Sunday, 6 July 2014

Memories are made of this

Special moments happen when you least expect them......here are five from our recent trip to Rome.


We expected Festa della Republicca on the 2nd of June to be special and it was. We witnessed the build up to the parade as we shopped for pastries early that morning. We took advantage of 'Open Doors' at the Italian Senate in the beautiful Palazzo Madama and we queued for the once a year opportunity to visit the gardens of the Quirinale Palace. What we didn't expect to see was Il passaggio delle Frecce tricolori  - the flypast. This hadn't taken place for the past couple of years for financial reasons so imagine our surprise when we heard the jets approaching then saw the smoke in the colours of the Italian flag - quite an emotional moment.



Our Scooteroma tour was a big tick on our 'bucket list'. The whole experience was amazing but one moment will stay in my memory forever. We were travelling along Via Casalina ,an ancient  Roman road that leaves Capua near Naples and enters Rome at Porta Maggiore. 
As we travelled along this road on an iconic red Vespa I realised that this road sums up Rome perfectly - the mode of transport is different but Romans have been travelling this road for at least 2000 years. Ancient and modern side by side - everything changes but everything stays the same.

 
 
 
Music evokes memories and whenever I hear 'Summertime' in the future I will be transported back to a summer evening in Campo di Fiori. An impromptu feast of baccala and prosecco was enjoyed in the shadow of Giordano Bruno, accompanied by a saxophonist playing the aforementioned Gershwin classic. Magic!!
 
 
 
 
As this was our eighth visit to Rome we adopted a leisurely pace. We had time to 'stop and smell the roses' - literally!
 

 
 Some of our happiest moments were spent sitting watching life passing by in various parks and gardens around the city. We particularly enjoyed seeing the dog walkers, even though it made us miss our 'girlies' back home.


 
 The final precious memory must go to the Pantheon. Each time I step inside this amazing building and look upwards to the oculus my heart misses a beat.


 
The moment that will linger in the memory from this trip was when we introduced our friends to the Pantheon and they obviously had the same reaction - breath-taking.
What was even more awe inspiring was the shower of rose petals fluttering down from the oculus on Pentecost Sunday.
 
 
Those self same petals have provided a lasting reminder of a memorable visit to this wonderful city.
 
 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Food Glorious Food

Time to reflect on the amazing food that we ate on our recent visit to Rome. We truly did not have a bad meal which makes choosing our five 'star' dishes even more difficult but here goes...

 
Pizza at Le Carette - The Roman style pizzas here are truly delicious with super thin crusts and traditional toppings. Add a jug of wine and lunch is sorted!

 
Bollito di Manzo at Urbana 47 - All the ingredients used at this restaurant are organic & sourced locally. The beef in the bollito was meltingly tender, the zucchini & new potatoes beautifully fresh.

 
 
Orecchiette at Broccoletti - This 'ear' shaped pasta originates in Puglia rather than Rome but nevertheless was the perfect vehicle for the asparagus and salty ricotta sauce. So simple but utterly delicious.
 


Rabbit Roulade at Marzapane - This dish certainly had the wow factor. Rabbit full of flavour topped with a perfectly poached quails egg & a fried artichoke. A drizzle of garum oil served as a reminder of flavours from Roman food in the past.

 
For the final 'star' dish we have chosen Salvatore Denaro's panzanella.
We ate the real thing last  year at Bacco in Tevere on Isola Tiberina.


This year we  served it for lunch on the terrace. We followed the recipe as instructed by Elizabeth Minchilli in her post. Vegetables & friselle came from the market, beautiful Calabrian olives from Delizie di Calabria and peppery olive oil from Podere Vecciano.

 
Shared with friends on a sunny Roman roof terrace - what could be better.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

So much still to do.....

It is our last day in Rome and we have intended to pack as much in as possible. 7.00am sees us in Piazza Navona - just us and dog walkers plus those who use the piazza as an outdoor exercise area. It is particularly satisfying to see the latter as Domitian's stadium,on which the piazza was built, was used for athletic displays.


Back to Er Baretto for coffee and cornetti then out once more. We walk down Via Baccina, one of my favourite spots in the city, not least because you glimpse columns from the Forum of Augustus at the end of the street.


Basilica San Marco is first on the list where we search out the funerary inscription to Vannozza Cattanei, mistress of the Borgia Pope, Alexander VI, and mother of his children who are all mentioned in it.


We catch the number 70 bus to Piazza Cavour for wine shopping at Constantini. We buy bottles from  Villa Simone, their own vineyard.



The 70 bus drops us back at Rinascimento from where we walk to Palazzo Cancelleria for a peek in to the sublime courtyard.


On to the ghetto where lunch beckons but not before buying chocolate cookies with Himalayan salt at Mondo di Laura and drooling over the gorgeous china & glassware piled high in Limentani.
Lunch today is at Beppe where we order a sampler plate of cheeses & a Piedmont white wine to compliment them.



Who should arrive at the next table but Gina with an American  couple whom she is doing a tour for. We greet each other like long lost friends and agree to keep in touch. We choose three of the cheeses to take home with us, along with Beppe's butter, all of which are vacuum packed for convenience.
Back on the tram to Piazza Venezia and a well earned rest on the terrace.
Our aperitivo spot tonight are the Borghese Gardens.



