Well, I’ve returned from Rome having eaten my body weight in pasta and prosecco flowing through my veins! It was a well needed and if I say so myself, a very well deserved break too. For a while now, I’ve been looking into how people lived during the 30′s and 40′s , the war and post-war times when they had little to go by and while researching about places to stay at in Rome, we came across this old pre-war apartment that promised no bells and whistles but had managed to retain a lot of it’s antiquated glory. Slatted windows, high ceilings, ornate ghouls sculpted on the ceiling – the allure was endless! It fit in beautifully with the image I had built up in my head about what it might’ve felt like to live in Italy during Mussolini’s time. Since I wanted a complete break with life here in the UK, I wasn’t troubled by the lack of wi-fi or any other technolgical amenity, though the younger amongst us felt decidedly bereft of oxygen! The place was spartan, run by an 80-year-old who understood very little English so though it worked for us, I won’t recommend it.. It’s not what most would look forward to on holiday. If you’re a first timer in Rome, then you will probably want to click away at every building you see..I did – until I realised ‘I’m in Rome, and everything’s beautiful!’:)
My daughter enjoying the first day of sunshine …we’d had two very rainy days before this which was just tragic
We braved the weather and went into Vatican City on day 1 given that we were staying a ten minute walk away from it. Thankfully, the queue lasted about 20 minutes and we were in, macs, brollies and all!
Nothing prepares you for the scale of opulence that awaits you. The medieval art and architecture are breathtaking and it all starts becoming real – the art of the most grandest artists in history right before you in unimaginable grandeur just leaves you spellbound. My daughters on the other hand were left a tad underwhelmed that all that talk about Raphael and Michaelangelo wasn’t really about the Ninja Turtles after all! Here are a few pictures from inside the Basilica, I’ve limited it to the well lit places where I could focus on the details of Michaelangelo and Bernini’s art!
The best advice I ever got was to take my walking shoes… We walked pretty much everywhere and by the end of our stay, we realised we’d walked almost all around Rome. The magnificent ruins, the gorgeous Piazzas never seemed to run out of things you could see…Most of the newer buildings in Rome are built in the style of the old, blending seamlessly into the renaissance landscape of the city. Here are some pics of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, The Forum and The Pantheon.
I was personally bowled over by the Fontana Di Trevi! There was something so large and overwhelming about it that held you captive for the longest time – that for me was the highlight of Rome! The buskers that played nearby, amplified by the natural accoustics that the ancient world knew so well left an indelible impression of the place. For a while, with one particular Spanish guitarist playing Ottmar Liebert, Paco De Lucia and other Bossa Nova artists, I almost believed my Spotify playlist had been hacked !
There was a small carnival on at the Piazza Venezia during our stay and the local children were out, dressed up in costumes, throwing rice and confetti at the performers! There was an air of celebration as vibrant tunes of Electonica and Italian Pop filled the air.
We wandered into a lovely restaurant right near the Trevi Fountain called Sacro & Profano, which boasted the best Calabrese food in Rome. We weren’t disappointed and I highly recommend anyone visiting to snag a seat here in this deconsecrated church dating back to 1199! The price tag is modest for what it offers and we had a meal with drinks and coffee for 3 adults and 2 children for around a hundred euros. The owner was very accomodating and welcoming, inviting me to take pictures anywhere I chose to and use it as I saw fit. The more than affable staff made our meal very comfortable, conversing amiably about restaurant favourites and the history of the place! The interiors date back 100′s of years and the improvisation is achingly cool. It’s a pity that I got there after dark and couldn’t get good pics as I’m dead opposed to artificial lighting but here’s a taster, you’ll pretty much get the picture of what awaits you when you visit.
The menu was extensive and I ordered me a linguine with squid ink and calamari, the photograph was lost to the low lighting and the jet-blackness of the dish, but it was lush and I won’t hesitate to have it again! This is what the rest of the family ordered
Pizza Rustica Calabresa
Gorgeous lasagne with parmigiano and meat sauce which was a massive hit with my daughter who’s not keen on food! It doesn’t taste like British Lasagne in the least, I wish I knew why
Spaghetti alle Vongole
I manged to bag the recipe for the Spaghetti alle vongole, a classic central and southern Italian dish - here it is :
|500g (or 300g, if dried)||Spaghetti, fresh|
|50g||Shallot, finely chopped|
|2 cloves||Garlic, chopped|
|50ml||Extra virgin olive oil|
|20g||Parsley, flat leaf, roughly chopped|
- In a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook your spaghetti following the cooking Instructions on the packet, and keep aside covered with a damp, warm towel
- In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, soften the shallots and garlic in the olive oil for Three minutes with no colour. Add the clams & white wine, cover with a lid and cook on full Heat for 2 minutes until the shells just open. Add lemon juice, parsley, the cooked spaghetti and mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Serve in a large bowl immediately with fresh garlic bread and a glass of white wine. Birra Moretti or Birra Peroni goes well too!
No day ends well if you haven’t had Gelato-the classic organic, fresh, natural ice-cream that’s synonymous with fun, not just for kids! How can anyone resist the lure of flavours like hazelnut and butterscotch praline, sour cherry, nougat, coconut & lime and cinnamon strudel? That apart from the regular strawberry, chocolate and crema; albeit they’re all amped up a few notches from our best supermarket buys…Ben& Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs paled in comparison to even the more casual gelatos we had at L’Arena del Gelato , a delightful Gelato house right outside Vatican City! Again, a fine little place for little ones to be themselves, you’re not rushed, in fact you can stay as long as you like and taste as many flavours before you make up your mind. Giuseppe Longobardi, the owner, is friendly and warm and is keen on making his business a place you associate good times with! At a gentle 21, he’s keenly focussed on getting L’Arena Del Gelato a big spot on the culinary map of the city. All the gelato is handmade by his family and is totally free from any nasties!
Ever since I’ve been back, I’ve had to remind myself that No, it’s not Ok to want to have a Prosecco with your lunch in England, especially if that lunch is had at home, by yourself!
I didn’t throw a coin in at the Trevi Fountain, I’m far too much of a realist for that ; but there’s something magical enough about the place that draws you to it long after you’ve left and I don’t doubt that I’ll return someday! For now, I’ll have to be content with my Duty Free pleasures of Rome and with every biscotti and every sip of Limoncello, it’s Arrivederci Roma! x
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