You basically can't walk a single block without running into something historic in Rome.
We headed back to the room to freshen up.
So where were we headed for dinner?
Because of all the Chinese businesses in the area, the Missus walked into the Chinese Market and asked the manager if there was any "great" Chinese food around. His Answer? "Ummm, they are all just about the same." So we decided on going back to the place we we started this little journey at; Da Danilo.
This time however, we'd not be strong-armed into getting all the antipasto. Even though the owner kept staring daggers at us during our stay. No, we enjoyed a nice Malvasia Bianca and the really enjoyed the main reason for returning; the Carbonara with truffle.
I'm willing to put up with the "typical Roman service" (so says Max), the pushy owner...just for this. The perfectly prepared pasta, the creamy-tongue coating sauce....the shaved truffle.
The rather bland orecchiette da danilo......
And the nice, but not outstanding braised oxtails.....
Would not be reasons to return. But that carbonara....that's a "Desert Island Dish".
Trattoria da Danilo Via Petrarca 13 Rome, Italy
And so we ended our time in Rome. Where it seems history was made on every corner.
And while the Missus wants to return to Rome; it's not high on my list. But tempt me with that Carbonara again and I might give in.
We had eaten well the night before and slept even better. The normal 5am wake up was missed and we slept in a bit.
Having your morning espresso is a good time to people watch. You gotta admit, some of these folks sure have their own...well...style. Like that guy to the right. Notice the matching outfits. Which got me to wondering...was he an accessory for the poodle, or was the poodle....well, you get the point, right?
Our first stop this morning was nearby; Esquilino Market. The area has quite an international flavor...there were quite a few Chinese businesses and we heard Mandarin being spoken from our window every evening.
There's quite a variety available.
It was a nice break.
From this point on, we past those familiar places.
I like how the place looked and later found out that the upper floors of the theatre have been converted to apartments. Pretty cool, huh? How'd you like to live in and above such an historic structure?
Trastevere and the lovely colors and lovely cobbled street turned out to be my favorite area in Rome.
I loved the lanes, the folks walking the alleyways. There seemed to be much more daily life going on here. Clothes hanging from windows, folks going on with their daily routines.
The place really has character and charm.
One turn, and suddenly we were in front of Santa Cecilia, dedicated to Saint Cecilia. The church is supposedly built upon the location of her house.
There are quite a few artifacts and artwork in the church. But it is far from being gaudy...the lines clean.
An interesting note about Saint Cecilia. She was martyred between 176 and 180 A.D. Her body was exhumed in 1599 and displayed no signs of decay! She is the first Saint whose body was found to be incorrupt.
Even though there were quite a tourists, you turn a corner and find a little alleyway that you'll have all to yourself.
There you come across little treasures like this little bakery. Which we later found out was named Biscottificio Innocenti, a very well known and regarded cookie/biscuit shop.
The Missus bought a couple and really enjoyed them.
Biscottificio Innocenti Via della Luce 21 Rome, Italy
While headed to Piazza de Santa Maria, we came across this gelato shop.
The Hazelnut Gelato I had from here was my favorite of all the gelato I tried in Rome.
Fior di Luna Via della Lungaretta 96 Rome, Italy
Of course having this refreshing gelato on the fountain steps of atmospheric Piazza di Santa Maria might have something to do with that opinion.
If Trastevere were a living organism, Piazza di Santa Maria would be its heart.
I loved the artwork of Cavallini in the apse which dates back to 1291.
By now we were getting a bit hungry, so we decided to head on back.
As we headed back toward Termini Station, I noticed the beautiful Ivy hanging on over Via Panisperna in the Monti neighborhood. Taking a look to the right, I noticed the name of a place I'd read about; Ai Tre Scalini. What luck. We were getting pretty hungry.
Basically a wine/beer bar, the place was doing some major business.
Folks seemed to be having a great time and the staff here were very friendly and helpful.
We each had a glass of wine and started in on the menu.
