A Day Spent in Italy's Glorious Captial
Rome is unlike anywhere else in Italy; the big brother – boisterous, upstanding, slightly formalistic, he’s got his house in order. He’s not as business-like and self-sufficient as the middle child (Milan) or as laid back as the coddled baby brother (Amalfi). It is hard to be quite so casual when Papa is always watching from the Vatican walls.
The centre of Rome is imposing – from St Peter’s Basilica to the Castel Sant’Angelo, along to Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, down to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Romans live with their history – they don’t gaze at it from behind a barricade or hold it at arms’ length like something precious but breakable. Instead, one minute you come walking around a corner, pistachio gelato in hand, distractedly licking as you try to keep up with it melting down your hand, and find yourself nose to nose with the Trevi Fountain. Another, you are wandering through the Roman Forum and up the Palatine Hill, letting your hand trail along the wide dark leaves of the acanthus plants that cluster at the base of almost every wall and ruin.
It’s been a long day. This morning you got up early, deposited friends in the queue for the Vatican, and then ran to Panificio Bonci as soon as it opened, returning to the line with an arm full of pastries and cookies to keep you all company. Hours later, you still have a crick in your neck from peering up at the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, when you finally made it in. The paintings took your breath away, with their baby blues and unearthly, fleshy wonders.
At lunch, you got to chatting with some locals in the covered market, Mercato di Testaccio, where you nibbled and people-watched your way through the hottest hours of the day. They strongly recommended dinner at Trattoria de Cesare al Casaletto, one of their neighbourhood favourites. Your mouth is just watering at the prospect of it. After a nap back at the apartment and a shower to clean off the day’s touristing, you’re ready to go again, and have been browsing the menu online. Now for the hardest decision of the day: rigatoni alla carbonara or tonnarelli cacio e pepe? Perhaps, since you are on holiday, after all - both.