A Mini Cultural and Culinary Adventure in Rome

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a rather charming Swiss guard guarding the Vatican

Autumn is a great time to go and visit one of the most wonderful cities on this planet – Rome. Steeped in history at every turn, wonderful food to reward the hardened traveller and a genuine, welcoming warmth from the locals, it was an obvious choice to take my family for a four day adventure.

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……it also happens to be ‘TRUFFLE’ season. I adore truffles simple as that. If they’re on the menu I’ll be ordering them and as I was to discover, both my daughters share my love of this strong smelling fungus. Result. We had a very memorable feast with local Roman friends at Maccheroni Ristorante, where we gorged on truffle pasta. Restaurant details at the bottom of this post.

Another highlight of this time of year in Rome is fried artichoke, salt-cod fritters and mouth watering burrata mozzarella (well ok… the last two you can get all year round!). To know how to cook your very own fried artichokes at home take a look at this charming vimeo below.

Cookin’ with Ma and Pop: Pop’s Fried Artichokes from Roberto Serrini on Vimeo.

Finding the perfect place to stay when you are travelling in a small group – there was 5 of us – is always tricky. After my sister waxed lyrical about the merits of airbnb I thought I would give it a try. For the uninitiated, it is a service whereby local hosts rent out their apartments to you for the duration of your stay. They meet with you to hand over the keys and show the ropes and then you use the apartment as your home. At the end of the stay you both rate each other online so that others know whether the place to stay is as it is represented online and you are a respectful ‘care-taker’ of the apartment. Before booking the apartment both the host and the lodger can find out a fair amount about each other online so that you have a fair idea of what the person is like.

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I booked a thirteen century medieval tower apartment, which oozed charm and history. It was located in the old Jewish cobbled area of Trastevere, which is away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy piazzas and yet still very walkable to all the main sights.

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We discovered a wonderful cake shop five minutes walk from the apartment. I didn’t catch the name of it, but I will definitely be retracing my steps when we go back.

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Opposite our apartment was a church, with possibly a nunnery attached, as we could hear the nuns practicing their singing.

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Trastevere also happens to be a great location for dining. Within two minutes of our apartment was the Da Enzo and Da Teo – both seriously good restaurants that I would have made the journey to even if I was staying the other side of town. Have a look at the video clip on Da Enzo below….although probably best to watch when you are not hungry!!

Between all our feasting we put on some comfortable shoes and walked the streets of Rome. It has over 900 churches and whilst we didn’t see them all, much to my husbands chagrin, we did venture into a good number.

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I love the aura and aroma of holy churches and temples, but also really admire the incredible skills and talents of artisans of bygone years. Frescos adorned many of the walls and ceilings and gold and treasures could be found at every turn.

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The royal blue of this ceiling really caught my eye as it was so original and vivid.

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Between churches we visited all the main Roman sites, breathing in the history and imagining what it must have been like to live in Roman times.

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Something I have not done before is climb to the very top of the Vatican and when I mean climb I mean climb the whole way – over 500 steps. I usually hate climbing narrow, winding staircases but for some reason the Vatican did not seem to phase me and we were all afforded wonderful vistas of Rome from the top. We came down part of the way by elevator so next time your are in Rome, give it a try, I really recommend it.

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After all that wandering and climbing we snacked on piping hot chestnuts.

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Do you have any great tips on Rome that you would like to share? If so I would love to hear in the comments section below.

My regular recipe posts will be up at the end of the week so be sure to check back in then.

IMG_1993 ….some of the locals clearly take all the Roman ruins for granted!

 Recommended Roman Restaurants:

 Maccheroni Ristorante: Piazza delle coppelle 44

Da Teo: Piazza dei Ponziani 7

Da Enzo: Via dei Vascellari 29

5 thoughts on “A Mini Cultural and Culinary Adventure in Rome

    • Hi Flora, I had hoped do put up a carbonara recipe in this post similar to the one at Da Enzo but after a few attempts I still could not get the right smoothness (no sign of scrambled egg). It tasted great but I am not convinced I have nailed it as yet. When you have time check out the Da Enzo video and then see if you can create the perfect Carbonara and let me know.

  1. We did the exact same thing the last time we were in Rome – Air BnB’d an apartment in Trastevere, which is a truly stunning part of Rome to serve as home base, especially if you’re an adventurous eater – so many of the restaurants specialize in offal! But still with good stuff for the more conservative. Sounds like a fabulous trip. My one disappointment, after sampling the delicious fried Roman artichokes, was to discover that the varieties most commonly available in the US, unlike their Roman counterparts, are not entirely edible. Oh well. We’ll have to go back. Great photo from the top of the Vatican – I never knew you could do that. Ken

    • AirBnB was a really great experience. My sister had stayed in lots in California and had raved about it to me, so I thought it made sense as there were five of us travelling. I am wondering whether the artichokes we get here in England maybe similar to your US ones too. I rather like the little video clip I added of the ‘grandpa’ making tasty looking artichokes. Nice to have on occasions – although not particularly healthy I guess ;o)

    • Thanks for commenting Ken. I thought I had replied but clearly I did not. Yes Air BnB is a great way to travel and if all the apartments are as nice as the one we stayed in in Rome then I will definitely do it again. Trastevere is a great neighboured with loads of wonderful restaurants…I also like the fact that our little neighbourhood wasn’t that touristy, which is always a bonus. The Vatican climb was fun. I normally hate confined small spaces like tower stairwells but somehow I managed to get to the top with no problem. Again there weren’t too many people which I think helped.

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