Knowing that we'd be having the pretty rich and hearty Roman fare for dinner, we decided on getting some charcuterie and cheese. Starting with the Salsicce al Tartufo - truffle sausage.
Which was nicely scented with truffle.
We also got the Misto Salumi e Formaggi, a huge charcuterie and cheese plate.
A nice lovely lunch.
Ai Tre Scalini Via Panisperna 251 Rome Italy
As we walked back to our room, I noticed I'd reached the point where I really started noticing things.
Soon enough, routines would start setting in. And we might even make an acquaintance or two.....
Yes, it was time for us to head out to our next stop. But not before dinner.........
We arrived back in Rome and got on the Leonardo Express to Termini Station. Like I mentioned before, that this short leg is a total joy...super easy and relatively quick.
Getting back to the place we were staying at near Termini Station; B&B Civico 31, we were greeted by one of the owners, Max, with a "welcome home". Max is a great guy, he did it all. We got back and asked where the nearest laundry was. His response, "you need something washed? Give it to me; I'll have it done....." Which he did. At no charge! Whenever I mentioned a neighborhood place; he's ask if we wanted to make reservations....which he would do! Amazing.
The room we stayed in....on both legs of our trip were comfortable. The décor features vintage Italian movie posters...which I found kind of neat.
We had our general directions fairly straight and were now finding different ways to get to where we wanted to be.
The day had started out sunny, but that changed on a dime as rows of clouds would pass over with scattered showers.
So the Missus decided that we should head up to the Capitoline Museums, up Capitoline Hill. This is where it is claimed the first museum in the world was open to the public in 1734.
You know you've finally made it to the top when you see the Statue of Marcus Aurelius. You've reached Piazza del Campigdoglio.
This statue is actually a replica. The original stands within the museum.
It was a great way to spend an early afternoon.
We managed to dodge the passing showers and spent the rest of the day wandering around.
By dinner time, we're talking 8pm, still on the early side, I was famished. Max had made reservations at a rather close, highly regarded Trattoria. Apparently, he went to school with one of the owners, so getting us a table, especially "early" at 8pm was no problem.
You will find Trattoria Monti mentioned everywhere. The cuisine is based on the family's region of origin, Le Marche. The service was the friendliest and warmest we had during our entire time in Rome. There's a certain somewhat jaded attitude we perceived in Rome....what Max calls "typical Roman service". And I can certainly understand how tiring it can get based on questions we heard tourists asking, "what is truffle?" "Why don't you have gluten free pasta?" What is truffle? Yikes..... the folks at Monti just took it in stride, smiled, and laughed with the customers. They took the time to explain the food of the region to folks to help them try to understand.
One of the items "to get" here are the sformatini; called "flan" on the menu. Sort of like a savory bechamel - egg based custard. We got both the radicchio and the red onion versions. Both came with a nice, thick, cheese sauce, which didn't detract from the flavor of the "flan".
While both were good; it was the savory-sweetness and the texture of the caramelized onions in the red onion version that put it at the top of our "best things we had in Rome" list.
Another signature dish of Trattoria Monti is the Tortello. Basically a large stuffed with ricotta and egg yolk; I was a bit disappointed with this one. While I enjoyed the sauce; it had a nice balance of acid-tartness-sweetness-herbaceous flavors, with a nice texture and the ricotta added a mild salt and milky component....the egg yolk was hard and overdone. Knowing how much I love a runny yolk; which I understand this should be (though not overly so). I felt the dish was incomplete.
The Missus ordered Roast Suckling Pig with Baby Potatoes.
And while the suckling pig was just ok; a bit on the dry side, the skin more rubbery than crisp. Those potatoes were very good; almost buttery....the Missus asked how they made the potatoes....the response? "You come tomorrow at three o'clock and we show you!" Classic.....
I got the Fried Lamb Brains with Fried Zucchini.
I'm not the biggest fan of organ meats....well, check that. There are certain organ meats and preparations I don't care for. Sweetbread and brains, so long they aren't too rich and overpowering aren't one of them. I liked the richness of these. The Missus thought the flavor edged on the "metallic/iodine" side and didn't care for them. The fry job was perfect....not too hard as we found in other places in Rome.
