OK. I know it’s not Dallas. But, I swear all I lived for when we visited Rome was eating. I did my homework. Hub was in charge of sightseeing. I was in charge of food. I bought a book that was just published called “The Food Lover’s Guide to the Gourmet Secrets of Rome” by Diane Seed. Seed lives in Rome because she married an Italian and she runs a cooking school. Who would know better where to eat and shop for food in Rome? The book turned out to be a gem. It’s chapters are devoted to individual parts of town. We rented an apartment for 10 days with a balcony and a kitchen. I only cooked one meal when I was there. But, it was nice to have a fridge for snacks and the incredibly cheap wine. I kept a diary when I was in Rome which I am about to start posting here.
October 8 – The day we left Dallas
Can you hand me a sedative? We had a nice day yesterday. Went to brunch at Monica’s. Loaded up on the Nano with country music for Hub. I’ll feel better once Tierney is here and fully entrenched with dogs. The adventure of a lifetime!
Oct 10 – 1:00 AM
Up at 1:00 eating smoked scamorza, mustard, salami, bread and wine. It’s raining outside.
We went to bed at 7:00 PM last night. Our first night in Rome.
The travel here was not so bad other than the endless flight. We made our connections and all went smoothly.
Our driver, Marco, met us at the airport. Everything they said about Roman driving is true. I could barely keep my eyes open. Very erratic and dangerous seeming, yet no one is dead on the street. Driver Marco took us to Piazza Rondanini. Spooky Marco, the landlord, met us on the street. He paid for us to have cappucino in the piazza while we waited for our apartment to be cleaned.
There is no roof balcony. But, there is a balcony off the living room and the apartment is just fine. The lift broke & then it was fixed that first day.
We were exhausted but we briefly visited the Pantheon, which is literally around the corner from us. Then we saw the little elephant. Then we went to Despar, the great grocery store. Bought beer, wine and snacks for our apartment.
Then a brief walk through Piazza Navona. The Four Rivers fountain is under renovation. Hub was sad about that. Very touristy in general with lots of street vendors in the Piazza Navona. Then we went to L’Angoletto, the little restaurant right below our apartment. Wonderful! We had aqua minerale and the house white wine. Fried anchovies for antipasto. Hub had the gnocchi with a red meat sauce. I had carbonara. The carbonara was wonderful! Little crunchy pieces of pancetta. Then we shared the veal saltimbocca. Fabulous. Hub had the gelati noccola (or something like that). Anyway, it was our first full meal in Italy – Lunch, lasting from 1:30-3:00. Yum!
After lunch, back upstairs for wine on the balcony and another quick run to Despar and the Pantheon. Then back home and to bed early. Woke up at 12:30 to rain. Now, we’re having our snack.
October 11 – 10:00 AM
Yesterday was quite a day. We went to St Peters the the crowd was incredible. No getting in there! Must have been a papal audience because there was a band and we saw the Popemobile.
So, we left and went up this huge hill trying to get to some park. We never did. I finally told Hub, “No more” and turned around and walked back to a snack bar where we had a couple of Peroni. Then we went to Pizza Montecarlo on Sevilla. Very good. We had suppli and Hub had a prosciutto pizza. I had a calzone with ham, mozzarella and egg. Then back to the apartment for a nap. We got up and walked to the Trevi fountain at night. Very pretty. Threw in some coins. Went to Trinity College for a Guiness. Yum. About 10:30 we went back to L’Angoletto and had a feast! Carpacio with Parmesan. Caprese salad. Fried calamari. Filettowith balsamic sauce. Veal scallopini with cheese and tomato sauce. Hub had panacotta with berries. Then to bed.
This morning we had coffee at our regular spot. We’re going to Villa Borghese. Wish us luck! I think, for my birthday, I just want to do nothing. It’s pretty tiring, having this much fun.
October 12 – 6:30 AM
So, we missed our appointment at the Borghese Gallery yesterday. But, the park was beautiful!
From there to the Spanish Steps where I shed a couple of happy tears. Then home. Ate at Night & Day in the piazza where the Pantheon stands. Totally sucked. (This place was not recommended in our book) We went to Giolitti – very famous, very hectic. The first place people were rude.
