Italy- Rome, Lazio 04/2012

Rome sweet Rome. It felt like being right back at home. As touristy as Rome is, I realized how hard it must be to negotiate the streets, pick a restaurant, and take any sort of transportation as a visitor. The metro is pretty straight up and basic, but you take the wrong exit out and you could be blocks away from where you should be.  There are also many foreigners, typically North Africans, that have come into Rome and bought restaurants in the historical areas and try to pass off as Italians, serving sub quality food. And, then there is the language barrier. I remember one time when I lived in Rome, I was walking near the Vatican with my mom. An older, greyed Italian man was walking up and down the streets selling post cards. He yelled out in English: “Ten postcards for five euro!” and then in Italian “Dieci cartolini per un’euro!”- (Ten postcards for one euro).  We stayed in Rome for two nights.

I am so glad we did not have to cram everything in to those three days, two nights in Rome. Mamma and Papa have seen it a gazillion times and Piglet is not at an age or maturity level to really appreciate and understand the treasures. We did whiz by all the important sites- Coluseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and the Vatican but only stopped in where Adrian was interested and felt that he could handle. We took the time to eat, eat and eat and find as many unique street drinking fountains we could.

The city is very chaotic and we could tell Adrian was overwhelmed most of the time. We made sure to make any plans very limited and came back to the hotel every afternoon for a nap. This was also helpful, because most respectable restaurants don’t even open before 9pm. Adrian’s bedtime is usually around 9, so we made sure to sleep in and take the siesta for at least a couple of hours.

Where we stayed: Ripa Hotel

We don’t know if we got upgraded or what, but we loved our room. We got a HUGE room with a little balcony. I thought the overall theme of the hotel was fun and different. No, it was not perfect, no hotel will ever be perfect for one person, but I found the price quality relationship to be quite fair. The front desk was a little condescending but otherwise nice and helpful. The breakfast was good and the decor was fun. I loved being able wander right through Trastervere, or to jump right on the 8 tram and head to the historic center. It was also easy to get to and from the airport with the Trastevere train station and tram. It probably helps that I am very familiar with the city, but I thought the location was ideal.



Where we ate: Ciccia Bomba

Located right in the historic center, right around the corner from Piazza Novona this is hands down my favorite restaurant in Rome. I was happy to see this restaurant is still serving high quality Roman dishes at a fair price. I ordered the Carbonara and I was in heaven. Adrian ordered the Carbonara as well and Kevin got a spaghetti with shellfish. We sat outside and we all enjoyed watching the vehicles attempt the navigate the narrow streets.

Where we ate: Ivo a Trastevere

Average Italian restaurant. They are open longer hours (earlier) to accommodate tourist hours, but they don’t sacrifice food quality, like I mentioned before, there is a huge decline in the quality of real Roman restaurants in the city. It might be nice if you are jet lagged and need to eat dinner on your own time instead of Roman tine. You will not be disappointed, the food is good (not amazing, but good). The Capricciosa pizza has the egg with the runny yolk, the way is should!!! Capricciosa means someone who throws a fit, the pizza is called Capricciosa because it is said to please everyone, so no need for a fit! It is often divided in sections, one with mushrooms, one with sausage, one with artichokes and one with olives. It is then topped with an egg in the middle. Some restaurants serve it with a hard boiled egg in slices, but I prefer the to cook the egg right on the pizza, so when you slice it the golden delicious yolk bathes your pizza.  We also ordered the pasta dishes- Carbonara and Amatriciana. They are both typical dishes, Carbonara has egg and pancetta and Amatriciana has pancetta in a tomato sauce. Good, busy, Roman trattoria/pizzeria.

Where we ate: Da Tonino

This restaurant brought back a flood of memories. It is very traditional and has great food. It is one of those restaurants that treat you like family. That sounds great, but they really treat you like family in the sense that they will yell at you and expect things from you as well.  I would always prep my visiting friends and family on our way to restaurants, reciting what would be on the menu and having them pick their first and second choice, in case they were out of the first choice. The interactions with the servers are always very fast paced and I was caught off guard, but happy to realize that this place was ‘legit.’  We all opted for secondi (second course or the meat course- first course is pasta second course is meat) and they were out of my first choice but we were all happy.

We made sure to get pizza rossa, gelato, suppli at various spots across Rome. Everything varies in quality, so if you don’t love something at one place, be sure to try it somewhere else, just to make sure. We also took advantage of the many happy hours. Some places have discounted drinks and many offer free food for certain hours.

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