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Bruce and Marija spend 10 days in sultry Rome

Bruce and Marija spend 10 days in sultry Rome

Sep 3rd, 2008, 12:28 PM
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Thanks for reading!

LAwoman--For our return, Rome Shuttle Limo showed up with a taxi for us too. How they operate is a mystery to me. I'm glad someone else wasn't crazy about the Scavi tour.

Leely2--Don't despair, based on fodors postings, LAwoman is the only other person besides us who wasn't enamored with the Scavi tour.

bfrac--We probably vetted our eating places more thoroughly than VP candidates. I wish we could have tried some more of the places I had researched.

Julie--I think Ditirambo is an excellent suggestion for your friend. We returned for a second dinner there and it was great.
Marija is online now  
Sep 3rd, 2008, 05:21 PM
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In July heat and crowds combine to make sightseeing brutal in Rome. As we watched the sunbaked throngs in front of the Pantheon from our living room window and, probably more often, from our dining room table, we debated whether we would have had the dedication to see all of the major "must sees" under such conditions. We had already ruled out another visit to the Vatican museums, since we couldn't imagine standing in a line for hours in the heat and we weren't interested in taking a tour. (Early on in the week we scrapped our plans to go to Ostia Antica and Naples since we thought it was much too hot for daytrips.) However, our self respect didn't allow us to completely ignore Rome's nonculinary treasures. Instead we focused on some of the less flashy destinations. Every church we passed was deemed worthy of a stop, a decision that considerably slowed our walking pace but resulted in visits to some remarkable churches that we couldn't be bothered with in the past. Each day we also selected an area or museum to tour.

Today our destination was the Capitoline Museums, a twenty minute walk from our apartment. They were right where the map said they would be, which was a relief. I dissuaded Bruce from trying to gain entry by climbing a very steep staircase to what turned out to be a church, and instead we followed a tour group to the more user-friendly entrance. The museum had far more treasures than we could possibly admire in the couple of hours we had allocated to it. (No skipping lunch for Bruce!) There were great elevated views over the Forum from an outdoor balcony and Bruce finally had a chance to take photos with the large camera that he had been lugging around all morning.

The plan on the way back was to stop at Campo dei Fiori to pick up more lunch ingredients but it was just too hot to venture out of our way. While Bruce headed to the apartment I searched for the pig sandwich place by the Pantheon that I had read about. I couldn't find it and capitulated and picked up a nondescript sandwich. I hate to do that since I want every meal in Rome to be great. (For future travelers I did find the pig sandwich place on a subsequent walk. It is on via de Rotunda, a block or so south of the Pantheon, on the right side if you're walking from the Pantheon. You'll recognize it by the pig head guarding the sandwiches.)

Dinner was at Pallaro (Largo del Pallaro 15), a fixed price (24E per person) eat -what- you're -given destination. I knew it was simple food with no-nonsense service, presided over by Paola Fazi, the owner chef. The food was plentiful, salumi, prosciutto, lentils and tomatoes for antipasti; rigatoni with tomatoes followed by stewed beef with mozzarella, green beans and house-made potato chips. Dessert was fruit cake and peaches. We dined fairly late so I think we were the only tourists there but we certainly didn't feel welcome. It was like we weren't there. The owner made rounds without glancing at us. Our request for additional wine was brushed off. (A half liter of wine wasn't enough for us, and we saw tables getting additional wine. We certainly expected to pay extra but it never materialized.) We weren't even sure when the meal ended since people around us were getting all kinds of additional dishes which we didn't. The food was reasonably good and there was lots of it, but it's not a place we want to return to. We hoped it was going to be more than just "a good deal" in terms of price. Simple places have delighted us with wonderful food and we were hoping that Pallaro would fall into this category -- but it didn't.
Marija is online now  
Sep 4th, 2008, 07:32 AM
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Marija, we were denied more wine at der Pallaro, too. I felt like Oliver Twist.
LAwoman is offline  
Sep 4th, 2008, 07:55 AM
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I'm glad it wasn't just something about us that the waiter found displeasing. It's not very Italian to restrict diners to one glass of wine with a multi-course meal! We were never given a choice of red or white though some of the tables had both on the table. Other tables got more wine too.
Thanks for reading.
Marija is online now  
Sep 6th, 2008, 08:54 AM
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Today our activity was to visit the Jewish Ghetto. I had printed out a tour and we just followed the instructions starting at the Tortoise Fountain and ending at the Great Synagogue:

Since we started out early to avoid the heat and crowds we reached the Synagogue shortly before opening time. That gave us more time to admire the ruins and gaze at the apartment that Sophia Loren supposedly has in the Ghetto.