I had a nap & then Hub had me walk to the Forum at night, which I did not want to do, but enjoyed very much. I do think he’s trying to kill me. We went to Trinity College for a Guiness and a cheeseburger. Then to bed.
Today we are up early to go to Ostia Antica. Maybe we won’t miss our boat!
5:00 PM – Same day
Believe it or not, we made the boat! Of course, it’s in BFE. So, it wasn’t pretty getting there. In the end, I wouldn’t recommend it. The boat ride was 2 hours long & uneventful, other than being full of high school kids & elementary kids. Then, there was this huge long walk from the dock to the city. The town itself is adorable. We stumbled into this tiny restaurant. We had a little trouble trying to figure out how to order. But, suddenly the not so pleasant waitress just started bringing out food. We had lasagna carciofi. So good! - with tender thin pasta. Then she brought out a tray of cold meats and what seemed t be burro mozzarella. Creamy in the center. Then a vegetable place with baked mashed potatoes, roasted zucchini and eggplant & sauteed mushrooms. Cappucino after. We met a couple from Oregon in this tiny place.
The ancient ruins of Ostia were incredible. It would have taken at least an entire day to go through the village. Totally stunning with tessera floors and crypts and shops. An amphitheater. Very cool. We blew off taking the boat back & took the train & subway instead. Much faster. 45 minutes vs 2 hours and much more pleasant, quieter. I’m really more curious now about taking the boat on a trip through Rome instead of to another town. Hub kept saying the boat to Ostia was like canoeing down the Trinity River.
Now we’re back in Rome. Hub is snoozing on the sofa and I’m trying to decide what to do for dinner. Did I mention that wine is super cheap here? White wine is only 2-3 Euros at Despar. You can hardly find a bottle of wine for more than 6 Euros at the grocery store. Liter beers are about the same amount. Of course, if you buy a liter beer at a snack cart in Rome it’s 5 Euros. If you buy the same thing in Ostia it’s 2 Euros. It’s kind of like Manhattan here, pricewise.
Tomorrow is my birthday and Hub has promised a relaxing weekend. No death marches. We’ll do exactly what I want. Now I guess I have to decide what that is!
- Oh, Hub’s Rome bag broke today. It’s the one he bought when he came here in college. It was born and died in Rome. Kind of made me sad.
- My goal tomorrow is not to wring any sweat out of my hair!
- I wish there were some more comfortable chairs in our apartment. At least one.
- I’ve seen a lot of dachshunds here in Rome. One boxer.
- Hub put up a sign in the livingroom that says “Pazienza” – Patience. No kidding! Most things are a challenge around here.
- All in all, I really love Rome. It’s so beautiful. The history is stunning. It’s just very different.
- Hub has been a sweetheart.
- There is an amazing church every where you look. Literally, you can see crosses out of every window.
- The bedroom is very quiet and I prefer sleeping on the sofa. There is a fan and street sounds in the livingroom.
- Tomorrow I’m sleeping a long time and no long walks! Happy Birthday!
- It seems to rain here lightly every day. 70′s in the day. 50′s at night. No heat or AC necessary.
October 13 – 9:10 AM Happy Birthday!
Last night we had a wonderful meal. I sat around and drank wine while Hub went to Despar and then to Armando Al Pantheon to make a reservation for dinner. The said no. Hub said he begged and talked about my birthday. Then they said OK. 10:30 pm reservation. It was so wonderful. I don’t even know the names of everything we had. The waiter brought us cured goose lard on bruschetta. It wasn’t like lard though. More like intestine or something. Anyway, it was wonderful. Oh, there was a walnut on top. Then pasta with fish mixed in. Then I had lamb with rocket and Hub had osso buco. Potatoes for Hub and mushrooms for me. Then they brought me a piece of apple cake with a candle in it for my birthday and they sang. After I blew out the candle, they made me break it in half. Everyone was so pleasant and happy. What a wonderful meal!
