I started the day off by going for a run. Normally, I’ve been running up the Gianiculum Hill, but today, I ran out to Testacchio just to explore a little bit. Rome is a treacherous place to run. First, the San Pietrini (little cobble stones that make up the streets), are uneven, in disrepair, broken, missing, and generally disagreeable to all but the sturdiest feet. I happen to amusingly have good luck running (although I’m really a clutz), and I’ve never twisted my ankle or anything like that. (I’ve come close). Testacchio early on a Saturday morning is like a lot of neighborhoods on Saturday morning throughout the world—just waking up, or perhaps, still sleeping. I came back after observing lots of sleepy grandmas starting to do their shopping, dudes in sweatpants smoking and drinking coffee (seriously, what’s up with all the Italians that smoke? Seems like a lot more people than the States), and people out walking their dogs. For the most part, you could have dropped this scene in Seattle, or San Francisco, Berlin, or any Westernized city and it would look the same.
Once I woke up Sarah, we started the day off going to the Campo and buying some oranges. For whatever reason, the oranges here are amazing. I think it’s probably because people care about taste more. They’d rather have one awesome tasty orange than two boring okay ones. (I think the States are the opposite, and our economy has adapted accordingly.) Regardless, for about 1 Euro, we got two massive, super juicy blood-oranges. These oranges are out of control good. They’re different than any other variety of blood orange I’ve had. I don’t know why we can’t get these in the States. Not only do they taste great, but they also have a particularly alluring color.
From there, we headed off down to Via Veneto and wandered around the neighborhood. This was really an exercise of “Hey, what’s up there other than the stuff in La Dolce Vita?” The answer to this question is…a lot of shops. And peculiar restaurants that all have half of their seating in walled in separate rooms that are on the side-walk. Picturesque. I don’t know if it says anything about the neighborhood, but a couple of things: 1. All of the menus are also printed in Russian (they love conspicuous, potentially tacky, consumption…this must be their playground.), and 2. The US embassy is right there. It’s also unguarded for some strange reason. Most of the other embassies feature dudes with assault rifles—prominently displayed ones. Not so at the US embassy. Not sure why. It’s funny, given all the stuff you have to go through to get on a plane. Seems like the Embassy might be a bigger target. Wasn’t there something that happened in Beirut in the 80’s at the American Embassy? That was way before 9-11. Perplexing.
Via Veneto spills out into the Borghese Villa, which contains, among other things, the Galleria Borghese, a modern art museum, some restaurants, and some other stuff, but mainly, it’s a park. The park is pretty cool; crammed full of statues, people, kids, little gazebo type things, ducks, pigeons, dogs, and families pedaling these weird 4 person bike-car things. There’s also a famous water clock, and lots of secluded, shaded areas that would be perfect for a picnic or a nap. What’s been interesting about this trip is that we’ve really gotten to see more of Rome other than the historic center of the city—and thus have realized that Rome has a ton of parks and green space. All the green space is just outside of where everything is happening, but the city is so dense, it’s really easy to get to. A good example other than the Borghese Villa is the park at the top of the Gianiculum. Yeah, it’s steep to get up there, but there are some amazing views, lots of green space, and some peace and quiet.
We stopped to get some stuff for the Easter weekend—we thought for sure everything would be closed. Eventually we got ourselves dinner.
We ended up at a place that’s probably about 25 steps from our front door called Hostaria La Quercia after striking out at Augustus again. Straight up, nothing fancy food (ie Roman), with an outdoor tent, lots of people and very nice servers. We got a lot of dishes; probably too many. We got some house wine (a fairly lame merlot from Lazio region—fruity, but WAY rustic with lots of roughness), fried squash blossoms stuffed with mozzarella and anchovy, spaghetti carbonara and amatriciana (yeah, way too much pasta), carciofi alla romana, and coda alla vaccinara (which is like the Roman version of pot roast, and if you’re not really into offal—like Sarah—it’s probably the dish you’re going to find most appealing out of all the secondi at a traditional place. I am bummed that I haven’t gotten to order trippa alla Romana or Pajata yet.). A good meal. Really, as good as any we’ve had here. The most interesting food seems to be the pizza places, or the food shops (salami, cheese, bread, etc.). We think this is because Roman cuisine is so simple; even the lowliest looking places are using pretty good ingredients, and the difference is minimal. After all the food, it was time for bed. Yeah, even though we are in our late 20’s, we are boring and lame.