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Local Intelligence | Rome

The Eternal City’s Leading Gallerista Reveals His Favourite Haunts and Hideouts Words by Lee Marshall

"Since opening more than a decade ago, Galleria Lorcan O’Neill has become a center of contemporary art in Rome"

Lorcan O’Neill has been one of Rome’s preeminent contemporary art dealers, since he relocated from London (where he worked for Anthony d’Offay) to the Eternal City in 2003 and set up shop on a tiny lane in Trastevere. Today presides over a 5,400-square-foot space in the 17th-century Palazzo SantaCroce, representing the likes of Anselm Kieffer, Richard Long, and Tracey Emin, as well as Italians Francesco Clemente, Pietro Ruffo and Luigi Ontani. Here, he opens up his address book for us.

Best coffee
Sant’Eustacchio, near the Pantheon. The secret-recipe espresso comes with a coffee froth on top that it’s de rigueur to ‘eat’ with a spoon. And their chocolate-covered coffee beans might just be the best souvenirs in Rome.

The perfect centro storico trattoria
For lunch, I like to bring artists and clients to Il Pompiere (‘The Fireman’), where you eat great Jewish-style artichokes, Roman pastas, and fish in a series of large, high-ceilinged frescoed rooms. It’s in the old Jewish quarter, Il Ghetto, and has been in the same family for four generations.  

Gelato heaven
Alberto Pica, an eccentric family-run cafè and gelateria near Largo Argentina, make the best zabaglione in town. They also do a wonderfully crunchy rice and cinnamon flavor; and sublime cremolato—crushed fruit with sugar and ice.

Secret shop
Jewelry designer Lucia Odescalchi is the scion of one of Rome’s oldest noble families. Her showroom occupies an exquisitely frescoed salon inside Palazzo Odescalchi. With an almost engineered industrial look, the pieces—which include cuff-links and bracelets for men—have a light, contemporary feel.

How to be different
Not many visitors to the city make it to Rome’s MoMA—the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, on the edge of the Borghese Gardens—but it’s well worth the detour. New gallery director Cristiana Collu has done a wonderful job, completely rethinking and refreshing the collection. It also has a great al fresco café-restaurant.

The law of the market
Open only on Sunday mornings from 6.30am to 2pm, the sprawling Porta Portese street market in Trastevere is a Rome essential. It has everything from old astrakhan coats to 1950s furniture, plants, jeans, kitchen equipment... Dress modestly, bring some cash (but eyes out for pickpockets), and be prepared to bargain.

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