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Mozzarella, Museums, and Macchiato; Four Friends Spend Another Week in Rome

Mozzarella, Museums, and Macchiato; Four Friends Spend Another Week in Rome

Old Nov 5th, 2009, 05:38 AM
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<b>Day 3 Continued</b>

From there, our goal was the Capitoline Museums to which none of us had ever been. We took tram #8 to Largo Argentina and transferred to the first bus which would get us close to the where it looked like the museum was on the map.

Rome Lesson #357: Sometimes it’s hard to tell where things are from the map, and where the closest bus stop is.

The Capitoline Museums (and there are two, right across the Piazza Campidoglio from each other) are essentially at the top of the Cordonata (Michelangelo’s grand staircase) next to the right side of the Vittorio Emmanualle monument.

Unfortunately, the bus did not stop until it had gone around and to the far side of the Piazza Venezia so we had to walk back and up the steps on the left in between the Forum and the monument.

<b>Capitoline Museums</b>
One entrance fee gets you into both the Palazzo Nuovo and the Palazzo dei Conservatori (www.museicapitolini.org). You must enter through the Palazzo dei Conservatori.

Now was the moment of truth; would our Roma Pass cards work for the 2nd free entrance? We followed the signs for Roma Pass holders, by-passing the ticket window, and went straight to the security line. They scanned our cards, and let us in. Easy. Yes, I was relieved.

There is a free coat check locker room right inside the entrance. Put your stuff in an empty locker and take the key. There are also basic maps in there but we ended up using the DK Eyewitness Guide much morr. Looking back, the info in the guidebook was pretty scarce on what was actually there.

The famous giant head, hands and feet of the colossal statue of Constantine are right there in the courtyard and we had the place to ourselves for a full 10 minutes. The rest of the museum is huge, spanning two building with many floors. It’s overwhelming and I know we missed a lot (including apparently a special Michelangelo exhibit!). It’s also nowhere near as crowded as some of the other museums in town. There are the remains of a temple of Jupiter and the museum is built right around it. I can't possibly explain everything we saw, but there will be plenty on photos on my web site.

One of the best things is the view from the area between the two museums overlooking the forum. Thanks to Marcy for telling us about this. To get between the two museums there is an underground passageway beneath the piazza. In the middle is an offshoot. Go up the steps and walk toward the light. You will be rewarded with the most fantastic view.
By the second museum we are starting to flag a bit, but we enjoy the sculptures and the temple ruins nonetheless.

Afterward, we exit from the Palazzo Nuovo, walk across the piazza, show our keys at the entrance and pick up our coats. We want to use the bathroom before we leave, which turns out to be big mistake. We follow the direction of a security guard and down the stairs and all the way across the passage to the second museum we go. If there was a closer one to the coat check, we do not see it.

We sit in the Piazza and pull out my trusty guide, looking for where to go for lunch. The Ghetto neighborhood is walking distance so we set out to find Sora Margarhita. But first we have to take one last look at the view.

Tip: if you don’t have time to see the view from inside the Capitoline Museum viewpoint, go up to the Piazza Campidoglio and head to the right side of the Palazzo Senatorio building. Go under the ancient archway connecting the two buildings and check out the view from there. It’s a slightly different perspective, but still stunning. In fact, I think this one might be slightly better because you can see the Coliseum more clearly from this angle.
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Old Nov 5th, 2009, 05:49 AM
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Just another reason to go back! We haven't made it inside in several visits-always waiting for bad weather that never comes.
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Old Nov 5th, 2009, 06:59 AM
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Oh I hope you made it to Sora Margarhita. I had that on my "go to list", but just ran out of time!
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Old Nov 5th, 2009, 07:13 AM
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And yet another reason to go back! DH and I are of the "stumble onto a wonderful place" school. We seem to get lost looking for particular places...like Cul de Sac.
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Old Nov 5th, 2009, 08:06 PM
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<b>Sora Margherita

<i>When is a restaurant not really a restaurant?<i></b>

Question: When is a restaurant not really a restaurant?
Answer: When it’s a “cultural association.”

