One of the aspects of traveling Jen and I enjoy most is experiencing the local cuisine. We love eating in general, so when we arrived in the pasta capital of the world (Jen being a vegetarian – which pretty much makes me a vegetarian), we were ecstatic and eager to try as much as we could get our lips on.

Da Pancrazio Ristorante facade in Rome
Da Pancrazio Ristorante facade in Rome

In addition to good food, we appreciate when restaurants have a story or offer a unique ambiance for our meal. While in Rome, we found a very special eatery. It might have been the most amazing place I’ve ever eaten at and not because the food was to die for, though it was very good. What made this restaurant so great was it’s history.

Da Pancrazio is located in a building constructed on top of the ruins of the Theater of Pompey, where it is believed that Julius Caesar was murdered by politicians in the Roman Senate, including Marcus Brutus and Gaius Cassius, on the 15th of March, 44 BC. Contrary to popular belief, he was not stabbed in the Senatorial chambers, but just outside the theater in an area of Rome that was only just uncovered a few years ago (the city won’t officially excavate the ruins of the actual theater because the buildings now sitting on top of them have used the original foundation and supports for the structures still standing and in use today)

The Basement Dining Room underneath Da Pancrazio Ristorante
The Basement Dining Room underneath Da Pancrazio Ristorante

Julius Caesar avoided the Senate chamber on the ides of every month prior to his assassination (up to a year) because his wife Calpurnia had disturbing dreams that made her fearful of her husband’s safety. Unfortunately, this precaution didn’t prove to be enough as the would-be king was stabbed over 23 times. It has been said that 60 men participated in the death of Caesar, though not all brandished steel in the physical act of violence that killed him.

There has also been some controversy over the discrepancy of Caesar’s final words. The best known version comes from the English playwright, William Shakespeare, but the phrase, “Et Tu, Brute?” has no basis in fact (it was merely a popular phrase during Elizabethan times). Many of the conspirators, who were present in Julius’ final moments reported that he said nothing. He simply fell to his death.

Temple Complex Unearthed in 2012 (the Bottom of the Stairs is the Exact Spot where Caesar was Murdered)
Temple Complex Unearthed in 2012 (the Bottom of the Stairs is the Exact Spot where Caesar was Murdered)

Whether or not he said anything had no effect on our enjoyment of the meal we ate in Da Pancrazio. I had the opportunity to meet the owner and discuss his family history as well as that of the restaurant. Apparently, the location (even before it was a restaurant) had been in his family for years. It was his grandfather who opened the first restaurant, and it was his father who excavated the basement to discover the storage chambers behind the stage of the theater, which were used for props and costumes (now, it’s filled with tables). The basement isn’t the exact location of the assassination, but it’s close enough for government work – and fun to think about!

If you are in Rome, I highly recommend making reservations at Da Pancrazio, as it promises to be one of the most unique dining experiences of your life.

Hasta La Proxima…

-Justin

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