Trolling Trastevere

I sometimes hate on Trastevere.

It is easy to see why it is popular: charming, central and well looked after. However, its strength is its weakness, and these virtues also means it is packed with hawkers of knickknacks, over-salted aperitivo buffets and throngs of international explorers.

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Sometimes Rome feels like it is divided into two camps- you are either for Trastevere, or against it.

But I am woman enough to admit that the real reason I sometimes hate on Trastevere is not due to any failing on the part of the quartieri. Rather, it is because after 4+ years, I still get lost in the maze of lopsided, intersecting, half circle alleys that pass for streets in this part of town.

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I swear, I actually try to find my way, but the second I step off Viale Trastevere, I am essentially instantly lost.  No other part of Rome can confuse me the way this neighboring neighborhood can.

lights in trastevereI will say this- if you have to be lost in Trastevere, December is not a bad time to do it.

 


Shopping for Olio Nuovo in Rome

I have missed this stretch of the Tiber.

Ponte sublicoThis is where I notice the seasons change in Rome.

On this same walk, I wistfully watched for the first green leaves in spring, and where I now crunch through autumn.

autumn in romeMy favorite thing about fall in Rome is clementines and olio nuovo.

So in addition to a picturesque canopy of leaves, this walk takes me towards the market and into town.

tiber leaves

For the past few weeks, I have been harassing the vendors.

When is the new olive oil coming? Do you have olio nuovo?

Next week.  Soon.

And I would stroll back home, oil-less.

Rome in fall

I love to wax poetic about olio nuovo. I look forward to the press every year.

But this year I am anxious.  It has been a bad year for olives in Italy.  Poor weather and pests have destroyed much of the crop.

I wanted to be first in line to get whatever small amount of oil that I could find this year.  At the mercato di campagna amica at Circo Massimo, I beelined for my favorite producer.

A handwritten sign announced the new oil.

I dipped some bread into the liquid gold and… winced.

The harvest was not only down in terms of quantity- but also quality.  The bitterness was overwhelming.

I slunk away and sampled all the oil at the market, settling on a liter from Monte Maria (9 euro).

liter of olive oilToday, I walked down to the Testaccio Sunday farmers market to see if there was any more to be had.

I snapped up another liter (12 euro) from Impero.

olive oil testaccio

So if you are looking to buy olio nuovo this year, you are not completely out of luck.

Head to the markets with a bit of patience, as you may have to order ahead due to the low stock.  If there’s nothing left, ask if they can reserve a few liters and bring them to you the following week.

Don’t give up, and always check that they are offering oil that has been ‘produced and bottled’ by the same entity.  If you want to be extra sure you have the good stuff, look for the production date.

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It’s a bit of extra work this year, but well worth the effort.

 

 

 

 


24 Hours in London

I’ve been there.

I have spent a single night in London.  I have ordered a flat white and just kept going.

Right now, though? Right now I am literally sitting by a pool in November, reading a book, and savoring the last few moments at home before I fly back to Rome on Friday.

I fully believe in making the most of any chance at travel, be that for work or for pleasure. That’s why I am happy to share the following guest post from a fellow road warrior!

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Having a hectic job, and spending short stays in bustling cities has its pros and cons. Arriving at a city that is new to me is one of the perks of an altogether very stressful career that helps me unwind and recharge those depleted batteries. So, a recent trip London provided me with the ideal opportunity to get out of my hotel room and revel in some of London’s most prestigious sights.

It was also extremely rewarding to resist the lure of a lazy day in a hotel bed, aiming to bank some much needed sleeping time. Sleep? Who needs sleep? Instead, I spent a full day visiting some of the most famous attractions and landmarks that the city has to offer. Below are just some of the destinations I managed to get to in such a short space of time.

london in winter

Hyde Park

Although the winter is pretty much in full flow in the UK, and the temperature through the day will soon be approaching freezing, Hyde Park is still a wonderful place to walk around. It was also a good way to exercise those weary muscles.

Hyde Park has many bandstands that are active throughout the summer months with live music and other entertainment acts. It’s also the home to Speaker’s Corner, which attracts all manner of people voicing their opinions on politics, economics and religion.

