LIFE IS A COMBINATION OF MAGIC AND PASTA
THE GILDED FILES: ROME, ITALY
Even before leaving for Europe I was in a dreamland putting together an optimistic plan to visit places nearby. Normally a one-stop-shop has my name written all over it, but when traveling, one new place is never enough. Call me obsessive, but I don’t half-ass things, I either give it my everything or nothing at all. The travel bug is real and I give into it every time... So, after a couple days in Bulgaria, we took off on our travel extravaganza. We were headed for Italy, first stop Rome, just a fabulously short flight away.
As we started our descent into the eternal city, the flickering lights gave the sky a flushing glow. Even better was the taxi to the hotel, passing through Vatican City at nightfall, Brooke and I both had goosebumps the entire way.
I received a rude awakening to the Roman food scene when I found myself desperately calling around to find an opening for a late dinner. This was excruciating for someone who finds serenity in planning ahead. I notice my perfectionist mentality is always put to the test in these amazingly spontaneous situations.
Nonetheless, I was thrilled to find that Italy fully embraces late night dining. Brooke and I sat down at Da Frencesco as midnight rolled around. We happily consumed our first Italian pizza, burrata, cacio e pepe and chianti in the bustling restaurant with no complaints. PS. You’ll find the constant pattern of wine with every meal, so I will slowly stop mentioning it.
Shortly after dinner, we met a group of locals that were dining next to us and they showed us around the neighborhood, even more foreign amidst the darkness. We headed for a nightclub stopping first at a nondescript coffee shop for some cappuccinos, the perfect antidote for my eyelids that were getting heavier by the second. I do remember someone labeling Sant Euracchio Il Caffe, 'The Best Coffee in Rome’ and I easily agreed - though, I underestimated the hype until we passed by during the day and saw a line that long surpassed the entrance - Walking into Shari Vari Playhouse was like entering a secret get-together in someone’s ancient stone mansion, gossip girl style. Rome nightlife is underrated.
We loved our hotel, the room itself was modern and elegant with the bed sitting in from of a black velvet wall and the modern bathroom was complete with an integrated stereo system connected to the smart TV. A rooftop terrace sealed the deal, but most notable was its ideal location, with just a ten-minute walk to any point of interest. By the end of our stay, we could make our way around the city by memory. It was our first day in Rome and the Trevi Fountain was first our destination. We began towards the main street of Via Del Corso and were instantly in awe of the creamy, pastel colored architecture that engulfed us.
The Trevi Fountain inspired the perfect palette. Stunning Carrera marble, travertine, and turquoise waters contrast with the surrounding buildings made up of muted yellow and peach walls. As we continued to stroll to the Spanish Steps just ahead I couldn’t help but imagine the feeling of being in the past, the glamorous, high-status streets made me feel like I was in a 1920’s Rome.
Long after our stomachs started to growl we found, Vini e Buffet inside a building overgrown with moss and ivy. We ordered a bruschetta sampler, some with meat and cheese, others piled high with sweet bursting cherry tomatoes or eggplant. Next, we devoured an endive, melon and prosciutto salad with chunks of aged parmesan cheese and the most decadent, melt-in-your-mouth lasagna.
For dessert, we headed to Giolitti, the most famous Gelato shop in Rome, where the line exemplifies the claim but moves very quickly. The man behind the counter scooped pomegranate, champagne and mango gelato into my white cholate dipped waffle cone. The pomegranate tasted like biting into a bunch of bursting pomegranate seeds, truly identical in flavor to the real thing.
Without a hint as to where we were, and with gelato dripping down our arms, we turned the corner. In front of us stood the Pantheon and we entered into the past. We then explored Piazza Navano, as a former and brief art major, I fully appreciated the dreamy Baroque architecture. Finally, back on track towards the hotel, we roamed through Piazza Venezia admiring the Santa Maria di Loreto.
The next day, Brooke found a great write-up on the restaurant, La Taverna Dei Dori Imperiali. We hopped into an uber, eyes wide as we drove down the streets so narrow it seemed like an optical illusion. Subconsciously arriving five-minutes before opening, we were seated right away by the owner, a cute old man visibly impassioned about his family-run restaurant. As we watched a massive line form, we had already been given my newfound favorite snack, of Italian breadsticks, and had ordered a bottle of house Chianti. Followed by an artichoke appetizer, decadent veal scaloppini wrapped in prosciutto, fluffy burrata stuffed into thick ravioli, and a perfectly-chewy truffle cacio e pepe. Hands down, best meal of my life.
Our last supper in Rome was at, La Locanda Del Prosciutto and Wine Bar, right before happy hour to avoid the crowd. Inside a tiny and sleek butcher shop, we were presented with the best charcuterie board on Earth, our only regret was that we didn’t order two.
Last on our to-do list was visiting the Colosseum. A heavenly, worn away structure, that both obstructs and takes in light perfectly. The best viewpoint was on top of the steps in the best attempt to take it all in. With so much history to immerse yourself in, unless you like being on a tight schedule or have planned plenty of days to travel around the city, the best way to see Rome is by truly wandering and experiencing things as you come across them.
Our growing adoration for Rome continued at the airport where we had a delicious porchetta sandwich with no competition, buffalo mozzarella and pizza before catching our next flight.