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Bells, Balls and a Basilica – Cooking in Abruzzo; Eating & Drinking In Rome

Bells, Balls and a Basilica – Cooking in Abruzzo; Eating & Drinking In Rome

Dec 10th, 2013, 01:39 PM
  #41  
 
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Thank you - I actually took the Mondays at the Market tour with her in April and was wondering how the Street Tour compared in price. I'm contemplating a return trip to Rome next year...
Truffles is offline  
Dec 10th, 2013, 08:04 PM
  #42  
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Today we were on a mission to visit a spice shop in the Testaccio neighborhood. The shop’s name is Emporio delle Spezie on Via Luca della Robbia, 20 and it’s an easy bus ride from Largo Argentina to the Testaccio neighborhood where the shop is located. Here is the shop website: http://www.emporiodellespezie.com/

We walked the couple blocks from where the bus stop is to the shop and you will know which street to turn down because you can smell the luscious aromas wafting out of this tiny little space. The shop can barely hold 4 or 5 people and it is packed from floor to ceiling with every imaginable spice. We purchased Sicilian oregano for a fraction of what the spice vendor in Campo dei Fiori charges. Mom also spotted a bottle of mosto cotto, which we had used at the cooking school in Abruzzo and isn’t easily found where we live, so we purchased that too, along with fennel pollen at a very reasonable price. If you’d like to know more about mosto cotto, here is a link to a recipe to make your own and more of a description: http://www.italyrevisited.org/recipe...Marmalades/180

Once we had our spice purchases, it was time to catch a bus and head over to the Monti neighborhood for our wine tasting lunch at VinoRoma. This was our 4th tasting with VinoRoma and our second lunch tasting. To our surprise we were the only two guests. The difference with this tasting was that we had Maurizio as our sommelier instead of Hande. We were thrilled to meet Maurizio, who is a very charming and capable sommelier. He took the time to get to know us and the types of wine we typically drink and he walked us through the tasting, helping us identify flavors, aromas, and noting why a certain wine may work better with particular food pairings.

We had 4 wines at this tasting and started with a Franciacorte (sparkling). Having been introduced to this type of wine before by VinoRoma we were happy to taste more of this absolutely lovely wine. If you have never tried Franciacorte and are looking for a champagne or prosecco alternative, I highly recommend trying this, although I will mention it is not widely available in the U.S. You may have to do some sleuthing to find a shop or restaurant that carries it.

In honor of our previous week in Abruzzo our next wine was a pecorino, this particular white wine was Cataldi Madonna Giulia, which is an excellent pecorino, in fact, we liked it so much that when we saw it on a restaurant wine list later in the week we had another bottle with that dinner. Continuing with our homage to Abruzzo our third wine was a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo red wine which was delicious and we ended the tasting with a sweet wine from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. The two hour tasting flew by and soon we were saying good-bye to Maurizio. If you are interested in learning more about VinoRoma here is their website: http://www.vinoroma.com/

Our next destination was Via di Serpenti in the Monti neighborhood, which is a short 10 minute walk from Vino Roma. We wanted to make a visit to an olive oil shop to stock up on oil we had enjoyed on previous trips. As we walked down Via di Serpenti toward the shop, all of a sudden I heard someone calling my name. I thought, “Who would be calling my name on a street in Rome”. As I looked across the street there was Elizabeth Minchilli. We took a couple quick strides across the street and said our hellos to Elizabeth. As she was doing a tour we didn’t chat for long, but it was really nice seeing her and quite a surprise hearing my name shouted out across a street in Rome, I felt like such a local!

Mom and I spent the afternoon shopping and browsing and finally made it back to the hotel for a short rest before heading up to the rooftop lounge for our daily aperitivo. After a couple glasses of wine we decided to leave the hotel at 7:30pm for our 8:30pm dinner reservation since the restaurant was in the Prati neighborhood and this would be a first time for us dining in that area, I wanted to make sure our bus journey went smoothly. It was an easy bus ride and short walk from the bus stop to the restaurant Sorpasso at Via Properzio, 31-33. Here is the restaurant website: http://www.sorpasso.info/

Sorpasso is not too far from the Vatican, and had some of the best pasta I've ever tasted in Italy. We had a delicious dinner, but would definitely go here for aperitivo too. When we walked up, all the outside tables were full and people were streaming out the door with drinks in their hands. This place certainly had a fun vibe. The front area has beautifully displayed charcuterie, it made our mouths water.

