OK, this one was hard to find. I know I saw it earlier and even with map in hand I still couldn't fint it. In Rome the maze of streets often cause you to wander in circles even though your destination may only be steps away.
Matricianella is said to be your quintessential Roman osteria. Tables are decked with blue and white checked cloths and the interior is warmly lighted and homey. Today I am sitting on the outside patio which is pretty much right on the street. I could reach out and touch the cars driving by. Since I sat it has also started to drizzle a bit. I am hoping it doesn't downpour and the umbrellas above us keep us dry. Personally, I don't like eating outside in any situation. Oddly they were not seating anyone inside the restaurant. I think they were trying to fill the outside tables to make the place look popular.
To start I selected from the handwritten special list and selected the riso al radicchio (€7). The menu said it was made with a Australian white wine. It's hard to explain the overall flavor but it sort of had a tomato taste plus the sweet and bitter flavor of the radicchio. The rice was cooked perfectly al dente and was kind of chewy. I think I must over cook risotto at home because I always cook it until it's soft.
Along with my "riso". I ordered the fritto misto (€8.50) which is a combination of deep fried vegatables including deep fried zucchini blossoms, cauliflower, cheese balls and some other veggies I couldn't identify. There was even a potato croquette. This was served on a piece of brown butcher paper amnd a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the top. It was also nicely salted too.
The people next to me had the deep fried artickoke. From what I can see they crush the artichoke open and deep fry it until crispy. It looks like an accident but I bet it good. Ill get that next time.
To drink I just wanted some standard old fashioned tap water which is unheard of here in Rome. No matter how I ask no one seems to get it. Perhaps the standard was is poisonous? I have to settle for a bottle of San Pellegrini, for which I am sure I will pay dearly. It surprises me that tap water isn't standard in restaurants considering I see people drinking from fountains and spigots on the street.
Although I want wine I am skipping it for fear that it will make me tired. I am doing pretty good today considering the long trip yesterday.
Service here is decent but impersonal. I also found it to be painfully slow with very long waits in between dishes. I guess if you want to sit for a while and rest your feet, that can be a good thing. Unfortunatey the long waits are starting to make me tired now that I am sitting. Regardless I would consider this a "keeper" and perhaps try it one more time before I leave. Some of the pasta dishes looked tempting. Prices here are also reasonable as compared to surrounding restaurants.
Total bill €23.50 (€30) including a bottle of San Pelligrino (€2.50), insalada misto (€4) and bread which you are given and have to pay for (€1.50).
I was awake at 8am this morning. That is a big shocker because my body thinks it's 2am. So far the jet lag hasn't caught up with me. I did get a good night sleep thanks to a Tylenol PM.
The price of my hotel includes breakfast. The hotel has a decent breakfast room decorated in whites and linen. the breakfast is buffet style and includes hard or soft boiled eggs, ham, cheese, rolls, yogurts, cereals and fruit.
I had my favorite Italian breakfast item, croissants with Nutella. God bless the Italians! I actually think the italians call their croissants "cornettos" and they are a bit sweeter then their French cousins. Along with my croissant I had a great cup of cappucino. What is it about Italians and their espresso? It always tastes much better here then anywhere else.
I just realized it was already 9.15 am. I guess I should start getting ready and see what the city is up to! The weather today is suppose to be a mix of rain but right now it is partially sunny. I hope it stays that way!
It's past midnight now and I just wanted to post a few comments before sleeping. I had a great day and did a lot of wandering.
1. The trip from the airport to the Termini Station by train was easy. The station is right in the airport. It's a bit of a walk and I am glad my luggage is on wheels. I bought my ticket at a tobacco shop in the airport and easily caught the train to Termini.
There was a funny sight along the way, as we drove through the suburbs the grafitti on the was read "Welcome to Roma York".
2. Termini Station was a nightmare. The place is huge and the walk to the taxi stand was exhausting! The station is signed poorly so it is not easy to find the legal taxi stand. As you may have heard it is recommended that you only take a cab from the stand and make sure the driver uses the meter.
