Monday, 2 June 2014

Rome, Italy

Rome wasn't built in one day, but we managed to see most of the major attractions in one day. From the airport a taxi would cost us 48 euro. A black "limo" (a normal mercedes) would cost us 50 euros. Easy decision. I'm happy I am not a student anymore. Holidays are so much better when you have more money and can afford a luxurious car or taxi, instead of having to carry two heavy suitcases and two extra bags to the train, on the train, metro, bus and more walking. No thank you.

If you have never been to Rome, or Italy more generally, you will notice that people drive like maniacs here! You would think there would be a reason for that and that it may work, but it doesn't. Every other car you see has a big dent in it or is damaged in another way. People do not indicate when they change lanes, drive way too fast, three cars next to each other, and they do absolutely not give way or allow someone to merge. Absolutely mental. Our driver drove like Fernando Alonso and we were both surprised we made it without having an accident.

Our hotel was a brand new hotel, the Fragrance Hotel close to Vatican City. The place was mostly finished but they were building an extra room downstairs. The people at reception could not be friendlier. And because the place was brand new I got two nights for less than the price of one. Rome can be expensive but this place was cheap! Normally cheap places are cheap for a reason, but this place was very good. Big giant rooms with both a bath and shower super close to Vatican City in a very quiet street. I would highly recommend this place.

We arrived on a Sunday night and the hotel recommended a restaurant around the corner. People go out for dinner late, a lot later than in Australia. It's pretty normal to still get a table around 9.30, 10pm. I already knew that the Italian food would be amazing, and I was not wrong. I NEVER eat at tourist traps. I always research the places I go to and I refuse to eat at a place which has a special 'tourist menu', even though it is cheap. I come here for authentic food and I will get authentic food. 

We ordered some 'salumi' which is salami and sometimes some ham or prosciutto. The meat platters here are beautiful! We also got some bruchetta with tomato, basil and olive oil, but we did not order this. Sometimes they give you a little 'welcome tapa'. One of my favourite things in Italy is happy hour. If you order a drink, they give you some tapas for free. The more you drink, the more you get. They can be little bruchettas with tomato, porcini tapenade, local cheese or ham or even a little salad. Poor students often use this option for a catch up with friends instead of going out for dinner. I love it!!

As a main MrBehomeforT ordered a pizza with mushrooms and meat, and I ordered the special, 'Vitel tonno', which I correctly guessed was Vitelli tonnato. You don't see it a lot in Australia, but in the Netherlands we have it on a 'broodje' (bread roll) for lunch. Cold veal meat (roasted I guess) is served with a lot of tuna mayonnaise and capers. It's amazing! Dessert was tiramisu and a chocolate truffle ice thing (not sure how else to describe it). Yum! I was stuffed after that! 

The next day we went to St Peters Cathedral in Vatican City first. I knew there would be a line but I did not expect one which was circled all around the square. We waited for an hour and a half or so, but it was worth it. Probably the best attraction in Rome. We also visited all the other usual sights, including the colosseum which was under construction. Add some gelato and you have your typical touristy day. 

Talking about gelato, the place we ended up was one of the tourist traps. I asked for Nutella gelato and I got actual Nutella. In a cone. Really?? I mean, Nutella is nice, but not in a cone! I ate the whole thing anyway :-) Fortunately lunch was a lot better! One of the places the lonely planet recommended was closed, but its bigger brother around the corner, Hosteria Grappolo d'Oro, was open. And when you hear Italian everywhere and it is busy, you know you are in the right place. 

We ordered a beautiful half bottle of wine and skipped the salami this time. I ordered a mix of appetisers. It was delicious but so filling! First there was millefeuille with burrata cheese and anchovy. The cheese was so creamy and had this beautiful texture. Just like mozzarella. Think you had good mozzarella if you had it from the Coles or the woolies? Wrong! Real buffalo mozzarella is the bomb! From now on I only want to eat the real thing. Too bad this cheese had an anchovy in it which made most of it taste really fishy. Not my thing. There was also panzanella with bread, tomatoes, tuscan oil, garlic and basil. Delicious! Then there were salt cod croquettes with a garlic sauce and eggplant rolls with ricotta cheese, tomatoes and basil. Finally there were oxtail and beef meatballs. They were sweet and had raisin in it and some green stuff, perhaps pesto. So good! MrBehomeforT had pasta carbonara which was creamy, cheesy and so tasty! 

A wine and some mozzarella with prosciutto and some bruchetta around happy hour. 

Of course we needed a real Italian coffee which was nice and strong, and tasted a bit better with sugar. 

After more sightseeing and some chill time at the hotel we went to Trastevere for dinner. This area is older and popular with the locals. Cobblestone streets and little alleyways make it really romantic. We walked into a place without checking it out before because our recommended place by the lonely planet had a long long line in front of it with tourists. However, I was really happy wit our choice. A cute little restaurant with amazing wine. I tried some local wine and special Italian wines but we ended up with a nice merlot recommended by the waiter. 

Entree was tempura prawns, chosen by MrBehomeforT. He had a steak with potatoes as a main and I had beef with a blue cheese sauce and pistachio's. The sauce was so good! Glad I had a whole bread basket to soak up that delicious sauce! Dessert was a three chocolate mousse and a tiramisu. The dolce (Italian desserts) are amazing!!!! So sweet and rich! 

Our day in Rome was done and although I generally hate touristy things, one day in Rome was nice, but more than enough. 

Next stop: country Perugia in Lombardy! 


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