In the back is a dining room. When we arrived at 8:30pm it was about half full, within 45 minutes every table was occupied. We started with the Italian proscuitto plate and the meat really did melt in our mouths. I had the pasta with a 4 meat sauce and it was very, very good, mom had the strozzoprezzi pasta with eggplant and that dish certainly "won" for the night as best dish. We are so glad we followed a tip from a local friend who said to get a pasta dish.

The menu was all in Italian, but the staff was kind enough to help us through our selection and between our limited restaurant Italian and their terrific English skills, we had a perfect meal that ended with two glasses of a lovely amaro digestivo. With a couple glasses of wine and two espresso the total cost of the meal was €62.
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Dec 11th, 2013, 09:17 AM
  #43  
 
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Hi LCI,
I'm really enjoying your report,as usual.

I was in Rome a few weeks ago and also had a thoroughly enjoyable wine + cheese lunch with Maurizio at Vinoroma. There was a lovely couple also in attendance, and when I asked them where they had heard of Vinoroma, they said -- a poster on Fodor's called LCI mentioned it... You're a celebrity!
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Dec 11th, 2013, 09:48 AM
  #44  
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Hi jmct,

Thanks for reading, I appreciate it.

Funny you should mention your experience at VinoRoma. While I was in Rome I met with Elizabeth Minchilli later in the week for a coffe. She also said she had been getting several inquiries from Fodorites who had seen my trip reports and she also said I was a Fodors "celebrity". I was bowled over by that comment, but it certainly put a smile on my face, as did yours. ;-)
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Dec 11th, 2013, 10:48 AM
  #45  
 
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Hi LCI! Reading along and enjoying your TR immensely! What an interesting week in Abruzzo, and nice that the class explored beyond the palazzo. One of your earlier TRs led me to VinoRoma, too! So you are a great source for all things Rome. (I attended the My Italians session taught by Hande when located in the Prati area.) Anyways, the Coppede quarter had popped up in my research in 2011 (always attracted to art nouveau design) - but you actually made the trek to see the area! Bravo! Just found a new site - Spotted by Locals - on Rome, and surprisingly, last month they wrote about the Coppede neighborhood. Now I'm inspired by you to figure out the ATAC bus routes when exploring Rome in April. Also enjoying your 'foodie' adventures to new restaurants! Janet
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Dec 11th, 2013, 06:49 PM
  #46  
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Janet...

So glad you got to experience a VinoRoma tasting and at the original location. We did our very first tasting in 2010 at the original location, which was about a year before they moved to the Monti space. If you haven't been to the Monti location, you may want to check out the tasting schedule for when you will be there and book another one.

Getting to the Quartiere Copped was pretty easy on the bus. If you take the #63 in the Rossellini direction, we got on at the Arenula stop (just up the street from Largo Argentina) it goes directly to Piazza Buenos Aires, "easy as pie" we didn't have to change busses or take the tram or metro. If you do want to use the ATAC system I highly recommend looking at their website prior to your trip. They have a trip planner component that has helped me learn the bus system and recognize stops along the way. But I must admit, I'm an "anal retentive" trip planner and like to have my public transit options at the ready. ;-)


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Today we had a 10am tour booked with GT Food and Travel (http://gtfoodandtravel.com/ ). The tour we did was the Trionfale Neighborhood & Market Stroll. I selected this particular tour, because although we had been to other markets in Rome we had never ventured to the Trionfale market, located in the Prati neighborhood and we wanted to see more of this area.

