For the first half of her two-part Euro-vacation, Jen visited us in Rome this week. For a few nice days we walked, ate, talked…then did it all again.
Phoebe too. Vantage point: Bugaboo.
Paul was in heaven. He finally got to pick olives in Italy.
We were there to help a friend and co-worker with his annual fall harvest. Along with Eric and Alex, we went to David’s home in the country (actually very close to Lake Albano) on a drizzly Sunday morning. The project was spearheaded by David’s elderly Italian father-in-law and avoided by his two tween-aged sons. Wet weather only allowed for a partial picking but the Americans were all-too-happy to be involved.
Then came lunch. When he invited us, David mentioned “something casual”, maybe some pasta. But Paul and I have heard this before. Grateful that we’d brought rich and gooey brownies, as tasty an American treat as any, we were served countless courses of fresh bread, cheese, soup, pasta, polenta, sausages, grilled steak–each dish made even more delicious with their homemade olive oil poured on top–then dessert, three cakes plus brownies.
Several hours and a little wine later, we packed up and headed home, fueled by dreams of an olive harvest of our own someday. At our country villa. Why not?
Autumn is here, which means the hot sun has been replaced by clear, crisp and refreshing weather. In fact we had a cold snap last week which prompted the beginning of a new phase for Phoebe: hats.
So, GPS locked and loaded, we headed out for beautiful Abruzzo National Park, a couple of hours outside of Rome. There we found hills, valleys and yes, leaves. Lots of them.
An interesting twist was the number of small towns nestled right inside the park. Opi was one of the most charming.
Though it seemed that two of its residents might be more interested in life in Rome.
Where to go, what to see and most importantly, what to eat. These are the questions that we take responsibility for as hosts here in our new hometown of Rome. With each visitor, we’ve had the chance to compile a bit of a list. A new nugget for our next visiting friend or family member (who we’re definitely seeing more of now that Phoebe has arrived.) A work in progress but a good start. And please feel free to make suggestions!
Da Bucatino: here you have the bucatino, an over-sized spaghetti noodle with a hollow middle, soaked in a rich red sauce. 84/86 Via Della Robbia Luca Rome, Italy ( 39-06-574-6886).
La Campana: Rome’s oldest restaurant. Try the fried artichokes (Jewish style). Really good. Vicolo della Campana, 18; (06 686 78 20); Closed Mondays.
And finally, I haven’t been but according to The New York Times it’s Rome’s best trattoria… Felice a Testaccio: Felice is a Roman institution. Tucked on an obscure block in the nontouristy neighborhood of Testaccio, Felice has been run by three generations of the same family since 1936, and neither the décor, the patrons nor the recipes have changed much since. What to eat: the tonnarelli cacio e pepe. Via Mastro Giorgio, 29; (39-06-574-6800); www.feliceatestaccio.com; closed Sunday dinner.
BEST WAY TO SEE THE SIGHTS
A walking tour of historic Rome cannot be beat. Everything is so close together that it’s a nice stroll, made even better with a knowing guide to tell you all the juicy details–and navigate the twisty, turny cobblestone streets.
The Borghese Gallery is a great little museum, located right in Villa Borghese. You have to make reservations ahead of time and can do so online. But it’s a small, beautiful space and collection. Easily manageable without feeling overwhelmed like so many of the other museums and galleries.
MOST IMPRESSIVE SIGHT
The colosseum. Take a tour, preferably one that includes the Forum as well. Another worthwhile tour is the Vatican. I’d spend one morning at each.
MOST UNDERWHELMING SIGHT
The Spanish Steps. Really, just a lot of steps. Think Rocky without the heart-warming underdog story to go with it.
Le Finestre sul Vaticano
Via Angelo Emo, 130
Matisse B & B
Via Nazionale, 243
Via Tiburtina, 30
I loved the Hotel Felice. The management was so helpful. They gave us maps to Rome and suggested places to go and see. They were very helpful with the buses. Great location! — Carl
Le Real de Luxe
Via Cavour, 58
I looked long and hard to find a place acceptable to my very mixed group of friends, some wanting the cheapest place in town and some wanting the best. This turned out to be a good choice: Le Real de Luxe. They adopt a low-cost airline model of charging for various extras so as to keep the basic price down. However, the staff are very friendly and helpful, and as long you read the rules when you arrive it’s really not a problem. — John
Accommodation Delia Bed & Breakfast
Via Gaeta, 64
I recommend the Delia B & B. Great location! 5 mins walk from tube/train station. Rooms fantastic — modern, and cleaned every day (possibly the cleanest room I’ve ever stayed in anywhere — either hotel or b & b). Great value for money. — Kok
Arco del Lauro
Via dell’Arco De Tolomei, 29/27
Via Cavour, 266
And she’s not the only one. My mom had made a special request to see her first castle too.
So off we went to Lake Bracciano, home of a 15th century castello currently owned by a real princess. Disney is not involved.
I know these facts because this time, the tour was in English.
Paul and Eric got up with the sun one morning, the idea was to take photos of Rome while the light is still good and the tourists are still sleeping.
A successful mission to be sure.