This time – our second in Rome – we stayed in Testaccio. The courtyard of our tiny apartment seemed to belong to an old Italian movie: climbing roses, clothes hanging from the windows, old pensive(or rather nosy?) ladies at the balcony, and neighborhood cats. Emiko's little one really loved the cats – just as much as I did.
We spent our handful of days wandering aimlessly. It seems to be our favourite way to get to know a city – only second to plan visits around restaurant reservations. I got to peep through the keyhole at the top of the Aventino hill, the one where the edges make a perfect frame of St. Peter's dome. We idled around the Orange Gardens, filling our lungs with the scent of orange blossoms, smiling at the sight of many inedible Seville oranges peeled, bitten and abandoned on the floor. Scenes from the stunning movie that is The Great Beauty – La Dolce Vita and Roman Holidays didn't seem to apply any longer – came to mind along the way: nuns chasing pigeons, the deadly view from Gianicolo, the feeling of decadence, of langueur...
The first strawberries were showing up on the stalls of Testaccio market – what a great season for strawberries! they told me – and we certainly had our fill. Around the corner from our apartment was a place called Volpetti, a deli where we made multiple pilgrimages to buy staples for our impromptu picnics: slices of pizza bianca to go along a chunk of ricotta infornata or pecorino, perhaps some carciofi alla romana (braised with wine and mint), olives, and a few slices of prosciutto buono. Coffee and gelato would fuel us between meals and through our wanderings.
In between, there was an indulgent lunch with the amazing Rachel at Cesare al Casaletto – drinking natural wines and eating things with poetic names like gnocchi fritti cacio e pepe, or polpette di bollito. Chats with Katie over multiple glasses of sur lie bubbles and bruschette at Litro, in verdant Monteverde. Late evenings at Roscioli and Barrique, with simple, outstanding bites and wines just as good. And a last lunch with an old friend from Bra – a chance encounter, really, but I immediately realised how much I needed it to happen. We all paid a last visit to Trapizzini for pockets of crispy pizza bianca stuffed with luscious polpette al sugo (meatballs with tomato sauce), or tangy lingua in salsa verde (boiled tongue with parsley sauce), catching up on life, and soaking up some sunshine.
We then said goodbye in front of the Ostiense station, and made our way to the airport, carrying with us some smoked scamorza, tomatoes and rustic bread for a last Roman dinner in the sky.
Katie just published a great list with all my favourite spots in Rome, feasible (if hungry) in 24 hours. Definitely worth checking out and noting if you are planning to visit anytime soon.
Some film scans from the holiday by my talented husband.