Same day – 6:00
Lunch almost killed us! We walked over to Trastevere and went to Sora Lella on Isola Island. You had to ring to get in and they locked the door behind you. We had their “Grandi” tasting menu which featured their best dishes. First, a donut shaped fritatta with tripe, then oxtail ravioli, then a beef filleto with sauce and a piece of sweatbread on top with a salad of bitter greens and anchovy dressing. Then ice cream flavored with orange zest and anise, followed by espresso. And wine, of course. 196 Euros. That was the killing part. But, it’s my birthday!!! And it took 2 hours to eat and 3 hours later I’m still almost uncomfortably full, even after my nap. Ah, Roma. Va bene.
P.S. We also saw the kitties at the ruins along the way there. Fat, happy cats.
After lunch Hub had a nap that he wouldn’t wake up from. So, I decided to go shopping by myself. I bought several things from this stationary shop. They had hand-swirled paper things, for lack of a better way to describe it. I also bought a purse. Very nice. A lot of money. But, I don’t care. It’s my birthday!
October 14 – 9:00 AM
My birthday ended with dinner at L’Angoletto. We had melon and proscuitto, fried baby octopus (very tiny babies) and golden fish with potatoes. The brought out some lemoncello for my birthday and there were lots of hugs and kisses. (We had become pretty much regulars there by now) We’re about to head out for whatever march across Rome Hub has planned today. The only problem with Hub is that he wants to walk too fast. I want to stroll and he wants to march. I’ve started to just lag behind and let him stop and wait for me.
Yesterday sucked. I almost passed out in the Forum. Don’t know if I was dehydrated or had a panic attack or what. But, I had to go lay down the rest of the day. In the evening I went to Despar and bought food for dinner. I made a pork roast smothered with onions, garlic and mushrooms with mashed potatoes. The meat was a little tough, but it tasted good.
Yesterday, we went to the produce market at Campo di Fiori in the morning & had cafe. Then we went to this strange Middle Eastern glass shop and bought a lamp and some tumblers. Hubbard had gone there while I rested on the day I collapsed. He bought some glass tumblers for me that day, too. The shop went way underground. Pretty spooky.
We went to Armando again for lunch yesterday. It’s soooo good. I had to have that goose lard bruschetta again. It’s really fabulous. Then we split ravioli with mushrooms. Hub had teh saltimbocca and I had scallopini marsala. It’s one of my favorite Italian dishes in the states. So, I had to try it. Hub had the semifreddo for dessert. I had formagi misti. Assorted cheeses with honey and pine nuts on the side. The pecorino was great with the honey.
We walked over to the bridge to watch the birds at sunset. Stopped off at a bar called – I can’t remember. It was an Irish bar where we met an American couple. She was from Grand Prairie, of all places!
We went to Fortunato Al Pantheon for dinner where I had a minor meltdown. Basic panic attack. I think I’m just having sensory overload. The food was very good, though. We had prosciutto and melon. Hub had tomato soup and I had straciatella soup. We both had osso buco & risotto. Hub had a cream puff covered with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
Today Hub made me get up at 6:00 AM to go to St Peters. We got in with no problem. But, the line for the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel was around the block and it wasn’t even open yet. So we decided to go inside the Castel S Angelo. Extremely cool! +A bar at the top! Well, close to the top.
Now we’re back home resting up.
After a rest yesterday we went over to a leather shop by the castle and bought a new Rome bag for Hub. His old one fell apart. I got a little bag, too. Then we went home and ate at L’Angoletto again. It’s terrific to have a great restaurant in the same building as our apartment. I had caprese, shared some of Hub’s fried calamari and then saltimbocca. Hub had mussel soup, which was fabulous, and veal steak. We shared some sauted potatoes and tiramisu. Then we went home for the evening and drank wine.
This morning we got up and went to the Forum, Colliseum and the Circus Maximus. It was much more tolerable at the Forum this time and the Senate building doors were open. So, Hub (lawyer) got to see that. We had planned to eat over by the Piazza di Spagna. At 1:30 I knew we would never get there in time, as we had not even gone over to see the Circus Max. Hub insisted and off we went on some other life or death march across Rome. Two subway lines, then frantically searching for the tiny street our restaurant was on. I could barely walk to our table. I’m sure those people were really excited to see us at 5 minutes until closing. But, the were really nice and served us some wonderful pizza. The restaurant was called Pizza L’Archetto. Hub had prosciutto and mushroom. Mine was named after the restaurant and I can’t even remember what all it had on top. But, it was great!