We enjoyed our meal at Trattoria Monti. We found the staff here to be friendly, the food good, and we'd gladly return. The prices were also quite good.
On our third day in Rome, we set out for Vatican City. The Missus wanted to walk there...from Termini Station. We had the metro one block away! Luckily, I got myself out of a 5k walk first thing in the morning and we caught the metro. From the metro station, the walk to the gates of Vatican Museum took about ten minutes.
When it comes to most of our travel; the Missus tells me what She wants and I do the logistics, planning, and She just basically shows up. The visit to the Vatican Museum was a good example. I got tickets online ahead of time....we entered right when the place opened, going to the line for "Entrance with Reservations". We grabbed a map and headed to the one place the Missus really wanted to see; the Sistine Chapel, where we stood alone in the rare air where the Papal Conclave takes place. The Missus just stood staring at the ceiling as other visitors piled in around Her. I took a seat after a minute or two, when my neck started stiffening up. I grabbed the Missus to leave when I heard "huuuuaaackkk p-tew".....one of the Chinese tourists had just spit on the floor of the Sistine Chapel! Good lord!
The rest of my time in the Vatican Museum was a blur of antiquities, lavish paintings, just an astounding amount of items on display. I was overwhelmed by the extravagance. I kept telling the Missus, "geeez, these folks sure have a lot of money..."
I do recall enjoying the ceiling art and spent a good deal of time just enjoying those and the paintings over doorways.
I think one needs to spend a least a couple of days here if you really enjoy this stuff. I'm sure Ed from Yuma could probably walk these halls for months!
Anyway, we worked our way back to the beginning and started out with the Egyptian Rooms, officially called the "Gregorian Egyptian Museum", which were among my favorites. After all, who doesn't like mummies, right?
I found the various hieroglyphics and of course the mummies fascinating....it touched off a the faint flicker of the little boy in me, who would spend hours pouring through books at Kaimuki Library.
The Egyptian's deities manifested themselves as various animals based on characteristics. The God Apis took the form of a bull.
I was quite fascinated with these displays.
Things just seemed really packed in.....there was something to see everywhere...
Then we went through the halls with Greek and Roman sculpture. Tons of statues....my head was spinning.
One of the most famous statues is Apollo Belvedere which was once considered to be the most aesthetically perfect sculpture of a man after being found in Italy in the 15th century.
Right past all of this was an interesting area called the "Hall of Animals". The Vatican Museum's website states that the hall "was set up under Pope Pius VI (1775-1799) with antique works of art, often much restored and sometimes completely re-worked, with the aim of creating a 'stone zoo'. Many artists worked on the sculptures in this display during the 1700s, the most important of whom was Francesco Antonio Franzoni."
On your way to the Round Room, you'll be confronted with this remnant. This fragment of a statue known as the Belvedere Torso has been revered through the centuries by Raphael and even Michaelangelo, who it was rumored, was asked to restore the statue by Pope Julius II, but refused saying it was too beautiful to be changed. He is quoted as saying, "This is the work of a man who knew more than nature!” It is said that the torso was an inspiration for Adam in Michelangelo's fresco in the Sistine Chapel.
Right past this sculpture is the "Round Hall". Here's a panoramic shot that you can click on to expand.
Look familiar? Well, it was built to resemble the Pantheon.
By this time Museum fatigue was setting in. I pretty much stopped taking photos and it's quite telling that one of the few photos taken by the Missus was Rapheal's "The Liberation of St Peter".
The one thing the Missus, a fan of Angels & Demons, had to take a photo of was the Double Helix Staircase.....which is how you exit the Vatican Museum.
Next up was St Peter's Basilica, which was easy to find. Just follow the crowds.
St Peter's Square is quite impressive....and crowded.
And of course, to get into the Basilica, you had to go through security and metal detectors and all of that as well.
