Via dei Fori Imperiali/Porto Fluviale


Via dei Fori Imperiali

Last week the Morgster and I set off to see a Carnevale parade on Via dei Fori Imperiali. There were supposed to be acrobats and jugglers and all sorts. We were temporarily distracted by the offer of a fine lunch but more on that later. Via die Fori Imperiali was built by Mussolini (he originally called it Via dei Imperi– the Road of Empires — because of course he did). Completed in 1932, the road runs straight from the Colosseum to Piazza Venezia where Il Duce had his office. It was supposed to celebrate the glories of the Roman Empire, which Mussolini intended to rebuild across the Mediterranean. He liked to go out on his balcony and, when not fulminating at the crowds, he would gaze at the Colosseum and pretend he was Caesar.

The terrible irony was that to build his monument to Ancient Rome, Mussolini destroyed many important ancient, medieval and renaissance buildings and uprooted thousands of people in one of the most densely populated (and poorest) sections of Rome. The Forum area was sliced in two and while some of the statues and art objects associated with the torn-up structures were excavated and warehoused, nobody bothered to record any information about them, like where they’d been found and in what context. Idiots. I studied archeology in Rome many years ago and my teachers always used to freak out whenever the subject of the Via dei Fori Imperiali came up. Archeologists are not big fans of Il Duce.

Until recently, the Via dei Fori Imperiali was very heavily trafficked and honking speeding smoke-spewing cars threatened the ruins with their exhaust fumes and vibrations. Rome’s new mayor Ignazio Marino closed the road to private traffic in August in order to create a pedestrian area. But it’s still open to buses and taxis, which will mow you down as soon as look at you, not to mention all the traffic nightmares it’s created as private vehicles try to figure out alternatives to the once straightforward route.

So, lunch. Porto Fluviale is a relatively new addition to the newly hip neighborhood of Ostiense It’s a 900 square metre former warehouse, which was once part of Rome’s Magazzini Generali, the city’s principal wholesale market. The restaurant is just a short walk from the Stazione Ostiense, a massive fascist-looking train station that was built to welcome Hitler’s visit to Rome in 1938 and which Mussolini said was inspired by the Roman Empire because, again, of course he did. Like the little suck-up he was he also named the big road adjacent to the station Via A. Hitler (renamed Viale dell Cave Ardeatina after the war). The station (which actually was not completed until 1940) features huge travertine columns, crazy gigantic pine cone-shaped hanging lamps and mosaics depicting the history of Rome. It’s really something to see. Stazione Ostiense

Stazione Ostiense
Hitler and Mussolini take a ride.

Hitler and Mussolini take a ride.

Porto Fluviale features a bar, a pizzeria, a tapas bar, lounge and tearoom. On weekends there is a brunch, which appears to be exactly the same as the daily lunch buffet except that it ends a half hour later. I had a burger, which was very good although they lose points for serving it with roast potatoes rather than fries (the potatoes were delicious but it just ain’t right). The two young people visiting the Upstairs Vegetarian for the weekend had pizza. Eating pizza at lunchtime is practically unheard of in Italy because it takes a super long time for a wood-burning pizza to reach the perfect pizza cooking temperature (nearly 500 C) and it’s not really thought to be worth it for the relatively modest lunchtime crowd. These pizzas looked very nice: a thin-crusted pizza alla diavola with spicy sausage and a pizza alla capricciosa featuring a little bit of everything (including a hard boiled egg). The U.V. ate something boring and healthy. Dessert for me was a lovely and light lemon pudding. The kids had apple strudel with cinnamon ice cream. All in all, a very nice meal. And there’s loads more to explore, what with all the tapas and tea and lounging available at Porto Fluviale.

The restaurant is open all day from 10:30 am to 2 am (3 on the weekends).

Sometime you just gotta have a burger!

Sometimes you just gotta have a burger!

Pizza alla diavola

Pizza alla diavola

Pizza all capricciosa

Pizza all capricciosa

A super boring salad for the U.V. Those speckley things are sesame seeds clinging to chucks of beet for dear life.

A super boring salad for the U.V. Those speckley things are sesame seeds clinging to chunks of beet for dear life.

Lemon deliciousness

Lemon deliciousness

Apple strudel mit cinnamon ice cream

Apple strudel mit cinnamon ice cream

The Morgster keeps an eye on things.

Morgan insisted on sitting at the table so he could keep an eye on things.

We did eventually get to the parade on Via die Fori Imperiali but it was raining pretty hard at that point and the jugglers and acrobats were nowhere to be found. There were just a couple of soggy-looking kids whose costumes peeped out from beneath their down coats. Sad.

By the way, a propos of absolutely nothing, I have become obsessed with an app that lets you turn your photos into beautiful watercolor paintings. Of course I am usually to be found creating paintings of dogs but I’ll spare you that (for now). Instead, here is a very nice view of Rome. That’s Saint Peter’s in the background. Cool, eh?

The app is called Waterlogue and it works on your phone or iPad.

The app is called Waterlogue and it works on your phone or iPad.

Porto Fluviale, Via del Porto Fluviale, 22, Roma, Italy
+39 06 574 3199



8 responses to “Via dei Fori Imperiali/Porto Fluviale

  1. Pizza all capriccios sounds amazing! I went to Rome a couple of months ago for the first time and loved it! Now I want to go back! – Greg from “Meals and Reels”

  2. LOL. Poor, poor UV. She does get the rough end of your words sometimes 🙂 Saying that, she does eat tofu, so I kinda understand. Please send her my love and I send my love to you too.

  3. p.s. that “painting” does indeed look great!

  4. Great stuff, Ruth. I feel I am really with you and Morgster, exploring Rome and, more to the point, eating with you too. (I should make a note never to read your blog when I’m feeling hungry. Like one should never go shopping for food…)

    Btw I think the U.V.’s salad looks just the thing for lunch on a light day in the springtime. But your lemony pud looks good too.

    Best wishes to all of you,


  5. Oh that U.V., always ordering those boring salads. At least you didn’t have to meet her for lunch at Insalata Ricca.

  6. frankieandgiuseppe

    Sounds like a lovely Roman day. Porto Fluviale seems quite the multi-tasking hangout. I always wondered what on earth could be taking up all that space when I walked past.

  7. That’s very interesting about the history of via Dei Fori Imperiali. I’d not read about that before. It reminds me of the huge changes made to Paris by Haussmann. Not too sure how much history was destroyed at that time here. It’s quite sad. The watercolor app image is beautiful and I actually like the look of that salad. I must try making sesame covered beets! Cheers! Linda in Paris

  8. Pingback: La Dogana Food | My Life: Part Two

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