Rome 10/2009~Day 3



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Today begins with another apartment drama, albeit small. We are all getting ready; showering, drying hair, making coffee and suddenly the power in half the apartment goes out. I have visions of having to call S. again and try to explain and this does not make me happy. I look for the fuse box and find it near the front door. I flip the switch and the power returns. It goes out one more time and we figure out we can’t run the microwave along with anything else at the same time in the apartment. Ok, that’s easy enough.

Our first stop of the day is to check out the daily market in Piazza San Cosimato in Trastevere.

Along the way over there, we pass the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere and take the opportunity go inside. The mosaics inside are stunning. There is also a statue of a monk holding a child. The base of the statue, and tucked into it's hands are hundreds of notes (prayers, I assume, from the faithful).


The San Cosimato market turns out to be very small. I’m sure it’s fine if you live in the area, but there are maybe 20 vendors in all so it’s not a huge selection. Perhaps it’s larger on Fridays? If you are “into” food markets, I’m not sure I’d recommend going across town for this one, but it was ok if you are already in the area. That doesn't stop me from taking tons of photos though.

Photo of apples, top, by Tris
Left, Oranges from Sicily. Right, These guys take their meat very seriously.

We walk toward Viale Trastevere and in the distance I see a very old woman walking toward us with a box balanced on her head.

She is quite the character and smiles and says “buongiorno!” to us as she passes by. She says something else, but unfortunately, none of us understand.

We all wish we could talk to her because she must have some great stories to tell.

As Jessica says, “She was probably around the same time as Mussolini!”




By now it’s about 10:30 and we still haven’t had breakfast so we stop at the first place which has decent looking panini called Caffe Trastevere at the corner of Viale Trastevere and via di San Francisco a Ripa. The sandwiches and cappucini are fantastic and really hit the spot. We revel in having the luxury of time to sit and enjoy a leisurely breakfast without the rush of the “go !go! go!” sightseeing pace. This is one of the benefits of having visited a place before.

From there, our goal was the Capitoline Museums to which none of us had ever been. We took tram #8 to Largo Argentina and transferred to the first bus which would get us close to the where it looked like the museum was on the map.
Rome Lesson #357: Sometimes it’s hard to tell where things are from the map, and where the closest bus stop is.

The Capitoline Museums (and there are two, right across the Piazza Campidoglio from each other) are essentially at the top of the Cordonata (Michelangelo’s grand staircase) next to the right side of the Vittorio Emmanualle monument. Unfortunately, the bus did not stop until it had gone around and to the far side of the Piazza Venezia so we had to walk back and up the steps on the left in between the Forum and the monument.

Capitoline Museums

One entrance fee gets you into both the Palazzo Nuovo and the Palazzo dei Conservatori (www.museicapitolini.org). You must enter through the Palazzo dei Conservatori.  
Now was the moment of truth; would our Roma Pass cards work for the 2nd free entrance? We followed the signs for Roma Pass holders, by-passing the ticket window, and went straight to the security line. They scanned our cards, and let us in. Easy. Yes, I was relieved.

There is a free coat check locker room right inside the entrance. Put your stuff in an empty locker and take the key. There are also basic maps in there but we ended up using the DK Eyewitness Guide much more. Looking back, the info in the guidebook was pretty scarce on what was actually there.

The famous giant head, hands and feet of the colossal statue of Constantine are right there in the courtyard and we had the place to ourselves for a full 10 minutes. The rest of the museum is huge, spanning two building with many floors. It’s overwhelming and I know we missed a lot (including apparently a special Michelangelo exhibit!). It’s also nowhere near as crowded as some of the other museums in town. There are the remains of a temple of Jupiter and the museum is built right around it.

This was one of my favorites; the statue of Marsyus. That is the actual color of the
marble and is perfect for the story of someone who has been flayed alive.
Yes, grim, but beautiful too.

One of the best things is the view from the area between the two museums overlooking the forum. Thanks to Marcy for telling us about this. To get between the two museums there is an underground passageway beneath the piazza. In the middle is an offshoot. Go up the steps and walk toward the light. You will be rewarded with the most fantastic view.

View from the Capitoline Museums

The Dying Gaul. I remember this statue from my art history classes.
I don't remember him looking like a 1970's porn star; see detail at left
(it's the hair, the 'stache, and the necklace).

By the second museum we are starting to flag a bit, but we enjoy the sculptures and the temple ruins nonetheless. Afterward, we exit from the Palazzo Nuovo, walk across the piazza, show our keys at the entrance and pick up our coats. We want to use the bathroom before we leave, which turns out to be big mistake. We follow the direction of a security guard and down the stairs and all the way across the passage to the second museum we go. If there was a closer one to the coat check, we do not see it.
We sit in the Piazza and pull out my trusty guide, looking for where to go for lunch. The  Ghetto neighborhood is walking distance so we set out to find Sora Margherita. But first we have to take one last look at the view.

Tip: if you don’t have time to see the view from inside the Capitoline Museum viewpoint, go up to the Piazza Campidoglio and head to the right side of the Palazzo Senatorio building. Go under the ancient archway connecting the two buildings and check out the view from there. It’s a slightly different perspective, but still stunning. In fact, I think this one might be slightly better because you can see the Coliseum more clearly from this angle.

Question: When is a restaurant not really a restaurant?
Answer: When it’s a “cultural association.”