It was getting to be a pretty warm day. The security points for St Peter's were moving quite slowly. Then, a group of Chinese tourists pushed their way to the front of the line, and tried to just walk through security. The guards rushed up, linked their arms and physically pushed back the crowd. Then they closed the gate......I don't know if it was protocol or just spite, but man, I was just over it. Now don't get me wrong, the Missus is Chinese, as you all know if you've read long enough, from Qingdao. None of Her family, or even family friends who have visited act this way. 'Nuff said.
Anyway, by the time we got to St Peter's, I'd had my fill of the crowds, the heat, etc....
Still, the Missus has always wanted to come here. And I truly want the Missus to see and visit everyplace She's dreamed of. I hope that Vatican water tasted sweet.....
By now we were both starving.........but I had a place in mind. One that had been on my lists for ages... Pizzarium.
This place takes Pizza al Taglio - pizza by the slice to the next level with some wonderful ingredients. You just tell the guy behind the counter how much you want....it's really hard not to go overboard.
While it was still a bit too "bready" for our tastes, some of the ingredients were wonderful and we especially loved the tomato sauce....man, that was nice.
The prosciutto....the greens with the mozzarella...really good. Worth the 15 minute walk from the Vatican. Plus, the Cipro Metro Station is close by.
Pizzarium Via della Meloria 43 Rome, Italy
Returning to our room, I badly needed a shower. After that and rehydrating, we headed off, just to hang around the area near Termini Station.
And have a little snack.....
After taking quite a long walk, we decided to stop by the nearest Hosteria and have a simple meal.
Sometimes those spur of the moment places work out quite well. Some times not. Having no idea of this place....well, it was the latter.
Oh well, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, right?
Man, that carbonara was not to my liking....so I guess this was a lose.
It was not quite the send off I wanted. The next day, we'd be back on the Leonardo Express, then to our flight to Malta....yes, Malta.
At the end of Part 1, we had just finished our carb load. The Missus was now ready to find the Trevi Fountain. Somehow we ended up backtracking until I recognized the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi which is right next to the Senate Building, you'll see all those sedans with blacked out windows and guys in suits standing around along with tons of police.
Also, it always pays to "look up" when you enter. This ceiling was done by Domenichino.
We wove our way along side street, basically following the crowd and eventually we ended up at what is probably one of the most famous fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain, which took 30 years to finished, was completed in 1762. The actual name of the fountain - "tre vie" explains a lot as the location was at the junctions of three roads.
So that's a classic photo of the fountain. However, I want you to actually have a feel of being there...along with a jillion other toursts. So I thought this might give you some idea of what it's like being here.
This one was also quite beautiful and there was a service going on.
After the service, one of the older priests stopped to talk with a woman who was sitting in the back. All that art work and stuff is great, but scenes like this are priceless.
Then of course there's the Spanish Steps, named for the Spanish Embassy which these steps linked to the Holy See. Let's just say the place is pretty popular.....
Folks just seem to congregate here....whether to channel their inner Audrey Hepburn, or just to contemplate the world, I guess there's some romantic pull to this place.....
Speaking of romantic pull. Look closely in the photo above.....do you notice the young woman in the wedding gown and the older man, whom I'm assuming is her father in the suit? Here have a closer look....it seems they're shooting wedding pictures? Along with several thousand absolute strangers.....kinda strange, but kind of well, cute in a way.
Speaking of romantics, I believe that cream colored building to the right in the photo above is where the Poet John Keats died of TB in 1821 at the young age of 25.
We took a walk down the side streets, window shopping and looking around, but the crowds finally got to us. We marched up the Spanish Steps and down Via Sistina. We'd decided to head back to our room near Termini Station and get some rest.
Remember the "Lisbon Rule".....whenever we'd start getting a bit tired and perhaps flustered it would be time for a Pastel de Nata and some espresso? Well, when in Rome....do gelato.....
This did the trick.....
We headed to Termini, the long way....stopping at "Our Lady of Victory" or the church more widly known as Santa Maria della Vittoria.