It takes us a while and as usual, we get a little lost, wandering in the Ghetto. In fact, we have to stop and ask someone for directions and end up back in a Piazza where we’d just been five minutes before. It’s no surprise because this place has no sign or visible entrance, unless you know what you’re looking for.
Stand in the Piazza delle Cinque Scole and look for the doorway with the long red ribbons/ropes (the kind used to keep flying insects out). See it? Then look closer at a metal plate on the wall next to the doorway and you’ll see that someone has hand painted “Sora Margherita” on it.

There is a gentleman standing in the doorway, policing all who dare to enter. We ask for a table for four. He hesitates and tells us we will have to wait about 20 minutes. It’s a little after 1:30PM and the small place is packed with people. We sit in the sunshine on a couple of folding chairs and wait, watching the crowd of mostly locals come and wait too. We chat for a while with a guy, also waiting, who teaches at a nearby school. He tells us “everything is good” here.

Finally they are ready to seat us and we squeeze our way to the back room and to a table for four. We’re asked if we’ve been before and when we say we have not, we’re given little cards to fill out to join the “cultural association.” Apparently, this is how they get around following certain rules and inspections governing restaurants. We are presented with a hand written menu on brown butcher paper.

We select a little of everything from the menu to try. The grilled and marinated eggplant is cooked to perfection. The typical carciofi alla giudea (a fried and flattened artichoke) is wonderful. Usually I have not liked this version as much as the marinated alla romana, but here it was wonderful, crispy and tender at the same time.

We get an order of agnolotti (a stuffed pasta like a ravioli) which comes filled with beef. We’d ordered it with a sugo di carne sauce (a tomato sauce with beef). If I’d realized the filling had meat in it, I would have ordered it with a different sauce, like pesto. Almost all the pastas came with a choice of sauce. We also order the rigatoni di pajata, which I love, but is not something for everyone. In fact, just like last year, our server clarified that I knew what I was ordering when I asked for it. For an explanation of pajata, please see my page from last year on this dish http://www.wired2theworld.com/ROME2008Day7.html (near the bottom of the page).

To round out the main meal, we get an order of meatballs and an order of eggplant parmesan. The meatballs are probably the weakest dish of the meal; they seem like they have too much bread crumb in them or something to alter the texture and make them less “meaty.” The eggplant parmesan is very good. I would have liked to have ordered another meat dish to try.

We order dessert (cheesecake with chocolate and peaches in red wine) and while waiting, we notice the man across from us has received a plate of chunks of what appears to be parmesan cheese. He sees both Tris and me eying the plate (me with curiosity and she with cheese lust in her heart) and holds the plate toward us, offering us some. We politely decline. He insists. We decline again. He won’t take no for answer and gets up from his seat and forces us each to take a piece of cheese. It’s very strong, sharp and incredibly salty. Later he tries to offer us more, along with other items from his table and we have to try and explain how full we already are. We leave, happy and satisfied.

Lunch for four, including a liter of house white wine, a liter of water and service, is 80€
Sora Margherita, Associazione Culturale; Piazza delle Cinque Scole, 30. Tel:06 6874216
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Old Nov 6th, 2009, 05:08 AM
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Oh Darn! I wish we had made it to Sora Margherita.

I had a feeling after reading about it in my Food Wine Rome book it would be just the kind of place I like...and by your description it certainly sounds like I missed a gem!

Oh well...next time! I see you are keeping up "our" eggplant passion!
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Old Nov 6th, 2009, 06:44 AM
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After lunch we walk over to see the turtle fountain and discover it has been drained and is being restored.

By now we’re ready to head back to the apartment, but first, I can’t leave the Ghetto without a stop at a wonderful kosher bakery called Pasticceria “Boccione” Limentani (Via Portico D’Ottavia, 1). This place is right on the corner of the piazza and is well known for its various biscotti and cookies and for crostata which is like a thick tart or pie with two crusts. We arrive too late to try the one with ricotta and chocolate, so I have to settle for the one with cherries and almond paste. I try it later, when everyone else is sleeping. It’s all I can do not to polish it all off myself. If it’s that good, how good must the chocolate be?