Tower of London

The Tower of London was formerly known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress and opened its doors in 1066. It’s renowned for being a central part of the medieval history of many notable events in England.

The tower is also home to the Crown Jewels, suspected to be the home of a host of ghosts from medieval times, and some wonderful sculptures that date back to the same period. The tower is a fantastic place to explore if you have about three to four hours spare in your schedule.

Leicester Square

Along with Piccadilly Circus this is one of the main entertainment hubs situated in London, and it was tough call on which I should visit. It was a great way to finish off the day, taking in the atmosphere of a theatre and live music area full of people looking for a good time.

Garden Square although it was pretty late was still a lovely sight. The statue of William Shakespeare was the main reason for my visit to the Gardens. The statue and fountain was erected in the 19th century and is still a main reason for visitors to the area.

Also, I managed to visit the Odeon Leicester Square, which is one of the oldest and famous cinemas in the whole of the world. It was also the first cinema in Europe to be equipped with a digital projector back in 1999. Now it hosts many of London’s film premiers attracting the world’s best actors and actresses to the cinema.

This mini-trip wasn’t without its troubles, as like many I was new to London so could only seek advice form friends and the concierge of the hotel I was staying at. The traffic in London is as bad as you’re likely to experience anywhere on earth. Follow some of these tips and hopefully you’ll be ok.

Use some of the free shuttles and underground trains that run to London’s major airports such as Heathrow per Parking4Less. This is both cost-effective and time efficient, as you won’t get caught up in traffic going to the airports – especially if you use the latter option.

Don’t use cabs! Even if you have saved up money for your trip to London, the cabs are extremely expensive and you also will have to contend with traffic if you are traveling during rush hour.

Always try and use public transport when you’re traveling around London. Buses are cheap, and so is the underground. You can view prices here.

Although I had a relatively brief stay in London, it was something that I will remember for the rest of my life. In the near future I hope to return to the UK and spend considerably more time venturing to different parts of England and Scotland as well as an extended stay in London.

Source

Guest author, Dean Lowe: Dean has been an avid traveler since he left University in 2000. Now he travels the world with his job in pharmaceutical sales, attempting to grabs pockets of time to explore new exciting cities and imparting his experiences online.


Supplizio: Fried Goodness in Rome’s Centro Storico

The first time I ever had supplì, I spit it out.

I was mid-conversation, and I picked up a small fried ball and popped it into my mouth. Without breaking eye contact, I very quickly spit it back into my napkin with little to no subtlety.

It was one of the most awkward, and also stupidest, things I have ever done.  Supplì are delicious!

Well, many supplì are delicious. This particular one was small and previously frozen. It being my fourth day in Italy and all, I also may have thought it was a chicken nugget and spit it out more from surprise than anything else. Maybe.

When I look back on that moment, not only do I feel bad for Matteo who was stuck talking to me, I also laugh.  Supplì are now my go-to snack.  If I am feeling even slightly peckish, I can easily justify a 1 euro ball of fried rice, sauce, cheese and goodness.

Supplì are mainly eaten as starters before a pizza dinner.  I, however, can make a meal out of them. Especially at a place like Supplizio where I can basically consume enough to replace dinner.

supplizio rome

Located on Via dei Banchi Vecchi, it’s not really difficult for me to come up with an excuse for why I need to be in the area. From there, it only take a bit of reasoning to justify why I need to stop in for some cibo di strada (street food).

supplizio rome menu

Supplizio has several snacks on offer and I am often tempted by the crocchetta, but stick to the supplì.  At 3 euro a pop, they are slightly more than at a local pizzeria, but are also slightly bigger. Plus, compared to the fritti prices at L’Arcangelo, these seem like a steal.

interior supplizio

From the team behind L’Arcangelo, Supplizio has a distinctively similar decor vibe.

(Side note: can someone please explain the little trucks to me? I was fascinated with them at the restaurant as well).

classic suppli

But the star is not the arm chairs or the toys, it’s the massive fried rice balls.  Mmmm… fried rice balls.

suppli rosso

Rosso is classic.  If you are going to get just one, make sure this is it.

suppli biano

If, however, you have worked up a real appetite walking around Rome and/or you are like me and ordering two because that is somehow an acceptable meal substitute, go for the bianco as well.