This was (yet another) stunning church. The fresco to the left, named "The Virgin Mary Triumphing over Heresy and Fall of the Rebel Angels".
The most eye-catching item in the church is the sculpture called the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini. The scluture depicts a moment from the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Avila of a vision where an angel pierced her heart with a golden shaft....the moment, one of great pain and joy.
"I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it."
Wow...intense. It was time for another gelato.
Actually, I needed a bit more than some gelato. I was getting pretty hungry. So we walked past the Piazza de Republica and on to Via del Viminale. There stood the little shop named Er Buchetto. The place really lives up to it's name, the little hole in the wall named "the little hole". Er Buchetto does porchetta....and had been doing it for 5 generations.
So while the Missus went window shopping, I had a pile of roasted pork and a cup of the house red. While a lot milder in flavor than I thought it would be, it had a nice porkiness, the skin more crisp than hard, it wasn't greasy, but the meat was on the dry side. It was super cheap at under 5 euros....
I did love the porchetta box......as said pork product had a wonderful window seat.
Er Buchetto Via del Viminale 2F Rome, Italy
We finally made it back to our room....and a short nap. After waking, we walked around the neighborhood a bit. We were both amazed at all the Chinese businesses in the area. We stopped by one of the markets where the Missus asked the guy at the register if there were any Chinese places he'd recommend. His answer, "no, they are all the same.......not very good, it's better to eat at home!"
Fried by the busy day, we opted for a nearby Osteria, basically a simple eating establishment. A short menu, nice folks, good, simple food.
The gnocchi was pillowy and tender.
My lamb was tender, nice and gamey.
Nice meal, with some simple table wine, just what we wanted.
Osteria Angelino dal 1899 Via Machiavelli 64 Rome, Italy
So that's kind of what a typical travel day with the Missus is like.
I keep looking at all these photos of Rome and thinking, well one of these days. There was so much we saw, but it also seemed so hectic. I usually will look at a set of photos and the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, pop out and just like that; I have a post. This one had to really pared down......in the end, I thought this would be a nice description of what a typical vacation day with the Missus is like. It makes a nice C(learing) O(ut the) M(emory) C(ard) post.
As is the norm, we woke quite early on our first full day in Rome. I actually got up at 5am and did a post from our room. The Missus woke a bit later and we were headed out before 7. The Missus had a basic list of places to check out and we'd be walking to them all.
So we headed off from Termini Station down the street.
Pst the Colosseum and the Forum......
Skirting Palatine Hill and the Victor Emmanuel Monument.....
And we ended up at Saint Andrea della Valle, Piazza Navona was just a short walk from there. It was pretty quiet at Piazza at that time.
The Missus was determined to get to the Pantheon when it opened. So we walked on over and found that we were still quite early. So we walked over a block to Santa Maria sopra Minerva.
First thing on my mind was....what's up with the Elephant Obelisk, what does it represent? Well, apparently, this obelisk was one of two brought to Rome by Emperor Diocletian from Egypt sometime during his reign between 284 - 305AD. The obelisks were built during the reign of Pharoah Apries around 570BC. The Elephant was designed by Bernini and sculpted by Ercole Ferrata, completed in 1667. The Missus has a thing about obelisks....I'm really afraid to ask really. I will say, this is my favorite one...though I'm still not sure what it all really means.
The church itself is built over the ruins of a temple to the Egyptian Goddess Isis.
As with many of the various churches in Rome, of which there are over 900, most with a rich history, and tons of relics. Santa Maria sopra Minerva was once the center of the Dominican Order, so it makes sense that Saint Catherine of Siena is buried here....well, not all of her. Her head is interred at the Basilica of San Domenico in Siena.
We returned to the Pantheon, which still wasn't open, and decided to just have a cup of coffee and chill. There seemed to be quite a few "locals" walking their dogs, chatting, and generally giving the place a very relaxed feeling.
And yes, that's a obelisk and fountain the front of the Pantheon. This one was built by Ramesses II and was taken from the Temple of Ra in the ancient city of Heliopolis.