For dinner we decide to do something in the neighborhood and head out to Dar Poeta pizzaria. Inside they are full and it’s too cold to sit outside. We wait a few minutes and finally they tell us to come in. We find ourselves being led to a basement dining room, where we sit for the entire meal, alone. This ticks me off a bit and I wonder why the other people (clearly local) waiting for a table inside are not brought down to the basement as well. From a restaurant operator’s perspective, I’m sure they just wanted to give us a table, any table, and I really want to give them the benefit of the doubt that they weren’t putting us down there just because we were tourists. Still, it felt a bit lame. Fortunately, the pizzas, the crust especially, turn out to be really good.

We have one pizza with zucchini flowers, mozzarella and anchovies, one with sausage, mushrooms and mozzarella, and one with potatoes, sausage and mozzarella. My mom has nothing but tries each of the pizzas. There was a lot left over, and while getting a “doggy bag” is not very common in Europe, we get the remains of our pizzas to go because we see people leaving with boxes and figured it was acceptable here.

Three pizzas, 1 liter of aqua con gas, ½ liter of wine, 2 large beers, and 1 small beer was approx. 80€. Dar Poeta, Vicolo del Bologna, 45/46; Tel:06 5880516 www.darpoeta.com
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Old Nov 6th, 2009, 08:14 AM
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hi Kristina,

I've just started reading HV Morton's "a traveller in Rome" [available on Amazon] so it was interesting to compare your description of the Capitoline museums with his!

you compare pretty well, but he's not so up to date on the restaurants!

sora margherita has definitely gone down on my list.
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Old Nov 6th, 2009, 11:14 AM
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annhig-There's so much art there I couldn't possibly describe it all, which is why I didn't even try. That's what a good guidebook is for. ;-) But I will have a TON of pictures on my website.
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Old Nov 6th, 2009, 11:14 AM
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Ann, for future reference...

HV Morton's books are excellent, but before you buy on amazon have a look in your local charity shops - you should be able to find a copy for less than £3 (a £1 or so more if it's in the dustwrapper). I work in an Oxfam bookshop and we get loads of his books in. I've got a nice copy of his 'The Fountains of Rome' at the moment - lots of pics, it's also a great book to read before you visit Rome, worth looking our for.
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Old Nov 8th, 2009, 04:17 AM
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hi julia - why didn't I think of that?

DH is always saying I do things before thinking.

but I'll have a look for the Fountains of Rome - there are plenty of charity shops near my office plus a couple of 2nd hand book shops, which I never need an excuse to visit.
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Old Nov 8th, 2009, 05:07 AM
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Bookmarking...for yet another reason that I shouldn't avoid Rome anymore.

...And that the only way to do it is in true "Kristina style".

Kristina.....I swear we're kindreds (among others here who feel the same way!).

A/S
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Old Nov 8th, 2009, 07:45 AM
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sora...sounds wonderful. My Italian is too poor to even be called 'rusty' but is agnolotti a lamb dish? Anyway, it all sounded so great.
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Old Nov 8th, 2009, 11:21 AM
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adventureseeker-yes, I have found many "kindreds" here on Fodor's. ;-) And no, please don't avoid Rome. It's really special. The trick is to give it more than the typical 2-3 days most tourists allow. I could spend a month there and not see everything on my list.

TDudette-agnolotti is a type of filled pasta like a ravioli or a tortoloni. My Food Lover's Companion defines it at "Italian for Priests Caps, a small crescent shaped stuffed pasta."

Folks, please bear with me. It's taking me longer than I'd like to get the writing done and go through all my photos.
I tell myself I won't move forward with writing the next day until I get the previous one up and posted on my website. That's the only way I can get it all done.
But real life intrudes and because I spend so much time on the computer, I've been having pain in my right arm (my mouse hand) and I've been trying to give it a rest.
I promise, I will get it done.
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Old Nov 8th, 2009, 04:14 PM
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No worries. You just have us all hooked in and we want more.

