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From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
I had 3½ days in Rome before I left for Vieste. It was my first time in Italy and I had a few things I had to see. The Pantheon on Monday, the Vatican on Tuesday, the Colosseum and Forum on Wednesday, and the Villa Borghese on Thursday. I could do at least one OTR submission on each, but I thought I’d start with some of the other things I did.
I arrived in Rome in the morning, took a bus to the Termini Station, and walked to my hotel. The Hotel Medici is named for the famous family who once owned it. I couldn’t check in yet, so I dropped off my luggage and went to explore the neighborhood.
I was in the Sallustiano district, named after the gardens created by Gaius Sallustius Crispus, a senator and historian of the 1st Century BC. Nothing is left of the gardens except this small piazza, the Horta Sallustiani, which is a private carpark that I was chased out of.
What do you eat your first day in Rome? How about pizza! Next door to the hotel was Pinsere, a particular kind of pizzeria. Pinsa is pizza made with a light flour made of soy, rice, and wheat; it’s considered healthier than the 00 flour of Neapolitan pizza. Fodor’s named Pinsere on Via Flavia the best of its kind in the world and it attracts a constant stream of customers.
The toppings vary from day to day. I believe I had ham, goat cheese, and pistachio. You won’t find pepperoni (which means bell pepper in Italian) and you won’t find pineapple. You will find some toppings that are strange to Americans, like zucchini flowers. The pinsa is traditionally oval shaped.
Here’s a section of the Aurelian Walls, built by the Emperor Aurelian around AD 271-275. They enclosed all seven hills of ancient Rome. After this I went back to my hotel, finished checking in and had a shower and a nap. I forgot to mention that this was July and Rome was nearly 100F every day.
When I got up, I strolled down to the Pantheon, where I had a free timed ticket. I joined the crowds and explored the 2000 year old building, still in use as a church. When I left it, I went to Trevi Fountain, threw a coin in so that I would return to Rome, and fled from the crowds. From there I went to Piazza Navona, which became one of my favorite places in Rome. Navona has three fountains. The famous one is Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi; the others are the Fontana del Moro and this one, the Fontana del Nettuno, both by Giacomo Della Porta. The piazza is built on the ancient Stadium of Diocletian and retains the oval shape. There is a small museum nearby with some of the remains of the stadium.
Wandering around, I came across this archaeological site. This is the Largo di Torre Argentina, a block of four Roman temples from the time of the Republic and the ruins of Pompey’s Theater. It was too late to tour it that evening and I never got back to it. The largest temple houses a cat sanctuary. This is in contention as the archaeologist would like to evict the cats, but the locals sent around a petition to keep it.
Throughout Rome, you will find water fountains called nasoni. Most are simple metal columns with a spout, but some like this lion are more elaborate. The water is safe, cold, and delicious. They also never turn off, a shock to this Californian. Nasone literally means “big nose”, from the shape of the spout.
Besides water, what you need on a hot day in Italy is gelato. There is a gelateria on almost every block. There’s one near Trevi that claims to have 150 flavors. This fellow hopes you will stop at his place.
A couple of days later, after I left the Forum area, I climbed up the Capitoline Hill to the Museo Capitolini. On the way, I found this arch along the Via del Campidoglio. It looks ancient, but I have found out that it was actually built in 1940. The buildings it connects are centuries older.
My last night in Rome, I wanted pizza again, more familiar this time. Again, one of the best in Rome was down the street from my hotel, 50 Kalò di Ciro Salvo, a much more elegant place. This is a Pizza Diavola, the closest you can get to a pepperoni pizza in Italy.
Those pizzas look amazing.
I see that sky and realize Italy isn’t Ohio. I have a co-worker whose father came from Italy. I wonder how much he misses that sky.
My Lebanese neighbors say not much. That sky was hot.
Me too, and there’s still two hours to go before iftar.
I really love that leisurely spitting lion.
@Amir Khalid: Dawn here, so our muslims have a much longer wait. Hopefully they are all still asleep.
USA tax season is almost over so soon I can go back to retirement. I really wish they would replace me. Where are the young seasonal workers of yesteryear?
We did have one young mother discover she could balance baby and tax prep if she could work at home.
It’s hard to figure out what to love best about Italy, but discovering wonderful things to see and eat just by wandering around certainly ranks high. Sounds like a great trip.