3. As I approached the driver at the taxi stand I questioned him prior to getting in the cab. "How much is it to the Piazza Navona area?" He answered about €18, but it will be determined by the meter. That's what I wanted to hear.
The driver was quite friendly and drove like a maniac through the narrow streets dodging other cars and pedestrians. He made a New York City cab driver seem safe!
We arrive at my hotel and the meter read €17.90 and I complimented him on his accuracy. I gave him €18 for the ride, €1 for the luggage (requires) and €2 tip.
3. I am staying at the Hotel Adriano which is located in the winding streets between the Piazza Navona and Spanish Steps. I love this area. The hotel is pretty much what I expected. My room is on the fourth floor. It is a single and is really tiny but comfortable. The big plus plus is that I am on the top floor and my room has a balcony with views over the roof tops. Nice! The bed is a single bed and is small. I feel like I am sleeping in a kids bed. The bathroom is very clean and has a stall shower which is so small I can barely turn around without hitting the knobs and changing the water temperature.
One note, no wash cloths. I usually bring my own because hotels in Europe don't supply them. Note to self, buy a few tomorrow.
In general I think I will be happy here. It's funny tonight I was walking back to the hotel and trying to find my way through the maze of streets. Let's see take a left at the madonna, right at the gelato shop, pass through the piazza and down the alley. I thought I was lost. As I went to pull out my map I realized I was standing in front of the hotel. How did I get here? I did check the map and I don't see how it was possible.
4. Getting lost in Rome is half the fun. You never know what you will see when you turn the corner or get lost. The streets in Rome are a twisting maze. No map can prepare you. They are ill signed, ill paved and in some cases ill lighted. Sidewalks are non-existant in most places and you share the road with vespas, pedestrians, motorcycles, strollers, taxis and autos. It's truely anarchy at times but also fun. Believe me, this is what make Rome, ROMA!
5. I was fully prepared for Sunday to be a dead day but I found it to be quite lively and busy. At about 7pm I wandered onto the "Corso" (main shopping drag). All the stores were open until 8pm and everyone was shopping in masses. I've never seen so many people in the street. Yes, I mean in the street. Imagine a big street fair on the busiest street in your city but with traffic running on the street with everyone trying to get the right of way. That's Rome.
OK that's my wrap up for the day. I have to get sleep. It wil be a big day tomorrow. What kind of gelato will I have?
Of course I had to have gelato on my first day here in Rome. I also plan to have it every day on this visit.
Gelato is such a national past time in Italy. You can hardly take 10 steps in Rome without seeing someone licking a cone or without seeing the familiar lighted ice cream cone signs that are all over Rome.
Via Uffici del Vicario 40, Rome
As I rounded the corner and approached Giolitti I knew I was in for a treat. The bright sign and crowds of people outside prove how popular this place is. Giolitti is said to have 57 flavors with some being very imaginative. For €2.70 (I think how much it was) you can get a medium size cone with 2 flavors.
My choices are riso (rice) and cassata siciliana. Casata is modeled after a sicilian dessert and has bits of candied fruit, choclate and pistachio. I took my gelato in a cup and had it topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. How decadent is that? You gotta get the whipped cream.
The riso was delicious and currently stands as my favorite. This is why I came back to Rome. It's sounds weird but the bits of aborio rice add to the sweet flavor and give it a chewy texture.
The cassata was equally as creamy and delicious. I love the bits of fruit and pistachio. The taste takes me back to old Sicilia (never been there!).
Via della Panneteria 42, Rome (near the Trevi Fountain)
How bad am I?
After Gilolitti I started to walk around and ended up near the Trevi Fountain. Let me tell you that this may be one of the most impressive sights in Rome.
Since I have been walking all evening I decided to have gelato again. San Crispino is another famous gelato shop near the Trevi Fountain. At San Crispino you get two scoops for €2.50.
