Sunday, 2 August 2015

Sisters Are Doin' it for Themselves

Up and out really early this morning as we are heading for St. Peter's Basilica.
We refuel at Dolce Maniera with cornetti and espresso and head to the square.

On the way to climb the dome we spot the Holy Door, which is firmly shut but will be opened by the Pope himself on 8th December, when the Extraordinary Holy Year begins.

For an extra 2 euros you can take the elevator for part of the way to the top of the cupola - it is well worth doing. At the first level you are up close and personal with the mosaic frieze that surrounds the interior base of the dome.

The stairs narrow the closer that you get to the top - don't attempt this if you are remotely claustrophobic.
Once you reach the Lantern Tower the views are amazing.

On the terrace on the way back down you are really close to the statues that line the balustrade.

Each time we visit St Peter's different areas are cordoned off. We are lucky today as we can get really close to the Baldacchino and see all the little details such as the baby face tucked in amongst the carvings on one of the pedestals

The story goes that Bernini included this carving in his work to give thanks for the safe delivery of a baby to a favourite niece of the Pope.
On the way out we take a look at the Death Door on which there are all sorts of gruesome carvings.

We are so pleased we made the effort to get out and about early - the queue now snakes around the square.

Time for coffee and fortunately our favourite place hasn't closed for the Ferragosto holidays yet. Not only does Sciascia make the best coffee but it is poured by white jacketed baristas and served in china cups.

The souvenirs that we bring back from our trips tend to be in the food line so, to this end, we head to La Tradizione to stock up on pecorino & salami.
Once back in the apartment we half heartedly attempt to pack before going out to lunch at Mariolina, which is conveniently just around the corner. This street food venue opened in the last year and has either  take out or serve yourself  options. The choice is basically ravioli, meatballs or cured meat platters but all made with excellent ingredients. The counter and kitchen is watched over by Maria who is responsible for this clever concept.

After lunch we make our way to the Palatine Hill where we have a tour of the Houses of Augustus & Livia booked. These are recently restored and the preserved friezes are amazing.

We celebrate our last evening on the balcony with  Franciacorta & 'leftovers' aperitivo.
Dinner tonight is at Osteria dell'Arco in the Parioli district. It is run by Cristina (chef) and Nicoletta (sommelier) and was recommended to us by Gina.
We decide to go with the daily specials and are not disappointed.

We had a pasta dish in between the prawns and the pork but unfortunately wolfed it down before taking the photo!
And just look what we found on the wine list.....
The meal ended with complementary gelato
What an absolutely wonderful way to end a wonderful two weeks in Rome

Saturday, 1 August 2015

On Days Like These

Today is our long awaited tour with Gina from Casa Mia Food & Wine Tours 
We met Gina last year as she was the food & wine expert on our Scooteroma tour.
We are met by Gina outside our apartment and driven in an air conditioned car (sheer luxury!) to Olevano Romano, a hill town about an hours drive from Rome.
We are heading to the vineyard belonging to Damiano Ciolli, a delightful young man who inherited the vines from his father. He decided  to concentrate on quality over quantity and now produces two Cesanese wines named after local wild flowers - Cirsium and Silene.

We walk through the vineyard and soon realise the amount of hard work and passion that goes into each vintage.
These vines are 64 years old

After learning about the different elements that make up the character of a wine we move on to the Cantina where the wine is made.

This is also where we get to taste the wine. What can I say.....sitting overlooking the vines , chatting with Damiano & Gina and drinking lovely wine....just a perfect moment. Honestly, tears spring forth every time I think of it.

More is still to come. We are driven a short way in to town to Sora Maria e Arcangelo. This restaurant is everything you imagine an Italian ristorante to be.
Fabulous views from the table.

Lovely local wine, made by a couple who had given up the 'rat race' and bought a vineyard (he worked for Italian TV company RAI , she designed the beautiful label)

And the food......OMG!!

Il Fiore di Zucca

Conigilio (rabbit) 
 Vitello (veal)
I hasten to add that the three of us shared the above dishes - but we each had our own dessert!

Dining with Gina is like lunching with a (very knowledgeable) friend - the Casa Mia philosophy 
One last lingering look back at the town as we leave.....

Then back to our apartment to collapse in a heap.....but  we rallied much later for a drink in our new favourite local bar, Café Bohemian Libreria

We picked up pizza from Alle Carette 'to go',  then back to the balcony to enjoy our wine from the vineyard.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Night at the Opera

This morning we take a stroll on the quieter side of Trastevere, in the vicinity of Santa Cecilia.

We pay our respects to the beautiful sculpture of the saint by Maderno

No matter how many times we re-visit places in Rome , there is always something new to discover. This time it is a milestone from the time of Emperor Vespasian, set in the gateway wall
Coffee is at the cute 'No Name' Café
We continue on to Isola Tiburina, where a busker is playing Eric Clapton songs on the bridge. Memories are made of this.
In to the Ghetto, past the Turtle Fountain once more, until we reach Palazzo Mattei di Giove. The courtyard is full of  ancient sculpture.

Campo di Fiori is our next stop, where we pick up salami & vacuum packed guincale to take home, from Norcineria Viola. I do love their distinctive lilac carrier bags.
Piazza Navona next, which is relatively quiet in the heat of the midday sun.

Vivi Bistrot is the perfect spot for a pre-lunch drink, especially at the table with the ring side view.
Our walk to lunch takes us across the Ponte Sant'Angelo. I just love those Bernini Angels.

Sorpasso, our lunch destination is slightly trickier to find than we first thought - just can't get the hang of the Roman street numbering, but well worth getting lost for.
We start with a platter of Italian hams - we are so hungry that it is all eaten before we think of a photo. Here is where it is prepared.
The pasta dishes are outstanding.
 Orecchiette with broccoli and bacala
 Linguine with Sarawak peppercorns and pecorino
We could so get used to these long lunches!
Whilst relaxing in the apartment late afternoon there is a sudden heavy downpour that came out of nowhere. Fortunately the streets are soon dry (wet cobblestones are lethal!) and we are able to take our planned passeggiata starting at Circo Massimo with a fine view of the Palatine.
We pass the Rose Garden which, although now closed for the season, still has flowers in bloom.
 In to the Orange Garden with  favourite views over Rome.

This is a popular spot for wedding photos
Walking upwards we come to Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta - a peaceful oasis surrounded by cypress trees.
Time for another 'Rome Ritual' - a peek through the Keyhole.
Cocktails this evening are in the Art Nouveau Lounge Garden of The Corner Townhouse Hotel.

From here it is a short walk to the Baths of Caracalla where we have tickets for the opera, Madame Butterfly.
We are in the 'cheap' seats but still have a great view of the stage.
We are not opera fans by any means but are so impressed with the staging and use of lighting effects on the magnificent ruins.
Darkness falls and a full moon hangs over the umbrella pines.
The first musical notes send a tingle down the spine. As you will have guessed there is an emotional moment - when the wedding party descend slowly through the woods to centre stage.
As we leave we admire the huge illuminated walls of the Baths.

Even though it is late we still enjoy cheese, salami and wine on the terrace