Here is part one of a multi-part post about my trip to Italy. This particular trip is more travel based than food based, but of course I’ll always throw a few food pics in to keep everyone happy. Seriously, I live to eat, so what is a trip to Italy without food?
My trip goes more or less as follows with a bunch of random towns in between: Roma, Sorrento (Amalfi Coast), Piobicco (Le Marche), Florence, Riomaggiore (Cinque Terre), Padova, Venice.
Today’s post – Roma! (Part I of II)
After a few trips to Europe, I’ve gotten in the habit of flying with Virgin Atlantic. What can I say, they remind me of flying as a kid, when it was cool, and I felt spoiled. I make sure to run everything through my American Express so once in a while I can splurge on an upgrade with my points. I pretty much blew my points on this trip, but it was so nice. 1st class from Los Angeles to London. The seats have tall partitions and they turn into beds! Here is a blurry iphone pic of the cabin, my seat and my suspicious neighbor.
It takes a good ten hours of flying to get to London, and once there another 3 hour transfer to Rome. When I finally arrived to check into my apartment it was nearly midnight. Yes, I’m the one who wakes you up with my roller-bag at 11pm crashing down the street under your bedroom window. Sorry!
Upon waking, the first thing I want in Italy is the most excellent cafe (espresso) and pastry I can find. Unfortunately jet lag slowed me down a bit so I opted for a quick cafe at the apartment first, then headed out to some random place around the corner. Both my stove top version and the corner cafe turned out to be quite amazingly good and I was set for breakfast. This continued daily as my morning regimen, something I picked up the last time I was here and a hard habit to break! Again, using iphone pics here so forgive the funky colors.
A glimpse of life on the very lively street my apartment was situated on below. These images are across the street from each other; on one side a happening restaurant with bar patrons spilling into the street, and opposite, an old-school barber shop. This is what is so magical about Italy. Both exist, side by side and whatever you need is right there, or at least around the corner. And if you can’t find it your neighbor’s cousin can probably help you out.
More on our street:
My friend Kristin was due to meet me on day 2, so I headed off to wander the streets of Rome and get my bearings. I had never been here before and I was wondering if the city would prove to be too much for me and my habit of walking everywhere. Luckily I discovered Rome has a small but reasonably effective subway system. Thank goodness! I could walk an hour away and still take a train home if I needed too. This worked great as I have a tendency to walk for HOURS until I just can’t anymore and then I can opt for a train. Taxi you say? I’d rather walk than sit in traffic! And I’d rather spend my high-priced Euros on other things such a un altro bicchiere di vino… or three or a really great gelato.
Kristin arrived late the next day and due to jet-lag fell asleep pretty early. I was left to my own devices and seeing that it was only 7pm I hit the streets. I wandered around our neighborhood, found the piazza where all the drunk kids hang out (awesome!) found the stuffy white-table-cloth restaurants (no thanks) and wow, found the Jazz & Blues club NEXT DOOR to our apartment! By now it was 9:00 pm, certainly late enough to catch some American blues sung with an Italian accent right? I only wish there were some dancers there! You may not know this about me, but I do my fair share of swing dancing and I’m just learning blues dancing…but that is another story for another time. Instead I sat up in this tiny 30 person bar with everyone else and drank my beer on my own with my foot tapping the whole time.
My friend Kristin would be staying the next 10 days with me through Roma and Sorrento. We are both photographers, and if you are one too you understand a photographer’s vacation is a bit warped. Walk 20 feet, exclaim with amazement at what you see, take a bunch of photos, stop traffic, look like a crazy tourist, walk 20 feet (or less) and repeat…. all day for like 8 hours. And all the time lugging a good 10-20 lbs of equipment with you. And don’t get us started on finding good light! Then we get up the next day and do it again and we’ll still be super excited about a random door knocker, man-hole cover or license plate. Usually the grittier the better. At least we could relate to each other and we did get to see a lot of the city. Here is where I post a bunch of photos in a row of what we saw and photographed. In Part II I’ll show you the market and foodie stuff.
Spanish Steps. Yes I know you can’t see them, the people on the street were way more interesting.
Love the architecture. Yes, I’m that tourist looking into the sky and not watching where I’m walking. Sorry!
And the Vatican / Sistine Chapel. How can you miss that??? They don’t allow photos in the chapel, but I’m very good at not understanding plain English every once in a while…
Like many photographers, Kristin hates photos of herself, so this is as good a look at her as I can give you… Luckily there was a perfect vignette right on the other side of the table.
Trevi Fountain plus a photo of yours truly! Get it while you can, it is not a common occurrence! I love the crowds there that look so, well CROWDED and so bored all at the same time. They spent so much money to get here its a bit sad, but, well… I guess they are tired.
Chestnut roaster stand. I don’t think they were even in season? In April? And may favorite, the eat-in the-street restaurants that are all over in Europe.
One of our favorite meals was at Urbana 47, right in our own neighborhood! They had the best farro salad with asparagus, fresh cheese and a little cracked pepper. They were such a nice change from the typical tourist fare too! Go there and DO NOT order the tourist menu! Get something you have never heard of, you’ll probably love it!
Still in the ‘hood and our beloved subway stop:
That’s me shopping, thanks Kristin!
And since this is a food blog, I’ll end with the BEST gnocchi I had on the whole trip. Bar none this was it. One waiter, 6 tables and a verbal menu, and I think the waiter might have been the cook as well. Hard to tell. Do you want a quarter, half or full liter of wine? White or red? Good luck understanding the rest! Even with my limited Italian I had a hard time figuring out what the guy was telling us. But we heard Gnocchi and pretty much glazed over after that. It was for the best.
Up next, a Roman food market!