My selection is their famous honey gelato and fig. Fig gelato? Now that's different. I have to say that I was unimpressed. San Crispino didn't live up to it's reputation. Personally I thought the flavors were weak and the portions were less thn generous. I was really surprised to find that the cup it was served in had a shallow bottom so it didn't hold as much as it seemed.
Crowds don't lie. Giolitti is by far the best gelato shop in Rome. I will have more updates later in the week from a few other gelaterias.
I finally arrived in Rome and the first place I headed was the Piazza Nanona with a side trip to my favorite taverna. When I was here 7 years ago this was my favorite meal of the trip. I hope I am not disappointed this time.
Tonight I am eating early. It's only 5pm and when I walked by Antica Taverna, they were open. In fact Antica Taverna serves continuosly from noon without closing. This is odd for Rome where most places close between lunch and dinner. That makes Antica Taverna a good choice if you want a late lunch or early dinner.
The atmosphere inside the taverna is quaint and warm. Walls are half paneled with dark wood, the ceiling is vaulted and the tablecloths are red and white check. I love Rome!
For my starter I picked Parmagiano e Proscutto (€6). This is simple, thin slices of prosciutto with a few wedges of parmagiano.
At Antica Taverna they always offer some special of the day. Pay attention to what is on the hanwritten list, it's usually the best they have to offer. For my selection I chose the fettucine with artichoke (€8). The dish wasn't what I expected but it was good anyway. It was pretty much a sauce made from artichoke rather than chunks of artichoke hearts. The fettucine tasted pretty good too. I wonder if it was Barilla?
Along with the the fettucine, I ordered a salad of Pomodoro e Rucola (€3), that's tomatoes a arugula. This was a nice side for a few extra vitamins. The salad was dressed simply with balsamic and olive oil. The arugula in Italy ayways tastes so good. It more nutty than the arugula we get at home.
I am skipping dessert, I want to wander around and get gelato.
If you visit Rome and want to try Antica Taverna come armed with a good map. It's on a quiet street a short walk off the Piazza Navona.
The menu at Antica Taverna is in Italian and English which makes eating here easy. Prices are very reasonable and the atmosphere is quaint and old world. They also have an outside patio where you can sit when the weather is nice.
Total bill including one glass of uninspiring vino rosso, €22 (about $28)
About 30 minutes before the flight leaves, they announce the flight is boarding. I head to the gate. There are alreay long lines to board. Usually in Europe they don't board by row and it's one big free for all. The line I am in is going no where. It seems that someones paperwork is not in order. We wait on one line while the second line moves along. Finally they ask the problem passenger to step aside.
When I get up to the counter they takes my ticket, which was issued in Newark, and ask for my eTicket receipt. ???? Huh? The agent says I should have a receipt. I have nothing.
Oh my god, now I'm the problem passenger.
I give him everything I have in my ticket jacket and he searches for my info on the computer. Finally he finds it and I board the plane. I stuff my bag in the overhead and sit down. Wait, now I remember he didn't give me back any of my paperwork. That included my claim checks for my luggage.
I get up and go to leave the plane and the flight attendants tells me I cannot leave. After explaining my issue they "escort" me back to the desk and I retrieve my paperwork which is still on the counter.
As a result of this escapade I am now jittery. The 2 cappucinos that I guzzled in the lounge didn't help. What else will I forget or lose in the next 7 days?
Business class on European flights is not as luxurios as on American airliners. The seats are typical coach style seats with the center seat blocked out. I don't think there is any extra legroom. I am in the bulkhead seat so I have plenty.
This flight is on a smaller Airbus A320. It's just a 2 hour flight. I am tired. Maybe I can get a short nap. The trick for the rest of the day is to try to stay awake, then get a good night sleep. I planned my arrival in Rome on a Sunday because I knew I would only have half a day and on Sunday a lot of place are closed. Remember these are Catholics! In any event I will use the day to wander, have some dinner and, of course, gelato.