We met our guide, Elizabeth (not Minchilli), at 10am in front of the La Fiorentina coffee bar on Via Andrea Doria. There was a young lady who was also waiting and she was on the tour too, so there were 3 of us plus the guide. Elizabeth had a lot of knowledge about this market and the products available. What we thought was great about this particular market, was that the shoppers around us, were truly Romans. It did not have any of the tourist trinkets that can be seen at the Campo dei Fiori market. We roamed throughout the covered market building listening to Elizabeth’s commentary and stopping every so often for sample tastes of various products. We spent close to one and one half hours checking out the nooks and crannies and our favorite stop was at the Norceria stall where we sampled hand sliced prosciutto and pecorino cheese, it was delicious!

Once outside of the market we walk a few blocks to Panficio Bonci, a bakery by the maestro of Roman pizza, Gabriele Bonci. There is no space to sit inside, but you can order any of the beautiful baked products and just outside the shop, in front of the windows are counters where you can stand an eat the baked goodies you may have just purchased. We had 2 different types of pizza and although they were good, I’ve got to say if it’s pizza you are after, walk the extra distance to Bonci’s Pizzarium. However, the other savory baked goods on display in the counters all looked delicious and I would not hesitate to return here to try something other than the pizza. To read more about Pancifio Bonci, you may want to read this write up from The Rome Digest: http://theromedigest.com/panificio-bonci/

After carbo-loading on pizza we took what seemed like a very long walk, but I do have to say this was the warmest day we had in Rome and the temperature was probably in the 80F’s so maybe that’s why it felt so long to walk to this gelato shop called Vice Cafe. The rest was welcome and so was the gelato. Mom had the pistachio and zabaglione and I had the pistachio and chocolate with gran marnier. All the flavors were delicious and creamy. If you’d like to read more about Vice Café here is a write up from The Rome Digest: http://theromedigest.com/vice-cafe/

We had one more stop on the tour and that was for coffee. We walked to Sciascia Caffe located on Via Fabio Massimo, 80A and it felt like we were walking back in time. This was an incredibly beautiful bar. The baristas were in white shirts, bow ties and black vests. When we were there, mid-afternoon, it was not crowded, but our guide said in the mornings the crowds around the bar are huge and I can believe it because the coffee was excellent. Since it was warm outside mom and I wanted an iced drink and with the help of our guide we ordered the best iced café I have ever had, seriously this stuff was magnificent. I would definitely seek out this place again when in Rome, and it’s not too far from the Vatican.

The tour ended around 1pm and we hopped on a bus and rode back towards the hotel. Since it was warm and we had been walking for several hours mom took a break at the hotel while I went in search of post cards and stamps. I found the post office with no problem, but let’s just say figuring out the process of getting in line took longer than finding the building. As I stood and watched how others were moving about I figured out I need to go to the front door and take a number, but then I had to figure out which button to push because different buttons on the number machine were for different services at each of the various windows. It took a few minutes, but I put two and two together, pressed the right button and then seemed to wait for what seemed like forever for the stamp window clerk to press my number. Could I have probably found a stamp machine somewhere? It’s likely I could have, but at least this way I had human interaction where I could practice my non-food related Italian!

At aperitivo time we popped back up to the rooftop lounge for a few glasses of wine. We never got tired of the lovely view! And after a couple hours it was time to catch a bus to the Testaccio neighborhood for dinner at Perilli, located at Via Mamorata, 39.

When I have 2 Roman friends who recommend a place, I listen and I'm glad I did. I don't think you could get more "old school" than Perilli, it felt like I was walking back in time, but in a very, very good way. From the moment we walked in and were seated we felt completely at home. On a tip from a friend we ordered (it's obligatory, isn't it in Rome?) the rigatoni alla carbonara. Seriously, this was some of the best carbonara I have ever tasted. And I loved the serving plates, yes, they looked "old school" too! We also had the lamb with rosemary and it literally fell off the bone, no knife was needed. We had a half liter of the house red, which ultimately lead to another half-liter of house red, and for &euro:8 per half liter, it was pretty darn drinkable.

