I do love a good street sign. Here’s one of my favourites that I came across in Trastevere in Rome in July 2012.
I do love a good street sign. Here’s one of my favourites that I came across in Trastevere in Rome in July 2012.
Trip Advisor is a great website for travellers and one I use all the time when looking for hotels or restaurants when travelling.
Zorba downloaded the free Trip Advisor City Guide for Rome so we could use it offline on the iPhone, which was perfect. You can look up restaurants, hotels, attractions, sights, shopping as well as follow self-guided tours whilst walking around.
The very best feature is Point Me There to help you find your way to wherever it is you want to go. A large arrow points you in the general direction you need to walk. Because it is offline, Google maps doesn’t work, but that does not seem to matter.
Zorba loves the Point Me There feature of the Trip Advisor app. We used to it find our way to the Trevi fountain, Villa Borghese, Cappuchin Crypt, and dinner at San Michele in Trastevere. It’s brilliant – you don’t need to stop and pull out the map every 10 minutes – just quickly glance down to the phone and make sure you are heading in the right direction.
The best part of it was that we walked down streets that normally I would not have taken if I was following a conventional old-school map and we stumbled upon some really lovely sights.
Trip Advisor app is available through iTunes and is free.
Downloading the specific city guide is essential to be able to use it offline.
San Michele Restaurant and Pizzeria on the road that runs along the Tiber River, on the Trastevere side, was another top recommendation.
Questa foto di San Michele è offerta da TripAdvisor.
It was our last night in Rome for a while and both Zorba and I wanted to have a fantastic farewell meal.
The setting of San Michele is just beautiful. It is like a large private courtyard filled with jasmine, trees, potted plants, water feature and the odd sculpture. The pretty little lights take away the darkness with a subtlety and a huge canvas market umbrella provides shelter for the middle few tables. Short stout Italian men in black trousers, white shirts, vests and bow ties were scurrying around with haste to service the Italians dining in. No stranieri or foreigners here, just well dressed Italians.
Antipasto was mozzarella di buffala, stuffed zucchini flowers with mozzarella and anchovies, and stuffed crumbed olives. A trifecta of yum! The mozzarella had a very light outer with gorgeously soft silky almost sweet mozzarella centre. Absolutely heavenly. Zorba said it was the best mozzarella he has ever eaten – and that’s a big call because he eats it at every opportunity.
The delicate zucchini flowers were crispy, slightly salty from the anchovy and again, deliciously moorish.
For main course, Zorba and I shared a 900 gram bistecca Fiorentina – or Florentine t-bone steak. This is no ordinary steak. There is a special breed of beef that this meat comes from. It is cooked over coals, slightly charred on the outside and served rare to medium rare. It is so succulent and tender that the meat just melts as soon as it hits your tongue. I was in food heaven.
It was also really great to eat meat again after all the unintentional Italian carb loading we have been doing. Although it was not so great when Zorba picked up the bone and started gnawing on it to ensure that he had eaten every last scrap of meat! I was mortified! No no no no NO! As much as I secretly love to do that also, not in public and certainly not in a nice restaurant! Thankfully, no one seemed to bat an eyelid – after all, we are in Italy and Italians really do appreciate good food.
For dessert we shared a chocolate gelato. Always a winner.
Naturally, we had to digest and luckily we had the help of a couple of Amaro liqueurs that were served in a glass half-filled with frozen water, which when it melted slightly, turned into huge ice cube. It was pretty cool actually.
Thanks to my my Aussie friend Cat who has been living in Rome for six years for this fab recommendation.
This wins meal of the trip so far. Ten out of Ten.
Lungotevere Ripa, 7, Roma 00153 (zona Trastevere)
Tel +39 06 584 826
Catholics can be creepy. I’m one of them and have been to enough Roman and Italian churches and seen enough saints’ relics to say that with a certain level of authority.
We visited the Capuchin Crypt on via Veneto and the creep factor went to an all-time high. The cemetery of the Capuchin monks is a place that once you visit it, you will never forget it. How can you? It’s just too…too…creepy. There’s no other word for it.
