Sunday, 31 March 2013

La Dolce Vita

For those of you who enjoy the sweet things in life you will get your just desserts (sorry! couldn't resist that pun) if you follow this itinerary.

Day 1
After a morning touring the Colosseum/Palatine/Forum exit on to the Via dei Fori Imperiali. Cross the road and take Via Cavour as far as Via Serpenti.Turn left and head towards Piazza Santa Maria dei Monti. Take Via Boschetto from the piazza, again on your left. Here you have a couple of options for a take out lunch.Gaudeo (Via Boschetto 112) sells delicious panini or, if you are in the mood for a filled flatbread, Piadineria (Via Boschetto 98) is the place to go. Once you have picked up your food, retrace your steps to the piazza & find a spot on the steps around the fountain in which to enjoy it.

After lunch take Via Zingari from the piazza until you reach the tiny Piazza degli Zingari which is home to Fatamorgana. Here you will find gelato in the most amazing flavours.  I have two  favourites. First, 'Kentucky' - dark chocolate, cinnamon and ......tobacco! Trust me, it is sensational. Secondly, Thumbelina - rose petal, violet and almond. Gelato fit for a Disney princess.
Time to walk off this gelato in preparation for gelato number two. Take the steep Via Clementina to Via Cimarra. Turn right until you reach Via Panisperna. From here take Via Milano all the way to Piazza Quirinale, dominated by huge statues of Castor & Pollux. Palazzo Quirinale is home to the Italian President.

Cross the piazza and admire the view before taking the steps  in the right hand corner down to Via della Dataria. Follow the walls of the palazzo all the way to Via del Lavatore. Turn left to reach the Trevi fountain. Be sure to throw your coins in to ensure a return to Rome then retrace your steps along Via Lavatore only this time continue along until you see Via Panetteria on your left. This little street is home to San Crispino, yet another legendary gelateria. Their signature gelato, the San Crispino, is made with corbezzolo, a bitter honey from Sardinia or try Zabaglioni made with 20 year old cask aged Marsala.
After some well earned 'down time' make your way to the Pantheon which looks beautiful when illuminated at night.

My suggestion for dinner this evening is Armando al Pantheon on Salita de Crescenzi which is just off Piazza della Rotonda.This is a  family run trattoria that serves traditional Roman dishes. My reason for suggesting it, however,
is the Torta Antica Roma on the dessert menu, a refined version of strawberry cheesecake made with ricotta. Enjoy!

 Day 2

This could be your day for exploring the Vatican Museums and St Peter's Basilica. Obviously you are going to need a sugar hit to sustain you and I know just the place - Dolci Maniera. Fortunately it is only a couple of blocks from Ottaviano metro station at Via Barletta 27 and is accessed down a spiral staircase. The delicious aromas will lead you to a huge selection of pastries including chocolate filled cornetti. You could also pick up something savoury for your picnic lunch later.
After your morning sightseeing leave St Peter's Square by the colonnade on the right which leads to Borgo Santo Spirito. Turn right on to Via dei Penitenzieri and follow this road down to Piazza della Rovere. Cross the very busy road and start to walk up Via Giancolo. After a little way you will see a set of steep stairs, a short cut to Via Sant'Onifrio which leads to Passeggiata Giancolo. Don't worry if you miss the short cut as you will still end up at Piazza Garibaldi - your lunch stop with a view. Find yourself a spot on the wall to eat your picnic. If you require liquid refreshment there is a little kiosk where you can purchase drinks. Sit back and enjoy the view.

After lunch continue along Passeggiata Giancolo until you reach the Fontana dell Acqua Paola. The fountain itself is impressive but the view from here is equally stunning. Carry on down the winding Via Garibaldi until you reach Trastevere. If by any chance you didn't manage to pick up picnic food then you could always have lunch at Insalata Ricci which is situated just before you reach the end of Via Garibaldi. Follow the road round as it becomes Via Benedetta, then take Via del Moro. At number 37 is Valzani, a cake shop selling traditional Roman specialities such as Pangiallo & Panpetato. These recipes follow the ancient Roman tradition of using honey, nuts and dried fruit instead of sugar. However, delicious that these specialities may be, my reason for suggesting a visit here is to purchase their Torta Sacher.The custom of baking this delicious chocolate cake derives from the Austrian domination of Italy. Alongside you may like to try Diavoletti, bitter dark chocolate pralines with chilli. Both would be ideal for midnight feasts in your hotel room! The 91 year old owner, Virginia Valzani has been running the store since she was 14 and still tends to the till .

