Are you a teetotaller?

WineAs an Italian I do enjoy drinking now and then even if that does not happen daily.

In our culture drinking is a social habit for mostly everyone. It is a lot about sharing a special celebration, a meal, a time with someone, a night out, a gathering with friends.

In other words, drinking is an action we do to be part of a moment. Surely, eventually you may get tipsy or even merry and that is perfectly allowed.
That does not have to be associated with passing the limit. Read More …

Bialetti Moka Pot

bialetti

Check how the espresso is prepared!

Not everybody likes to drink coffee and not all coffees are the same. But if you appreciate a good coffee, when you come to Rome, you will learn how coffee is part of the Italian culture. In Italy, we drink our coffee in Cafe’s and Bars, and every few meters you will find a place that sells coffee. Here in Rome, Starbucks and Costa have not taken over yet, because in our Cafe’s and Bars, you can find a better coffee which is also a better value for money. When you are out and about, sightseeing and exploring Rome, getting a coffee is easy, but what if you want to have the same coffee at home?

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Martignano lake – A spot deep in the green

Martignano lake

Here’s the place where I come during the hot days of spring and summer. Away from the crowded beach and traffic.
This is the most relaxing place to chill out. Martignano’s lake
Martignano lake is probably the less known in the region of Lazio. Just beside the much bigger Bracciano one, this little basin preserves all its ecological site. It’s a green pearl just outside Rome. It was one of the last inland sea of hot water to cool down after the volcanic era. And for that there’s a mythological saying that its water is the warmest. Read More …

Eggplant – Seasonal Food in Rome

eggplantEggplants are in season from July to September, and I love to serve these to my guests as it is a popular dish for the locals in Rome. Like many with many of the dishes I prepare, it is important that the eggplants are fresh, so I ensure the ones I pick are the skins are bright and vivid, with no creases or wrinkles, and that the stalk is green.

To prepare the eggplant, I slice and grill them in a small tray. After doing that I seasoned them with sea salt and olive oil. Then I marinate each slice with a fresh mixture made of parsley, mint, garlic and olive oil.. let stand for a little while, and they are ready! Read More …

Discover the Churches of Rome

churchChurches are one of the main attractions and one of the must do things in Rome! In the city where Christianity began many centuries ago, it is quite normal to have hundreds of them. You may wonder if Italians are so Catholic to go every Sunday to attend mass, and while we are traditionally Christian, not of all us go to church on a weekly basis. But we do go at least once a year, at Christmas.

Throughout history, the building of those religious temples became a propagandistic way to show off the popes’ power. And it is in these beautiful buildings where you will find hidden treasures.

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The Bridges in Rome

Ponte Rotto "Broken Bridge"

Rome has many bridges crossing the only river that runs through the middle of the old city, and they have a long and complex history.
Like many other ancient civilisations did, the ancient city of Rome was founded by a river, the Tiber. Setting the city next to a river, not only provided the Romans with a food supply through fishing, but also drinking water for the people. The river Tiber was also very important to Roman trade and commerce through to the Mediterranean sea, providing access to northern Europe, North Africa, Asia and the populations which faced the Mediterranean sea. Read More …

Gianicolo Hill Cannon

cannon

Did you know that every day at exactly midday, a cannon is fired on Gianicolo hill, just a little below the Garibaldi monument?
If you ever happen to be here make sure, a few minutes before midday, that you do not miss the chance to hear the cannon being fired. The story behind this happening is quite funny and witty. In fact in the old days having a watch was too expensive and luxurious. People on those times relied, then, on the midday church ringing. The problem was that every church would ring their noon at different times.
So, from 1847 the Pope in charge, Pio IX, introduced this procedure to regularize all the churches’ bells. Read More …

Trajan column

Piazza Venezia

Just beneath the Quirinal hill, one of the seven on which Rome was founded, and between Piazza Venezia and the Coliseum, stands one of my favourite spots, the Trajan column.

Built from 107-113 AD in the “Foro di Traiano” as a commemoration of the victory over the Dacia, what it is now called Romania. The Column represents also, amazingly, the height of the Quirinale’s hill before being dismantled. In fact 61 millions of cubic meters of soil were removed from the above hill to make room for this pilaster. Something that even nowadays will be unbelievable. Read More …

Rome Traveller Safety – Pick Pocketing

Pickpocket

Is Rome unsafe and dangerous for travellers? First of all, let me tell you that like any other capital in Europe,  Rome could be unsafe if you are careless and unaware. Small crimes such as pick pocketing has increased in the past few years, this is very true, and in my opinion, that is mostly due also to the recession and to a weakness in control by council.

