TRAVEL

The New Old Rome

My nonna has been a Manhattanite since 1950, and though she can't get enough of New York, she loves her hometown of Rome far more.

Rome is simply better than anywhere else in the world. It's prettier, cleaner, and friendlier than New York. But, Nonna, class of 1923, reminds me, Mussolini would roll over if he saw what the déluge has led to-- walls covered with graffiti, lying taxi drivers, double, no, triple parking and paved-over piazzas.

Somewhere past Piazza del Popolo and before Stadio Olimpico I have found her Rome, the orderly Art Deco dream she smiles about while on the other side of the Atlantic. Happenstance, I pushed the pram into Villa Riccio, a beautifully maintained casa popolare that is a city-within-a-city and fantasyville of pedicured greenery, clear cut streets, well-parked bicycles and absolutely no scooters in the ingresso.

Postcard Fascism perfection with the very same irony that has been recently underlying Rome's casa popolare-- high rents and even high purchase prices. Luckily, strolling through is still free.Villa Riccio