We brought this book with us called “The Gourmet Secrets of Rome” by Diane Seed and it has been a God-send. Every recommendation has been right on the money.
We came home from lunch and collapsed. We did actually have a slab of “folding” pizza this morning at the beginning of our adventure or I never would have made it as far as I did. Hub did not seem surprised when I said “no” to leaving the apartment 45 minutes after arriving home in order to go to the Capitoline Museum and Palentine Hill. To hell with hills. The first part of the day was just too exhausting and I still don’t feel right, even after a nap. Hub is at the museum now, I imagine, and I am resting. He really is trying to kill me, I believe. Tomorrow is the last day. Wonder what it will hold.
- The “Smart Car” is extremely popular. It’s about as long as my car is wide and actually looks like half of a car.
- Everyone dresses like it is cold here, when it’s actually in the 60′s and 70′s. Jackets & scarves everywhere and I’m the only one sweating in sandals.
- It’s very nice to sit on our balcony.
- It’s supposed to be an auto-free zone in our piazza. But, that is absolutely not true. Scooters and cars are buzzing by constantly.
- Trash dumping in our piazza is a horrifyingly loud experience. 1000′s of wine bottles and glass breaking.
- The waitstaff at L’Angoletto is so nice. I bet they love seeing people like us who will be there 5 out of 10 days. But, the food is sooo good. The outdoor dining is very pleasant – al fresco. Actually, I haven’t been inside the place at all yet.
- Many dogs in Rome. It makes me miss my babies.
- We brought our cell phones. Hub keeps calling people to say he threw a coin in the fountain for them, etc.
- The rooftops are littered with crosses and TV antennas.
- We have our ipods with us. But, I don’t feel like listening too much. I thought I’d miss my music from home. But, I really don’t. I kind of miss work, if you can believe that!
- Everything smells in Rome. Some things smell good. Some bad. There’s a certain perfume that is popular. I don’t know what it’s called. But, pew. I always heard that eating asparagus will make your pee smell funny. No one ever told me about Rome.
- I haven’t cooked as much as I thought I might. We’re busy so doing other things. Maybe next trip. Because then I won’t have to see everything again and I can take some time to plan.
- Hub has been a really wonderful husband. Not argumentative or anything. He has made things very nice for me. Rome is just stressful, though. I don’t think there’s any getting around that.
- There are not really Gypsies like they told me about. But there are those junk sellers that drive you crazy. I wanted to buy some of those cracking things just to throw them at the guy.
October 18 9;30 AM
Went to Myosotis for dinner last night. Started with some of the family olive oil over bruschetta & cold meats. Hub had the most tender gnocchi that we had in Rome with a seafood sauce. I had a little handmade pasta “pie” , kind of a pocket, with veggies an seafood inside in a creamy sauce. Then I had grilled tuna with a thick hollandaise sauce. Hub had the grilled calamari. Everything was unbelievably good. But, the place was full of “politicians” that were kind of creepy. That olive oil was really special.
Same day 4:00 PM
Oh my God. We got up & Hub said, “What do you want to do?”. I said, “Eat lunch. Eat dinner”. So, we sat and had a breakfast beers. Then we sat and drank some wine. Then we walked over to the Piazza Farnese and had another beer. Then we went to Ditirambo for lunch. Oh my God.
Antipasto – Stuffed zucchini flowers
Primi Piatto – Tagliatoni with rabbit
Secondi – I had pork with olives and Hub had osso buco. Both were heavenly.
We had potatoes with fonduata cheese and shaved white truffles. Unbelievable!
Then moscato saboyan with rum glazed chestnuts.
Plus, homemade bread.
Now, I’m drunk and packing to go home.
Hub said at lunch, “This has been one hell of a Restaurant Week!”
(Yes, we went to L’Angoletto for dinner on that last day in Rome. I cried in the limo all the way through the Centro Historico to the airport to go home. In fact, I’m crying now. The adventure of a lifetime.)