Our Tuesday morning flight to Rome proves to be easy with no lines at LAX. Midway through our flight an oddly familiar voice demands “Trash” we looked up to see Richard Simmons collecting trash for the flight attendants in a shinny workout outfit. A bit odd, but we take it as a good omen.
The only hiccup to the twenty hour journey, our car is late due to the Pope’s surprise appearance that draws hoards to Rome. The traffic’s crazy, thankfully our driver takes the “road less traveled” and gets us to Trastevere quickly. We arrive at our apartment from Air BnB at 10:30 am, too early to check in. Irene, the manager, allows us to drop off our bags while she cleans the place, promising to text when she was done, around 1. With map in hand, we set out to discover as much of the Eternal City that two very sleep deprived woman can do in 2 ½ hours.
Trastevere, or “across the Tevere (Tiber)” is a maze of narrow streets whose names change on every turn. Purple and violet wisteria vines cascade down the corners of buildings, across archways and even claim entire facades. The streets, cobbled and uneven, give our legs a work out: Both of us very happy that we purchased great walking shoes before our departure. (link to the shoes we bought). After the five-cent tour of our immediate hood we walk over Punte Sisto for the very first time. This bridge becomes our landmark that points to “home”.
We walk to Compo di Fiori where a market occurs weekdays as it has for centuries. Artichokes, asparagus, tomatoes, zucchini flowers hold court as we passed through the white tented stands.The brooding statue of Giordano Bruno looms over the square. Mz. Riz’s fascinated that poor Bruno was burnt alive on this very square for heresy. We call it martyr square from that point on.
After quick pizza and beer, we head back to the apartment hoping that it’s 1. No luck, so we do what other tired tourists do—sit on the steps of Piazza della Scala. Finally, the text comes. We sleep. It feels so good great to be prone for the first time in 24 hours.
We awaken somewhat refreshed, hit the showers and then the street. We try to complete the Rick Steve’s “Heart of Rome” tour, take a wrong turn and get discombobulated. Try as we might we can’t find where we were on the map. Fortunately, when lost in Rome, follow the tourist mob, the hoards will lead to a piazza.
And so we did, to Piazza Navona where we regroup and break out “Rome for Foodies” app by Katie Parla. This amazing app does not require WiFi. Yes, you heard me, no wifi (no steep roaming charges=FREE).
We look for a nearby restaurant, not only did the app points out Roscioli (one of Ms. Parla’s top choices), but if you hit the feet icon there is a map with a pin representing you and another of the restaurant, so all you have to do is follow the map. GENIUS! We’re giddy with joy as the blue icon nears the red.
We easily find Roscioli, alas there are only reservations at 11. We kill time with a victory glass of wine.
RoscioliThe meal starts with a Roman take on gazpacho with a dollop of cheese.
When the burrata arrives Mz. Riz and I are floored at the amount of cheese on the plate, convinced we’d need to take it most of it home. I can safely state that this is the best I have ever tasted, bar none: The center of the mozzarella light, soufflé like, the oven dried tomatoes sweet and toothy. When placed on the exceptional artisan bread we find a bit of food heaven. Of course by the end of the meal this is what the plate looked like.
We split our pasta, pappardella with eggplant, smoked ricotta, and mullet (a ubiquitous white fish that’s been served since Roman times).
Biting into this pasta gives me a clear, indelible understanding of “al dente”: Cooked, yet with a bite. Mz. Riz didn’t like the eggplant that seems to be poached, but adores the pasta. I enjoy the dish.
A complimentary dessert arrives, just enough sweet and crunch to end our first dinner in Rome.