From the 16th Century until the 19th Century, the Capuchin monks that lived a life of poverty and were considered to be almost hermits, kept all the bones of their deceased brother monks, dried them and then used them to decorate this crypt. Key word here; decorate.
Bones are set into the walls and ceiling to create patterns – imagine all arm bones set in such a way that they form a star, or pelvic bones to form an oval shape in the ceiling. The alter, light fittings, and picture frames, were all made with bones. Hundreds of skulls were stacked on top of each other along one wall.
I mean, who would sit there and put all the finger bones, all the leg bones, all the skulls, all the vertebrae, pelvic bones, etc into piles and decide what pattern to form with them? That is seriously creepy.
“What you are now we used to be, what we are now you will be.”
p.s. Sorry about the quality of the photos, not my finest photographic hour.
via Vittorio Veneto 27, Roma (near Piazza Barberini)
Tel: +39 06 487 1185
Closed Monday and Tuesdays.
My lovely girlfriend Cat who lives in Rome was given a restaurant recommendation by a local who lives in Trastevere, a lively night-time neighbourhood just over the Tiber river. ”This restaurant has no name, no menu, is kind of illegal and it’s really hard to find, but it is supposed to be really good,” Cat said with enthusiasm. Zorba loved the sound of that, and so it was decided.
As it turns out, the restaurant does have a name, Da i 2 Ciccioni, or the Two Fat Guys, is in a non-touristy street tucked towards the back of Trastevere. It is kind of illegal because there is no license…oh well! You could be visiting someone’s house really, hence the lack of menu. This is a hole in the wall kind of restaurant. There are just five tables and the walls are decorated with press cuttings from Australia, Brasil, Spain, New York and London that all said it was like having dinner at your Nonna’s. They were right.
Gianni, the owner, doesn’t speak a word of English and greeted us with a short sharp smile underneath his black moustache. “Cosa volate bere, rosso o biancho?” Our choice of drinks to have with dinner was simply red or white. Red please! The house red wine came in unlabelled bottles, poured into little cordial glasses and very quaffable making it easy to drink. No sparkling mineral water was available, just still tap water.
Dishes were plonked on the vinyl table coverings one after the other, with Gianni checking on us during each course to make sure everything was ‘buono’. His wife / friend / partner – not really sure who she was, kind of helped clear plates whilst balancing a cigarette from her mouth. I estimated that she smoked about a cigarette every eight minutes. It was non-stop.
Antipasto consisted of tomato brushetta with those beautiful tasty ripe red tomatoes Italy is famous for, a really delicious bean concoction in a sauce, and mash potato with tomato and a hint of chilli – nothing I’ve ever seen on an Italian menu before. Not that we had a menu, but you know what I mean.
Primi was a choice – pasta with carbonara or amatricana or with cream and pepper. Cat chose cream and pepper – the meat free option, whilst Zorba and I thoroughly and utterly enjoyed our Roman carbonara. Our bottle of red was finished (by Zorba and I – Cat doesn’t really drink) and without question or request, another bottle of red was opened and plonked on the table.
For secondi, we also had a choice, calamari with peas or chicken. Cat and Zorba chose the calamari and I had the chicken which was succulent, juicy and so tasty with just a hint of rosemary. The calamari was very flavoursome – a little bit too hot for my weak-chilli palate, but Cat said she was in ‘food heaven!’
My poor stomach was stretching, so full.
Gianni must have sensed how stuffed we were because he plonked on the table three little plastic cups and a bottle of limoncello and a bottle of grappa, to help us digest of course. The limoncello was so smooth – we all enjoyed several servings of that. I was the only brave one to try the grappa, which was like paint stripper, but nonetheless it made me feel like I was digesting – haha! Oh, we also received some home made biscotti which tasted like Arnotts teddy bear biscuits – nice!
After an hour or so, it was time to go. Gianni said that the bill was 25 euro each. Is that all? Less than A$30 each? For all that food, and moreover, all that limoncello? We paid cash, of course, and waddled out of there amazed at the experience we had just had.
This is one Roman food experience worth seeking out.
Lastly a big shout out to Zorba or always helping me and reminding me to take photos for my blog x
Da i 2 Ciccioni
Vicolo del Cedro, 8, Trastevere
Tel +39 06 5812 652
We experienced another culinary delight dining at Osteria La Quercia, near Piazza Farnese, last night. Thanks for my lovely girlfriend Cat for a great recommendation.