@sab: My bosses have hired women for years because we are cheaper. They are now discovering we are cheaper because we are balancing family and work.
When our husbands retire we also want to retire.
Men accountants work until they drop. Women accountants would like to, but they have families calling.
My pitbull is dealing with her usual anxiety issues by sucking on her blanket. I am so sorry I woke her up. At least she has the blanket and not booze.
@Barbara: I expect their food was amazing even before Columbus brought back tomatoes. Italians always did react quickly to new food choices. Ravioli and pasta in general came from China. “Jaoistsa” is Chinese for ravioli, which the Chinese invented. Tomatoes came later. Italians accepted them all, at once.
Thanks for the photos and the virtual pizza 🍕!
Thanks for the photos. I love the one of the 1940 arch between buildings: Lovely.
Hey I ate at the Pinsere on via Flavia too! Highly recommended.
What a fun few days, and your photos and stories really really give a feel for the flavor of Rome. Not only referring to the photos of pizza and talk of gelato, but also to the charm of the streets and buildings.
I loved just wandering around Rome when I visited in the late 1980s. Practically a surprise around every corner.
Roman drinking fountains are wonderful. And you’re right — they’re freezing cold and the most refreshing thing in the world on those 30-35C+ summer days!
I enjoyed viewing these ‘ordinary’ ancient type streets, and oldest of architectural sites. I hope you have more to share…
But was it a dry heat?
I was in Rome in September 2018. My AirBnB was right next to The Vatican and I could walk across Ponte Sant’Angelo to visit the old city. A kind restaurant owner encouraged me to visit the old churches housing masterworks by Caravaggio, which I practically had to myself while the hordes visited the big-name sights. When I came back he fed me one of the best meals I had in Italy during the month I was there (a VERY high bar as you can imagine) for just €10. (!).
The other highlight was seeing Michelangelo’s Moses in Chiesa San Pietro in Vincoli. I have never seen a more powerful statue than this one, and I saw many other masterworks by Michelangelo. Again, I had it all to myself while the hordes were at the Colosseum!
Thanks for the comments, everyone. It was tough picking just a few to post. I’ll put up some from the Vatican next. I also went to Naples and the city of Fiumicino. I tended to focus on the historic sites, because I’m a history and archaeology buff. Sorry I made you hungry during Ramadan, Amir, especially with pictures of pork. Ramadan Kareem!
Origuy: charming photos. Wonderful introduction.
@Andrew Abshier: would you ever share the name of that restaurant? Or even just its location, if you don’t recall the name?
Mike in Pasadena
The Sallust neighborhood has great restaurants on nearby Via Flavia named for Emperors Vespasian and son Titus. (Emperor Domitian is best forgotten.) In ancient history, jet-setters Liz Taylor and Richard Burton hung out on Via Flavia. The nearby Villa Borghese with Bernini’s sculptures is worth the difficulty of making a reservation and waiting for your timed entry. You need to be on time for your all too short visit. There are some of Rome’s best museums within easy walking distance of the Sallust neighborhood’s Hotel Londra and Cargill and if history is your thing, ancient baths converted to churches are nearby. My most recent visit was pre pandemic in November. I thought there’d be fewer tourists. Sadly, no. Near Londra and Cargill there’s a busy cheese shop with an aroma that cries out to you from across the street. Nothing but different kinds of cheese in refrigerated displays. I want to return soon.
Ah Roma! And many other locations in Italia. Piazza Navona is a wonderful people watching spot at night. A vivid memory is seeing the ancient Roman street near the Pantheon. It was twelve feet below the current street – thousands of years of rubble.
Origuy, what did you think of that first pizza? It looks pretty promising… also, nice shots!
Regarding the temperature, after our last trip to the Dolomites, we stopped in Bergamo for a couple hours on our way to the Milan airport. It was much warmer than up in the mountains and my wife laughed and said, it’s like Italy in July here! (It was July.)
@BigJimSlade: I’m not a fan of goat cheese on pizza, but it looked like the best option. I liked the crust. There is a place in San Francisco that serves pinsa; I want to try it.
It was so hot that the Vatican was letting people into St Paul’s in shorts. Women still had to cover their shoulders.
I really liked the neighborhood, it’s convenient to everything. I never made it to Trastavere, so I can’t compare.