Discovery of the last month was just how calm and civilised a place Weimar is. It was a first time visit for me (for Mozart concerts with the Staatskapelle Weimar), and almost every day of the week it snowed, rather romantically, on the medley of literary sites, once home to Schiller, Goethe, Heine and company; it also snowed on the gaunt library of Princess Anna Amalia, which burnt so tragically in September 2004 (now under wraps and being restored to its former glamour, and due to reopen in 2007). However, many items of the music collection were lost, some irretrievably, and others now surviving only on microfilm. The librarians had the good sense to make saving Mozart’s autograph of K450 a priority, and I had a pleasant morning in the University library studying it.
For shelter from the weather, cosy and quiet restaurants and cafés were essential and not hard to find. On the corner of Schillerstrasse, the all-day Café & Restaurant Frauentor, with newspapers, windows for people watching, fine meals of all sizes (for vegetarians a much-recommended Gemüsetopf, a meal in itself and served at any time).
Café & Restaurant Frauentor
Hidden just behind the palatial Hochschule für Musik is the Osteria Bertagnolli, Italian in name and ownership, but a cool version of Italian nouvelle, with light wood, rather superior wine-glasses (to go with an up-market wine-list) and background music which they obligingly turn off when asked (full marks).
The grandest food is found in the Michelin-starred Anna Amalia restaurant which is part of the Hotel Elephant on the market-square (looking quaint and original, but it fact mostly rebuilt); part of the hotel even covers the site of the house where C.P.E Bach was born while his father was stationed in Weimar. The dining room is in art deco style, plus hints of Wagner and more — superior in all senses.
The most welcoming discovery, however, was the restaurant Alt Weimar, housed in what was was once the home of Rudolf Steiner (but before he took against corners and right-angles in favour of having everything gently curved); not only music-free, but owned and run by a very cultivated and sociable lady, Gudrun Saacke, who attends all concerts and art events, chats knowledgeably at the table, delivers unexpected and free bottles of choice wine to the diners and makes sure that however late the concert ends there is a table available. The menu is also excellent and inventive, it goes without saying. Worth visiting Weimar just to sample it and the hospitality.
Tel: 03643 8619-0
Fax: 03643 8619-10