A friend and colleague recently returned from a visit to Rome, Italy and I thought it would be a good time to review this mega tourist destination. However, the last time I wrote about Rome it was more about Easter Sunday and witnessing the Pope present Mass on Easter Sunday. An event, whether you’re religious or not, should be seen at least once. But today I want to share a storybook neighborhood called “Trastevere”. It has been hugging the west bank of the Tibers since 753 BC and after all these hundreds of centuries manages to hold onto its true sense of old world charm. Mostly four story stucco terra cotta colored buildings adorned with columns and decorative moldings and private gardens tucked behind iron gates boasting family crests of those wealthy enough to call Trastevere home. Julius Caesar would have been your neighbor as would Clodia. You can only imagine the café conversations that would have taken place and who they entertained behind those sturdy walls.
Food is at the heart of every Italian, myself included, and I always find humor in that in the minds of Americans the thicker the dough the better the pizza. You know, the deep dish version of soggy bread with sauce on it. Trust me friends this is not the best way to eat pizza. It should be very thin and baked in a brick oven with the bottom blackened ever so heavenly. It should be crisp, not soggy like most of our fast food chains would have you think is best.
In Trastevere you will find some of the most authentic non-touristy Trattoria’s that will help educate you on what real Italian foods are and how they are supposed to be prepared. Most people tend to overcook pasta, and the sauce. Please don’t embarrass yourself by having a “bowl of sauce with your pasta”. When you eat pasta you’re suppose to taste the pasta and the sauce. Mix it together in a large bowl, then serve WITHOUT adding additional sauce. To do anything else in the presence of an Italian is just criminal. Ok, that was a play on words, but you get it right?
Once you’ve tasted the pasta shared a few Pizelles a glass of wine (or two) it’s time to walk the cobblestone streets. The golden sunset sets the stage for a romantic stroll past soothing white marble water fountains of Roman horses leading the charge posing for all eternity. The landscape takes on a warm golden light as the last rays from the sun bath the stucco buildings stained in warm crimson reds, burnt oranges and brilliant yellow. Rome off in the distance sparkles as the old street lamps begin their nightly parade of lights and shutters open to allow cool night air to flow within. Make your way up behind Trastevere for a spectacular view of Rome and Vatican City.
Trastevere is home to many museums and like Rome itself, is as old as time. Or as my Grandmother would say, “She’s older than dirt God”. I would ask her what she meant, and she would always reply, “I have no idea, but she’s old”. That my friends is another story.
When you are in Rome, the Vatican is a must (if it’s your first visit) it’s a treasure trove and after all home of the most famous person on this planet. But if you’ve already seen it, don’t go back, there are so many sights in Rome why waste time. The architecture and design of Rome are breathtaking and it really should be seen on foot (surprise) or you’ll miss those moments of magical discovery found just around the next corner. But you have to get off the beaten path and out of those damn tour buses. I don’t know about you, but if I wanted to spend my vacation with someone from Wisconsin, I’d go to Wisconsin. ( Oh, and by the way, Bob is from Wisconsin so I kinda do) I want to experience the culture, the foods, all of it, good or bad. And I have had my share of bad, remember Morocco? Or was that Casablanca?
We always hear stories about pick pockets and child thieves, and everything in between. But honestly after visiting 40 countries and counting, we’ve never had such a problem. Just use common sense, leave the attitude at home and I promise you, Trastevere will leave you wanting to return.
Where we stay: Family owned, Arco dei Tolomei Guest House website: http://www.bbarcodeitolomei.com/en/