Monday, June 26, 2017

Good Night Rome

On our second to last night in Rome, we toddled down the street for an apperitivo before meeting our car and driver for a night time tour of Rome  If you haven't done this it is a lot of fun.  
I'm absolutely in love with the Aperol Spritz; Apreol an orange bitter and prosecco, lots of ice and a slice of orange.  Mama Mia!
Our tour started at 8:30 and it doesn't really get dark until about 9:30, so we headed out towards the Coliseum.  This is in fact Piazza Venezia, or as the locals call it the wedding cake.  A memorial to the soldiers who died in war, and to King Vittorio Emmanuale.  
The balcony in the middle is the balcony where Mussolini would stand and address the crowds.  Now a museum.

Although it wasn't dark, the light was really interesting here, as was a tour bus that pulled up next to our car.  It was a tasting Rome tour, and the bus had a kitchen where the food was being made.  

Next up was the Aventine Hill, and the Orange Garden.  This is a beautiful park, where the views are spectacular.  Unfortunately, they were closing about 10 minutes after we got there.  Right down the street is the Keyhole where you can look through and see 3 countries, Malta (since the keyhole is at the entrance to the Maltese embassy) Italy, and the Holy See.  

Our driver brought us back by the Forum, and we snapped away.  By this time, street lights were on, and the sky was cobalt blue.  

Having just gone through a multi-million Euro restoration sponsored by Fendi, the Trevi fountain is gorgeous, the problem is you have to go  in the early morning since there will be about 10,000 of your closest friends taking selfies all day long.  

On to the Spanish Steps which have also had a restoration courtesy of Bulgari.  You might ask why these fashion houses would pay for the restoration of public places and it is worth asking.  The fashion houses retain the exclusive rights to use the monuments/squares in their advertising.  I'd say it's a win-win.  

When my cousin took us to see Piazza Navona the first time, I was in love.  The Bernini fountain, the beautiful church, and the street scene were amazing.  Over the years though, it has lost a bit of its charm, due to the crowds.  It was still gorgeous at 10 p.m.  

I'm particularly fond of the Tiber at night, where else could you get these gorgeous views of the Dome of St. Peter's and Castel St. Angelo?  During the day the Tiber is a sluggy, green river of slime, but at night, it becomes magical.  

My all-time favorite spot in Rome is St. Peter's.  If we come to Rome I have to visit a few times, it is so big, and beautiful.  At night it becomes magical.  

After St. Peter's we headed up the Janiculum hill, where Dr. C. and I had lived last year when I was at the American Academy of Rome.  We stopped at the Garibaldi statue at the top of the hill (where they shoot off a canon at noon everyday---no joke) and then headed to the fountain half way down the hill. While I was snapping some not so great photos a Citreon roared by and I got a few shots while it was being filmed either for a video or print media. Only in Rome.  

Our last stop was really fun.  Our driver took us to a point above St. Peter's where when you look over at the basilica, it looks far away.When you drive away from the basilica it gets larger, an optical illusion which we all enjoyed.  Keep in mind these photos were taken in a moving car, sorry about the Blair Witch jiggle.  
Rome is a beautiful city, filled with art, history, culture, and amazing food.  This night time tour gives you a great perspective, and it is a lot of fun.  Ciao for now.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Eating Our Way Through Rome

I will admit that I am not the best person to ask where to eat in Rome, since we only spend short periods of time here, but I rely on my friends who live here and the brilliant Elizabeth Minchilli who writes about her faves everywhere in Italy, but her home is here in Rome.  I have been to many restaurants that Elizabeth has recommended and she is spot on each time.  This week we have been to some old favorites of mine, and some new ones thanks to Elizabeth's recommendations.
OK, give me a break, I've been here 2 1/2 months and I needed a burger fix, and got the perfect cheeseburger at Eataly in Piazza della Republica.  I've been to both the one in the Piazza and the behemoth at Piramide station, this one is smaller, more intimate, not quite as crazy.  A delicious lunch accompanied by a Montefalco rosso and I was set.
Our second foray was a mistake.  Chef Christina Bowerman used to have a restaurant here in Prati called Romeo Chef and the Baker, but when we went to find it, it was now a beer restaurant---go figure, beer in Italy, it's taking off.  They had more than 20 beers on tap, and nice pizzas.  This was also a lesson, restaurants come and go, check before you wander out in the heat and humidity, you could be on a wild goose chase.
Our friend Rick Breco of Noi Salon recommended Babbette to me many years ago, and so I felt it was time for another visit.  This is a beautiful place off the craziness of Piazza del Popolo, with a French/Italian vibe.  Our amuse bouche was described as cream potato with truffle, I'd describe it as amazing.
Broccoli Veloute---basically broccoli, olive oil and a bit of fennel---good to the last drop
Paccheri with gorgonzola, spinach and pistachios---Mama Mia!
Taglietelle with Beef Ragu
Pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil
Yesterday after a long walk, and some shopping we ended up in the Jewish Ghetto at Piperno a recommendation from Elizabeth Minchilli's Eat Rome app.  Although there are many restaurants here in the Ghetto, this one is in a secluded tiny piazza, and we were seated outside, under umbrellas.  We were in for a treat, with white coated waiters in bow ties, and delicious food.
Carcioffi alla Giudia
The fried whole artichoke is a specialty at these restaurants, and we decided to give them a try.  They also excel at fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella, and anchovy.
Our main courses were pasta, because that's what we do here.  

Dr. C. opted for the ravioli with spinach and ricotta
The girls and I opted for the ravioli stuffed with veal.  
For dessert we had to try the famous Palle di Nonno (Grandpa's balls) Deep fried chocolate, ricotta and pistachios
Dr. C's face when he saw Palle de Nonno on the menu
As we walk through history here, we are putting in at least 4 miles per day, between shopping, touring and wandering.  People have asked me why we don't weigh 500 pounds, and it's because we are eating good, clean food and exercising.  We usually lose weight over here because we are walking so much.

After almost 5 days of non-stop sightseeing today we have nothing on our agenda, but that doesn't mean we have nothing on our plates....sorry I couldn't resist that.  We went out for our usual cappuccino and cornetto this morning, then around 1 p.m. headed to another restaurant in the neighborhood, Dal Toscano.  It is on the edge of the more touristy area, but we were the only Americans there, and were seated inside, enveloped in air conditioning (when it's 90+ degrees, you don't want to sit outside) and by our waiter who was attentive, but not overbearing.  We could have stayed there all afternoon it was so delightful.
Who knew fresh fried potato chips could be this good?  Top left potato croquette,fried artichokes, fried zucchini flower, zucchini, fried ricotta, and in the middle I'm still not sure, could be a cardoon.
Saltimboca, traditional Roman dish
Pappardelle with Ragu Toscano

 A little Super Tuscan
This desert doesn't look like much but we named it the second best after the deep Cappuccino at L'Alchimista, zabaglione with hot chocolate sauce, at the bottom was a tangerine sorbet, also delicious.
So ending our meal with espresso, we headed out into the heat, and back to the apartment we are renting here in Prati.  If you are coming to Rome and looking for an apartment to rent, our friend Roberto can fix you up with a beautiful apartment in a true neighborhood, rather than the touristy central historic district.  You can contact him at .  Tonight we are doing a nighttime tour of Rome, and I'm looking forward to taking my camera and enjoying the sights after dark. Ciao for now.