, inevitably, the Diocletian Bath Treatment, which saw me being rubbed and prepped with salts and herbs like a Christmas goose and then slathered with smooth, warm mud, steaming for 10 minutes, then showering before the pummelling massage. It was the best way to leach from every pore the cocktails I’d sunk the night before at SEEN, the hotel’s rooftop bar (with…