After settling into our Trastevere Gensola apartment, we decided to head out into the neighborhood for dinner. Trastevere is known to be a real neighborhood where people actually live. It's much less touristy than the rest of Rome. Think of Soho or the west Village in Manhattan. There are little trattoria, osteria and ristorante around every little corner in this rabbit's warren of streets.
We settled on a rustic little place with a huge brick pizza oven and old peeling murals on the walls... shabby, but in a good way. We had lasagna (incredible), ravioli with sage & butter (amazing) and spicy pasta l'arrabiata for Lucas. The waitress thought she was doing Lucas a favor and told the chef not to make it too spicy. He was disappointed, the little spice demon. The food was amazing for cheap restaurant. During the meal street performers--a sexy, gypsy looking gir and guitar player--came to play, sing and dance. I remember loving this kind of thing years ago in Paris. Restaurant owners consider these strolling minstrels as a plus for their customers. It definitely adds to the ambiance.
The streets here are alive, mostly the under 30 crowd. It seems safe enough to walk around although you always come across people trying to sell you some nonsense or looking for a handout. The outdoor seating is alive and chatty... one fish joint down the street from our apartment was always packed. It was strange to see young people standing, drinking and eating fish at counters and bar height tables. I just love this area.
After dinner we went back to the apartment and slept the night away with the best air conditioning in all of Italy! Great Internet connections let me catch up on the blog and check my maps. The shower here has such strong water pressure it nearly blew my eyelids off. We enjoyed not having to catch a train, drive or park a car or worry about check out time, so we slept in a bit the next morning and rested before heading out.
We strolled down to the Tiber River (100 feet away from our door) and crossed the bridge to Isola Tiburina, an island in the middle of the river. We had our picnic on the point at the tip of the island under a shady tree witha view of Ponte Rotto, the ruins of a 2400 year old Roman bridge with dragons carved on it--the oldest bridge in Rome. Sitting there at the point of the Isola, it reminded Lisa and I of a similar picnic we had on the pointe of Isle St Louis in Paris during our honeymoon. We both agreed it was much better to have Lucas with us this time around.
At the point of the island under a modern building, there is an ancient stone Roman galleon. We sat on the shallow steps and had our formaggio, foccacia, porcetta sandwiches and some pastries. The best time so far... simple, tasty, breezey and fantastic views, not to mention the fantastic company--each other. And we weren't driving or walking. Ahh... perfetto.
The line was about 80 people or so, but was moving quickly enough. As we moved closer and closer, I noticed a look of intrepidation on Lucas' sweet face. I didn't want him to bail on us, so I leaned over and whispered, "Buddy... it's just a legend", his face cleared with a look of relief. But then I leaned in to his ear and said, "Or IS it?" He looked stunned for about a half second, but then got the joke and smiled... totally relaxed. That's my boy!
Luca's and Lisa's hands came out clean but I felt it starting to close just before I yanked my hand out. I remember seeing Gregory Peck doing this with Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Great fun.
Anyway, our gelati melted way too fast and we grew tired of swatting flies, so we headed off to find the entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. But we headed the wrong direction (we met other travelers doing the same thing) and walked up the back side of the Palatino... many gates from when it used to be free and open to the public all the time, but nowadays, all locked up tight. We couldn't get in. As they say in Maine, "Ya cahn't get thayer from heyah".
So, back to the Gensola apartment and get the sweat off ourselves then out to dinner. The restaurant turned out to specialize in fish... immediately after sitting down, we were accosted by a fast talking tourista waiter (who wouldn't even let me speak Italian) with a three foot wide tray of "fresh fish"... sticking it right under our noses! Lucas was dying until he took it away. It smelled. And as he described each dead creature, he kept poking or patting them. No ice on the platter, and afterwards I noticed him placing it back onto a cart near the entrance to the dining room. Pretty gross.
At the end, fatigue and perhaps too much wine caused me to mispronounce "il conto, per favore" (check, please) as "il conte" (the Count). The waiter started in at me with a bad joke... "Oh, you want Count Dracula?" That was bad enough, but then right behind my back, he started to tell the Count Dracula nonsense--in Italian--to the Italians sitting to my rear, all laughing at my expense. Mind you, they weren't laughing with me... it was at me. What a weasel. I'm so glad I don't have to leave tips in Italy. This was also the most expensive meal we had in Italy. Not worth it.
Ok, trudge home over uneven cobbles with achy feet, a stop at the alimentari for supplies, then bed... gotta get up tomorrow early for our Vatican Tour. Dio Mio ... will my feet and sweat glands be able to take it?
I hope you enjoyed this article... ciao!
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