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The Eternal City - Modern Rome
There's more to Rome than historical ruins and artistic treasures. We go off the-beaten-path to uncover modern Rome.

Caput mundi, or the head of the world, is the Latin term many inhabitants of Rome use to indicate the importance of their city in world history. But the head could use a little rejuvenation. Although the countless historical monuments and artistic jewels still hold a great attraction for the millions of tourists that visit the Eternal City every year, the city seemed to have missed the connection with a new generation of travellers that are also looking for a 21st century experience, which was lacking in the Italian capital until recently.

On matters of music, modern art or trendy nightclubs, Rome could not compete anymore with other European cities such as London, Berlin or Barcelona. But today that seems to be changing. Design-hotels, experimental restaurants and the large number of new centres for modern art and architecture are rapidly conquering their position in the dolce vita of young Romans and visitors.

If you are planning to visit Rome, do not only spend your time between the wonderful monuments of antiquity and baroque, but save some time to enjoy the fresh wind blowing through the city. If you want to discover modern Rome, here are some suggestions:

The new Parco della Musica has put the city back on the list for classical music. This architectural wonder north of the centre, not very far from the Vatican City, was designed by Italy's most famous architect Renzo Piano who describes the complex as a cultural factory. It houses a number of halls for classical music, dance, cinema and festivals and is a true wonder for eye and ear.

Just next to the Tiber River, on the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, is the new museum that houses the Ara Pacis, the ancient peace altar of Emperor Augustus. The entirely white-and-glass building is a design of the American architect Richard Maier and it is the first modern building in the historic centre of Rome for decades. The structure has been highly controversial, but is a great example of how beautiful the combination of an antique monument and transitory modern architecture can be.

Finally, just next door from Augustus's peace altar is one of the trendiest restaurants of the capital, Gusto. The restaurant on the first floor serves experimental Italian cuisine, while the pizzeria downstairs serves fabulous pizzas. The ground floor also houses a wine bar, a gastronomic bookshop and a formaggeria, where you can taste great cheeses from around the country. Do not let the popularity scare you. The place is definitely worth waiting for, especially since the queue is populated by the artistic upper-class of the city.

And after a dinner at Gusto you will know it too: the initiatives for the rejuvenation of the Eternal City do not leave room for any doubt - the Italian capital will remain the head of the world, also for the century to come.
About the Author
Author of this article is Christian Derlagen. He regularly writes about the Eternal City. He has produced free audio guides that can be downloaded and listened to while strolling through the streets and piazzas of Rome. Visit his website: Best of Rome.
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