I visited Rome two days in pre-spring, vivid, charming and fresh as ever, embracing the rinascimento season with its timeless flavors & perfumes, its warm gazes full of profoundly rooted joie de vivre and gestures loaded with centuries of savoir faire. I put on the timeless and comfortable ballerina shoes of Audrey Hepburn (the style of shoes she loved to wear), ideal for tippling quietly yet elegantly through one of the city’s most characteristic neighborhoods, Trastevere, tasting, observing and odouring its magic, its genuineness, its passion for life and the beauty that lies in the little things. Accompanied as before by beautiful Berta. Let’s dream together of Rome and try to imagine the sensations produced by its numerous flavors, perfumes and colors. Rome is resting now like all Italy, resting and fighting like all Italy in order to make this beautiful spring continue, more vivid and colorful than ever before.
Starting on the sweet side
On the Sunny Side of the Street, is a song by Jimmy McHugh with the great lyrics of Dorothy Fields reminding us in a joyful way to stay on the sunny side in life. My walk was on a particularly mild sunny day for the season, not yet spring but not winter, something indescribable, and atmosphere of sweet promises of la bella stagione when the terraces fill up with laughing loving people seizing the day at the uttermost forgetting their worries over a heartwarming carbonara accompanied by a glass of local wine. In addition to the sunny side, me and Berta are starting the day on the sweet side. One of the sweet Roman traditions are the yeasted buns named Maritozzi normally filled with whipped cream. An absolute “must” when digging into the roman culinary traditions. Like with so many recipes in Italy, they have variants to the theme, like the most interesting song can be transformed with musical nuances without loosing track of the main melody, the maritozzis exist with all sorts of filling sweet as salted. Il Maritozzo Rosso is a fantastic small restaurant in the heart of Trastevere in Vicolo del Cedro 26. It is Rome’s first restaurant to dedicate itself to the creations of salted maritozzi as offering of course the sweet type as well, and a maritamisù, a bun version of tiramisù. The fillings ideas are the most delightful ones, and some you could never have imagined, like anchovies, burrata cream cheese & cicoria, a simply sublime combination. The carbonara is one of the most renowned in Roma, and the open kitchen makes this the perfect place to learn all the secrets of genuine italian cooking while you dine. The restaurant also organizes daily masterclasses where you learn how to make carbonara & amatriciana pasta, fresh pasta & pizza from scratch and tiramisù.
Passion & tradition are united beautifully before your eyes at Il Maritozzo Rosso
The vespa and maritozzi in whatever way you like it and you’re ready for any adventure
Stopping for pasticcini
One of my favorite gastronomical simple adventures is stopping at a pasticceria pastry shop and by a small tray of mixed pasticcini pastries and I highly recommend this beautiful act. Just choose a pasticceria that inspires you, and ask for “un piccolo vassoio di paste miste”. Then you take your sweet tray into the roman day to keep your palate company at the museum, visiting monuments or you can simply nibble on the colorful pastries while sitting by the Tiber river watching time slowly floating by reading todays newspaper adding the perfume of printed paper to your day, even if you don’t understand much, but here comes handy the mini dictionary. Get a mini dictionary, it’s so charming, and you look so busy with those pasticcini, the newspaper and the dictionary, not just look: you are busy. Multitasking in a creative way, following master Da Vinci principles as much as you can in modern times.
Of course in one day one can not taste all the sweet- an saltness that meets the eye, but you can keep taste it with your mind, take a photo, also with your senses, and remember for next time, and keep it as perfumed memory in the meantime, like it was in my case for this tempting basil- lemon ice cream I bumped into crossing the Tiber river going to lunch.
Puntarelle e saltimbocca
There are some plates that you have to try when in Rome, or at least that is my opinion. Like you cannot say you have been to Rome unless you saw the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Colosseo ecc., in the same way your senses need to taste the local foods at its most genuine to really feel in Rome. We covered the carbonara, the maritozzis and the artichokes, and there would be endless of other things to nominate. Puntarelle salad and saltimbocca alla romana are amongst thos, and in my heart of an equal importance as a Vatican visit or visiting the Trevi fountain. The unique crispiness of the puntarelle (chicory shoots, a tipical vegetable of the Lazio area), mixed in with a mild anchovy dressing just uplifts the spirit and opens up the appetite for a heartwarming saltimbocca alla romana. I discovered by chance a cute little osteria just a few steps from the affascinating but often crowded Campo dei Fiori, Osteria della Quercia in Piazza della Quercia. I’m sure that on their charming terrace sometimes it gets crowded too, but it was not the case on my lunch day. The surroundings for lunch is beautiful, under an ancient oak tree in center of Rome, but still feeling almost like in the countryside enjoying good simple cooking maintaining a good quality-price balance.
Art in the afternoon and aperitivo
As mentioned in my previous Rome article, I recommended to stay in a hotel in the charming quiet yet lively Trastevere neighborhood on the south side of the Tiber river, that connects you to the most intimate part of the city just a few steps away from Piazza Navona and Pantheon. I also recommend to take the city in slowly, enjoy every step. After lunch you could go to your small cozy hotel, have a little siesta nap and then face the afternoon restored and like an actor in a new scene of your Rome film directed by yourself. Staying in square theme, that I like so much because it reminds me of chess, the game we have to play everyday concentrated, focused, conscious, for ourselves and for our world. Slipping into a long Rinascimento coat for a little chillier afternoon and grabbing the timeless straw bag, Audrey’s eccentric and very practical item for some local product shopping. After a visit at the Trastevere art museum nurturing the soul for a couple of hours, awakening the appetite again and warming the heart and metabolism in a way only art can, making a visit at the Antica Caciara trasteveriana in Via S. Francesco a Ripa, 140 a/b, a family run cured meat shop run from 1900, is just the perfect closure for a perfect day, tasting and inhaling the scent of centuries of Italian food tradition.
….. and remember, never forget to buy you flowers.