The Last Days of Rome…

Note: Had some difficulties posting photos while in Rome, but I continued to blog offline. This is the last entry that I wrote while in Rome.

So, after lunch near Villa Adriana, we caught the bus back to Rome. It was five billion degrees inside (literally!) and stop-and-go traffic for the entire 90 minutes we were aboard (the guidebooks say the trip takes 35-60 minutes…). As soon as a subway stop was visible as we arrived on the outskirts of Rome, we joined the exodus of passengers running for the doors, eager to just be on a mode of transportation that was moving, even if it was the very last stop on Linea B…

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Giovanni Fassi - and little cutie scooper...

Had a quick stop at Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi, just around the corner from our apartment.  Very good cassatina (vanilla with candied fruit) and crema for me, Chris stuck with pistachio and chocolate. Kind of a zoo ordering…  One pays first at the register, then battles to the front of the hordes all yelling for the attention of the beleaguered scoopers…  Sadly enough, I just missed my chance to be waited on by the really cute scooper and was instead stuck with the crabby eye-rolling one (apparently, my lame Italian was not endearing me to him…)

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Chris enjoying some wine at La Mucca Bischera

Back to apartment to rest up a bit before dinner – a place called Uno e Bino, just on the opposite side of the railroad tracks near our apartment. We located the place quite easily – and we were frankly not in the least bit surprised when we found it locked up tight as a drum, apparently no longer in business. Sigh…

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Pizza bianca - simple and simply fantastico...

There was a very busy place next door, called La Mucca Bischera – so that was Plan B. And what a Plan B it turned out to be. An excellent pizza bianca for me and a pizza margherita with prosciutto for Chris. Some of the best pizzas of the trip, with super-thin and crispy crust – really delicious. I also had a mixed grilled meat skewer – beef, sausage and chicken – that was very tasty, meaty and fresh off the grill. Oh, and as if the fine meal wasn’t enough, every waiter working in the place was as cute as can be… A lovely evening.

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Hahaha! Chris got stuck with the blue umbrella - what a homo!

Friday we slept in a bit, then took the metro to Testaccio for the market and food shops. The metro stop is outdoors and I was about to remark to Chris that I thought I felt a few sprinkles – just as I heard him say, “Oh my god – it’s pouring”. And it was. Good thing we’d packed those umbrellas – and left them at our apartment! But, as in every big city, umbrella peddlers magically appeared outside the subway stop and we were on our way.

The market in the Piazza Testaccio was interesting to see, though since we were nearing the end of our trip, I wasn’t really looking to stock up on meat and produce. Of course, we did have a couple of very yummy cookies from one of the stands.

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Meat anyone?

Stopped into a couple of the local food shops, like Volpetti (a tiny shop, brimming with a huge variety of cured meats, cheeses, pastries, bread and other great food – though for some reason I’d expected something quite a bit larger, like Balducci’s in NYC…) and Divinare (where we picked up some treats to bring home…).

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Salumi e bruschetta

We tried to get a pizza for lunch in Testaccio at Remo, but they are only open for dinner.  So, we headed back to the historic center and came across Capranica.  Had a fantastic plate of salumi to start.  And the pizza I had here was even better than the night before.  Chris had an excellent risotto con carciofi, also delicious.

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Yes, this pizza is perfect...

Spent the rest of the day finishing up things on our “to-do” list, including a visit to Confitteria Moriondo & Gariglio (for chocolates), Ai Monasteri (for various items made by monks – though most of them liquids, such as wine, grappa and various elixirs to bring about a range of outcomes such as love or happiness…  Of course, we couldn’t buy any of this, since there’s no way to easily transport liquids back to the U.S. anymore – but then I suppose if we start allowing liquids on airplanes, the terrorists will have won… We settled for a package of hard candies, along with the bitter memory that we couldn’t bring home any “Devil’s Claw Concentrated Liqueur) and Giolitti (I think this was my favorite gelateria of the trip – they are famous for their fruit-flavored gelati and the blueberry that Chris had was intense and absolutely divine…).

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Jesus, lady, make up your mind - we need our gelato NOW!

Afterward, back to the Pantheon for a daytime visit.  The sunlight streaming through the hole in the roof made for an especially lovely play of light and dark…

Wow...