Before meeting for dinner at 8.30, Zorba and I had an apertivo without food at Enoteca Il Picolo not too far from Piazza Navona. This cute little wine bar has tables that spill out onto the street busy with locals going home from work, tourists looking around, street performers entertaining anyone that will pay attention – in our case it was a quartet of Brazillians doing summersaults, cartwheels, and handstands. Zorba and I had a drink here in 2010 and couldn’t resist going back. A lovely start to our evening.
La Quercia is lovely. A Roman restaurant offering amazing food and a good wine list. I chose the Nero D’Avola from Sicily, not only because I know that this wine is good, but also because it was only 15 Euro a bottle.
We shared antipasto of stuffed zucchini flowers – light and crispy stuffed with cheese and an anchovy an absolutely delicious – and classic bruschetta with tomato and basil that didn’t disappoint.
Next was pasta. Zorba chose the Roman classic spaghetti carbonara and I went for a special – tagliatelle with asparagus and truffle. Our friends Cat had vegetarian lasagne and Carmelo had the same as me. It was a smart choice. There was so much truffle in the sauce that my taste buds were throwing a party. The pasta was freshly made and I could have eaten two serves of it – it was that good. Zorba thoroughly enjoyed his carbonara as did Cat her vegetarian lasagne.
The best part? Il conto – the bill. The total bill that included sparking mineral water, came to 94.50 Euro. That is 23.63 euro each. Or A$28 each. SO CHEAP compared to what we pay in Australia. And this was a nice restaurant with waiters in white shirts and back vests, cloth napkins, and nice tableware.
Cat talked us into taking a walk to the famous Gelateria Della Palma near the Pantheon. This gelateria boasts over 150 flavours – there’s about 12 different chocolate flavours alone. Gelato in Italy is rarely disappointing and this was no exception.
Thanks to Cat and Carmelo for a great night out.
Enoteca Il Piccolo
via del Governo Vecchio, 74-75, Roma
Tel: +39 06 6880 1746
Osteria La Quercia
Piazza della Quercia, 23, 00186 Roma
Tel: +39 06 6830 0932
Gelateria Della Palma
via della Maddelena, 19, Roma 00186
Tel: +39 06 6880 6752
Our apartment is so lovely and spacious and has air con – an absolute necessity in Rome’s sweltering July heat.
There was never a question of what we were going to do on our first morning in Rome.
Obviously, nothing happens before my morning cappuccino and we love to stand at a bar and have it like the locals do.
Zorba’s other nickname could be Tomatino because he loves tomatoes so much. A visit to the Campo dei Fiori food markets was non-negotiable.
The markets offer so much colour, great fresh produce smells, and of course delicious ripe deep red tomatoes.
The locals ask questions to vendors about what is tasting good right now and buying their daily needs – this is how we should shop for food.
There’s a great deli at Campo dei Fiori that we visited every day we were in Rome in 2010. It’s still serving a massive selection of deli good. We stocked up on marinated anchovies, olives, proscuito, buffalo mozzarella, and bread.
After taking the groceries “home”, we hit the shops along via Del Corso. We walked for five hours, looking at shoes and clothes here and there. Neither of us bought anything which is probably a good thing because I later found out that Rome goes on sale on 7 July!
We visited the Pantheon, Piazza Del Popolo, Piazza Navona, Largo Argentina, among other places. The Pantheon is over 2000 years old and even with all the technology today, they say they could replicate this building. It is an engineering marvel and so well designed with the hole in the dome that lets light in as well as the rain – but that’s ok because there are drainage holes on the marble floor.
The beauty this time around is that we’ve already done most of the tourist sight-seeing, so we can just chill out (or rather melt!) in Rome.
We grabbed a gelato and almost limped back to our apartment on our tired, tired feet. A little rest later and we were ready to head out for ‘la passiagiata’ – the evening stroll – before meeting friends for dinner.
We booked our apartment through Unusual Rome and it’s called Argento Giulia on via Giula, 179 and it cost Euro 150 per night.
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