However, what I recommend is to be aware, and keep your eyes open, especially in crowded places and during day time. They usually pickpocket from 9 am to 6 pm. After that they return to their camps.

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Best ice cream

gelato

Ice cream Rome

There are many excellent ice-cream shops in town. How to choose the best ones then?
Personally I check a couple of things before deciding where to get my gelato.

First of all, I avoid the ones in obvious touristic spots like Trevi, Colosseo, Piazza di Spagna and so on. Avoid also ice-cream kiosks.
Secondly, I pay attention to the number of flavours they sell. The more they display, and so apparently appealing, the less genuine they are.

However, my favourite ones in town are:

Giolitti – Via degli Uffici del Vicario, 40
Gelarmony – Via Marcantonio Colonna, 34
Angolo del gelato – Via Trionfale, 75

Read the full article about other gelaterias

Tiramisù

Tiramisu I do understand that for most visitors to Italy, that when it comes to having an Italian dessert, they are familiar with Panna cotta, Gelato and Tiramisù, after all these are the most popular ones available overseas. I have had many people ask me where they can get authentic Tiramisù in Rome, and I tell them, at my place of course!

In Rome, most of the places sell these desserts because they know the tourists would like these, but in any cases they are probably not even made by an Italian! With ice cream it is easy to get it right, as almost everywhere you will find ones of good quality, especially when comparing with the ones sold abroad. However, the same cannot be said for Panna cotta and Tiramisù. Read More …

Fresh Pressed Olive Oil

 

Olive treeWhenever I meet travellers from other countries or more specifically, other continents, I am often asked about olive
oil. So here I am trying to put my knowledge about it and some information together for a common use. My experience goes back to when I was a kid and at my grandparents’ house, we used to gather as a whole family for this yearly happening, to collect these precious seeds from the trees. Here is a little guide about this tree:

Olives are very common in the Mediterranean, and have become very popular nearly everywhere in the world.
You may find them in any supermarket nowadays. But why has this growth in popularity reached almost every corner of the world? Read More …

Discover the Obelisks in Rome

Piazza del PopoloHave you noticed the obelisks that are scattered around the city of Rome? Have you ever wondered why some of the squares in the city have an obelisk in the middle of it? Are they fake or real ones? Where do they come from? When were they brought here and why? But mostly how? These questions are the ones I often get when I take people around. Well, let’s start from the beginning. As most know or at the least, they have heard the saying, Rome was not built in a day.

This saying is to emphasize to length of the Roman hegemony.
In fact the building of Rome took many, many centuries and many Emperors and rules. Read More …

Cooking with Fresh Produce

VegetablesYes, we are very fanatic about food. Sometimes people from abroad do not really get why it can take us ages to prepare a meal.

Let me start with saying, that for Italians what really matters is the quality of our food that they we are going to ingest. Eating is not at all a procedure of stomach filling but much more a celebration, pleasure for our body and mind. A sharing experience. A chance to talk and to enjoy life. First of all, it has to be healthy, this means the origin, freshness, taste – quality of the ingredients are very important.

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Spring of sparkling water

Spring of sparkling waterRome is the city of water. You may notice it from the hundreds of fountains in town. The tap water in Rome is drinkable everywhere you go and I used
to love it.
However, since I found a natural spring of mineral water I changed I love sparkling water more. There is a font, and it is not the only one, which gives out a natural, slightly sparkling water and the taste is amazing. Since I discovered it, and started to drink it I can’t be without it. Quite often, because we drink so much of it, I go to this “off the beaten track” spring to collect water for my family. The place is not so near and it takes me a couple of hours by car but it’s really worth it. This is the water I drink at home and this is what I serve to all my guests in my home, at my table!

Bruschetta home made

BruschettaI am a food lover, I really can’t help it much. So depending on the season, I prepare and cook different dishes to please my appetite.
Are you the same too? In summer, as soon as the heat starts to hit this city, tomatoes are ripe and ready to be picked. Delicious when eaten as they are, but even better seasoned – I make my own bruschetta. It is indeed a simple dish to prepare. But first of all, how is it pronounced? Brus-ketta or Brushetta? Do we need garlic or onion? Basil or parsley?Toasted or fresh bread?

The ingredients I use are the best you can get.