As we take off I really consider how lucky I am to be able to travel. I have also been lucky to fly these trips in business or first class using frequent flyer miles. This year I earned over 110,000 frequent flyer miles from United by having Premier Executive status. I also have a bunch of miles on Delta and Virgin Atlantic. This trip cost me 80,000 on Delta plus $60. It's also cost me a lost pair of $300 glasses. Go figure.
On todays flight they are serving lunch. I was kinda hoping for breakfast. For the meal we got some cold duck breast with a marinated vegatable salad, a baguette with butter and cheese and some pineapple. I love duck, but right now the thought of cold duck and camembert chese is turning my stomach which thinks it's 5.50am in the morning. I also don't know how hungry I am for cheese since I had about a pound of it on the flight to Paris.
Actually the few bites of the duck meat I had are pretty good. It tastes like cold bloody roast beef. Duck is the type of meat that you have to be prepared to eat. It is very rich. It surprises me that they serve it on an airline flight. The strangest (and best) food I ever had on an airline flight was roast goose on a Lufthansa flight. I have also had venison on one of my other Air France flights.
I am always a little careful what I eat when I am on a jet. Typically the food gives me an acid stomach. I think that flying, travel stress and food don't mix well for me. Since leaving Newark I have already had 4 Maloxx tabs. Funny, as I poked through my bag I found 3 rolls of Maloxx tucked in the pockets. One would think I have issues.
Oh my god, do I have issues?
Right now we are flying over what looks like the French or Swiss Alps. The snowcapped mountains are really beautiful. I would take a photo but my camera is in my bag in the overhead bin.
(45 minutes later)
We are now flying over Italy and scheduled for an on time arrival. We will be landing in a few minutes.
This is the first time in many years that I've been in terminal 2 at this airport. I usually fly on Lufthansa and they use the disgusting terminal 1. This terminal is much more modern, sleek and airy. Terminal 1 feels like you are inside one big cesspool.
After wandering the shops, I headed for the Air France lounge, a cup of cappucino and the Chasson aux Pomme that I bought earlier at the bakery. The lounge is much more attractive and comfortable then Delta's lounge in Newark.
Traveling reminds me how old I am getting. There use to be a day where jetlag wasn't an issue, I could carry unlimited weight of luggage and walk for days. Now I am I am reminded that I can't adjust properly to time change, my bulky luggage is a hassle and my feet hurt.
Speaking of luggage, I was opting to carry a smaler bag with me to Rome but at the last minute I went larger to my 28 inch suitcase. I figured I had a 70lb. Luggage allowance and I needed some extra space for any shopping I may do. It's amazing how full the suitcase was when I was done packing jeans, shirts, sweaters, toiletries and all the other junk I thought I couldn't live without. I am carrying 2 bags. The suitcase weighed 50lbs plus a smaller bag with lots of pockets to stuff things into. As I packed I kept thinking, "Richard, your not going to mars, if you forget something you can buy it in Rome".
When all was said and done and I stuffed my passport into my backpack. Then I thought, with an electronic ticket in hand and my passport, that's all I realy need, right? OK glasses are important (but that's an earlier story) and my credit cards.
One of the things I love about the 21st century is that you really don't need to exchange dollars for euros before you leave. Just head for an ATM in the airport when you arrive. At the ATM you get a much better exchange rate anyway.
We are Ready to board for Rome now. I still have a lot of travel ahead of me. First the flight, then the train into Rome, then the taxi to my hotel.
OK, let's try to turn things around and forget about my long lost reading glasses. As I was leaving my house a million other thoughts went through my head to make sure I did everything I was suppose to do.
-Did I lock the door? -Did I turn down the heat? -Did I turn on the alarm?
-Did I take all my bags? (I actually forgot one once) -Did I bring my coat? (Yes I forgot that once too).
