Viaggi a Roma e Altri Disastri (Trips to Rome and Other Disasters)
A Trip Report with complete food details
In March of 2010, I had pretty much tired of my humdrum, workaday existence and an acquaintance was talking about an upcoming trip to Italy. Well, with a one-week vacation fast approaching and the desire for Italy growing stronger by the day, I booked a ticket on US Airways for a trip to Rome from April 16-24. I also contacted Sleep in Italy, whom I've worked with before, to set up an apartment in the historic center. I booked the Vicolo del Giglio apartment near Campo dei Fiori.
Then, I started making plans for the restaurants. The focus of my trip, cari lettori miei, was to be food, glorious food. So, this trip report will include many restaurant details (as many as I wrote down in an often wine-induced post-meal stupor).
Friday, April 16, 2010:
With the infernal Icelandic volcano blowing its stack, I wasn't even sure my plane would depart. With trepidation, I headed to the Philadelphia International Airport to see if my flight would leave the country. Everything seemed to be going according to plan. According to my new Philosophy of Flight, even turbulence seems amusing when you've had a glass or two of wine, so once I made it through security checks I settled in at Cibo wine bar in the International terminal of the airport. I had two lovely glasses of Albarino and some salmon. My other philosophy of travel is to eat and use the bathroom any time you are given the opportunity because you never know when the next opportunity will come around.
At any rate, boarding began and I took my seat, planning to effectively pass out for the next eight hours, given the combination of wine and Dramamine. I did, in fact, manage to sleep most of the flight, which allowed me to function upon my arrival in Rome.
I had booked an airport shuttle through airportshuttle.it and they told me someone would be waiting at the gate. Well.....sort of. There was a list of people, an easily agitated Italian, and not enough shuttles to go around. Signore E.A. informed me that it could be anywhere from an hour to two hours before the shuttle actually showed up AND managed to get me to the apartment. Well, ragazzi, you know that every minute in Italy is precious and I was willing to eat the 25 euro I had already paid to the shuttle people in order to go outside and immediately catch a taxi into Rome. Apparently my insistence on leaving the airport shook loose a cog in the Airport Shuttle machinery because, miraculously, within 30 seconds Signore E.A. was tellling me that my shuttle was ready and I would be at the apartment in less than 45 minutes. I, of course, found amusement in messing with him and asking him if he would tell the driver I was in a hurry. He actually took me seriously and I ended up having to explain the joke (which, as we all know, automatically makes even the funniest things most non-hilarious).
After dropping a Polish couple off at their hotel near the Vatican, the driver dropped me off in Piazza Farnese (Vicolo del Giglio branches off of Piazza Farnese). Signora Simona was there to meet me and let me into the apartment. It was cute, just the right size for me, and seemed fine, so I let the signora go, dumped my things, and went to the Campo to buy some provisions (including some food for lunch). My first meal in Rome was a porchetta sandwich, olives and tomatoes from the market, and some sparkling water. And it was good.
Of course, since it was exactly one week more than a year since the last time I was in Italy, the SIM card in my phone no longer worked, so after lunch I was off to Eletttronici Erreci to buy a new SIM card and charge the phone with minutes. After the phone was taken care of, I meandered over to the Pantheon area for some coffee and gelato.
Caffe' Sant'Eustachio: a grancaffe' – 2.50 euro
Gelateria della Palma: sesamo e miele and Riso e nocciola flavors – 2.50 euro
I had foolishly assumed that the weather would be lovely – and for the most part it was – but after my gelato it started to rain. I was wearing shoes that were not adequate and, frankly, I didn't really have ANY shoes that were adequate for rain along. I had decided that, if I needed them, I could buy them. Well, I needed them, so one pair of leather boots later (on sale – 59 euro – real leather!) I tramped around Rome like a true Roman.
After so much excitement, I walked back towards the apartment for a nap and to gear up for the evening dinner. I was going to the Girrarrosto Fiorentino near the Via Veneto. Silly me - I thought I could walk there. And I could – it just took over an hour to do so, at a pretty brisk walk the entire way. After the long day I had already had, it was a bit much, but I was righteously starving when I arrived, so it worked out okay.
1 glass red house wine
1 bottle water
1 bowl of ribollita soup
1 entrecote steak
1 order of fagioli Zolfini (zolfini beans)
Total: 57 euro
This was a great way to start the trip. Yes, the cuisine was not Roman but it was amazing. The ribollita was just what I needed after a rainy day of walking around the city. It was thick, comforting, and had a great flavor and lots of vegetables. The steak.....oh the steak. Perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked (it was a bit under the medium I requested, but oh so delicious I didn't care) it was beef heaven. And the fagioli Zolfini......white beans, cooked casserole style for four hours and doused in extra virgin olive oil. When they came with the steak, the man asked me if I wanted pepper on the beans....I said “I don't know, do I?” and he told me that that was the way to do it – so he ground some fresh pepper into the bean bowl. I like beans and all, but those beans were amazing – almost enough to eclipse the steak. Actually, I remember them more than I remember the steak, they were that good. I wrote in my notes under the beans “I saw God.”
After another hour walk back to the apartment, I got ready to go out. I was bound and determined to Karaoke in Rome (Italian songs). I had found a place called the Vecchio Borgo near the Vatican. On my map it seemed like a doable walk,but ended up being 30 solid minutes on foot. Normally, this would be fine, but it was my first day in town and I'd already walked at least 3 hours if not more. At any rate, I arrived at the start time (10:30) and, of course, nobody was there. How foolish of me to forget that 10:30 really means midnight. Finally people started coming and signing up for songs. I sang a Giorgia song and made some new friends. After Vecchio Borgo, we tripped around Rome to various bars and locales and I eventually made it home at 3:30 AM. Day One was a success.
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A Trip to Rome and Other Disasters (trip report with food details)
Viaggi a Roma e Altri Disastri (Trips to Rome and Other Disasters)