The service was just terrific, we were well taken care of even with a full restaurant on a Tuesday night. I would highly recommend a visit to Perilli if you are looking for a "slice" of real Roman food. And it's now become one of our personal top Rome restaurants. The total cost of our meal was €71.
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Dec 11th, 2013, 08:01 PM
  #47  
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Today we had a basilica in our sights. A basilica we had past more times than we care to count. Today we went to St. Paul’s Outside the Walls located at Piazzale di San Paolo, #1 and it was another easy bus ride from the Centro Storico. Bus #271 in the San Paolo direction stops near Largo Argentina and if you take it to the very last stop, you will be right in front of the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.

There are four major basilicas in Rome, St. Peter’s, Santa Maria Maggiore, San Giovanni in Laterano and St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. We had been to all on previous trips, some multiple times, except for St. Paul’s and it was our one and only “must get to church” on this trip. Here is the basilica website: http://www.basilicasanpaolo.org/index.asp?lang=eng

We were very glad we made the effort to see this beautiful basilica. The exterior and surrounding grounds are lovely and the interior “knocked our socks off”. We knew from the outside it would be a large church but upon entering it was massive inside. We stayed for about an hour and meandered our way through. There is also a cloister, which we decide to take a pass on during this visit.

When we had our fill of this beautiful church we walked outside and waited for a few minutes for the next bus. Our original plan was to stop at Eataly for a little wander around the massive food emporium, since it was on the bus route we were on. But as we looked at the bus route sign at the bus stop we realized if we stayed on the bus and took it to almost the last stop on the other end we would be back in the Prati neighborhood and we thought it would be great if we could go to lunch at Romeo, locate at Via Silla #26a. This was a place that had recently opened and was a collaboration between Chef Christina Bowerman of Hosteria Glass in Trastevere and the Roscioli bakery brothers. We had been hearing a lot of good buzz and really wanted to try it out. It took about one hour for the bus to snake through the snarled traffic, but it was so worth it to have lunch at Romeo.

We had just about the most perfect sandwiches ever here. The space was a former Alfa Romeo repair shop, but boy, oh boy, have they really classed-up the interior to be sleek and modern, and the staff was friendly and "put up with" my attempts to speak in Italian.

As we entered we were greeted with a smile and asked if we would prefer to have "fast food" or a slower-paced meal, we said, we'd prefer sandwiches, and were shown to a table in the front area of the space, towards the back is the more "formal" dining area (when I say formal, I mean a full menu is served, not just panini and pizza). But we by no means felt rushed during our meal, so it's not really "fast" maybe more just a limited menu.

As we perused the sandwich menu we noticed there were about 10 sandwiches on offer, but #5 was a sample plate of the first 4 sandwiches on the menu. We ordered 2 along with 2 glasses of Est! Est! Est! Wine (from the Lazio region). First let me say, the bread the sandwiches were served on was some of the best bread I have tasted in my life. We had four miniature versions of the top sandwiches. There was a chicken salad, a salmon, a cured meat & cheese and a vegetable. All were good, the best was the vegetable, with the chicken salad coming in at 4th place.

We loved seeing all the baked goods and meats and cheese on display at the front of the space in counters, we even bought 2 of their pannetonne to bring home with us. I would not hesitate to recommend Romeo and I would certainly return here on future visits to Rome. Here is the website is you are interested in reading more (in Italian): http://www.romeo.roma.it/

After lunch we made our way back to the hotel via bus and put our feet up for a bit and had a leisurely afternoon. We didn’t have a typical dinner reservation this night, we booked a wine tasting at Roscioli. Here is the website for booking the wine tasting: http://www.winetastingrome.com/

We arrived outside the tasting room and although we could glimpse a light on inside from the very top of the window I could not tell if anyone was there yet. Since we were a few minutes early we waited outside the door. In a few minutes the door opened and a man welcomed us in. The wine tasting room is around the corner from the Roscioli wine bar.
There were 11 places set and we found ours and sat down. There was a U-shaped table (so the sommelier could easily pour and interact with guests) and the walls were full of shelves bursting with wine bottles and other wine-related items. It did have a certain atmosphere about the place, but I felt very cramped and crowded.

