Thursday, May 17, 2012
Roma... Eternally beautiful with a side of crazy!!
I love the craziness of the place, in fact I think this applies to Italy as a whole. The reason we had to stay in Rome for so many days was that we needed to finish off our paper work in order for us to get hitched in Italy. It was pretty straight forward - get one document from the Australian embassy then have the Italian office legalize it. Well the first part was anyway. In true Aussie style obtaining the necessary document from the embassy was as easy as bob being my uncle. A simple and straight forward "have you been married before? No? Good, fill this in" and we were done, seriously. The second part however involved us having to wait until the following Monday as the office was only open from 9-12 and the metro and buses weren't running on the Friday (as you do). So after waiting in a rather slow moving queue with a number that I had to walk around in circles to find, I finally got to the front to ask for a 'marca da bollo' (basically a stamp to legalize the document we received from our laid back embassy). Now my Italian isn't fabulous but I know enough to get by so you can imagine my face when I interpreted what he just said to me to mean that I had to go back out of the office, down the stairs, outside the building to go across the road to a tobacco shop to pay for and get the 'marca da bollo'. Then bring it back to this office where he will finish the paperwork! Umm WTF?? Surely I've misunderstood. He must have meant that there is another office next to or behind the tobacco store? The Italians can't be that crazy that you can actually wander into a ciggie shop and pick yourself up this stamp that clearly holds some weight in the legal world? How very wrong I was. Of course you purchase that here lady, where else would you buy it?? So after all the appointments with the Italian consulate, headaches, delays and numerous forms, the last piece of our marriage document puzzle was reliant on a stamp that you can purchase along with your Marlboro reds! I'm sure there's a metaphor in there some where.
I have visited this city many times but it's beauty never ceases to impress me. This is the first time, however, I have stumbled across the 'apertivo', the Italian version of tapas. The Romans have got this sorted. Stumble into a bar or food store (you'll know if they do 'apertivo' as you'll find a display cabinet with lots of mini foods in it) and order a glass of wine/cocktail or my poison of choice, a tasty prosecco and included in the price comes a plate of 'spuntino' (snacks). The best part is that these are available from 5 or 6 until 9pm, which for a local is supposed to tie them over until dinner (which will happen any time from 9-midnight) but for a weary australian traveller this cheeky happy hour tipple becomes dinner! You could visit rome 100 times and there would always be something new, possibly because every time they go to expand the underground metro they stumble across some more ruins! We ourselves have made a few fabulous discoveries worth sharing: A chocolate shop called SAID Roma, a combination of a chocolate shop/cafe/bar/restaurant all housed in a gorgeous chocolate warehouse, the grown up version of a willy wonka factory, if you will. It's a little off the beaten tourist track but makes you feel like a local. The smell of the chocolate is amazing, so amazing that one sniff alone and I could feel my wedding dress getting tighter! The chocolate is delicious but does include some crazy flavours like sambuca, pepper and chilli.
Urbana47 and it's sister restaurant Zoc are also worthy of visits. These industrial styled restaurants practice the low food mile philosophy which makes my little foodie heart sing. They both offer a 20 euro lunch tasting menu (although I think Zoc's is only available on weekends) which consists of 4 courses (ours was fennel, orange and olive salad, followed by a delicious tomato and basil pasta served on the freshest and 'light as air' ricotta I've ever tasted, then roasted beef fillet with an olive sauce served with greens and finished all off with a very intense bitter, sweet chocolate and coffee dessert). It was absolutely delicious and the fact that you are supporting local farmers is fantastic. Even the beer was made from a boutique brewery from near the Rome airport!
And finally, would you believe in going the long way round to see the Colosseum (and turk is taking full credit for this error) we stumbled across a farmers market in Circo Maximo.
This was a true treat for us given that we sell our wares at farmers markets in Melbourne. The ironic part was that we always have a little giggle to ourselves at the 'tourists' who come into our markets so excited by all the amazing produce and snapping away at various stalls with such an eagerness to tell their friends back home about it, well we were those people. The only two with a camera and possibly a little too enthusiastic for the stall holders! We tasted some locally made cheeses, olives, olive oils, salamis and porchetta. This place was a true local find (I think we were the only ones speaking English) and the perfect place to pick up all the necessities for a picnic in a park overlooking the colosseum...when we finally reached it... Bliss.