The Rome Diaries

We are back in Rome. Soporific Rome with her unbearable beauty that squeezes my heart with barely contained pleasure, ancient temples and theaters lurking around every corner. It is 4.30 in the morning and I am wide awake because I am just so and Adi is patting me to go back to sleep but I feel like pouring my heart out for it is brimming. From arriving in a boutique hotel in the old quarters of the city where Pope Julius II had wanted his architect Donato Bramante, the Renaissance master, to design the Palazzo dei Tribunali, the city’s justice system. It was an incomplete mission. The stone seats of the unfinished courthouse remain as a quiet reminder of the gap between aspiration and attainment. Every master must have a few tucked into his kitty of achievements.

We walked around in the evening after an afternoon spent drinking Champagne with tuna and cream cheese canapes. The hotel surprised us, throwing in a couple of flaky pastries, their hearts filled with apple and cinnamon, some profiteroles and chocolates, because it was in lieu of the six years we have been married. Eight years made up of frustrating, quiet, joyous, unsettling and delirious moments. For life is such a wonderful concoction of the drama and the dull. One cannot exist without the other and really it would be tedious with only the highs to ride. There are nudges of mortality from time to time with close relatives shedding their mortal lives behind, reminding us that ‘time’s winged chariot’ is ‘hurrying near’, undeniable and as tangible as this plush hotel bed I find myself in.

The neighbourhood around us is networked by medieval alleys aged by the stories of the giubbonari (jacket-makers) who worked in one, the calderari (coppersmiths) in another narrow cobbled one, the baullari (trunk-makers), the cappellari (hat-makers) and so on. You get the drift. The many workers who served the wealthy who lived in the palazzi in the area. At the end of our street lived Raphael once. I doubt the streets have changed much, the faded pastel houses and shuttered windows silent witnesses to the life stories of generations unfolding within.

At an intimate osteria we stopped for a spot of dinner. Fine, rich Merlot fished off the high shelves of the establishment by its owner with a bottle grabber and presented with a flourish to go with the carciofi alla romana which is stewed artichoke beloved of the ancient Romans, grilled seafood, creamy pasta and succulent chicken cooked in sweet Port, his craggy face wreathed with smiles as we thanked him for giving us a table meant for four. He had turned away customers even though we were about to finish up and he said, “No hurry, okay? Food is to be enjoyed. You walked in, I liked you both and I wanted you to relax.” A small place filled up with his relatives, their large families divided between the old and young tables.

Simple flavours married together with a dexterous touch. Italian food in an osteria tucked into the quiet alleys of Rome with its unassuming charm and modest menu, a beaming owner keeping an eye on his diners, dropping by to chat in bits,…then pressing our noses to windows of antique shops, armed with giant cones of gelato and swinging by that great Baroque masterpiece of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi at Piazza Navona, fingers freezing and nose tingling with the sudden icy winds that swept through the empty square. A few locals walked through the cobbled square. The crowds of summer have melted away. Vine-clad walls of townhouses towered above us in the alleys, festooned by canopies of fairy lights, as we passed in the shadows of the chiesas and returned to our hotel room to fall into bed with jasmine tea and exhaustion.

Carciofi alla Romana (stewed artichokes as the old Romans liked it)
Grilled seafood
Cacio e pepe

At Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona
Bernini’s fontana

72 thoughts on “The Rome Diaries

  1. Wow! That must be some trip! I think my history living heart just did a happy dance. I love what you say about life needing ups and downs- I’ve often thought that it’s the lows that make the highs seem even better:)

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      1. Oh please do. I am there with you in thoughts Arundhati. Must be quite cold there now, brrrr. Have a safe trip and enjoy your stay with your loved ones at this festive time. Merry Christmas lovely ❤️

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  2. Lovely post! We, too, had an exceptional experience in Rome. And we were just talking with a friend over dinner about a bakery in Rome where we would join the long queue in the mornings to purchase bread or pastries and espresso before we set out for our daily adventures. Reading this reminds me of that wonderful trip far, far too long ago. 😆

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    1. Hiya Lynn, we are floating from bakery to bakery during the day and gosh I am surely acquiring extra pastries in my body to tide me through winter! I shall have one more for you today 😛 And yes, there cannot be anything less than delirium when in Rome (yes I am gushing)! xx

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    1. Hiya Nina, thank you. He was a lovely Italian but they are so jovial and cordial here. Rome is for feeding the soul…when you find yourself here you shall possibly lap it all up. The history and art take it a notch and the food…the food is just divine 🙂 xx

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  3. Hey, this is Lex. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading about your reveling through Rome. It brought back so many wonderful memories for me. I was there with my father in January 2001. We stayed at a hotel in Piazza Navona and I must concur: their gelato is legendary! Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Lex, thank you for sharing your memory. For memories are everything, is it not? They are those little pouches of goodness you need to peek into from time to time. I bet you had a grand time with your father soaking in the elegance and beauty of the city. I will do a few more posts on it. For now I am trying not to get swept by the beauty of it, too far from shore 🙂 Here’s to more gelato till we leave it!

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  4. Ooooooooooooh Christmas in Rome…how very exciting! Lovely writing, pictures and trip. One foodie to another- How yummy is the food? I,for one loved it all but hubby was apprehensive of how rich everything there was. I remember, the breakfast buffet at our hotel had scrambled eggs FLOATING IN BUTTER. My goodness, we had never seen anything like that! Rome is just a traveler’s dream! Which other destinations are on your itinerary? Silly me…. You must be busy relaxing and having a blast so stop replying to the comments and have loads of fun girl! Have a grrrrrrrrreat time!!! xx

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    1. The city is too beautiful for words Mallika and the food…right now I am giving in wondrously to seafood and taking a break from the pizza and pasta but might dive back into the cheese tomorrow again 😉 Your husband is right. I think therein lies the reason why the Italian nonnas are big and hearty. One of my Italian friends eats like there shall be no tomorrow and puts me to shame. We were in Florence yesterday but returned to Rome. Soon we shall be in India and the heart is loathe to leave this beauty behind.
      I love your comments so keep them coming 🙂 Scrambled eggs doused in butter sounds delicious right now that I have just woken up after a late night of drinking with a friend and her partner here! Hope you had a lovely start to the week. xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would love to read your story then Theresa. Sorry for the delay in the replies. I fall into my bed and that is where my feet rest after a long day of tripping around restaurants meeting friends and family. Have a wonderful Christmas. xx

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