(Recipe in the next post)
Our tiny silver Peugot zipped past the tree lined boulevards, leaving the Leonardo da Vinci airport behind, heading towards Via del Tritone near the city centre. We crossed Piazzas and Basilicas. “Roma is like a big Lasagne”, commented Toni our cabi as he noticed us appreciating the architecture at every corner of the city. On seeing our confused faces on the rearview mirror he explained that what we see around is only a fraction of what is still buried under the ground. We smiled. Suddenly the Lasagne example sounded perfect.
Recently we spent six days in the Eternal city. We ate Pizza, drank Espresso in tiny cups with saucers, slurped the dripping Gelato from our elbows and learnt how to cook Italian. We walked on cobblestone streets in the Piazzas and around the Fontanas in Rome.
The Basilica di San Pietro in the Vatican was a superb example of Renaissance art and architecture. The museum of Tapestries, museum of Maps, the three dimensional paintings took our breath away. There was marble everywhere, marble busts with curly hairs, greater than life size marble figures with outstretched arms, marble sarcophagus, columns and pillars.
No, this is not marble though. The Swiss guards have been guarding the gates of the Basilica for more than five hundred years.
There was art on the ceiling.
And mosaic on the floor.
When in Rome, we did as the Romans did. We had lunch at the Temple of Roman cuisine ‘Velavevodetto Al Quirti. We were the only outsiders there, which was busy catering to a very local crowd. The menu was in Italian, which the kind waiter explained to us patiently. This kitchen proudly uses only locally grown seasonal produce Pasta was made fresh in – house.
Campo de Fiori is a big open air farmer’s market. The food blogger inside me couldn’t wait to make that trip.
Everything from fresh produce, flowers, home made pestos and pastas, cured meat, ceramic tiles and Roman souvenirs and so much more was on display.
Sicilian oranges freshly harvested.
Artichokes and more oranges.
For the book lovers there was Fahrenheit.
The market starts early. Being early birds will save disappointment later.
There were cafes all around the central market place. We had brunch at Obica. I went for the freshly squeezed orange juice. It was Oh-so sweet and delicious. A Buffalo Mozzarella sandwich to go with it. Very basic and super tasty.
Who can forget the lovely Audrey Hepburn on the Spanish steps in the movie ” Roman Holiday “? Built in 1725, these steps connect the Piazza di Spagne to the Piazza Trinita dei Monti. The smooth stones steps a testament to the traffic they have borne.
Fontana Trevi was under renovation. The wishing well still took coins from the hopefuls.
There was a day when we sipped espresso and watched people.
It was fun watching the nuns enjoying their outing, or the friendly Gladiators posing for pictures in exchange for a few euros.
Window shopping brought out interesting finds. From Gladiator costumes to Papal outfits.
Breathtaking architecture every which way you looked.
The day at the Colosseum was particularly hot, we grumbled about the temperature soaring to 32 degrees C. The Amphitheater, partly damaged from an earthquake, still remained the iconic symbol of Rome.
Famous for its man vs beast fights and executions…
It was a bit too overwhelming for me, we walked away in silence.
And then there was the Pantheon..
Cooking class at Chef Fabio’s was probably the highlight of our trip.
Or was it the food tour? I can’t decide. Frederica our guide led us through the narrow cobblestoned pathways to this gem of a place. “Tazza de Orro” coffee shop. A stone’s throw from Pantheon, this is a must-do. With monogrammed vests and bow ties the Baristas were as much fun as they were efficient. We tried the coffee granita, the frozen espresso with a generous amount of cream in the bottom and on the top. It was mmmmmm delicious!
Negotiating the chic bicyclists and fast Vespa drivers, the street vendors and locals, the busy tourists and cabs, our group of fifteen foodies followed Frederica like the Pied Piper. Next stop was Punto Gelato, an ice cream shop. the store boasts all natural ingredients with absolutely no artificial colour or flavour. It shows in the taste.
It was difficult to choose from the spectacular array of flavours. The white chocolate with Raspberry, Pine, Caramel with Himalayan sea salt, Buffalo milk with lemon and basil stood out for me.
We were not done with gelatos yet. Gelateria del Teatro or the Theater of Ice creams was waiting for us next. A large window, the size of a wall was in between us and the gelato makers. What a cool concept I thought.
I was in a fix. Should I go with the White peach and Lavender or Strawberry and basil? But then why not the pineapple with crystallised mint or Sicilian lemon? Mind you, I still had the creme brulee, watermelon, peach, Nutella, tiramisu, red peach, coconut….
It was time to count eenie, meenie…
A final stop at “Pompi” for Tiramisu. Oh what a delight it was to end the trip on a sweet note.
The ad saying’ A day trip to Tuscany” was calling our name. We cancelled our day to the Trastevere neighbourhood and went to the Tuscan countryside for a day. It was like a dream come true.
Rome has exceeded my expectations. We know Rome was not built in a day, it takes more than a week to savour it. I’m sure I’m going back again. Someday.
The small fountains at the corners of the street had drinking water. We refilled our water bottles there.
Having a guide helps.
If doing a food tour, it’s a good idea to do that right at the beginning of the trip. That gives more time to follow through their recommendations of good eats.
Just like any city being aware and being a smart traveller helps.