Monday, February 29, 2016

Last Moments..Rome 2016

  Last full day in Rome, for now, anyway. We will certainly return by train a couple of times while we are in Umbria. I want to see the gardens later in Spring.
  For now, we will hop the train north tomorrow morning, and we are excited. Jet lag is pretty much over, and we are feeling like we are on terra firma here in Italy. It gets easier every year.
  But today, we woke to thunder, lightning and hail….. the buckets full.
View from our window this!

  It was just the excuse we needed to stay in bed late and just chill for a couple of hours. After showers, and another check of the weather, we took a chance and headed out on foot.

  So glad we did! Despite getting caught in a few downpours, we had a perfect last day in Rome, with stops in Campo dè Fiori and Piazza Navona, and a a visit to a wonderful exhibition of Toulouse  Lautrec lithographs at the Peace Monument. Whew. 

  We also had an early lunch of spectacular Roman street food, which I will post about soon.

  In the meantime, here are some moments from today…shot between the passing rain storms...

One of the finest examples of local street art we've seen...

More street art…from a different era.

A hidden corner of Rome.

Purple and yellow carrots like I've never seen before!

Campo dè Fiori colors.

More from Campo dè Fiori

  So nice to rest a while with a glass of proseco in Piazza Navona. There are chestnut vendors all over town still. Nice.

Johnny had to have a 'cone' of warm chestnuts. Why not?

Sun and clouds made for some nice photo opportunities.

Looking just a tad exhausted, but really most content.

Johnny 'reflects' on the scene.

  I'm not kidding, we must be walking miles and miles every day here. I keep threatening to get one of those mile counter thingys to wear, just to see how far we do go.

  Today, right before the skies opened up for a real drencher, we passed by the Vatican.

I like to refer to it as "St. Pete's".
So it shall be. For us, anyway.
Good old St. Pete's.

  That last hour, around five or so, we got totally soaked. Thank god it wasn't really cold or windy. Just major rain, some fantastic lightening and thunder, and us…like two wet cats, trudging home.

  After changing out of our wet clothes, we needed to bring it down a notch, so we ended our day enjoying ourselves at the local bar, playing dominoes, having a bite to eat and some good wine, and relaxing with the folks we've met there this week.
  Beautiful. Thanks, Rome. We'll see you soon!

Oops..almost forgot our umbrellas!

One Day, Two Meals…Rome 2016

  For several years now, I have known of the hole-in-the-wall trattoria, Sora Margherita, located in Piazza dell Cinque Scole, near the Jewish quarter in central Rome. All of my favorite Food/Rome/Italy bloggers have written about this place, it seems.
  I guess I won't be giving anything away here, then…It's been discovered…a long time ago.

  The last time we were in Rome, we couldn't get in. It's tiny and beloved. This time, we made a point of going by early, before they actually opened, and snagged a reservation for lunch. You can also call, but we were in the area picking up art supplies, so we just went for it.

  After heading out to wander the streets, take photos, stop and draw (Johnny) and window shop (me), we found our way back about ten minutes before our reservation. We were not the only ones…..

Waiting for heaven.

  First, you have to check in with the main dude, and after watching the scene for awhile, we quickly deduced it's good to have pals in high places. There was a definite slant towards the locals and regulars.   Hey, I get it. We were fine with it…I knew we would eventually get our table. Plus, it was Saturday. Everyone wanted in.

The gatekeeper.

  Maybe it was just the jet-lag dopiness, but we were happy to just be hanging around waiting, watching the whole show.

He knows there will soon be something yummy. Very yummy.

In reality, we only waited a few minutes…no big deal.
"Johnny…two persons!"

   Walking in, it's all a buzz…all the tables are full, and you are packed in like sardines. In a good way. You are surrounded by happy Romans, all eating what they love. 
  At least this was our experience. We were seated at a table with another couple, actually. And whenever one of us had to leave the table, we all had to stand up to make it happen…but this was just fine. Everyone seems ok with the tightness of it all. 