When the other guests arrived the sommelier started by going around the room asking each guest what type of wine they like to drink. Uniformly person after person before us said they loved red wines (Big/Bold Reds was a term used a lot as the descriptor by these other guests). Several of the women in the group said "I drink whatever my husband/boyfriend drinks". And then it was our turn and both mom and I said we are "equal opportunity" wine drinkers and drink reds but prefer white wines then we went on to say over the last week we had been introduced to Pecorino wines and enjoyed them along with whites from northern Italy with a special appreciation for Franciacorte.

In my opinion there was an astounding number of wine presented for tasting (11 in total) however, when we first sat down there were only 6 glasses at each place setting. The first wine was Metodo Classico Riserva Nobile 2009, D'Arapi, followed by Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc, R&L Legras. Next was Tocai Friulano 2010, Borgo del Tiglio and the last white was Pecorino Giulia 2012, Cataldi Madonna (which was the same as we had at the tasting with VinoRoma). Given an earlier comment from the sommelier about Italy not having very good white wines I was surprised we had this many.

The six reds that followed the 4 whites were: (1)Etna Rosso A'Rina 2011, Girolamo Russo, (2) Nobile di Montepulciano Mulinvecchio 2009, Contucci, (3) Schioppettino 2007, Bressan (4) Barbera d'Alba Ceretta 2010, Giacomo Conterno (5) Barolo Cannubi San Lorenzo 2009 Giuseppe Rinaldi and (6) Barbera del Monferrato Superiore Rossore 2010. The final wine of the night was Moscato d'Asti Felicita, Cascina Baricchi.

The food served with each tasting was excellent to average, the mozzarella and burrata were excellent. The pasta (rigatoni amatraciana) was average. It was interesting to experience this wine tasting versus the tastings we’ve done at VinoRoma.
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 05:01 AM
  #48  
 
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LCI - great report as always. We had a delightful evening with Christina in January. So happy to read about her new venture.
Elizabeth_S is online now  
Dec 12th, 2013, 06:36 AM
  #49  
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Elizabeth...

Thanks for reading. If you plan to head back to Rome you may want to consider a lunch or even dinner at Romeo. We really enjoyed our lunch there, but I would be very interested in having dinner. Chef Bowerman's food is always tops in our book! ;-)
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 07:01 AM
  #50  
 
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LCI - I absolutely love your trip reports - thanks for taking the time to share them! DH and I are headed back to Rome and Bologna in the spring and I've taken notes on some of the restaurants you listed above. Can't wait to try them.
bab706 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 07:19 AM
  #51  
 
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Loving this! And I had the chicken salad at Romeo which was fantastic. Thank you for sending me there.
flygirl is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 07:31 AM
  #52  
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bab...I'm envious of your return to Bologna. I haven't made it back there, but would love to return for another visit. We really enjoyed exploring more of the Prati neighborhood in Rome on this trip, there are some fantastic restaurants there!

flygirl...glad you enjoyed Romeo!

I've got 2 days left to write up and the next day was one of our most favorites. We did a day trip to Frascati for a wine tour and LOVED it! Stay tuned, I'm hoping to get that posted tonight.

I have to also apologize for my spelling and grammatical errors. I tend to write most of these entries in the evenings after a day of working at a computer and sometimes what looks ok to my eyes at 10 or 11pm isn't and when I read it here on Fodors the next day I cringe!

Once I've finished I'll post a link to my trip photos.
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 07:29 PM
  #53  
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

This day was the only one during our entire time in Rome when we had less than fantastic weather. It was very dreary and cloudy all day, but we donned our rain jackets and made the best of it because today was our day trip to Frascati.

While researching what to do during this visit to Rome and knowing we wanted to do something centered on wine, I had the great good fortune to stumble across The Old Minardi Farmhouse Wine Tour in Frascati, their website is here: http://www.theoldminardifarmhouse.com/ . This was a wonderful way to spend a day, you are not too far outside, of Rome, but it feels like a world away.

