Thursday, November 13, 2014

Italy: Rome ... The Big Finale

We ended our trip with three days in Rome. Everyone who had been to Rome said it was their least favorite. But, I LOVED Rome. However, I love the energy of big cities. New York City is one of my favorite places so I'm assuming that's why I am a fan. Just as much as I love the big city, I love the serenity of the country, which is why I loved all the other small villages and towns. I told y'all I'm easy to please.

We got into Rome early and had to wait a bit for our room to be ready to check in. Good thing ... because I was starving! So ... surprise, surprise ... we ducked into a nearby pizza place to grab a bite. I fell in love with one thing there ... cannot for the life of me remember the name of it. It was basically a cheese ball, rolled up in some type of rice-tomato substance (that does not sound appetizing in the least but it's delish), and then of course fried up. Delicious! If you know the name of this snack, please comment and let me know what it is so that I can figure out how to make these suckers at home.

We checked in and made our way to the main attraction for us, the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Amazing.

The Arch of Constantine seen from the Colosseum ... the very place Christians were tortured. Ironic to me.



Of course, we had to sample the grapes in Italy. Duh. 

Yeah. There's this.

Piazza Venezia in front of the Victor Emmanuel Monument

Did Beau actually eat pizza again for dinner that night? Well, yes he did.

I wanted to try something more traditional and compare the taste to what we have here in America. This is lasagna. It was not at all like the lasagna we eat ... no Ricotta cheese, no meat. So, although it was good, it was pretty bland. And, you can't go wrong with adding Ricotta and meat to any pasta.

More tiramisu ... I think this was our favorite one. The Italian mama in the kitchen makes it homemade every day. 

 The next day we visited Campo Di 'Fiori. This was my favorite area. Lots of restaurants with tables on the cobblestone streets and an adorable farmer's market with so many beautiful, fresh veggies, fruits and flowers.



This guy right here was making fresh pomegranate juice which was quite possibly the most delicious drink I'm ever had. I told Beau I needed this juicer and some loads of pomegranates.




Another lively area was the Piazza Navona. Lots of people, music, and you guessed it, eating.


video



Then, we walked over to the Pantheon. It was quite a sight to behold.

After that, we headed to the Spanish Steps.

And, stopped off for a bite. Best salad I ate while there.

By far, our favorite restaurant was a family-owned establishment, Osteria Del Cavaliere. Mom cooked. Dad managed. Children waited tables. 

This is what bruschetta looks like in Italy. You spread any combination onto toasted bread. 

Cheese plate

Homemade pasta

Lamb skewers with potatoes

Toffee-type tiramisu/pudding dish

And, the last day ... we hit the Vatican. It was Sunday so it was pretty crowded. Everyone wanted to get a glimpse of Pope Francis.

Yep. He came out from his apartment.

I even captured a bit of what he spoke on video. I had no idea what he was saying except for God, Mary, and redemption. That is all.
video

St. Peter's Basilica ... Gorgeous.

These people are serious about getting in to see this church. The line was ridiculous. You may think I'm crazy because we came all this way, but I literally told Beau the line and the pushing were not worth going in for me. But, he was determined at this point. 

I, on the other hand, almost came to blows with an older Italian woman who kept giving me the elbow and shoving me. I had to say something to her ... in English, of course. I'm sure she understood me though. I got on the other side of Beau and told her if she wanted to push someone she could push him. And, then he gave her his famous death stare and the pushing came to a halt. But, I have never seen so many people anxious and adamant about getting into church. Never.




This is the spot where it is believed that Peter was crucified.


Ya'll this here ... Nutella crepes. Yeah, so good.

Just killing time in the Castro Pretorio.



And, our trip was over. 

It was the most fantastic trip I have ever been on. I'm not sure what could top it, but I'm willing to try other spots. We do want to plan another trip to Europe in about five years or so ... Paris, London, and Dublin. Maybe somewhere in Switzerland. I'm up for suggestions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Italy: Tuscany Region/Siena

Another area I had longed to see was Tuscany. The whole Tuscany region is quite large. We wanted to drive through the most picturesque parts of the area, which was Chianti.

The whole drive was gorgeous. The photos don't truly show the depth of how vast this area is. But, there were miles and miles of rolling hills with vineyards and typical Italian-style homes with terra-cotta roofs. Just miles and miles of beauty.

We stopped and ate lunch at a vineyard, serving only the freshest most organic food you can get, right from nearby villages and towns. I'd say this was one of our top 3 meals.


Fresh Tomato Soup

I don't remember what this was but it was my favorite thing I ate, go figure ... some type of potato dish.

Pork Tenderloin

Guinea Fowl (or as they call it "like chicken but better")

Panna Cotta

We left the region and starting making our way back to Assisi, stopping in Siena. This is one of the most beautiful towns. If we ever went back again, I think this is where I would want to stay.

St. Catherine's Basilica

Piazza Del Campo with Mangia Tower and Santa Maria Church



You guessed it. More gelato.


Duomo

And, the last post in this saga on Rome to follow.