Soon enough, folks started lining up in front of the huge doors......
Anyway, here we were, standing in front of the huge bronze doors of the Pantheon. A little gentleman comes out to open up...and can't budge the doors. He recruits a bunch of us to push open the doors. Which we do. Oh man, talk about a thrill....I helped to push open the doors of the Pantheon! I immediately asked the Missus if She got a photo; "oh, I was so excited for you....I forgot!"
Click on the photo above to enlarge....this is one of the few places that really impressed me more than what I had read.
A few minutes later the place started getting crowded. It was time to leave. Outside, all the locals had disappeared as tourists descended on the Pantheon. I'm glad we had arrived early.
We headed back to Piazza Navona which was starting to pick up.
There are three fountains which grace the square, this is the one on the North, the Fountain of Neptune.
We decided to back track and headed to Campo de Fiori, literally translated to "Field of Flowers". I read that in the Middle Ages, the area was actually a meadow. It now houses a daily flower and vegetable market....kind of touristy. pretty pricey, but still fun.
Right on Campo de Fiori resides a place that is pretty much legendary, Forno Campo de Fiori, a little bakery and shop.
The Pizza Bianca was good, initial crunch, a bit too chewy for my taste, very soft interior.....kind of bland though. The pizzas, were, well, kind of disappointing, hard, greasy....probably because they seemed to have been laying out for a while.
Forno Campo de' Fiori Campo de' Fiori 22 Rome, Italy
Since it was now my turn for the time being, we headed off down Via dei Giubbonari, one of the side street off of Campo de Fiori. A little street lined with shops and cafes. Along the way we passed a little cul de sac, which had....what else, a church.
This little church is Santa Barbara dei Librari - the church for booksellers!
I loved this little three panel wooden painting, called a triptych. I later read that it dates back to the 15th-16th century.
When we hit the cross street of Via dei Chiavari, I found the other place I wanted to try. My good buddy Candice told me that she preferred Antico Forno Marco Roscioli.
About this time I figured out that pizza bianca would make a perfect sandwich....which it did.
I did notice that the pizza bianca here was less oily and had a better crunch.
I thought the marinara pizza was pretty good as well.
Antico Forno Marco Roscioli Via dei Chiavari 34 Rome, Italy
As you notice....these were the days before the Missus really clamped down on carbs. And yet, with this walking, I still lost weight!
Bolstered by carbs and caffiene we headed off to find the Missus's next target....where was that darn Trevi Fountain?
Just about everyone I know who has travelled has been to Rome....really. There's so much to see....a bit too much...the crowds, the scams (impersonating police seems to be just fine with local authorities), the somewhat jaded attitude toward visitors..... And yet, Rome is full of history, chock full of amazing sights....
If I were to do posts on everything we saw and ate in detail....well, it would be too much. So I've decided to most of these as sort of a C(learing) O(ut the) M(emory) C(ard) posts and keep the verbiage to a minimum.
So, we arrived. The Leomardo Express from the airport is a total joy, like much of Europe, public transportation is excellent. We stayed at a "B&B" close to Termini Station, the one great thing about the place was the person who ran the whole operation. More on that later.
You know the Missus by now right? We dropped things off and were off to the races! With something quick to eat of course...
The Missus doesn't have the best sense of direction; so the thought of having a map in Her grubby little hands would usually send chills up my spine....not so much here.
You know how they say, "you always remember your first"....that really hit home as the first church we visited was Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. My goodness......
It was indeed an impressive sight.
What was really interesting were the Chinese tour groups... they would often push themselves to the front of the line, trying to force themselves in front of everyone. It was especially bad at the Vatican where the guards actually had to push them back.
They often make interesting statements which would make the Missus crack up. Like when one of them said to another while looking at the statue of Pope Pius IX, "look, a statue of Buddha praying...."
One thing that really fascinated both the Missus and I were the Obelisks.
Each different....there seemed to be a story somewhere here....
One could just wander like we did and find a church like San Pietro in Vincoli, which has the tomb of Pope Julis II.
