Dear Rome,

You’re a sweet city. A little hot for me in the last couple of days, but you’ve got spunk. And anywhere that you can order gelato before midday is a friend of mine.
Can I thank you in particular for a couple of things?

Where we stayed

I really liked Suite Dreams. It was right near the Republica metro station, and once we figured out that you just buy a 1 euro metro ticket to take you anywhere, it was super easy to get about. You were clean and modern, all white spaces and nice sheets. The Hungry One was even won over by the Nespresso machine at breakfast, particularly when he discovered how it helped wash down your warm chocolate croissants. Our room was a little noisy, so next time I’ll be sure to ask for a room in the quieter wing. But for 130 euro a night, you really helped the budget- so grazie.

That cute wine bar near Piazza Navona

Cul de sac was that bolthole of a place in Piazza di Pasquino, but the size of the wine list more than made up for any limitations of the physical space. A feast of prosecco, prosciutto melone and a ‘super sized cured meat and cheese plate’ with hunks of bread were exactly what we needed to bolster us for the walk back past the Pathenon.

Cul de sac
Piazza di Pasquino, 73
00186 Rome, Italy
066 8801094

That string quartet playing at the Pathenon

It may have been slightly cheesy, but it was a nice touch as the sun was going.


That coffee at Sant’Eustachio


They say it’s some of the best coffee in Rome. The Hungry One was impressed that his ristretto came shorter than a thumbnail. It’s murky and nutty and slightly sweet. Drinking it standing up smoothed the transition to the caffeinated kick in the pants that followed. Whether it’s some of the best coffee he’s ever had? That’s still under judgment.

Sant’Eustachio
Piazza di Sant’Eustachio, 82
00186 Rome, Italy
06 6880 2048


The fountains and free flowing water

So- aquaducts? Good call with those.

Steve, our tour guide

I normally don’t love tour groups, or tour guides. Following a sunflower on a stick isn’t usually my idea of a great time. But I don’t know a great deal about ancient Roman history- or religion for that matter- so we took a punt on Real Rome Tours. They promised tour groups of no more than 8. By some chance it was just The Hungry One and me, and Steve. Steve was a Classics masters student from Cambridge. He cracked some great jokes, but more; was super impressive. He was so impressive going through the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Forum we booked him the next day to take us through the Vatican. By the way- that’s a nice ceiling they’ve got going on over there.


That nice cafe on Piazza Navona

So Steve reckons this is where they did the nautical battles, back in the day. It’s a big space and pretty pretty. But golly, there’s a lot of dreckish looking food around the outsides. I’m really glad we stumbled onto Cafe Bernini. The tablecloths were white, instead of salmon pink. The menu wasn’t sticky with the laminate curling at the sides. They didn’t serve sloppy lasagne. Instead the pink wine came in a nice glass and The Hungry One’s Menebrea came bigger than a pot plant. The base of the pizza was nice and crisp and you weren’t stingy with the prosciutto either. Unfortunately some other travellers from New Jersey liked the look of the place too. Their 10 minute nasal argument right next to us with the waitstaff about whether ‘frizzante’ could really be described as ‘mineral water’ meant we couldn’t bring ourselves to stay for dessert. Sorry.


Palatium

So, having a restaurant that’s funded by a regional government is a bit of a kooky idea, but if it showcases the food of Lazio like Palatium did, there’s no way I’m going to scoff. The two types of olive oil to mix and match with the rustic bread were a great way to start- and the jumbo zucchini flowers stuffed with oozy mozzarella and a salty touch on anchovy were a nice touch. The two pastas were also a delight; The Hungry One’s four fat ravioli with salted ricotta and mint, dressed with a tumble of slow cooked lamb made a fresh surprise.

And the tomatoes that formed the base of my buccatini amatriciana – wow- if I made produce like that in my backyard, I’d be promoting it every way I could as well. The space may have been a little clinical, but considering how hot it’s been we appreciated your air conditioning.

Palatium
94 via Frattina- near the Spanish steps.
Phone 39 06 6920 2132

San Crispino
So here’s my question- can you have bad gelato?

If it’s cold, doesn’t immediately melt all over your hand, is bereft of ice crystals and tastes pleasant, then there’s not a lot more that you could want.

You say that, before you’ve been to San Crispino. It’s supposed to be the best in Rome. I now know why.

It’s not the easiest to find; on the Vie della Panetteria , not too far from the Trevi fountain. Inside it looks almost like a pharmacy- white tiles and steel hub caps over a metal bench, hiding a gourmands orgasm of flavours.

There are no cones; the flavour of the crust interfere with the confection. The serving sizes are precise and conservative- though you can have up to four flavours at a time.

How does Sardinian acacia honey sound? Or cinnamon and ginger? Both have a creamy base which rounds out like a cool doona suit for your mouth. An American standing near me has the same combination. She closes her eyes and says “It tastes like fall”. The cinnamon and ginger are spicy with touches of biscuits wrapped in cellophane sold at church fetes. If that doesn’t rock your boat maybe the muddy Valhrona chocolate, or hazelnut meringue will. The meringue variations have little nuggets of crispy pavlova crust throughout, but the general texture is somewhere in between gelato and the fluffy cloud centre of a marshmallow. You can get it studded with roasted hazelnuts or pieces of chocolate. Or maybe you’re in a fruit kind of space. The purple black of the blackberry has all the flavour of a summertime tumble in a glen and none of the seeds which can get stuck in your teeth.

We see a local couple indulge in one cup of two flavours and then go in for a second helping of two more. If ever there was a reason to do as the Romans do; this has to be it. 

This place we liked a lot.

San Crispino 
Via della Panetteria, 42, Rome

066 793924

Ciao,
Tori