Supplizio
Via dei Banchi Vecchi 143
Monday-Thursday:  12.00 to 20.00
Friday-Saturday:  12.00-15.30 / 18.30-22.30


Finding the right words

One of the very first words I ever learned in Italian was “cavatappi.”

Corkscrew.

Italian wineI needed one to be able to open the first bottle of wine in my first Roman apartment.

I stood by my door, staring at my pocket Italian dictionary, and repeating it over and over to build up the courage to walk out and actually request it.

Cavatappi. Cavatappi. Cavatappi. Cavatappi. Cava-tap-pi. Cavatappi. Cavatappi. Cavatappi. CAVATAPPI. Cava-tap-piii. Cavatap Cavatappi. Cava.tappi.

It worked, and I enjoyed that very bottle next to that very window just over four years ago.

All of this to say: if you are thinking there is something you might want to do- build up the courage and go for it.

Cin cin.

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Row boats in Villa Borghese

You know that little lake in Villa Borghese?  You know- the adorable one?

It’s called the Laghetto, and it is a perfect spot for picnics.  It is probably my favorite picnic spot in all of Rome, because I am sentimental and it is also my first picnic spot in Rome.

villa borghese lake

Four years ago, new to the city, I managed to navigate Metro A and find my way here. I met up with some brand new friends to sit in the warm October weather and eat salami and olives.

I fell in love with the tiny lake and its little boats.

barche villa borghese

For four years I have had picnics here.

For four years I have thought about taking a boat ride.

boating villa borghese

Finally, I jumped at a casual and joking suggestion to take a tiny row boat out for a spin on the itty-bitty lake.

umbrella pine rome

Surrounded by umbrella pines, the laghetto is a perfect place for a lazy afternoon.

date lake villa borghese

Or maybe a first date?

prices boat lake borghese

At 3 euro for 20 minutes, it is more than affordable. And honestly, 20 minutes is enough time to explore.

Don’t worry about heading back within your short allotted time. A nice nonna with a  bull horn will yell out your boat number when it is time to dock.

laghetto villa borghese

Ottobrata romana (Indian summer) is the perfect time to enjoy the warm weather and the changing leaves.

swedish marcus and aiven

The only thing better than coming here on a romantic first date in the last days of summer? Well, having two awesome instagrammers row you around, of course! A special thanks to @swedishmarcus and @aivenn!

 


Indulgence

I am recovering.

I am recovering from too much fun, and too much work, etc, etc.

There are times in life when you need to find a balance.

There are other times when you have to surrender control and let the scale swing widely back and forth, until you come gulping for air at the surface.

I am now waving my white flag, pretending bank accounts are not a thing and looking forward to a few days in bed.

But it was worth it. Every penny. Every bite. Every night. Worth it and more.

pizza da remoPizza at Da Remo, because it was necessary.

gelato romanaChocolate3 at La Romana because we could.

vinsanto tuscanyIncredible Vin Santo aged for 20 years because it was a Monday in Tuscany.

amatriciana alwaysAmatriciana at Da Cesare because it is always a good time to order amatriciana.

polpette trapizziniLate night trapizzini in Testaccio because we had too much catching up to do to be bothered with restaurants and reservations.  Better to sit at home, talkandtalkandtalk, and then get polpette.

Da Cesare

Back to Da Cesare for good wine and spicy eggplant to celebrate birthdays and contemplate new beginnings.

hay cheese please

And cheese. Because there is always room for cheese.

 

 

 

 

 


There are days

There are days when I stuff my clothes into my tiny, leaking washing machine, and pull them out, two hours later, sopping and dripping onto the kitchen floor. The weak spin cycle is useless.

There are days when I lean out the window, and display these soaking-wet garments on one of the the three window-wide lines outside of my kitchen, crammed into my small allotted area for all the world to see.

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There are other days when I might wrestle the drying rack out from the space between the wardrobe and the wall. I will set it up in my living/dining room, and hang out each piece in the center of the house, curving my body around the instrument any time I need to pass through the largest room in the apartment.

There are days when I take the food out of my child-sized refrigerator and note that I need to de-ice the cubby hole I call a freezer.

There are days when I transfer these fridge morsels into my itty bitty oven. Often on foil, as no real-person-sized trays will fit.