Turn right at the end of Via del Moro on to Via della Lungaretta. About half way along on the left hand side you will see Fior di Luna - a Sicilian gelateria. The gelato here is handmade with natural, seasonal ingredients such as pistachios from Bronte and the staff are very friendly.

Continue on to Viale Trastevere where you can pick up the number 8 tram to take you back to the Centro Storico (historic centre of Rome).
After 'down time' head back to the Centro Storico for dinner. Let Elizabeth Minchilli be your guide on where to eat with ' Eat Rome' available here. For your after dinner passeggiata head to Piazza Navona. After strolling around the piazza head to Via dei Coronari. This street was named after the rosary bead (or coronari) sellers that worked here and was used by pilgrims on their way to St Peters. Today it is lined with antique shops and if you are lucky enough to be visiting in mid May you will see the street lit by candles as part of  Antiques Fair Week.
About half way along, on the left hand side you will see a small courtyard - Via di San Simone - home to Gelateria del Teatro.Two favourite flavours here are raspberry with sage and  Torta al Limone - Like eating a lemon merangue pie. Mmmm!
Day 3
Start your day at Largo di Torre Argentina which is easy to reach as it is a transport hub for both buses & trams. Play 'spot the cat' at Area Sacra which is a cat sanctuary as well as an archeological area with the remains of three temples from Republican times.

From here walk along Via Florida until you see Via Paganica on your right. This will bring you to Piazza Mattei and the delightful Turtle Fountain. The story of the fountain can be found on Day 1 of 'The Waters of Rome' post on this site. Continue on to Via di Reginella until you come to the Jewish Ghetto. Although there are no signs you will know that you have reached  Boccione - Il Forno del Ghetto, not only from the delicious aroma wafting out of this tiny corner shop but also the probable queue of people. Breakfast today should be a delicious slice of sweet Jewish pizza (Pizza Ebraica) made with almonds, pine nuts, raisins and candied fruit or ricotta cake made with sour cherries or chocolate (Torte di Ricotta). Don't be put off by the charred appearance of the baked goods - somehow this adds to the flavour! Find a nearby bench on which to enjoy your purchases. A little further up from Boccione is Beppe e I Suoi Formaggio ('Beppe and his cheeses') You will be able to get a pannini made up for you here for your picnic lunch. Retrace your steps, pass the remains of the Portico d'Ottavia as well as the Synagogue and turn left along the river bank.
Head towards Santa Maria in Cosmedin which you will not miss as it has a distinctive bell tower......... well as a tourist sight that attracts a large crowd - The Bocca della Verita or Mouth of Truth made famous in the film 'Roman Holiday'
If you walk along the western end of Circo Massimo you will come to Via di San Teodoro. Tucked away at number 88 is Cristalli di Zucchero, a Parisian style bakery in the heart of Rome. Examples of some of their edible delights can be seen in the photo at the beginning of this post. You can either choose to take a selection away with you (another midnight feast!) or enjoy with a coffee (no seating)
From here you need to retrace your steps along the edge of Circo Massimo, cross the extremely busy road then take Via di Santa Sabina from Piazzale Ugo La Malfa. We are heading to the Giardino d'Aranci or Orange Garden. Another spectacular view awaits you and there are plenty of benches & sun dappled spots where you can enjoy your picnic.

 After your al fresco lunch continue on to Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. Look for the green door & peek through the keyhole for a perfectly framed view of St Peter's dome. Retrace your steps as far as the church of Santa Sabina and take the road opposite. Follow this road down as far as the tiny Piazza Tempo di Diana.Take Via di Fonti di Fauno then turn immediately right on to Via Licinia. This will bring you down to Viale Aventino. Cross the road and at number 59 you will find Il Gelato di Claudio Torce - said by some to be the number one gelato maker in Rome. Indeed he was responsible for training Maria Agnese Spagnuolo who went on to found Fatamorgana.In this emporium there are over 40 flavours to choose from including many savoury options. Continue along Viale Aventino and eventually you will come to Circo Massimo metro station. The metro wil take you to Termini where you can connect by bus to all parts of the city.
After a well deserved rest it is time to think about dinner. Again, Elizabeth Minchilli could be your guide to a restaurant in the heart of Rome or you could try Katie Parla's Rome for Foodies . Wherever you choose to eat skip dessert and take an after dinner passeggiata along Via della Croce, just off the Spanish Steps. At number 82 you will find Pompi.I may well have saved the best dolce until last as here you will taste the most heavenly tiramisu imaginable. What a way to end your sweet meanderings in the Eternal City!



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