Travel has a way of awakening the senses, making every moment that much more vivid. The details of the day, even the most mundane, become forever-memorialized in the mind’s eye. Adam, the seasoned traveler in our home, pointed this out many years ago, and I must say it has made our periodic gallivanting even more enjoyable, knowing that the pleasure of travel doesn’t end abruptly when we return home. Quite the opposite is true. We get to revisit every memory, as often as we’d like, for the rest of our days.
We started our ten day trek in Rome and then ventured on to Florence. It was rainy and chilly most days. No bother. The rain left a picturesque wet sheen on the streets and ruins; the cool air only made the atmosphere more romantic.
You could almost feel Rome rumbling with excitement over the papal conclave, various colors of smoke, and eventually the selection and celebration of Pope Francis all while we were there.
For the duration of our trip the daily routine was much the same. Fortified with the hotel’s breakfast and too many cappuccinos (Adam and me) and plenty of milk (Cecil), we would pound the streets of both great cities, cramming in as much as possible. Then we would cram our faces with good food, take a nap, repeat.
I did want to share a couple of our favorite meals and restaurants. These were the highlights.
Vecchia Roma – By far our best meal in Rome and the best meal of the trip. The trattoria was full to the brim with tons of loud Italians! A very good sign indeed. Thankfully, we were there with a couple of Roman friends because these people were understandably not catering to the tourist crowd but locals. The restaurant’s specialty is the all’Amatriciana flambe with guanicale (pork jowl), which they toss together in huge cheese wheels. It was divine. This was the most delicious and memorable pasta I have ever had. I have already set to work recreating this dish at home.
La Soffitta Renovatio – Just around the corner from Vatican City. This place is a little pricy, but they have a very extensive gluten-free menu. I’m almost certain our waiter told me that they can make anything from the main menu gluten-free. I had a wonderful pizza with buffalo mozzarella and then a heavenly dessert for which I have no name. It seemed very much like an ice-box cake with meringue cookies and sweetened mascarpone cheese generously drizzled with a thick caramel sauce. This is definitely on my to-do list.
All’Antico Vinaio – This was our best restaurant meal in Florence! So unassuming. As a matter of fact, you could easily walk right past it and never know. This is an inexpensive and filling little sandwich shop with a great selection of cured meats and cheeses. They only make sandwiches. Wonderful sandwiches! The little glass of house wine right outside doesn’t hurt either!
All-in-all, a wonderful vacation full of inspirational sights, sounds and tastes!