Monday, 24 June 2013

Meet the Romans and a Cesarina

Saturday 22nd June

After breakfast on the terrace with cornetti from the local bakery, we took the bus to Santa Maria in Cosemedin, better known for the ‘Mouth of Truth’ that appeared in the film ‘Roman Holiday’. The church itself has a couple of treasures of its own – The skull of St Valentine
 & a beautiful example of a Cosmati floor from Medieval times.
On to San Teodoro market which we discovered for the first time last year. It is held on a Saturday & Sunday and stocks produce from the Lazio area. As it is cherry season we just had to buy a bag plus local honey and a basil plant (yes I know I won’t be able to bring it home!)

Lunch is another cheap eat – porchetta sandwich + wine for €8

We took the cherries across the road to the tranquil Rose Garden. Although almost the end of the season, there are many roses still in bloom & the fragrance is wonderful.

One of our favourite walks is on the Aventine , past the Orange Garden. This time we didn’t stop at the keyhole as it was too busy but carried on down to Viale Aventino. At number 59 is another outpost of Il Gelato where we indulged in our daily dose of iced heaven. Sadly there were no savoury options here as there had been at the Via Trionfale branch.
Caught the bus to the Appia Antica where we had a guided tour booked of the Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas. We didn’t know anything about this little gem until we watched Mary Beard on ‘Meet the Romans’. From the outside it looks like a workman’s shelter

but once the door is unlocked and you climb down the steep stone stairs you are in a burial chamber from the first century AD with the most amazing decorative work of patterns, flowers and animals , including a cricket!

Bus and metro back to the apartment to change and then out for pre-dinner drinks at Chiostro del Bramante. Where else could you sit with your spritz/beer, overlooking a 16th century cloister designed by Bramante and where, if you peek through a window, you can glimpse the Sybils painted by Raphael in the church of Santa Maria della Pace down below.


Fortified we set off on adventure to find the home of the Cesarina who is cooking us dinner. This is in a suburb of Rome that we have never ventured out to before and are really pleased when the bus driver understands our request to point out the stop that we need to get off at.

Dinner with a Cesarina is organised by Home Food  ( who have a list of Le Cesarine  all over Italy who are willing to cook traditional dishes for paying guests. Our Cesarina, Marissa used to own a restaurant in Piazza Farnese until her husband died. She is assisted by her delightful daughter Giuliana who speaks a little English.
 We are seated on the terrace of their gorgeous third floor apartment & immediately are given a glass of wine from their own vineyards in Castelli Romani. Already we are in heaven but more is to follow.
 The most delicately fried mixed vegetables.

Followed by the best pasta alla gricia ever.

Main course is veal, served with broccoli & lemon & chicory

Dessert is chocolate mousse served with home made biscuits

Finally, biscotti , made to dunk in wine or coffee

Guiliana gives us a lift back to the number 8 tram which takes us all the way to Piazza Venezia where we pick up the 117 to Monti.

A good day for practising our Italian – both on the tour and with Marissa & Giuliana. Guess we really need to come for a month & try only to speak the language!

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