You can only visit the Great Synagogue with a tour guide and we were lucky that an English tour was the first to go. Before the tour you get to wander around the museum which contains numerous Jewish artifacts and a heartrending movie about the history of Jews in Rome. The tour visits two synagogues which are in the same building. Men are required to don yarmulkes and women to cover their heads. It seemed that everyone on our tour was Jewish so we couldn't follow the specifics of the discussion. We were hoping for some background info about what's what in a synagogue but that never happened.

Predictably, after our Ghetto walk we headed to Campo dei Fiori for luncheon ingredients. We had grown quite fond of the pizza bianca with figs and prosciutto from the Forno and supplemented it with heirloom tomatoes and wild strawberries.

Before leaving I had read a post about the Miracle Players (www.miracleplayers.org) who
offer a free production in English about the history of Rome, outside by the steps in front of the Mamertine prison where Sts. Peter and Paul were incarcerated. The price was right so after our customary espresso and gelato we set off again. Fortunately we got there early and grabbed the top stair which allowed for a good view and a door to lean against.

The play, performed by a small number of actors, was quite amusing. The woman next to me whose husband teaches summers in Rome has been coming to the plays for the past 9 years and knew everything about the group and the actors. The briefing helped us appreciate the troupe even more. After the performance a hat was passed, although there was no pressure to contribute. Most people, including us, did.

We wanted to eat right in the neighborhood of the Forum at Taverna Fori Imperiali, (16 Via Madonna dei Monti; 06-679-8643; closed Tuesdays)
but had been unsuccessful in making reservations using the usual pay phone at Tazza d'Oro. The phone would ring and quickly disconnect (turns out it was forwarded to a cell phone which caused some sort of problem with the flat fee phone in the cafe). We rushed over to the restaurant as soon as the play ended hoping that we could be seated. The outdoor tables were occupied but we were given a table inside. What a great find this place is!

Taverna dei Fori Imperiali is a small family owned and operated restaurant. Don't be misled by the "taverna," this place serves serious food. The father cooks, the sons and daughter wait on tables, and the mama seems to do some of everything. Aldo the son speaks excellent English, since he worked in England for a while. Although we try hard to conduct our restaurant transactions in Italian, it's refreshing to be able to discuss the dishes in detail in English with a knowledgeable waiter. We start off with pasta with nduja, the spicy sausage, and pasta with fresh porcinis. Both were wonderful, with the spicy sausage taking the edge. Then followed the house meatloaf. I know it sounds ridiculous to order meatloaf in Rome but we'd read a recommendation for it ,which coupled with Aldo's high praise, was enough to convince us. And it was definitely not the nondescript meatloaf of American diners. Light and distinctly flavored it gave a whole different meaning to the word. Caponata was an excellent accompaniment. Dessert was ricotta cheese filled cannoli, with complimentary limoncello and herb liquor. We paid in cash so I don't remember the exact tab, but it was someplace around 80E including an excellent bottle of Sicilian Etna Rosso 2006, Firriato. Unlike Pallaro, we felt as if we were valued guests in their home, with everyone stopping at our table to make sure all was well. Although there was one other table of tourists, this trattoria was not on the main tourist track. We left very happy, determined to return before we left Rome.
Marija is online now  
Sep 9th, 2008, 04:41 PM
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For Saturday evening we made reservations at Colline Emiliane (Via Avignonesi 22,06-4817538), a renowned restaurant that serves cucina bolognese. Several years ago we spent six incredibly tasty days and nights in Bologna and were eager to again experience the tastes of Emilia-Romagna. The walk over from the Pantheon took about half an hour, including some missteps and their subsequent corrections.

At the restaurant we were quickly shepherded into the tourist room in back, despite exchanging pleasantries in semi-competent Italian with the host. That's something we really dislike and it immediately precludes a return visit to a restaurant. We took our seats among the early eating tourists who were winding down their meals. After what must have been 20 minutes or so a waiter approached our table and we placed our order for tortellini with meat in cream sauce, fettuccini with fresh porcini, a porcini and taleggio casserole, vitello tonnato, and of course a bottle of wine. I was determined to eat all of the fresh porcini that I could find, since that's a rare treat. For dessert we had the waiter-recommended zabaglione.

Unfortunately I don't know how to describe food in the meticulous detail that food lovers do, although we certainly enjoy eating. The meal was good but not memorable. Perhaps we didn't order the dishes that cause reviewers to heap extravagant praise upon the restaurant. The segregation from the Italian diners no doubt contributed to our less than enthusiastic overall impression of the restaurant. Total tab was 93.50E, our most expensive in Rome on this trip. We walked back by way of the Trevi and were surprised at how seedy it is late at night.
Marija is online now  
Oct 1st, 2008, 08:27 PM
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dcm58 is offline  
Jul 21st, 2009, 04:09 PM
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Is there a continuation after the Colline Emiliane entry? This is a great food trip report!
iluvitaly is offline  
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