The world has come to Rome

Rome, Italy We have arrived in Rome, and so, it seems, has most of the touring world. We are used to crowds here, but somehow we thought that October would be a bit calmer. Not so.

We had a nice quiet (on time!) train from Florence, and a quick cab ride to our charming little hotel, a mere two blocks from the Trevi Fountain. The sun was not accommodating, but that didn’t bother the selfie seekers thronging the perimeter.

We just did a little roaming around to get acclimated and made it as far as the Spanish Steps. The last time we were here, the steps were being redone and it was announced that no one would be allowed to sit on them anymore. Another tradition bites the dust. Though they aren’t blocked off in any way, the message seems to have gotten through and the steps were sitter-free. Crowded, but sitter-free, as everyone clustered around the fountain below the steps.

Just a few street scenes to share, as we wound through the crowds back to our lovely quiet room. Chestnut sellers everywhere.

Don’s Food Corner

Despite our mostly kind words about meals in Florence, we were never really bowled over — except for a few individual dishes. Things looked up with our first meal on this return trip to Rome.

Our room overlooks the Piazza di Pietra and the Temple of Hadrian as well as about a dozen restaurants clustered anywhere tables can fit. Not knowing which to choose, the folks at the hotel directed us to one (and only one) around the corner.

It turned out to be a good choice. We started with we thought was going to be deep-fried artichokes, a Roman specialty. What turned up was not deep-fried but was instead braised with a olive oil dressing. Beautifully tender. And big. I know how much work it takes to rassle an artichoke into that condition so I forgave the mix-up, especially after I learned we should have ordered the Jewish artichokes. Next time.

I went on to meatballs in tomato sauce. One of the best tomato sauces of our trip. The meatballs were light and flavorful.

Jo had lasagna. That, too, was the best we’ve had so far. Another dish requiring time-consuming work. I should have counted the layers of fresh pasta. I think there were at least eight, maybe ten. We also added some roasted potatoes on the side. They do them so well in Italy.

I wish we could find such a meal in New York for $58, including tip. (Note, however, that we are enjoying a very favorable exchange rate with the euro still at less than a dollar. The last time we were here it was hovering around $1.20.)

P.S. Note the restaurant offer of “vegan” in the photo above. And organic, no less. See, it’s possible.

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