Getting to Frascati from Rome could not be any easier, buy the train tickets at Termini, hop on the train and 20(ish) minutes later you are stepping off the train and into the capable hands of Dominique, who escorted us on a terrific walking tour of the center of Frascati.

I've got say, why more people don't visit the lovely town of Frascati is beyond me, it's like a picture postcard and we were there on a cloudy day, I can only imagine on a clear day how terrific walking through the streets of Frascati could be!

After a walk through town, the next stop was the Minardi family vineyard where we met Umberto who happens to be Dominique's friendly father-in-law. Here, Umberto talked about the olive trees and the olive harvesting process, and then we took a walk through the vineyard, all the while Umberto describing the vineyard and the land and Dominique translating for us. When it became apparent to Umberto we could understand every 9th or 10th word he was saying (we know a little, very little, Italian), it seemed to us, he slowed his speaking so we would be able to understand even more! Once through the vineyard it was into the area where the old wine making machines (presses) are kept and we had a lesson on how wine was made "back in the day" before all the modern machinery.

Once we had gained as much winemaking knowledge as we could for the day, Dominique escorted us to the farmhouse terrazzo where we had a delightful olive oil and wine tasting with stunning views to Rome where on a clear day you can see the dome of St. Peter's. The wines were lovely, we tasted 3, but we were really captured by the white Frascati and the dessert wines. So, after a very generous tasting of each, we were happy to purchase several bottles to bring home.

As if the wonderful wine and bread and pizza at the tasting wasn't enough, Dominique had arranged a lunch reservation for us at an adorable trattoria back in the center of Frascati. The trattoria was Il Tettuccio located at Via Vincenzo Gioberti, 27. We took Dominique's recommendation and had the gnocchi with porcini and were not disappointed at all, along with an antipasti plate of delicious cured meats and cheeses and bottle of the Minardi Frascati wine, we were very happy with our day trip from Rome. And all of this, from the tour of the town, to the vineyard tour to the tasting on the terrace and lunch was €55 per person, we thought that was an great price for an incredibly fun day. If you are looking for a fun and easy day trip outside Rome, The Old Minardi Farmhouse Wine Tour is an excellent option!

The train back to Rome leaves Frascati once per hour and we were on the 3:37pm train and arrived back at Termini in Rome at 4pm. As we hopped on a bus and made our way back towards our hotel the first rain drops of the day began to fall. Fortunately the rain did not last long and by aperitivo time the rain had stopped and the tables and chairs at the hotel’s rooftop lounge were dry and calling our names.

We were pretty full from the ample portions of gnocchi at lunch in Frascati, but we had already made a dinner reservation at L’Asino D’Oro. We considered canceling, but we both really love the food at L’Asino D’oro, so we kept the reservation and decide to try and “go light”.

We arrived at L’Asino D’Oro located in the Monti neighborhood on Via Boschetto right at 8:30pm and are we glad we had a reservation, we were seated at the last empty table and saw many people without reservations being turned away. The chef here makes the silkiest smooth soups mom has ever had and this visit was no exception. Mom had the chestnut soup and I had pasta alla ghitarra in the cacio e pepe sytle with lemon and egg. Fortunately for us, the portion sizes are not huge! Then mom and I both had the sformata (it’s kind of flan-like) of porcini and potato on a bed of apple cream. It may sound like an odd combination, but it was light and fluffy and delicious. With a bottle of Frascati white wine and a bottle of water the total cost of the meal was €70. After this day, we really did need to be rolled back down the hill towards our hotel! But it was one of our most delicious days, and hey, that’s why I head to the gym at home!
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 08:07 PM
  #54  
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Friday, October 25, 2013

This was our last day in Rome. When I start planning a trip I try my hardest to incorporate at least one day where we have nothing “in stone” on our agenda. No tours, no tastings, nothing pressing. We could do or see whatever we liked.

