Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Food and Rain in Roma

Rome by Night
Outside it’s still raining. Yucks. Not far away we find the Art Studio Café, where one can paint china and crockery, make mosaics etc.

I’m reading Mister Pip!

We have nice tea, sandwiches and cakes.

Lewis’ fantastic smoothie

The staff are really friendly and it’s reasonably priced. We start to realise what tourist traps Florence and in particular Venice are.

Next up, a walk through town now the sun is down. Popolo Square, up along the edge of the Borghese, down the Spanish steps,

along to the Trevi fountain,

where we all throw a coin over our shoulder into the water, apparently ensuring that we will come back. Finally the Pantheon, which unluckily has just closed, so we only see it from the outside.

We find a restaurant nearby in Via del Seminario, one that we passed and I noticed – Osteria Antonio maybe?

Inside it’s packed and cramped, and there are only two girls serving, who are rushed off their feet, yet still are friendly and provide good service. Foodwise, Pippi has black truffle with fresh pasta, which absolutely stinks the whole place out, to the point of putting the rest of us off our food!

Mine is flower of zucchini, then meatballs,

and a plate of mountain ham cut off the large ham on the adjacent table.

I also try Pippi’s plate of creamy mozzarella. A month’s calories in a delicious fist-sized bundle!!

Whenever eating in Italy, I remember the laws set down by Ursula, my Italian friend and old lab partner. You English are disgusting, she would say, after I suggested having a hot chocolate (sweet) with a sandwich (savoury), or tried to have some salad in the same mouthful as pasta. Italians know the proper way to do things, and I like it (though I still don’t play by the rules – a cappuccino is fine by me any time of the day!).

We’ve taken to having house wine by the litre carafe in most places, and here is no exception.

Lewis’ fresh pasta with pork

Last train at 10pm (!), so we get home by bus from Piazza Mancini, which we reach by tram from the north gate of Rome. Works quite well really, except on the bus we haven’t a clue where we are, with no landmarks around La Storta to help us get off the bus at the right place.

Colosseum and Pizza
Next morning, we try to start early, it’s Pippi’s last day! We run later than planned, but are still in town by half ten. It’s pouring with rain AGAIN! First stop, the Colosseum, which I dodge by offering to take Pippi’s bag to left luggage at Termini station! Lewis, meanwhile, gets soaked! It’s such bad weather that they don’t take a single photo. This from the next day:

I read my book and wait for them outside. The tickets are valid for both, but it’s too wet for Palatine Hill, where the Forum, Senate, etc are, so we tube to Spagna, the shopping area, for food and shopping.

First up, lunch Gusto, a swanky designer place that wouldn’t look out of place in New York.

They actually turn out to be friendly, and as a pizzeria it’s actually good value.

We have pizza Napoli style, which means a large crust round the outside and slightly breadier base (nothing like “deep pan” though). There are just four kinds – Margerita, Napoli, Proscuitto and Marinana. First you know, second with anchovies, third is ham,

and fourth without cheese, but with plenty of oregano and some garlic.

All delicious simple food, the way genuine Italian cooking is meant to be.

Shopping isn’t my thing, so I leave the others and after just popping into Fendi briefly in my wet and so squeaky sandals, I wait for the others in McDs with a 1 euro cappa and free wifi, before we head back to Termini together. Lewis and Pippi are feeling sick from over-indulgence in ice-cream, Pippi’d found another place with chocolate mousse gelati!

We send her off on the half-hourly airport express train (11 euros), then double back to Spagna again for a recommended Enoteca just near the Spanish Steps. Incidentally, Lewis noticed on Roman maps that in the early ones, Spain was Iberia, then it became Spagna later. Was this something the Romans decided?

The Enoteca Antica has some great wines, good music, nice dark décor, and a marvellous selection of nibbles that sit right under the bar, tempting. The chap who serves us is Welsh, and soon we’re all wined up, with a platter of cheese with bread. We plan our evening and enjoy a bottle. Dad’s found a restaurant run by an ex-Rugby player, who gets old players to be his staff. Sounds interesting. It’s a little way away, back past the Art Studio Café, north of the Vatican. We arrive there at about 7pm, but it’s not open till 8:30, so we make a reservation, and wander off to find a bar.

Bar is found just a few buildings down, run by friendly chaps again, good value, and with a bar full of free tapas. It’s amazing what you find in Italy away from the tourist rip-off zones. We have a litre of wine plus beers. Dad orders in French. We head back to the restaurant (Osteria Dell’Angelo) which is now busy, and are served in an amusing grumpy fashion by a waiter who we assume is a player, but turns out to be a wrestler!

Food is plentiful - Bread, pastas, soups, meatballs, and so much wine.

We get through beers and two litre carafes and they give us more. Oh dear!

We taxi to Piazza Mancini then take our 201 bus. I sneak another beer whilst we wait. Back in the hotel room I manage to pour a mocha all over this laptop and my front. Oh, and the curtain. And room telephone. Yes, it was that kind of night.

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