Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Trastevere & Ancient Rome {Italy, Part 5}

Our first morning in Rome started super rainy - actually the only rain we'd seen up to this point. We allowed ourselves to sleep in a bit and eat a slow breakfast at Casa & Bottega which was a cute little cafe across the street from our hotel. Once it stopped raining, we made out way Tras Tevere (or across the Tiber River) to start our food tour with Eating Italy.

Our first stop was a pastry shop that had been in the heart of Trastevere since the 1970s. We tried some bignes (more commonly known as profiteroles) stuffed with zabaglione cream. Our next stop was Antica Caciara where we tried the traditional Roman cheese - pecorino romano! This shop was a family-run place that had been passed down through the generations. It was easy to see that this is where the locals come to get their cured meats, salamis and cheese.

I Suppli was one of the more unexpected shops. Suppli is a deep fried ball of arborio rice, stuffed with cheese and cooked in a tomato sauce. We had the mini versions, but we heard that this is a pretty standard afternoon snack - the Romans version of fast food! The next stop was our favorite - Antica Norcineria. We had the simplest thing here - piazza bianca with porchetta. Jason isn't usually a huge fan of pork, but this one was a show-stopper. It was made with garlic, salt, pepper and rosemary and cooked in a wood-burning oven just outside of Rome. It was so juicy and flavorful! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

At the San Cosimato market, we were able to meet some of the vendors and sample cantaloupe melon with two different types of prosciutto - one sweeter and one saltier. The cantaloupe in Italy is sweeter and juicier than any I have ever tasted.

It was still early in the day but it's always a good time for gelato, right? Our next stop was Fatamorgana. One very important thing we learned here is that most gelaterias in Italy sell "fake" gelato. You know, that fluffy, brightly colored stuff? Not real. So basically don't buy gelato that goes higher than the container and make sure the color of the flavor exists in nature (pistachios aren't bright green - more brown/green). Their paradise punch with Madagascar chocolate was some of the best gelato I had on our entire trip.

Finally...lunch! We sat down to a communal lunch of gnocchi, spinach and ricotta ravioli and cacio e pepe at Enotecca Ferrara. The food was exceptional and the surroundings were quaint and charming. As full as we were after lunch, we walked through a piazza and down a few of Trastevere's alleyways to make a bit of room for dessert at Innocenti. This is a fourth-generation biscuit company making over 100 different types of biscotti in it's 50 foot oven. We had yummy brutti ma buoni ("ugly but good") cookies packed with hazelnuts.

Our final stop was amazing. The original walls of Spirito di Vino were built to house a synagogue when the area was in the Jewish quarter. This was older than the Colosseum! We also had a delicious desert of crema cotta (similar to creme brulee but without the caramelized top) with a glass of zebbibo sweet wine that I really enjoyed. This was one of our favorite things that we did in all of Italy - I definitely recommend this tour to anyone going to Rome!

After the tour was over, we walked back to the other side of the river to explore all things Ancient Rome. We grabbed our tickets to the big 3 attractions at the Palatine Hill (time-saving tip!!) and completely skipped the line at the Colosseum. After exploring inside the Colosseum, we walked over the the Forum. Jason and I were both feeling pretty "over crowds" at this point, so after a walk around the Forum, we started to make out way back to our hotel. We stopped in Campo di Fiori for a piazza bianca at a forno (delicious!) on the way back to our delightfully uncrowded neighborhood and called it a night.

Up next: Our last Italy post - Piazza Navona, Borghese Gallery & the Vatican!

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