There are days when it is 95 degrees and I perch myself uncomfortably in front of a small non-rotational fan I personally (poorly) assembled.

There are days when I think all of this is charming.  These are the days when I think I must be single handedly saving the world with the immeasurably small eco-footprint that my tiny, inconvenient appliances produce.

And then there are days when I open up my 300+ euro electric bill and think:

what. the. eff.

Inconvenience comes at a high cost.

 

 


Porta Portese: Rome’s Flea Market

Senti. (Listen). I need new shoes.

Need.

I do not mean “need” in the metaphorical “it would be nice to have” sense. I mean I actually for once in my life really need new shoes. In the past six weeks, I have thrown away four pairs, and this is not sustainable.
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Thankfully, I am back in Rome and can see Porta Portese in my future.

Porta Portese is Rome’s sprawling flea market. It is dirty and filled with cheap purses and unnecessary kitchen gadgets.

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However, if you know where to wander, you can also find some unique and vintage pieces, like sunny kitchen scales and enamel tea pots.  Unfortunately, the guy who owns this stand?

grumpy seller

He is super grumpy. All the time. He will not bargain. But I still go and look to see if there is something I cannot live without.

If you want to find him, you should enter from the Ponte Testaccio end of the market, rather than Ponte Sublicio.  You can walk along Via Ettore Rolli and look for the small neighborhood park.  He is always here, near some other sellers of more antique wares.

cheap purses rome

If you want the purses and cheap shoes? You can enter right through Porta Portese and walk along Via Portuense.  The easiest way to arrive is to take the number 3 bus from Piramide.  When you cross the bridge, get off at the first stop.  This won’t be hard because you will likely be carried away by the crowd spilling off the bus to hit up the Sunday shopping stands.

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There are plenty of plastic sunglasses.

Leather sale

And leather jackets. Which may or may not be leather. And may or may not have “fallen off the back of a truck.”

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But I prefer the lazy Sunday approach in which you drink plenty of coffee and then take the time to seek out the less industrially produced pieces.

vintage spice grinder

You never know what you will find if you take the time.

The mercato antiquarian starts around Piazza Ippolito Nievo, easily reached via the 8 tram or H bus.

Oh. And watch out for pick pockets.

Porta Portese Market
Via Portuense and Via Ippolito Nievo
Sundays Only – 7 am to 1 pm

 


Rome’s Quiet Museum: A Visit to Centrale Montemartini

I love Jimmy. I really do. But a girl who doesn’t care about sports can only take so much sports talk.

And so much is a very small amount.

Sometimes you have to get out of the house, away from the TV, and give yourself a good shake on a lazy Sunday.

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Which is where Centrale Montemartini comes in.

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“Escaping” to a museum is not meant to be some intellectual humble-brag.  It really is an escape.  No one seems to visit Cetrale Montemartini and that is a shame.

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Located off of Via Ostiense, it is not on the usual circuit for most of Rome’s visitors. (Which is probably why I got the resident’s price? I never get the resident price).

For those who live in Rome, Via Ostiense is a part of life. For those who visit Rome, it does not often come up.  It does not have the charm of the historic center, nor the allure of Trastevere.

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Centrale Montemartini is, however, well worth the trek off the beaten path.

Housed in the former Giovanni Montemartini Thermoelectric Center, Centrale Montemartini hosts a collection from the Musei Capitolini.  The juxtaposition of ancient Roman sculptures against the industrial back drop of Rome’s first public electrical plant is weirdly mesmerizing.

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It is the perfect stop before or after lunch at La Casetta Rossa.  It is located just across the bridge from the Garbatella metro stop, though it is also an easy walk from Testaccio or the Piramide metro station.

Just make sure to bring the 6.50 euro ticket fee in cash. I learned the hard way that they do not accept credit cards and had to hike to a bancomat to withdraw cash.

Youngscholars

The docents and the students outnumber the visitors, so it is the perfect break from Rome’s busier attractions.

Or, you know, from sports.

However, on that note, up Limerick!

Centrale Montemartini
Via Ostiense, 106,
00154 Roma, Italy
Tues-Sun 9:00 – 18:30
Closed Mondays

 

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