I went to Italy for two weeks around Easter, and right in the moment when the plane landed in Rome-Fiumicino I got this certain feeling that you only get when in Italy: a small (or sometimes a bit bigger!) chaos is surrounding you, people are talking with their hands, you can smell the perfect cornetti and coffee lingering in the air… oh my, I felt so happy and I knew I was in the right place… and that it would only get better :)
For most of us, Rome is the ultimate city of romance, history, culture, beauty, fashion, shopping, and great food and wine. And at the same time it’s chaotic, noisy, dirty, and stressing. It’s the kind of city that most definitely will not leave you cold, and after you’ve had the first honeymoon with it, you’ll start going through all the possible feelings while walking along its streets – happiness, amazement, annoyance and anxiety. And each time when you get back home from your travels, you want to return immediately. This means you are hooked – hooked for a lifetime! Each time when I pass by Piazza Venezia, for instance, I can’t resist the feeling of annoyance because of the crazy amount of traffic and the pollutions in the air… it’s just noisy and chaotic, and there are too many people running around… and not to mention those huge groups of tourists (since you are not yourself that kind of tourist as everyone else is ;) ) that are on your way …and, yet again, after walking couple of blocks towards the centro storico, the tranquillity surrounds you and you feel more happy than ever before. These are those magical moments that you can experience only in Italy, and it’s a real miracle how alive you feel in this Country because of all those emotions that run through you.
Wherever you go in Italy, you are not only surrounded by the beautiful, historical buildings, but also by the local people to whom the bellezza – the beauty – is obviously an important part of everyday life. And this doesn’t only apply to the appearance and clothes, but also to the behavior. One of the best ways to discover what this actually means is during the passeggiata – the evening stroll – on aperitif -time. That’s the time when the locals really dress-up, get out on the streets, meet their friends and neighbors, maybe do some shopping (and, important note: MEN always carry the shopping bags, never the women!), and go some place for a nice drink before the dinner time. You might actually feel like you were in the middle of fashion show while watching the locals having their passeggiata, so there really is no need to buy a ticket to the opera or any other place until you’ve entertained yourself enough with this happening that occurs basically every night. So get yourself a good spot from some nice piazza and enjoy the view. Some of the best places for this are around Spanish Steps, Centro Storico (Piazza Navona or Campo dei Fiori, for example), and in Trastevere. One of my favorite place in Trastevere is in Piazza San Cosimato, where you can find this great aperitif bar which name I can never remember… but it’s right next to Ai Spaghettari -restaurant so you can’t miss it. And, on the other side of the piazza there is btw. one of the best gelaterias in Rome, Fatamorgana, just so you know ;)
Rome, as we all know, serves also great food with decent prices if you just know where to go. This time I tried e.g. the famous Bonci Pizzarium close to the Vatican museums (…and did I already tell you that I saw the Pope on Piazza, too? Yes, I did, now how cool is that?!) but to be honest it was a bit too modern on my taste. I prefer more simple tastes and toppings on my pizza, and therefore next time will choose Roscioli instead. Roscioli is my all-time-favorite in Rome, serving amazing pizza al taglio among other amazing treats, and they also have a restaurant which I finally had a chance to check out. And mamma mia that burrata and the culatello that I had for dinner… wow! The Roscioli restaurant might not be the most inexpensive place in Rome, but I can assure it’s well worth of experiencing, and in the “forno” (bakery) they have very reasonable prices.
Also, in Testaccio area there is a great restaurant where you can have both drinks and dinner, and which was full of locals, too. This place is called Porto Fluviale. Also a great choice for more traditional Roman food is Velavevodetto, which you can find from Testaccio, too, close to the Testaccio market area (now you might guess that I was having an apartment in Testaccio ;) ). In Velavevodetto I had some delicious artichoke which was on the antipasto -menu, and all the other foods looked super good, too. The Testaccio market itself was a bit of a disappointment to be honest, it’s located nowadays in this modern renovated building so it lacks the romantic feeling that you might expect there to have, but it’s definitely worth visiting if you find yourself from the area.
..but after 3 days in Rome, it was time jump on the train and head very south – Sicily. The train ride from Rome to Taormina was already an experience itself with all those amazing views to the sea, so if you ever plan on going there, take the train as an option. A 10-hour train ride might sound like a long time and not as good idea as flying, but time goes super fast and the views are amazing! And, if you get as lucky as I did, you might get some new local friends who are more than happy to share their secrets where to go and what to see in Sicily, and at the same time you can practice your language skills – so it’s a win-win-win for real!
And when in Sicily… well, that is a whole another story, I’ll tell you more on my next post :)
Elämää Italiassa ja italialaisessa Suomessa: ruokaa, juomaa, ostoksia ja maisemareittien koluamista patikoiden.