September 29, 2008 - Rome

First thing Monday morning our other two friends arrived in Rome - dropped off by the taxi around the corner from our hotel, I'm shocked they managed to figure out where they were going (with the help of carabinieri). We started with - of course - some espresso, then started off with Kathleen, our guide for a morning tour of central historic Rome. First stop, the Bernini elephant statue and obelisk in front of the Chiesa Santa Minerva.
From there we wandered into the Pantheon, through churches, past monuments like the tomb of Emperor Augustus all the way up to the Piazza del Popollo (made famous in a grisly sort of way in Angels and Demons) before wandering down the Spanish Steps and ending at the Trevi Fountain.
We bid arrividerci to Kathleen, and settled in for our first full group lunch at a small spot on the crowded street that leads from the Pantheon to the Trevi Fountain.
If I haven't mentioned it before, spaghetti carbonara is my all time favorite Roman pasta dish, and I managed to convince someone in the group to order it so I could have a taste. The rich sauce, made creamy through the addition of eggs, paired with the crispy pancetta is a combo you can't beat.
Greg and I opted instead for a pizza, prosciutto on his half, mushrooms on mine.
After lunch the entire group, except me, was ready to crash, so while they napped I wandered around Rome a bit on my own, only to stumble on this enormous crowd of papparazzi and reporters, waiting for something spectacular to happen. In the blink of an eye, some huge Italian men whisked another man into this building and everyone quickly dispersed, leaving me clueless.
I checked my email at an Internet cafe near the hotel, grabbed a pistachio gelato at Giolitti (an addiction for me), then cleaned up to meet everyone for a cocktail before dinner. We headed to another not so well known spot for a drink, the rooftop bar of the Hotel Minerva. From here you get a most unique view of the domed roof of the Pantheon, and sheer size of it boggles the mind.We ordered up drinks, and again, thanks to the large bar tab, were offered an array of snacks to accompany our drinks.
After some bubbly and beer and wine we set up for Ditirambo where I had dined the week before with the women near the Piazza del Campo. We selected our wine first, the Amativo, because I wanted everyone to taste what I had been drinking the week before in Puglia.
I ordered the vegetable lasagna with pesto again because it had been so delicious the week before, along with an arugula salad, and the cheese plate for dessert.
After dinner, we shared a bottle of prosecco at a spot on the Piazza Navonna, then made our way to bed about midnight.

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