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Report 881: A Slow Trip to Italy for a Mother and Daughter

By stella from Brooklyn, New York, Fall 2005

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Page 13 of 16: Weekends Off

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Apples at the Campo dei'Fiori

Our weekend in Rome was busy, busy!

Saturday was a great day for both of us. I had yet another set of friends in Rome for the weekend to visit, and we had a lovely time hanging out together. We wandered the streets of the Campo and had lunch al fresco near the Piazza Farnese. Then we split up before meeting again for dinner.

Mom was excited to visit our only family in Rome, the son of her motherís youngest brother who was also her favorite uncle. She was picked up at the apartment by Tulio, who has veterinary practice in Rome and lives just outside the city walls. Tulio and his wife honeymooned in New York and visited Mom there, so they were thrilled to have the chance to host her in Rome. Since they don't speak any English, it would have been torture for us all for me to sit there and just smile at them, so I stayed close to home and had dinner with my friends.

We ate at Ditirambo, a very popular trattoria that was highly recommended and has been featured in Gourmet Magazine. I tried to find it on my last solo trip to Rome, but never made it; the entrance is unmarked and I became completely lost. This time, I stumbled upon it in the daytime, and came to the realization that I must have walked right by it at least ten times that dark night.

I want to say our dinner was fantastic, but it was just ok. We all had salads, followed by pasta; mine was Tonarelli with Cacio e Pepe, and it was quite good. My friendís pumpkin ravioli had a generous amount of amaretti thrown in; I thought they were quite sweet, and they arrived cold. The staff was a bit hurried; it was hard to get someone's attention. Dessert was not that good; an apple semifreddo was icy and weak. At least Mom had a fantastic dinner with Tulio and his family. She rattled off her menu and I was quite jealous.

On Sunday, it was back to just the two of us, which was nice after our mini-break. I took Mom to Mass again at Sant'Andrea Della Valle, but this time I took advantage of the quiet of a Sunday morning in Rome to wander around a bit and snap some pictures while she enjoyed the service.

After picking her up, we prepped for our visit to the Galleria Borghese. I was really excited to experience an in-depth Context Rome tour of the amazing collection, which included the just-restored Deposition of Christ by Raphael. To have an art historian explain the significance and nuance of each of the famous Bernini sculptures spoils you for all other attempts with an audio guide or book. Although this was my second visit to the Gallery, I gained much more from it with our expert guide. Mom handled this tour just fine; at only two hours, she was able to remain standing the entire time, and there was an elevator there for her to travel from floor to floor.

Afterwards, I made Mom dinner and she got into her jammies; she had decided the traditional dinner hour of 8:30 pm in Italy is nuts and she will not do it again. She dined on leftover soup, sliced meats and cheeses, and fresh fruit, while I struck out for the night on my own. I discovered a fantastic place that all of my New York friends would simply love. Vinando is tucked away in quiet Piazza Margana in the Ghetto. There was an extensive menu of Roman classics that are updated, as well as selections of salumi and cheeses, assorted pickled things and savory spreads and marmelattas to spread on toasted bread; and a terrific and deep wine list. I had a crema di Lardo di Colonnata, and a balsamic onion jam to spread on bread, plus an assortment of salumi, washing it down with a Rosso Piceno from Le Marche; followed by pumpkin ravioli with fresh herbs, diced fresh tomato and slices of tripe, which was absolutely delicious. This place stays open until 2:00 am, and when I was leaving at 11:00, they were full.

It was nice to walk "home" along the moonlit back streets that I now know my way around. I felt very much like I lived in Rome.

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