-Did I bring my reading glasses? I know I had them when I left the house.
Anyway. Here I am on my way. Today I am flying in business class compliments of Delta frequent flyer miles. This flight only cost me $60. I didn't have time today to enjoy the Delta Crown lounge, but it wasn't so great anyway.
After boarding the Airbus A330 jet, we were served a glass of champagne. For our cocktail hour it was a nice glass of burgundy and a small "box" of cashews from Fauchon. Big deal cashews are cashews.
The seats on this flight are pretty comfortable. It's not easy to figure out how to use the video, seat controls and lights. I just press a button and see what happens.
Poached Lobster with apple fennel salad. That's what we had as a starter. Yummy. I am not a lobster fan but this was pretty good.
My tray also has 3 wedges of cheese (brie, blue and something else) and a tart. Along with all these goodies I had a glass of white burgundy wine. All so francais, delicious. I have to say, the cheese is heaven.
For the main course this evening we were served tournedos of beef with sugar snap peas and risotto. I have to say it was edible but the meat was too chewy. It's was OK. Along with my dinner I switched wine to the red selection from Bordeaux. It's wasn't as good as the Burgundy I had earlier.
I actually didn't eat all my chesse. The French way is to eat the cheese after the meal the person next to me (creatano) ate his cheese with his appetizer. He probably didn't know!
After the Bordeaux I switched back to the yummy Burgundy wine. As you can see I am drinking a lot of wine. Why not?
I think that the dinner on this flight was a bit rushed. That's OK because last time I flew on Lufthansa in first class, the meal service went on for 3 hours.
While I eat I am also watching "The Devil Wears Prada". Between this French meal and the movie, one would think I was on my way to a Paris adventure. Actually, where is the pasta? Ha ha!
OK we've had our champagne, cashews, lobster, beef, wine, cheese and tart. It's time to sleep. In a few hours I will be awoken in the middle of the night for our arrival in Paris CDG.
Time to sleep.
(3 hours later)
Note to self, don't drink so much wine when flying. It is now 7.50am Paris time which is 1.50am New York time. Imagine being woken up at 2am to start your day after a hard night of drinking.
This flight wasn't bad, in fact it went too fast. Service on Air France was very nice, friendly and professional. Not to sound snobby, but I have no idea what people feel like in coach. I do have only two complaints....
1. The cabin temperature was way too hot. I am use to sleeping in a cold room at around 65 degrees.
2. They don't supply you with enough water on Air France. I have no complaints about the burgundy wine though. At everyones seat was a small 8oz. Bottle of water. That's like one gulp.
That's all of my complaints.
We are landing at Paris CDG at around 8.10am which is an early arrival. My connection to Rome is at about 11am so I have a few hours to wander.
They are in luck today, people at the airport will get to see what the walking dead looks like.
Oh my god. I wish I could say I am off to a good start, but it's been a hell of a ride.
Besides for experiencing complete madness all day. I lost my reading glasses somewhere between where I parked my car and the Delta business class lounge. I know I actually had them because on the way to the airport I pulled over just to check! I had actually already went through security and sat in the lounge when I noticed them gone. At the point I went all the way back to the car park to check my car.
It's a good thing my flight was running 30 minutes late.
The car park people were useless. I have an odd feeling they are on the floor of the van. I did track down the van but it was full and hard to check. Around everyones feet.
I also checked the security checkpoint and the lounge. Nothing.
Well, lucky for me I found a pair of those cheapies at the airport book store. $12, a bargain. They came in a nice plastic baggie. I don't even know what I look like in these. Should I care? I don't know anyone in Rome.
Shoot. Guess what else? Those were new glasses. I just got them last Tuesday. Why did I get new glasses? Because I lost my other pair on a bus in Nashville two weeks ago.
OK, we are ready to go.... Good-bye Ralph Lauren glasses. Have a good life wherever you are.
"Dear Air France,
Please don't lose my luggage, other wise I may cry."