Sora Margherita
It takes us a while and as usual, we get a little lost, wandering in the Ghetto. In fact, we have to stop and ask someone for directions and end up back in a Piazza where we’d just been five minutes before. It’s no surprise because this place has no sign or visible entrance, unless you know what you’re looking for. Stand in the Piazza delle Cinque Scole and look for the doorway with the long red ribbons/ropes (the kind used to keep flying insects out). See it? Then look closer at a metal plate on the wall next to the doorway and you’ll see that someone has hand written “Sora Margherita” on it.

There is a gentleman standing in the doorway, policing all who dare to enter. We ask for a table for four. He hesitates and tells us we will have to wait about 20 minutes. It’s a little after 1:30PM and the small place is packed with people. We sit in the sunshine on a couple of folding chairs and wait, watching the crowd of mostly locals come and wait too. We chat for a while with a guy, also waiting, who teaches at a nearby school. He tells us “everything is good” here.

Finally they are ready to seat us and we squeeze our way to the back room and to a table for four. We’re asked if we’ve been before and when we say we have not, we’re given little cards to fill out to join the “cultural association.” Apparently, this is how they get around following certain rules and inspections governing restaurants. We are presented with a hand written menu on brown butcher paper.

We select a little of everything from the menu to try. The grilled and marinated eggplant is cooked to perfection. The typical carciofi alla giudea (a fried and flattened artichoke) is wonderful. Usually I have not liked this version as much as the marinated alla romana, but here it was wonderful, crispy and tender at the same time.

We get an order of agnolotti (a stuffed pasta like a ravioli) which comes filled with beef. We’d ordered it with a sugo di carne sauce (a tomato sauce with beef). If I’d realized the filling had meat in it, I would have ordered it with a different sauce, like pesto. Almost all the pastas came with a choice of sauce. We also order the rigatoni di pajata, which I love, but is not something for everyone. It's not for the squeamish or the vegetarian. In fact, just like last year, our server clarified that I knew what I was ordering when I asked for it. For an explanation of pajata, please see my page from last year on this dish http://www.wired2theworld.com/ROME2008Day7.html (near the bottom of the page).

To round out the main meal, we get an order of meatballs and an order of eggplant parmesan. The meatballs are probably the weakest dish of the meal; they seem like they have too much bread crumb in them or something to alter the texture and make them less “meaty.” The eggplant parmesan is very good. I would have liked to have ordered another meat dish to try.

We order dessert (cheesecake with chocolate and peaches in red wine) and while waiting, we notice the man across from us has received a plate of chunks of what appears to be parmesan cheese. He sees both Tris and me eying the plate (me with curiosity and she with cheese lust in her heart) and holds the plate toward us, offering us some. We politely decline. He insists. We decline again. He won’t take no for answer and gets up from his seat and forces us each to take a piece of cheese. It’s very strong, sharp and incredibly salty. Later he tries to offer us more, along with other items from his table and we have to try and explain how full we already are. We leave, happy and satisfied.
Lunch for four, including a liter of house white wine, a liter of water and service, is 80€
Sora Margherita, Associazione Culturale; Piazza delle Cinque Scole, 30. Tel:06 6874216

After lunch we walk over to see the turtle fountain and discover it has been drained and is being restored. By now we’re ready to head back to the apartment, but first, I can’t leave the Ghetto without a stop at a wonderful kosher bakery called Pasticceria “Boccione” Limentani (Via Portico D’Ottavia, 1). This place is right on the corner of the piazza and is well known for its various biscotti and cookies and for crostata which is like a thick tart or pie with two crusts. We arrive too late to try the one with ricotta and chocolate, so I have to settle for the one with cherries and almond paste. I try it later, when everyone else is sleeping. It’s all I can do not to polish it all off myself.  If it’s that good, how good must the chocolate be?

Dar Poeta

For dinner we decide to do something in the neighborhood and head out to Dar Poeta pizzaria. Inside they are full and it’s too cold to sit outside. We wait a few minutes and finally they tell us to come in. We find ourselves being led to a basement dining room, where we sit for the entire meal, alone. This ticks me off a bit and I wonder why the other people (clearly local) waiting for a table inside are not brought down to the basement as well. From a restaurant operator’s perspective, I’m sure they just wanted to give us a table, any table, and I really want to give them the benefit of the doubt that they weren’t putting us down there just because we were tourists. Still, it felt a bit lame. Fortunately, the pizzas, the crust especially, turn out to be really good.

We have one pizza with zucchini flowers, mozzarella and anchovies, one with sausage, mushrooms and mozzarella, and one with potatoes, sausage and mozzarella. My mom has nothing but tries each of the pizzas. There was a lot left over, and while getting a “doggy bag” is not very common in Europe, we get the remains of our pizzas to go because we see people leaving with boxes and figured it was acceptable here.
Three pizzas, 1 liter of aqua con gas, ½ liter of wine, 2 large beers, and 1 small beer was approx. 80€. Dar Poeta, Vicolo del Bologna, 45/46; Tel:06 5880516 www.darpoeta.com

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Thanks to my friend Marcy Benson
for this photo.







Photo (above) by Tris.












Photo by Tris.


Tris and Jess in front of the temple of



Photo above and below by Tris.




Looks like a movie set, doesn't it?

I now belong!


Hand-written menu of the day.

Inside Sora Margherita



Us, in the basement. Photo by Tris.




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A Week in Rome, Oct...
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Kristina was quoted in
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