Joan Juliet Buck's Rome

The Celebrated Writer Shares Her Top Places to Revel in the Eternal City

There are the well traveled, and then there is Joan Juliet Buck. Born in Los Angeles, she spent her childhood between Paris, London and Ireland before returning to complete her education in the US. With stints at Glamour, British Vogue and US Vogue (a publication to which she still contributes) under her belt, Buck became a European correspondent for WWD before joining the London Observer. In 1994 she proved a formidable fashion authority when she became editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, turning it into the experimental fashion bible it remains today and doubling circulation in the process before leaving in 2001. As a contributing writer at Vanity Fair and The New Yorker and a budding actor—she starred as the icy director of Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Nora Ephron’s 2009 Julie and Julia—Buck’s reputation as a globetrotting Renaissance woman is still peaking. Today, the adventure-seeker tours us around her treasured haunts in the Italian capital.

Albergo del Senato, Piazza della Rotonda, 73
I’ve had to stay in many hotels as a journalist and this is my favorite. They have a great concierge too. The privilege with the Albergo del Senato is being right next to the Pantheon building. For me, to be able to walk out of your front door, at night or at dawn, and walk into the Pantheon is just complete heaven. It feels like trespassing. 

Ristorante Da Fortunato, via del Pantheon, 55
Da Fortunato is divine. The food is wonderful: the zucchini flowers, roasted Italian meats, light delicious pasta. What I also like about Da Fortunato is the traditional Italian combination of vegetables, pig trotters and cheese within a classic Italian interior. 

Palatine Hill, via di San Gregorio, 30
When I used to live in Rome I went here almost every afternoon. I have a real love of antiquity and the ancients, and Palatine Hill is where the imperial palaces were, and there are one or two beautiful lone parasol pines that grow up out of tufts and fan out; they’re very mysterious. So instead of going to Hyde Park with dogs, daffodils and ducks you get the ghosts of emperors.

Capitolini Museum, Piazza del Campidoglio, 1
The other thing that’s become kick-ass in Rome is the Capitolini. It used to be a really boring museum with good statues, but now it has an amazing bar and cafe on top, and they’ve excavated underneath it: go down inside the museum excavation and along a corridor and you find yourself on a terrace overlooking the entire Forum—a view that no one had in Roman times. It’s completely breathtaking, like you’re flying over the ruins.

Centrale Montemartini, via Ostiense, 106
This is a killer museum. When they were redoing the Capitolini 10 to 12 years ago they had nowhere to show off the treasures, and someone had the bright idea of exhibiting the stuff in a disused power station. They kept all the valves and gauges and turbines, and all that is there alongside marble statues and huge sculptures. Now they’ve made it permanent.

All of Buck's favorite Roman spots can be found on Condé Nast Traveler’s new app for the iPad, Best of Italy.

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