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The world at my table – Colourful people

I would like to thank the guests who have taken the time to come to my place, for a typical Read More …

Pesto home made

PestoI am sure many of you, pushed by curiosity, have tried pesto sauce at least one. Maybe ordered in an Italian restaurant with 

whatsoever kind of pasta, or bought it in your favourite supermarket in your home country. Did it taste good? Was its flavour strong, its aroma genuine and fresh and at the same time light and rich? Do you really like to know how does taste the real one, freshly made with olive oil directly from the mill, basil straight from my home grown plants? I guess the only way to find out is to come to my place then!  Read More …

Lasagna home made

Home cooking

When it comes to eating Italian food what is the most mouthwatering dish you can think of? Lasagna is definitely one of them!

I am sure when you go out to Italian restaurants you may find this typical dish almost everywhere. But after you try the home made one you will certainly understand the difference from a touristic, industrial food to the authentic one, tasty one.

In fact Lasagna is a dish with a long cooking procedure. It has many varieties all over the country. Read More …

Villa Doria Pamphili

Villa Pamphili

This is definitely my favourite park of Rome. Although it may not be the most beautiful and maybe not the most central one, is surely one of the biggest and to me has a special meaning. Since I was a little boy I was brought here by my parents and then as I grew older this was the place where I spent my teenager week-ends. Apart from my personal feeling, this is the place where people, at least form the north west areas of Rome come to have a picnic during the first Sundays of spring. Read More …

St. Peter optical trick

St. Peter

Out of the beaten track there’s one of my must-see, most curious places I take every tourist who comes to Rome. Like the peculiarity of St. Peter in the key-hole, in the Aventino’s hill. This is an even more magnificent optical trick that will leave you astonished. Just on the top of the hill that grows on one side of Via Gregorio VII, close to Aurelia Antica road, there is this short road called Niccolò Piccolomini. Go there and have a look at the St. Peter’s dome from whichever point you may fancy.

Till now nothing extraordinary. Now, decide to walk in one direction and after a dozens of steps, stop and see the far away dome again… Read More …

Via Cola di Rienzo – Shop like Romans do

Cola di RienzoDo you think most Romans shop in Via del Corso or in the posh nearby Via dei Condotti?
Yes, some do, but if you want to know where the majority of Romans go shopping in town,
you definitely have to go to Via Cola di Rienzo.

This road joins the huge Piazza del Popolo with Piazza Risorgimento, off Vatican city. It’s quite a long road, intersected by many other ones. It is a very lively street because of its traffic and its commercial activities. This is a place where you can find hundreds of shops. Read More …

Porta del Popolo – A door to the eternal city

Porta del Popolo

Porta del Popolo is the meeting place I choose to meet the tourists I take around. Although this door of the old cityis not a very touristic spot, I think that entering the capital from this gate is one of the most suggestive way to introduce Rome. Of course just behind it there’s a very visited square, Piazza del Popolo, but unless you have to pass here to go somewhere particular, you’ll never come across this entrance. This path through the door, was used for many purposes during history. First as an entrance, then as a celebrative, commemorative path. Then it became a traffic crossing, till it became just a walking access to the city.
The current door was built in the 16th century over the old one. Read More …

Time has stopped for a coffee

Tazza d'Oro

Nowadays it’s so hard to find a shop which survives for more than 20 years. Tazza d’oro stands alone. It’s a very old coffee shop. Founded almost 70 years ago it is still as fascinating as it was in the old days.
The light-brown walls, the floor, the furniture, the coffee aroma which fills the air, the atmosphere, it’s all as if time has stopped here.

The beans are imported from all over the world and mostly from South America. Here you can try from the simple espresso, a small shot of concentrate coffee, a must for Italians!

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Temple of Hadrian – Ancient & modern melted

Temple of HadrianStrolling around Rome, between Via del Corso and Pantheon, look for this peculiar square “Piazza della Pietra” (Square of stone). I think it is one of the magic little squares of the city, hidden behind some narrow streets. Once you are here, you will certainly notice the ancient columns attached to another more modern building (Chamber of commerce) by Carlo Fontana. When I first saw this place I was completely turned on by its extravaganza. In fact the remaining eleven columns were once part of the lateral side of the Temple of Hadrian built back in the 145 AC. Which means almost 2000 years ago!

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I supplì – Best supplì in Rome

I Supplì

On a quiet lazy noon, after having shown and left some tourists in town, I come across this little take away pizzeria in the Trastevere area. From the outside nothing major. I could hardly read what was written on the sign.

The thing that caught my attention more than anything else was to see locals queuing here. When there’s such a thing, there’s only one reasonable explanation: they sell good stuff. The place was fairly crowded for that time of the day and for the emptiness which surrounded the area. Read More …