Day 3 (continued from here)
We were two exhausted travelers when we stumbled out of the Vatican around noon on Tuesday. We headed for Pizzarium at Via della Meloria 43, which is a little gem of a pizzeria hidden away in the residential area north-west of the Vatican City. We had some lovely pizza slices and tried out their supplì, which is so divine. A supplì is a Roman snack that consist of a rice ball filled with something – we had them with meat – it is then soaked in egg, rolled in bread crumbs and deep-fried. The crust is beautifully crunchy while the stuffing is moist and delicate. Try them out, you’ll love em! Pizzarium also hit the spot with its great selection of micro brewery beer. The meal was enjoyed sitting on the sidewalk, because there are only a few seatings available there, but for such a meal I would sit anywhere.
After that, we felt more like human beings again, but we still felt the craving for some refreshments. So we walked north-east until we came to the gelateria Fatamorgana on Via Bettolo, where we snacked on their lovely gelato. For me the most memorable flavor was a special chocolate with beer, it was the best chocolate ice cream! (Note, it is a chain so similar places can be found in other parts of Rome).
We then went up on Gianicolo to take a break in a more tranquil surroundings. On the hill, you get a superb view over Rome, and there is numerous areas to settle down in under the soothing shadows of the trees. It is also a good place to muse over the battles that were fought there in 1849 between Giuseppe Garibaldi’s makeshift army and the French troops. We bought some beers and chips at Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi and enjoyed them on the grass with a view to the monument of the Italian hero as backdrop. It was nice to have a real break to digest all that we had experienced in the Vatican City and find some more energy to keep on sightseeing.
Beneath the Gianicolo Hill lies Trastevere, where we went to after our well deserved rest. We found this to be one of the most endearing parts of Rome, especially because it so distinctly has its own unique vibe that’s not at all like the other parts. It feels like a little town in the big city. The prices are lower than on the other side of the Tiber River, and there is a great number of distinctive and innovative restaurants and bars. It also helps that they have my absolute favorite Roman Basilica: Basilica di Santa Maria, which is decorated with the most beautiful Byzantine mosaics both on the facade and inside. Just a few steps from the Piazza with the Basilica we found Bar San Calisto. The guidebook sums up this place’s vibe very well: “… stuck-in-time atmosphere and cheap prices. It attracts everyone from drug dealers, intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals to keeping-it-real Romans, alcoholics and American students.” It became one of our favorite spots in Rome.
We used the rest of the afternoon and evening strolling around Trastevere. Drank coffee and apple succo at Antico Caffè dell’Isola on the small island Isola Tiberina in the Tiber River. Visited a small, attractive and intriguing book shop called Open Door Bookshop in Via della Lungaretta, where I bought my first book in Italian (Umberto Eco Il pendolo di Foucault, I know it is a bit presumptuous to buy such a title after just a few weeks of learning Italian by using Duolingo, but I swear that I will have read that book before I die). Dinner at Fish Market, where we had the most lovely seafood dishes like small fried fish and fish shish-kebab – it is a must visit place in this area and represent the new kind of Roman concept restaurants (they also have other locations in Rome). We finished the night with cocktails at Freni e Frizioni, where I enjoyed a “Moscow mule” while Ole drank a “Pint Break” (ingredients including a 10-year-old Talisker). Then a beautiful evening stroll back home to the hotel over the river and through the charming streets of Centro Storico.
I will shortly post pages from my Roman travel journal …