We can all be patient.

"Rome wasn't built in a day"......(pun intended)
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 07:58 AM
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Kristina, I could spend all day on your site and never get anything done.
Question for you:
If you were staying in Umbria, and wanted to travel into Rome for the day, could you narrow down exactly what you would see. Keeping in mind the time frame we will be there.
a week before Easter....... First time Rome visit. Many times in Italy. I'm an artist and would love to see the highlights, but just know it'll be crazy busy there, and I will probably not really appreciate what is before me.
thanks and appreciation...for all your great posts!
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 10:06 AM
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grucci,

For a one-day visit, I think the biggest concern is to decide whether or not to visit the Vatican Museums, since it can take a big chunk from your day depending on your interests. The museums can take 2 hours for highlights or all day for a total exploration. Then add in at least an hour to explore St Peter's Basilica

Another concentration would be Ancient Rome, with the most popular sites clustered together: Colosseum, Forum, Palatine Hill. One could see the Colosseum and Forum in half a day. More time would probably be needed to explore the Palatine Hill.

The third concentration would be exploring the old center: Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Campo de Fiori. This is more about wandering than paying admission, dealing with lines, and visiting a site.

As an artist, you may have your own must-see locations . . . Borghese Gallery . . . St Teresa in Ecstacy . . . that would take you to other parts of the city.

Set your must-sees and concentrate on that. Don't forget to add in cafe time.
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 11:16 AM
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grucci-

I see ellen has replied to your question already, but my take is a little different. That's the beauty of Fodor's is it not?

So, Roma as a day trip? My heart is breaking just a little...

BTW, if you look at my 2008 trip you will see we were also there the week before Easter. It was busy, but not that bad. Honestly, it did not seem any less busy this October.

I see you are renting a villa in Orvieto. This is good because you can take the train directly into Rome in about an hour. DO NOT drive, even if you have cars. It will take you longer than that hour and you will be fighting traffic and parking. It's just not worth it.
So, even if you get a very early start (which I recommend) you will only have 8-10 hours in Rome.

Here's what I would NOT do; I would not go to any museums and I would not do any tours. Both will suck up too much of your time.

Here's what I would do;
I would take the train in as early as possible. I would taxi or take the metro over to the Coliseum and check that out along with the Forum. Allow about 2.5 hours. Make sure you climp the stairs to the Palatine for the view of the Forum, but I agree you won't have the time to see all of the Palatine.

Then, I would take the bus over to the historical district and check out the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Campo di Fiori (if you get there before 2PM you will be able to see the daily market) and the Trevi Fountain.
If you are not traveling with all 17 of your family members, I would make reservations for lunch at Armando al Pantheon. If you will all be together, I would probably search out a place for pizza. Wander around the historical district for a couple of hours.

Lastly, I would go see St. Peters Basilica, saving the Vatican Museum and thus, the Sistene Chapel for another visit.
Then, maybe an early dinner before getting on the train home. Or, if no time for dinner, a trip to the Testaccio neighborhood and a stop at the famous Volpetti deli for picnic supplies for the train ride back (or a stop at just about any market will yield good results).
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 06:22 PM
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grucci:

17 family members? really? Listen to Kristina--no tours, no cars.

I differ from her suggestions in this way: skip St Peters--lines too long and really, I know it's St Peter's , but I think there are much more impressive churches in the world. Heresy? Perhaps. Take the time and just sit somewhere, and absorb Rome--and decide when you will return and devote a week to it. This week that K writes about now was my second visit and I am going back next Spring. I may do the Scavi Tour at the Vatican, but right now I would not go back to St Peter's.
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 08:55 PM
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But mom, you've been before and she's never been. That's why I recommended a "greatest hits" kind of day.

Sorry, but I have to respectfully disagree with my mom here. Unless you dislike churches all together, I wouldn't miss it.
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