From here we walk to Piazza Fiume to see a copy of the small statue to Sulpicius Maximus. He died (from hard work!) aged 11 but in his short life he had taken part in a  poetry competition - he holds a poetry scroll in his hand. The memorial was erected by his grieving parents. The original is in the Capitoline Museums.


From here it is a short walk to Marzpane where we have a dinner reservation.
The chef here, Alba Esteve Ruiz, is from Spain. The white tiled dining room overlooks the open kitchen. The staff are extremely friendly & knowledgeable
We opt for the tasting menu - it is amazing!
An Amuse bouche of squid ink bread, fois gras, blueberry & raspberry.

Tuna

Roulade with rabbit (my 'star' dish)


Pasta stuffed with pork belly in a herb broth


Meatball with Savoy cabbage & spicy bbq sauce


Chimichurri lamb ribs


We drink a Sicilian red with the above but order a glass of sweet red wine to go with dessert ,which is a cheeky take on a Ferrer Roche chocolate! A palate cleansing sorbet precedes this.



This was a stunning end to our eating our way around Rome and considering the tasting menu was only €35, staggeringly good value.
We walk back along the Via Veneto, imagining what it would have been like in the Dolce Vita era.


We end the evening with an 'Old Fashioned' at 2 Periodico back in Monti. It is good.......but not a patch on 'Zot!' at CoSo.


Thus ends our eighth sojourn in Rome. The 'still to do list' is already taking shape for our next visit. After all, we did throw those coins in the fountain!!


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Friends

 
We begin our day with eggs and bacon on the terrace. Not any old eggs but those of Paolo Parisi and the bacon is from Norcineria Viola on Campo de Fiori.
Today we are visiting the Military Cemetery in Testaccio for two reasons. First we know that there is a piece of Hadrian's wall there and as we live 'On the edge of Empire' it is significant to us



... and, secondly, we feel we should remember those who died for our freedom both in Italy & the UK.


It is a sobering experience to see the grave stones, especially of the young soldiers, but hopefully their families  gain some consolation that their resting place is in such a peaceful corner of Rome.


The entrance cupola refers to the friendship between Britain and Italy.


On to Testaccio market where we enjoy browsing. We buy some dried lavender to mix with the rose petals from the Pantheon ( we dried them on the terrace) as gifts to take home.
Lunch  today consists of leftovers - caponata from yesterday, rocket & red onions. It tastes delicious, especially as it is accompanied by a bottle of Frascati. Dessert is the last of the cherries.


We have a relaxing afternoon on the terrace before venturing out to Cola di Rienzo in Prati for shopping. The Coin department store has an amazing household section including a Nespresso area!


The number 19 tram takes us all the way from Prati to Pigneto and CoSo. This cocktail bar was opened by two friends,Massimo & Giorgia who worked together at the Stravinsky Bar in the De Russe Hotel. From the cocktail shaker door handle to the bubble wrap coasters, this bar has a quirky vibe. The menus arrive in a jiffy bag. All very light hearted but the cocktails themselves are serious - beautifully crafted using premium ingredients. As if that wasn't enough the food that is provided is top notch. Beautiful green olives are followed by a freshly made caponata, then bruschetta. Tortilla chips with guacamole, salsa and cheese are next and finally (for us but I think if we had stayed more would have followed), mini crudités.



We had planned on eating in Pigneto but ,not surprisingly, we were not ready for dinner yet. We made our way back to Monti by tram then metro and headed to Barrique where we enjoyed a  bottle of local cesanese with our food.




 The full moon hung over Monti like a silver orb - a perfect end to the day.

True Colours



After breakfast on the terrace, our first job this morning is to pick up some fresh pasta for dinner.
Shopping duly done we take the metro from Cavour to Cinecitta. No map needed here as the film studios are right by the metro exit.


 
While waiting for the guided tour in English  at 11.30  we take in the exhibitions of the history of Cinecitta as well as  one dedicated to Federico Fellini including costumes from his films such as 'Dolce Vita'.

 
 
The tour guide meets us in the bookshop, the walls of which are covered in scripts. ' The Talented Mr Ripley'  is featured - one of our favourite films.
 
 


The backlot tour starts with the set of 'Gangs of New York' and moves on to the HBO series 'Rome'. It is amazing to see the Forum recreated, especially the buildings decorated in full blown colour as they would have been in Imperial
Rome.


 
The Suburra is also recreated which happens to be modern day Monti.


The tour ends at lot number 5 used by Fellini for all of his films. The Via Veneto was recreated here for 'Dolce Vita'. After his death Fellini lay in state here.


We return on the metro to our apartment for lunch on the terrace where we also spend the afternoon relaxing.


Our aperitivo spot this evening is in the Botanical Gardens in Trastevere. What a delightful hidden treasure they are. Difficult to choose where to sit as there are so many idyllic places amongst palms, bamboos, roses - even a Japanese garden. From the top of the garden the views are spectacular.




Our entertainment this evening is of the aerial variety - butterflies dancing in the breeze .......and military aircraft flying in display formation.
As we leave the gardens we glance up to see the Paolo Fountain & Garibaldi looking down upon us.



 
We then wander through Trastevere, picking up potato pizza from Forno Renella then biscotti from Innocenti.
Back to the apartment on the tram & 117 electric bus to prepare dinner which turns out not to be tradtional but delicious all the same.
Pasta Puttanesca (so far, so good) is served with potato pizza. The mandorla (almond) cookies were bought for a friend but prove too much a temptation and end up as dessert (sorry, sorry!!)