Wow...

We also wandered along Via Cestari, a small street near the Pantheon that houses shops selling vestments and habits for priests, nuns, bishops and cardinals; and other shops selling chalices, monstrances, censers and life-size statues of Jesus, Mary and all the rest of the saints.  Much of what we saw was quite beautiful and all of it fascinating…

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I'll bet those vestments cover up a multitude of flaws - like the pear shape I appear to have acquired in this photo...

Just up the street was the Hotel Minerve, which was thoughtful enough to open up a rooftop lounge and restaurant, where we retired for a drink after our long day.  The sun was just setting as we looked out on the Pantheon…  making our €16.00 cocktails worth every penny…

Dinner that night was back across the railroad tracks.  The San Lorenzo neighborhood over there is quite lively – sort of like the Valencia St. of Rome, with tons of restaurants, bars and clubs with live music, the streets filled with 20-somethings out for the night.

March of the Saints

We ate at Osteria il Pulcino Ballerino, which we’d seen the night before.  Dinner was pasta, followed by grilled meat, with us seated out along the sidewalk on another warm evening in Rome.

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The Temple of Minerva Medica - directly across from our apartment.

We walked home, happy and contented – until, just as  I stopped to take picture of the ruins of the temple across from our apartment, Chris realized he’d left his man-purse sitting on the ground under our table back at the restaurant.  We ran back (well, we ran part of the way – after ten days of eating, drinking and breathing in fumes from the ubiquitous scooters of Rome, we were not exactly in tip-top running condition…) to find that our waiter had found the bag and kept it safe for us.  Phew!  Another disaster averted…

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Chris enjoying lunch at GiNa

Saturday, our last day in Rome.  A quick trip to the Villa Medici, lunch at a charming restaurant called GiNa, just next to the Spanish Steps.  Had a marvelous salad with lettuce, stracchino, green beans and the most delicious tomatoes, then a fresh and vibrant rigatoni con pesto for Chris and a tasty and comforting prosciutto cotto and brie sandwich for me.

After lunch, we planned to head back to Giolitti for gelato, but our waitress and the manager of GiNa both insisted that we try Ciampini, a short walk from the Spanish Steps.  Quite a good recommendation – Chris declared it his favorite, though I still gave the edge to Giolitti – though the stracciatella at Ciampini was a champion, the vanilla ice cream vibrant and the chocolate flakes darkly luscious.  And a perfect foil for the fresh banana  I had with it…

Back home to pack in preparation for our 4:45 AM trip to the airport (a really delightful way to end a trip…), which went smoothly.  Then, another roof top bar for a drink, this time at the Hotel Gladiatori, just about 200 yards from the Collosseo – a pretty spectacular view for our last evening in Rome.

Not a bad view...

Not a bad view...

For dinner, we returned to La Piazzetta – with all of the trial and tribulations we’d experienced in searching for a restaurant, seemed like our last night was a good time to go back to someplace we’d loved the first time…

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Antipasti al carrello at La Piazzetta.

We had a our same delightful waitress, Sandra, a good sign…  I ordered the same antipasto al carrello and agnolotti al ragu – though I did add dessert this time, also served al carrello, i.e. a buffet of desserts including panna cotta, biscotti, tiramisu, pine nut tart and a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember.

We also chatted up a very nice couple sitting next to us – he was Israeli, she was German – and traded stories about things to do in Rome, U.S. politics, travel, etc.  Another fine evening and a very nice way to end our trip…

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Buona sera, Roma!

Our car showed up that morning right on time, i.e. about five hours after we’d gotten home.  Then, a 90 minute flight to Frankfurt, a five-and-half hour layover (ugh – and not made anymore pleasant by the combination of hangover/indigestion/intestinal issues (I’m trying to be discreet, but I think you get the drift…  Let’s just say, I’m glad the Frankfurt airports have decent bathrooms) and a ten-and-half-hour flight to San Francisco – without Ambien.  That’s right – NO AMBIEN!  I’d idiotically packed it into my checked bag…  Oh well – Chris and I both got good seats, him just behind me, each of us on the aisle with no one seated next to us…

And finally back in SF.  No matter how great the trip, it’s always good to be back home…

Arrivederci, Roma – and ciao, cari!

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