The glory that was Rome

Rome, Italy Our last day in the Eternal City. We spent it touring artifacts of the ancient Romans, and some the Greek treasures that preceded them.

We began at the National Museum of Rome, which houses a magnificent collection of statues, frescoes and mosaics.

The Romans were great fans of classical Greek sculptures and copied them madly. What’s amazing is how many of the faces on these busts look like they just came out of today’s newspapers.

Roman mosaics were incredibly intricate and the ones in this collection are quite intact.

We were pleased to see frescoes and mosaics taken from the Domus Aurea. It must have been truly a work of art in itself. 

The subterranean dining room of Livia, wife of Emperor Augustus, had a Monet waterlilies feel. The room has been recreated almost intact. 

My personal favorite is the great bronze of the boxer, so real and so battered by life.

But where to stop with the list of beautiful things? There are so many here.

Across the wide street outside are the Baths of Emperor Diocletian. Though they look semi-intact from the outside, the interior is only preserved because Michelangelo was engaged to make the huge space into a basilica. Beautiful of course, but it would be nice to have seen more remnants of the baths.

Our last stop of the day was at the Borghese Gallery. This lovely villa is certainly a tad excessive for a family of popes and cardinals, but if you’ve got it, flaunt it. And flaunt it they did. Not every piece is a masterpiece, but there are so many works of art that you don’t question the taste of the family.

Well, our Italian holiday has come to an end. There are still more things left to see in both Florence and Rome, but we leave content that we have paid both cities a respectful amount of time. We won’t be back too soon, but we will always have our memories.

Don’s Food Corner

We had limited choices today because of where we were at lunch time. We actually ended up back at the first place we tried when we first got to Rome two weeks ago. At least we knew what we were getting ourselves into.

It’s not that it was bad, it just didn’t wow us like we had hoped for a send-off meal.

We started with a platter of prosciutto and fresh mozzarella. We thought we had ordered prosciutto and melon and when the mozzarella arrived we pointed that out to the waiter who claimed that melon season was over and that’s why we got the mozzarella. We accepted the explanation, but we know it’s not true. I’m happy to report that after sampling many servings of fresh mozzarella in two different Italian cities that the stuff we get in New York as fresh mozzarella is exactly the same.

I went on to try this restaurant’s version of cacio e pepe after being so disappointed yesterday. Today’s version was better. I could tell that the pecorino cheese was of a higher quality. But the sauce wasn’t smooth but was instead lumpy. I looked up the recipe last night after that disastrous experience yesterday and while this is a seemingly simple dish that can be made vey quickly, it’s tricky.

Everything has to be just so and done with a swiftness or you’ll end up with a lumpy sauce, like today, or a total mess, like yesterday. I’m going to try it and see if I can master it. After all, I think the best option to all these not-so-great restaurant meals, both here and in New York, is to sharpen the cooking skills in our own little Cucina Donaldo.

Jo fared better with a risotto with citrus and pistachios. The pistachios were toasted and chopped fine. Lemon provided a hint of citrus. Grains of rice had just the right al dente texture. It took a long time to get served and I suspect that Jo’s risotto was made fresh. It certainly seemed so. Perhaps the time it took to make the risotto made attention to my cacio e pepe suffer. These are two dishes that can test a chef’s skill and the timing of one can interrupt the timing of the other.

So, we’ll give them a pass. Well, a little pass.

3 thoughts on “The glory that was Rome

  1. The citrus pistachio risotto looks delish.
    Don., I agree with the Cacio e Pepe. I’ve messed up a few times. Jay on the other hand has come close. Almost a Master! (As he likes to think).

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