Campo dei Fiori

An Expat Archaeologist Peels Back The Layers Of His Favorite Roman Neighborhood

Darius Arya

Archaeologist

“Rome is ongoing narrative, an interactive template that must be experienced inside and out, underground and above.” It’s one of the many things that lured American archaeologist Darius Arya abroad to Rome for the long haul. For Arya, the Eternal City is more than ancient history, it’s living history and an ongoing and overlapping story that needs to be told.

In 2015, the practicing archaeologist, documentary host, and adventurer grabbed his iPhone and started #AncientRomeLive—a series of livestream broadcasts recorded everywhere from the city of Rome to outposts around the Mediterranean, making ancient history social again.

Darius Arya, Rome-based archaeologist and cultural heritage innovator.

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Explore Rome With Archaeologist, Darius Arya

Roma è un paese. Rome is its own country, as the old addage goes—a microcosm within ancient walls whose dynamic neighborhoods and strong personality distinctly and almost instinctively set it apart from the rest of Italy.

For archaeologist Darius Arya, there is daily inspiration to be found here, particularly hidden in the streets surrounding Campo dei Fiori, the unofficial gathering place of the centro storico. It’s one of the busiest squares in the city, and Arya’s own backyard. Here, he shares his secrets to the side streets of Campo, where history meets modern age in perfect synchronicity.

Where Everyone Knows Your Name

Recharging At The Local Beer Hall

At the end of a long day of digging, Arya likes to kick back and catch up with friends at Open Baladin (6 Via degli Speech; +39-06-683-8989), a contemporary gastropub whose gourmet hamburgers, sandwiches, and pecorino potato chips, are equally appealing as its pours. Rome's leading baker and master pizza maker Gabriele Bonci is the tour de force behind the culinary creations, but the real draw is behind the counter with Baladin's selection of lagers, stouts, and ales. The contemporary beer hall meets brew archive atmosphere features 40 taps and 100 different labels of craft beer from Baladin's own label as well a rotating menu of hard-to-find, niche international suds.

Cornering The Market

The Neighborhood Trifecta

For four generations, the Roscioli family has reigned as the neighborhood’s bakers, only to expand its empire around the corner in recent years, and Arya has become very much a regular at all of the family businesses. He often starts his mornings with traditional Roman pastries from Roscioli Caffè (16 Piazza Benedetto Cairoli; +39-06-8916-5330) and after school, grabs his daughters a fresh slice of pizza bianca from Antico Forno Roscioli (34 Via dei Chiavari; +39-06-686-4045) around the corner. Later in the evening, Arya can be found selecting prosciutto from the deli or eating what Rome considers the best carbonara in the city at Roscioli Salumeria & Restaurant (21 Via dei Giubbonari; +39-06-687-5287). Buon appetito!

Back To The Past

Museums Filled With Local Relics

Rome is a city of museums, all of which serve as a backdrop to Arya’s live broadcasts. “It’s hard to pick a favorite, but in my neighborhood, I have two incredible antiquities museums,” he says. The Palazzo Altemps (46 Piazza di Sant’Apollinare; +39-06-3996-7700), housing the 17th century Boncompagni Ludovisi collection of more than 100 statues and sculptures, is one. The other, the Crypta Balbi (31 Via delle Botteghe Oscure; +39-06-3996-7700) complex, is a living excavation site on the remains of the 1st century BC Theatre of Balbus. It’s also one of the city’s first museums to lay out what the historical center of Rome looked like from the Middle Ages to today.

Cycling The City

Exploring On Two Wheels

Getting out of Rome is just as fun as getting to know the city, and every now and then, Arya likes to clear his head with a bike ride along the Tiber River. From Ponte Sant'Angelo, he cycles along the water underneath historic bridges like Ponte Vittorio, Ponte Sisto, and Ponte Cestio toward Testaccio, on the edge of the old city. For a more adventurous journey, he’ll ride street-side to Museo delle Mura (18 Via di Porta San Sebastiano; +39-06-0608), housed within original, 3rd century AD ramparts, and then trail the miles-long Via Appia Antica (42 Via Appia Antica; +39-06-512-6314), visiting ancient tombs and mausoleums dotted along the adjacent Parco della Caffarella (Via della Caffarella; +39-06-0608). If you’re in need of a rental to recreate the journey, Roma Bike Rent (33 Via di San Paolo, Regola; +39-380-643-2278) rents bikes by the hour or day. For an in-park starting point, Appia Antica Caffè (75 Via Appia Antica; +39-06-8987-9575), is both bike rental depot and a charming lunch spot to boot.

Take A Stroll

Antiquity At A Modern Pace

Rome is a city meant to be explored on foot, with history coming alive on every street. One of Arya’s favorite strolls begins at 145 Via dei Banchi Vecchi, in front of the first century cippus, an ancient boundary marker and inscription. Just a few doors down, Faraoni (137 Via dei Banchi Vecchi; +39-06-683-2832) is a must stop for a rare glimpse of a contemporary application of the ancient technique of micro-mosaic making. Across the street Enoteca Il Goccetto (14 Via dei Banchi Vecchi; +39-06-686-4268), a rustic wine bar, is the neighborhood hotspot for wine and a quick aperitif. Further up the road at No. 24, take a moment to snap a photo of the lavishly decorated façade of the Renaissance-era Farmacia Celestini. Continue over to Via del Banco di Santo Spirito, a street lined with one-of-kind boutiques including Italian menswear and leather goods at Santo Spirito 46 (46 Via del Banco di Santo Spirito; +39-05-521-0659), and Giovanni Battista Piranesi prints at antiques dealer Antiquaria Sant’Angelo (61 Via del Banco di Santo Spirito; +39-06-686-5944).

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