...from RomeRoman Polanski, director

I'm in the courtyard of the Palazzo Ruspoli, where I once stayed at the invitation of a Ruspoli family member who still has a flat here. I was in town acting in a film by Giuseppe Tornatore, who directed Cinema Paradiso. I first saw Rome in the late fifties, back when I was a film student. I was struck by its amazing color -- that warm ocher of the buildings was like some magnificent film set. I've been directing a new stage production of Amadeus. It opened in Milan in November, and will open here next year. I'd just finished a film, The Ninth Gate, and I always like to do some theater after a film. I'm staying at the Residenza di Ripetta, but usually I stay at the Hotel de la Ville, above the Spanish Steps. Dal Bolognese, the restaurant on the Piazza del Popolo, has a fantastic bollito misto. There's a whole ham, a big piece of beef, and a chicken, all in a rectangular pot, and they come around and give you cuts of whatever you want. Definitely not for vegetarians, even less for vegans -- those people who think "meat is murder" and wear it on their T-shirts. I don't sightsee in Rome anymore, but there are such beautiful details and sculptures wherever you look. This is a fabulous city, even though the traffic is unbearable -- the pollution is eating up the treasures. [The Ninth Gate, with Johnny Depp, opens in limited release early next year.]

--Interviewed by Elizabeth Garnsey