As is usually the case, there were a few shopping errands we wanted to do, like stopping at the Santa Maria Novella shop to pick up some lovely soaps and creams, and meander in the Campo dei Fiori area and poke into a few shops we have come to like. We did have one appointment in the afternoon and that was to have coffee with a friend and to chat about our adventures in Abruzzo. But the time we finished with our leisurely errands it was about 4:30pm, you can guess what was on our minds, yes, aperitivo.

On previous trips to Rome we had just about “lived” at Caffe Farnese, getting our coffee and daily wine “fixes” there, but on this trip, we never seemed to be near there, well, today we were and timing was perfect. We sat down for about an hour and enjoyed our last aperitivo in Rome (well, at least the last for this trip). I was happily satisfied with my spritz and mom with her white wine and we wiled away an hour or so. Before we knew it, we needed to head back to the hotel to start packing for our pending departure the next day.

It took us about an hour to squeeze our possessions, (newly acquired and old) into our suitcases, but did manage to have a little bit of time before our dinner reservation to pop back up to the rooftop lounge to say our good-byes to our bartender friend.

We decided to have an early dinner because we had to be out of the hotel by 4:30am for a 7am flight departure the next day. So, having heard rave reviews about the renovation that took place to the dining room at Armando al Pantheon and given the restaurant’s proximity to the hotel, we booked our final dinner there.

Armando al Pantheon located at Salita dei Crescenzi, 31, is a long-established Roman trattoria. The food here is the “real deal” Roman. We had been here before in 2009 and we thought the food was ok at that time, but not necessarily special (maybe we just ordered the wrong stuff back then!). I am really, really glad we went back.

Since we had a 7:30pm reservation I thought we'd be walking into an empty restaurant, so I was surprised to see almost every table full (and glad we had a reservation!). As I gazed around at the new interior I could feel my excitement building, it was lovely, very comfortable and we could smell the deliciousness coming from the kitchen.

Service was terrific, and as usually the case with me, the server kindly "put up with" my fractured Italian language skills. We each ordered the same starter and main dishes. Eggplant parmigianna to start, which was lip-smacking delectable and since it was a Friday, we had the bacala main dish, which was perfectly cooked and placed in a sea of delicious red sauce. Since punterelle was in season and on the menu we had that as a side dish to share, it went perfectly with the meal. To our delight the pecorino white wine from Abruzzo that we had at two of the wine tasting this week was on the menu and it was the perfect complement to the eggplant and bacala. We ended the meal with espresso and a limoncello for mom and an amaro digestivo for me. This happened to be the most expensive meal of the week in Rome coming in at €105. This meal capped our last night in Italy perfectly. I cannot recommend Armando highly enough and I will return on future visits to Roma!

Saturday, October 25, 2013

Our last night in Rome was not a restful one for me, I had booked Rome Cabs to pick us up at 4:30am, and I think I probably got 1 or 2 hours of actual sleep. Knowing I could not over sleep and miss a plane, tends to keep me awake.

As usual, Rome Cabs was there to pick us up, even slightly before the 4:30am time and we were whisked off to Fiumicino. The check-in, boarding, flights, connections, re-entry through passport control and customs was a breeze and we were back home before we knew it. Of course during our lay-over in Paris we couldn’t pass up a stop at the Lauduree shop for a few macaroons, and I was actually able to sleep for several hours on the flight home, now that never happens!

Here’s to dreaming of our next Italian odyssey!
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Dec 13th, 2013, 12:46 AM
  #55  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,188
aussie_10, you can buy Groupons from areas other than the one you live in. Just because you live in Australia does not mean you can't buy this Groupon (should it become available again). I'd suggest setting up a Google alert so that you can become aware that it's available. Now, this may not apply in a few special cases, so double-check the wording, but this is generally true.

LCI, what a fabulous trip. My daughter is the same sort of person like your mother who can make friends everywhere and anywhere.
WillTravel is offline  
Dec 13th, 2013, 04:55 AM
  #56  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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What a great report. I do the same thing - I got maybe an hour or so of sleep the night before departure. Which naturally does not help with jetlag coming home.

Armando's was one of my favorites this time (top being T. Monti). It is good to know there are a number of decent dining options near the Pantheon.