Apparently, this work was by Michelangelo, what more can you really say? How often do you see a work by Michelangelo? Really?
The church also holds a relic of the chains that bound Saint Peter while he was imprisoned.
The sheer amount of art, displayed in sculpture, on canvas, and in murals is quite amazing.
There is of course, the Colosseum and the Forum, but for some reason the Missus wasn't interested in visiting either.
And then there is the "Torta Nuziale", (the wedding cake), also known as the Victor Emmanuel Monument.
The Missus loved the architecture....I thought it as being a bit too gaudy.....
Around the back is the Basilica Santa Maria in Aracoeli.
The view from here is quite nice.
We made our way back to our room. Max, the proprietor of our B&B had made reservations at a place I was just itching to try, Trattoria Da Danilo, which was a scant three blocks away.
We were warned about the "typical Roman service" which was pretty much isolated to the woman who seemed to run the place....in other words, we should be honored just to eat here.
There's a big push for the antipasto here.....as in a major Ronda Rousey armbar upsell of dishes...some of which were good....some not.
The fried dishes were cold and were not especially good.....
And then of course was what I really wanted....the dish that had me going, "oh my....." The Cabonara with truffle.....oh my, what can I say? The flavor of shaved truffle...perfectly al dente noodles. the restrained richness of the dish.
In the end, there was a payoff for me....... I was willing to endure the lousy service for the carbonara of my dreams. I guess we all have a price, eh?
After an almost 24 hour trip, we made it home last night. Tired, but still excited over what we saw and ate, the Missus even more so over the weight I lost.....all that walking.
So while my internal clock gets adjusted and I catch up at work, here's a few clues as to the third country we visited. It was one with a close tie to Rhodes, which we visited last year....I know, I still have to get to those posts.
Though a small country, there's a ton of history here......the kinds of stuff I used to read as a kid. Knights, castles, a walled city, invading Turks!
The narrow streets and hills totally reminded me of San Francisco.
We visited one of the cathedrals in the city. Later that evening as we were passing by, we heard music emanating from the Cathedral.
We peeked in and saw several vocalists and an orchestra rehearsing. Instead of shooing us out, we were welcomed to sit and watch.
The next day we inquired about the concert and were told it was free!
So that evening we attended the performance that had an interesting history. It had only been performed once in the last hundred years! Where else can you attend a concert in a historic, 450 year old cathedral by the national philharmonic and choir for free?
We were especially surprised by the food. We hadn't hear much about this country's cuisine and was pleasantly surprised. Because of it's history, the chef's here seemed less burdened by too much tradition and we had dishes with quinoa and black rice. Still, the traditional and local food was excellent. I was especially surprised by how delicious the Fried Rabbit Liver and Melon salad was.
We also spent a couple of nights in a village where 70% of the country's fishing boats are located.
The colorful traditional blue and yellow fishing boats are still adorned with the "Eyes of Osiris". We found out that this boat design goes back to Phoenician times.
Of course the seafood was excellent.
The traditional items like Horse Stew were excellent as well.
We loved the people here. Much like the folks in Portugal, they are warm and friendly....and some, like the baker who we found down a small flight of stairs tending a 168 year old wood burning stove have large personalities.
We ordered a pizza with traditional ingredients that was very good and got his life story to boot!
All in all, it was a fantastic visit.
Even though the country is small, there's a ton of history. We managed to snag reservations for a UNESCO protected site that allows only 60 visitors a day. It was amazing.
Soon we headed back to busy Rome.
Sadly, Michelin starred Metamorphosi had to cancel our reservations because of some special event. We ended up having a wonderful meal anyway. Here's the fried lamb's brains.
We ended our trip in a town outside of Lisbon. The setting was almost out of a fairy tale, King's, Queen's, castles, and even a palace on top of a hill.
Since it was highly recommended that we take the bus up the mountain, the Missus decided that we should climb walk up.
We had quite a time!
I'll need a couple of days to regroup and recover. So until then, Cathy's still in charge. See you again shortly.