We are lucky enough to live in the heart of ancient Rome. Our Monti neighborhood affords us immediate access to the Coliseum and Roman Forum among many other sights. Our every other day jog has us running alongside ancient ruins, and there is one corner in particular that takes my breath away every time I turn it. After we pass a gelateria, we run a narrow side street, and when we hit the corner, the Coliseum comes into full view right in front of us. Every time I see it, I can't believe I'm here.
With supposedly somewhere around 900 churches in Rome, you can sure hear the bells toll! But that's not the only sound I love. Everything closes down between 1:30-4:00pm. Everyone goes home for lunch. With the fabulous weather we've been having you can hear the clink of dishes and the sizzling of hot pots on the stove through everyone's open window. It seems like never more than a minute or two can go by without hearing a scooter on our tiny street. Oh, and the lady who lives in one of the apartments across the street from us.....has one of the loudest sneezes on earth. Seriously.
The taste of Rome! Where to begin? It would be far easier to count the number of bad meals we've had over the number of good ones. There's our favorite pizza spot around the corner, and just down the street from him is a fabulous gelateria. In a future post I'll talk about our favorite restaurants, one of which we went to night before last for fabulous Sicilian food in Trastevere. I'm cooking more now, and finding that my cooking has changed. I'm not sure if it's because I'm only cooking for two, but my cooking is simpler, never planned more than a day or two ahead, because I can't shop for more than that amount ahead. My refrigerator is quite tiny by American standards. It means everything is fresher and more seasonal.....and quite delicious if I may say so myself. Fresh pumpkin soup for lunch today!
Rome is a big city. Therefore, it has its share of bad smells along with good ones. But mostly, they're good. Come lunch time, it's hard to walk a straight line down the street as your nose leads you zigzagging from one window to another. There's nothing quite like the smell of home cooking, and when it involves garlic, onions and tomato sauce, well, it's hard not to go begging at strangers' doors. And then there's wine. Those of you who know me will come to a screeching halt here. What? Wine? Irene doesn't drink. Well, she does now! And she loves red wine.
And finally, there is the feel of Rome. It takes me back to my childhood. Having spent four years in the Canary Islands as a child, I have fond memories of hanging out at the local piazza after dinner. My parents would have drinks while my sister and I would meet friends. I would be running around and pestering the local news kiosk man for English versions of TinTin comics. Now I pester the local news kiosk for the International Herald Tribune which I can only afford to buy three days a week. The pace of life is slower here. People linger over lunch and dinner (but somehow are able to knock back an espresso in record time). It's hard to walk fast when there's something fascinating to see around every corner. Maybe it's just me......taking life slower. But I'm loving it. If you stop by, and I'm not home......just head down the street to the piazza. I'm probably there licking a gelato.
written Oct. 2008