Kitchen Table Travel in Italy, Part 3
Day Nine, Monday
Off to Rome today. After saying goodbye to our van, Large Marge and checking into our apartment, we had a bit of free time in the city. I headed over to Torre Argentina one of my favorite spots in the Eternal City. Torre Argentina is the spot where Julius Caesar was stabbed AND it's the home to a famous cat sanctuary. It's a marvelous cat shelter with the best volunteers!
Day 10, Tuesday
Tuesday turned out to be a really intense day for eating, testing our strength and resolve, as well as our waistbands.
We started the day in the Testaccio neighborhood or Rome, an area rich with history and food, with Marta Rezzano, an accomplished and talented sommelier and tour guide, who was in charge of our gastronomic adventures for the day. Marta is clever and funny and she does not mess around when it comes to good food.
First up was coffee and breakfast at Pasticceria Linari, a bustling cafe with a selection of eye-popping pastries. We wanted to experience the cafe like the locals so we stood at the counter with our cappuccini and sweets rather than sitting down. The maritozzo, a brioche filled with cream, was everyone's favorite.
Once we were properly buzzing with sugar and caffeine, we walked over to the Mercato Testaccio, an indoor network of stalls selling groceries,housewares, clothing, shoes, plants, and other goods. There are also little restaurants selling hot foods like pizza and trippa alla Romana. Marta gave us a history of the market and the Testaccio neighborhood, the former slaughterhouse of Rome. We learned about the Roman supply chain as well as how class status affected people's diets, and the beloved quinto quarto (the "fifth quarter of the animal, or the unwanted parts that went to the poorest citizens). Throughout our lesson we sampled an array of classic Italian cheeses and charcuterie and followed it up with a sparkling wine.
Next, we stopped by Casa Manco for pizza al taglio, a Roman style of pizza that is baked in rectangular pans and sold by either the slice or the weight. Everything we tried was fabulous and creative and served to us by a young man with incredible blue eyes that we all swooned over a bit.
By then we were all kind of full but Marta told us we still had to go to lunch. She'd arranged for us a typical Roman sampling of cacio e pepe, amatriciana, gricia, and carbonara. along with some seasonal puntarelle dressed with anchovies and lemon, and a taste of the quinto quarto in the form of Roman oxtail.
The food was so delicious and we really wanted to eat everything, but it was impossible. Marta was disappointed in our lack of stamina and we felt bad letting her down. We did take our leftovers with us, though.
We left the restaurant feeling a bit sluggish but there was no time to wallow because we still had to get to the gelato shop. At this point I really couldn't even remember my own name so I went along and got a pistachio gelato because FOMO. Sensing our downward spiral, Marta wisely decided it was time for a digestive. A bit of amaro perked us up a bit!
We took an afternoon break before meeting up again with Marta in the Monti area of Rome. She'd arranged for us a very special wine tasting featuring a selection curated by hers truly, served with a delightful array of charcuterie, crackers, and other snacks. We all learned so much and had a great time together.
Day 11, Wednesday
Our final day!!! We met up with Marta and her fellow tour guide, Jonathan, for a history tour. Marta and Jon's history of Rome tour was fantastic, really engaging and funny! They really brought life and color to the stories and we were hanging on every word. And because it's Marta, she made sure to feed us too!
That night, we decided to stay in and make a dinner out of our leftovers and Madonna Del Latte wine. Someone even brought out a bag of Halloween candy that they'd pilfered from their kids! It felt perfect and right to spend our last night sitting around the kitchen table, where the best stuff happens.