My next trip will have to be in season so I can take advantage of that terrace! I wandered up there one evening and looked around but they were closed of course. What a perfect place to have a drink.
flygirl is offline  
Dec 13th, 2013, 06:01 AM
  #57  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
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LCI - I thoroughly enjoyed your trip report - especially all of your food experiences.

It seems like you have done well using the bus system in Rome. On our trip next spring we would like to venture out a bit from the historic center and would like to use the bus system. Do you use Google maps or the Rome bus system website. A while ago I tried the ATAC website to plot out my bus trips - and it seemed a bit difficult. I am a planner and like to have every detail figured out in advance - I want to know where to get on the bus and which stop to get off. Any tips or ideas on the best way to get print outs of the bus routes in Rome? Thanks for any info you can provide.
bab706 is offline  
Dec 13th, 2013, 06:34 AM
  #58  
 
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Virtual travel with you was super, LowCountryIslander! Rome is "up there" as a favorite city. DH and I noticed St Paul Outside the Wall for the first time after several visits to Rome and wondered, as you did, how we had missed it.

bab706, LCI will have better info but DH and I preferred the tram system if we weren't certain what the stop actually looked like. The names of the stops were shown on an electronic strip on most of them. That being said, we took a bus to try to find a resto from a trip 10 years back (!) and the folks on the bus let us know what stop to take. Also, we found more electronic info at the actual bus stops on our last trip to Rome. We bought a "Map of public transport" at a tourist info kiosk near Piazza Navona.
TDudette is online now  
Dec 13th, 2013, 08:42 AM
  #59  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 1,800
LCI:

It is been a couple of years since I stayed at the Albergo del Senato, and after reading this, I booked a trip to Rome and the Albergo for early April.

Thanks for making me spend some (a lot of) money...
Weekender is offline  
Dec 13th, 2013, 08:58 AM
  #60  
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Thanks for "coming along on my journey"! ;-)

bab...I agree the ATAC website is not the best public transit website I have used (I love the Paris RATP website!). I mention the Paris site because I could print a full bus route map from that website, I have yet to find that function on the ATAC website for Rome. There are some route maps you can print from ATAC. I've printed the little electric bus routes map (buses #116, #117 & #119) and I've printed the tram route map. But I've searched and searched and they don't have the option to print each bus route map, maybe it's because the routes can sometimes change? I don't know.

But what I usually will do, is find the address I need on Google maps, and "scope out" the area on Google Maps and Google Street View too, which has helped me when looking for certain shops or restaurants. Then I go to the ATAC route planner page on their website and enter my starting and ending destinations and up pops a route, sometimes it will be more than one option. But, you also have to fill in the day/time because as I found, if you don't do that the website uses the current time and if I need a bus for a Sunday and I'm looking at the site on a Wednesday night, there will be different routes because of night and/or weekend schedules. So, I try to plug in days/times for when I will need it as I start to plan my itinerary. I know, I know, this sounds like a lot of work, but after doing this for our last 4 trips, it's finally starting to get easier because I'm becoming more familiar with the different neighborhoods and names of streets and the names of stops, which aren't always named for streets or landmarks.

Some, not all of the buses in Rome have a sign like TDudette mentioned about on the trams that will flash the next stop, so I have to really watch the street signs while riding the bus or be familiar with the areas we are going to. That's where using Google maps before a trip to orient myself really helps when looking at street signs! I noticed on this trip less of the busses seemed to have these signs than I remember from previous trips.

I haven't bought the map of public transit that TDudette mentions above, but I probably should and that might make it easier than using the ATAC website. What I have done in the past is before a trip I will usually plan out where I need to go and do the trip planner on the ATAC website and then type or copy that into my itinerary document and on my phone calendar so I have easy access to the route we need to take. I know, I know, I'm a little OTT ("over the top") with the public transit planning, but it's really helped us see alot more of Rome (and we've done the same in Paris) and worked its out well for us.

I hope my little "rant" here about the Rome transit system and ATAC website will help you. ;-)
LowCountryIslander is offline  

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