When In Rome...
Italy never seems to disappoint, and this weekend's trip to Rome will sit very high on my list of wonderful memories the country has provided me in my lifetime. My mom and I spent Friday through Monday in the incredible ancient city of Rome, filled to the brim with incredible history, architecture, sightseeing, shopping, and FOOD. Actually, though. Our trip basically revolved around one sensational meal after another. Expect lots of restaurant reviews coming up soon. I had pasta for almost every meal so I was a pretty happy camper. Not to mention the best tiramisu I've ever had in my life. Stay tuned for details on the food we ate!
Besides the food, we had some pretty cool experiences while we were in this amazing city. I have always known I've loved Italy, after traveling in high school to Florence, Venice, Lake Como, Cinque Terre, Spoleto, Tivoli, Siena, among other places, but somehow I had never made it to the country's capital city before. We started the trip the best way possible, a guided tour of the must-see attractions of the city. We started at the Coloseum, then proceeded to the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza de Navona, several panoramic views of the city, and more to get an enriching historical perspective of this city filled with ancient ruins and beautiful sights. After becoming acquainted with the city we felt more prepared to spend our next three days getting a feel for it by ourselves. Dinner the first night was in a lovely smaller piazza in Trastevere where we sat outdoors and looked up at a beautiful church.
Saturday we woke up to pouring rain, which didn't stop for the entire day. But we made the most of the situation by seeing as many cool indoor sights as we could! We went to the Vatican museum that morning and spent quite a few hours there, then went to two modern art museums, the MAXXI the MACRO, both of which were a complete 180 from the work we saw at the Vatican but were so eye-opening and intriguing. Modern art always makes me think in such different ways, and it was an interesting context being in such an ancient city to get to experience the more modern side of its art. Dinner afterwards was in an adorable little trattoria on our street (because the rain persisted still!) that had a beautiful calming ambiance and even better food! Plus quite a few glasses of pino grigio and some port!
Sunday we woke up bright and early for the Borghese art museum, a stunning collection of classical religious artwork in a villa built especially to house it all. It was sensational, each room being a piece of artwork in itself. After the museum we had the whole day to ourselves, and the weather was absolutely beautiful, something we appreciated even more than usual after the terrible weather the day before. We used the day to make up for what we couldn't do Saturday: explore the charming streets and piazzas of Rome. We went to Piazza Navona, where we enjoyed a lovely outdoor lunch admiring everything going on in this bustling square, then wandered through an adorable outdoor market at Piazza de Fiores, where vendors sold everything from brilliantly colored flowers to truffle oils galore (of course we came home with some of this). Fruit stands, pasta, jams, cheese, and sauces provided even more to admire as we slowly walked through this picturesque Italian market.
Dinner Sunday was at the top of our hotel and was probably the best of my life. The restaurant was Michelin-starred and featured some of the most unique and flavorful Italian dishes I've ever seen. More to come on that soon.
Monday was a national Spanish holiday so we got to spend the whole day in Italy since I had the day off! We had quite the experiential day to end our trip with a bang! Early in the morning we met a chef in his cooking school near the Vatican. He then took us to a local meat and produce market where all the locals in the area go for their fresh food. He stressed that fresh and quality ingredients are the most important parts of Italian cooking; besides this there are not very many rules to be followed in the art of Italian food. We picked up ingredients and then returned for a four-course cooking class. My favorite dish was a Rigatoni Pomodoro with eggplant, basil and mozzarella. It's pretty self-explanatory but I'll explain a little bit for anyone interested in trying it! The mozzarella and eggplant are chopped into small cubes and then set aside to dry out a bit. The tomato sauce was made with olive oil, a clove of garlic (thrown in for flavor then taken out right before serving), fresh basil, and tomato paste, all brought to a boil and then simmered for around 30 minutes. The pasta needs to be prepared with heavily salted water and the eggplant was tossed in oil to be lightly fried for about 10 minutes before mixing it all together to be enjoyed! Super easy, right? And it tasted sensational. We learned all sorts of cooking tips and tricks, and I can't wait to practice them when I'm back in my own kitchen at home!
After the cooking class we took a trip back to St. Peter's basilica, because the line was not something we wanted to deal with on Saturday in the cold rain. And we were so happy we made it back because it was breathtaking. The church itself was just remarkable, but then we decided to climb to the top of the dome to not only get the view of the interior of the church from above, but see the entire city from the highest building to see it from. Couldn't have picked a better way to say "arrivederci" to this amazing city. Hope I'll be back soon!