Thursday, November 12, 2009

Buona Sera, Roma!

After months of anticipation and planning, weeks of pouring over the Italian phrase book, and the long, long flight to Rome, our Mediterranean adventure began on October 26th. It’s hard to describe the excitement with which we looked forward to exploring Rome for four days on our own. We arrived with no rigid schedule, no pre-determined must-do list, not even a map. Somehow the last few days of preparation had gotten by us and we found ourselves in Rome and on our way into the city in a car hired for us by our hotel – Hotel Capo D’Africa (www.hotelcapodafrica.com).

Hotel Capo D’Africa is a gem; a small, sophisticated property a few small blocks southeast of the Colosseum. The surrounding neighborhood is fairly quiet; a mixture of residential buildings, restaurants, a school, and a few small businesses. The hotel itself has 65 rooms, a small lobby and bar, a sun-filled rooftop terrace and breakfast dining area, and modern, well-equipped guest rooms. The helpful staff speaks multiple languages, including English. Once checked into our comfortable room, we succumbed to a long nap in preparation for going out that evening.

Later, awake and refreshed, we decided to head out on foot right away to get to know Rome. The Colosseum drew us toward it insistently. As twilight approached and lights added drama to the behemoth structure, we walked past, snapping photos and being completely mind-boggled by the sight. But the Trevi Fountain was our primary goal for the evening, so we walked on, and I hoped we would find somewhere good to eat in that area.

The plaza around the Trevi Fountain was packed with tourists, which tends to be a repellent to me and Ron. Neither of us likes crowds - one of the many reasons we didn’t choose to go on this trip during the summer months. But the fountain itself… Magnifico! The huge scale, the sculptures, the force of the water, and the lighting all make it a true sight to see, and particularly spectacular at night.

Walking around the area, we began to despair of finding a restaurant that wasn’t overly touristy, and that offered an interesting menu. It was a beautiful and mild evening, so we hoped to sit outside and soak in the atmosphere of the bustling city. We stumbled upon the answer on the Via S. Andrea Delle Fratte; the ristorante Sant’Andrea. White tablecloths and candles and wait-service on the sidewalk. Just what the doctor ordered. Well, that and a bottle of Italian wine. I mostly ordered in Italian, liberally sprinkling in per favore(s) and grazie(s), and it just made me feel good. I chose Spaghetti Carbonara (yeah, to heck with the low-carb thing in Italy), and Ron had their Veal Osso Bucco. Fabulous! Roman commuters buzzing home on scooters and various street performers provided the entertainment. Check out the video below for a brief sample of the accordionist who made me laugh and earned a tip for his cheesy performance in front of our restaurant.

video
A perfect evening, and a perfect beginning to our dream vacation. Buona sera, Roma.

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