A contemporary wind blowing through the beautiful, classical city of Rome… a perfect reason for me to visit this Italian capital more extensively! And so, twenty-something years after my secondary school trip to Rome, I returned here…. A sentimental journey with a surprisingly refreshing twist.
Pino Cau, owner of Hotel Rex and Michelin star restaurant Pipero al Rex, was eager to prove that Rome is so much more than ‘mere’ classics and stuck out his neck with two daring projects: a contemporary luxury aparthotel, a perfect starting point for the demanding traveller to discover Rome from: CasaCau; and a cosmopolitan restaurant that does away with traditional Roman conventions, situated on a raw industrial location: La Staziona di Posta.
I am to spend the night in one of the seven apartments in CasaCau, where Kevin welcomes me warmly and shows me around the spacious apartment, while also handing me an Ipad and the keys…For the next day or two, I am a Roman citizen with a fully equipped open kitchen at my disposal and a fridge and larder stocked with various lovely basics (partially complimentary, partially at a charge). The ensuite bedroom features a specially designed double bed and additional fold-out bed, for an extra (smaller) guest. The bathroom is equipped with a large rain shower annex Turkish bath and separate toilet. And on top of that, it also has a small balcony with a wonderful view of the busy street life below. If you close the windows, you can hardly hear a sound from the city and climate control creates a pleasant atmosphere. Except for two, the other apartments are even larger and perfect for (small) families. All are tastefully decorated in lovely vintage design and are very luxurious. So much so that you won’t want to leave here…..but hey, I’m in the middle of Rome here and of course I want to see the sights! One of Rome’s highlights is actually around the corner: the Trevi Fountain…. Unfortunately, when I’m here, it is surrounded by scaffolding (which doesn’t deter the hordes of visitors in the least, by the way;-)) Once again, I am enchanted by the Pantheon and the brilliant way in which the light falls on Caravaggio’s paintings in the San Luigi dei Francesi church. But Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps are also close by, as is Via Corso, one of Rome’s most famous shopping streets.
That evening, a taxi takes me to another part of town, Testaccio, a raw industrial area that houses the old slaughterhouse and, as in so many metropolitan cities, is presently being refurbished and turned into a creative hotspot. This is where Pino’s latest showpiece, restaurant Stazione di Posta, is located. Here, modern art by young artists integrates effortlessly with the cobblestones on the old floor and the industrial elements. Chef Marco Martini reigns in the kitchen and turns classic Italian recipes into daring modern natural combinations that are both lovely to eat and to look at. All of this can be accompanied by a good glass of wine or a surprising cocktail, which makes for an exciting food/drink combination. This restaurant was awarded a Michelin Star in 2014….quite an accomplishment in a city like Rome, with so many wonderful restaurants!
After a wonderful evening and a perfect night of sleep, I wake up to find a bag hanging on the door to my apartment: fresh buns and croissants that, together with some ingredients from my fridge and a perfectly made espresso, I turn into a relaxed breakfast that I enjoy on my little balcony.
CasaCau is a special and different Local Hideaway, admittedly in the higher segment but, if your budget allows it, a lovely and contemporary home away from home in the busy city of Rome. And I have nothing but great admiration for its owner, Pino, who, against the classical and traditional tides and currents, is bold enough to stick his neck out in this wonderful Metropolis!