 The place is especially written about for their "Carciofi alla Giudia", one of the best known dishes of the Roman Jewish cuisine, and Fettucini Cacio è Pepe, another Roman favorite.
  We kept it simple. No fooling around. Two orders of carciofi, followed by two orders of fettucini con Cacio è Pepe, per favor. White wine, fizzy water…basta.

  The carciofi arrived quickly, along with our wine and water…They looked good enough to eat.

I was so excited, I couldn't focus my camera.

Like beautiful, small sculptures…only tasty.
And crunchy…and just salty enough.

Then you get to the creamy heart of the matter.
Yes, it's all that.

  Next came the pasta, in all it's cheesy, peppery glory…..

This place understands the 'pepe' part…lots of it.

  I had been noticing that everyone took time to really stir and mix their pasta before diving in. When ours arrived, I realized why…the chef leaves a decent amount of the hot pasta water in the bottom of your bowl, so you can mix it all up into a creamy, dreamy sauce….

Perfectly cooked pasta, with great texture.

  I have to admit…I could not finish my pasta. Not that I didn't try, mind you. It's just so rich, so much…I loved every bite.

Rare for me to cry uncle. I almost made it, though.

  No website to share…you'll have to do your research, which is easy. 
  Just be prepared to be in a very small, very tight space, and you'll be fine. Make reservations.

  We must have hiked twenty miles this first day in Rome…as I sit writing this, we have been here a couple more days, and rain has kept us holed up more than we would like.
  I'm so glad we were out for hours and hours day one, because it made it easy to justify another sit down meal later that evening…and since we walk everywhere, even better. We work up an appetite.

  I didn't want to visit Rome without having a margherita pizza at Remo. No how, no way. I put my foot down on this one.
  Last time here, we didn't go, and my dreams have been filled with images of said pizza ever since.
  I kid you not.

  Located right on the park in Testaccio, Pizzaria Remo is another favorite spot that I had read about years ago. We've been many times, and I plan on visiting many more times before I'm done.

  This is a simple place, with lots of pizza options, as well as various 'fritti', fried things. It's crowded, noisy and fun.

Happy artist.

  We always get a pizza each, as they are really thin crusted, and well, just that good. Some diners cut and fold, but I just like to cut it up, bite by bite..

  Mr. J had his favorite, vegetarian…though later decided he would get a margherita for himself next time. 
  He always does this. Sigh. Watch and learn, mister…watch and learn.

Hey, not that there's anything wrong with his choice, trust me.

But, really..Why not just go for the best???

  This simple pizza is all about the product. The best and thinest crust, charred to perfection, topped with the best sauce and mozzarella in the world. 
  A buttery, slightly sweet flavor that you are instantly addicted to. I think about this pizza every time we have pizza at home….and cry, just a little bit.

We share…just a bite or two...

  And I'll admit. I finished every last bite.

Ok. I can leave Rome now.

  Rain or not, thunder, lightning, whatever….It's good to be back on Italian soil, dear readers.

  Much more to follow.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


  We are on the runway, pretty much…getting the engines all warmed up and ready to fly.

  The home front is buttoned down and ready for Anna & James…The garden is in Pedro's very good care…though I am looking forward to some time puttering before we go…And I've hugged and kissed M&D one last time, with promises of many chats on Skype and video visits, too.

  Whew. Just a few more chores at the gallery and I'm thinking we are done, babies.
  All and all, it's just the anticipation now.
  First stop Rome, then it's back to Umbria, and our home away from home….

  It starts in the piazza….

It can be quiet in March.

But that will change...

  Daily visits to Bar Gallo are a must, of course…..

Aldo always has great recommendations for new adventures.

The rainy days of early spring are perfect for
dominoes, a fine read, and maybe a Spritz.

   I can't wait for walks and views and more walks and more views….

  Yeah, I'm looking forward to some pasta, too.

 After a few very stressful months, just hanging around doing a whole bunch of nothing sounds alright by me.

  Mr. J will be so happy to get back to work, painting in his most favorite places...

  I look forward to watching Lago Trasimeno change colors every minute …..

  It will be nice to be back in the 'hood, with our pal Micha ...

 ….and starting an all new garden for the season...

  But mainly, I just want to slow my brain down a little, and stop to to be grateful for it all.

A presto, Panicale…a presto….